hupla_4.7 stars4.7/5 by thousands of cruisers to Portuguese Island

Enjoy world-class services on MSC Cruise Durban to Portuguese Island

A cruise to Portuguese Island is the perfect place to get away from it all. With crystal-clear waters, white sand beaches, and lush vegetation, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to paradise.

  • All your meals, accommodation and entertainment included
  • Get away from it all and relax on a beautiful cruise ship
  • Swim in the warm waters of Mozambique and relax on the beach
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The memories you will make will last a lifetime.

  • Number 1 cruise destination for South African.
  • Cruise to an amazing uninhabited Island in Mozambique.
  • This will be a vacation you'll never forget.
  • All meals and entertainment included on and off the ship.
  • Transfer from the ship to the island included.

hupla_4.7 stars4.7/5 by thousands of cruisers to Portuguese Island

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What to do on Portuguese Island?

The vast, unpopulated beaches attract travellers from all over the world who camp on the white-sand shores next to thatch-roofed huts or makeshift campsites. Inhaca Island offers many opportunities for the study of diverse ecosystems.
As MSC Cruises focuses on holidays for families, you will have a lot of activities around family and children. From beach volleyball and watersports to shore excursions, here are some of the exciting things you can look forward to:

Relax and enjoy the beach

With its white sand beaches and crystalline ocean waters, Portuguese Islands is the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun. Take a stroll along the beach, build sandcastles with the kids or go for a swim in the warm waters of Mozambique. The MSC entertainment crew will have beach activities with games, music and dance to keep you entertained.

Photo of a group of young people playing beach volleyball in the sunset

Explore the Portuguese Island

If you’re feeling active, there are plenty of things to do on the island. To walk around the island takes about an hour walk (+- 6km) and you will barely see anyone else. While not take a pleasant stroll on the other side of Portugese island and enjoy the fantastic beaches all for yourself!

White sandy Pristine Beach

Eco Tour to Inhaca Island

You'll find incredible biodiversity and variety at Inhaca Island. The dunes, lagoons, coral reefs, mangroves, rocky shores and other intertidal areas make for one of the most diverse environments in Mozambique. The local guide will take you to the Marine Biology Research Station for a brief, but informative visit.

Price: Adults $25.99 / Kids $22.99

Mangrove on Portuguese Island

Beach Lounger Rental

Renting a beach lounger and an umbrella is a great way to treat yourself to relaxation.

It is a perfect option for the family to have a base while enjoying the warm waters. You will still be close to the activities and entertainment.

Price: Adults $25.99 / Kids $25.99

Thatched of Umbrella on the beach - in the  uninhabited nature reserve of Portuguese Island

Enjoy Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Paddle Boarding is one of the best ways to enjoy time on the island. Easy to learn and great for all ages!

Price: Adults $19.99 / Kids: N/A

Standup Paddle Board - Portuguese Island

Other Watersport Activities

From snorkelling, floating on a soft-foam mat to enjoying a pedalo ride, the MSC staff on Portuguese Island have a range of options that will make your day memorable, fun and super relaxing!

Snorkeling Portuguese Island

Where is Portuguese Island?

Portuguese Island is off the coast of Mozambique, in Maputo Bay between Maputo and Inhaca Island. It is situated in the Indian Ocean about 600 kilometres from Durban.

Portuguese Island was discovered by Vasco da Gama in 1498 during his second voyage to India. The island was named Ilha de Santa Cruz - the Christian Holy Cross Island - and was the first territory in Africa to be colonised by Europeans.

The history of Portuguese Island is a rich one, with many interesting facts about its discovery, settlement and development. Vasco da Gama himself spent three weeks on the island whilst he replenished his water supplies before continuing on his voyage back to Europe.

A Map of the location of the uninhabited island of Portugues Island in the bay of Maupto outside the Southern Africans country of Mozambique - in the Indian Ocean on the African Coast

Typical 3 nights / 4 days to Portuguese Island itinerary

A map of the itinerary that the MSC Orchestra will take from Durban, South Africa to her enchanting destinations of Portuguese Island Cruise
Day 1
Friday - Departure from Durban

Ship leaves at 20:00 PM
Checkin closes at 17:30

Day 2
Saturday - At Sea
Enjoy the MSC Orchestra
Day 3
Sunday - On Portuguese Island
From 08h00 to 16:00
Day 4
Monday - Return to Durban
Ships arrives at 10h00 AM

A typical day on Portuguese Island

Portuguese Island is a small, uninhabited island situated across the bay from Maputo, a stone's throw away from Inhaca Island. During the cruise season, it is considered MSC Cruises' private Indian Ocean island.

The destination is on 90% of MSC Cruises departures from Durban and it is a great way to get an insight into Mozambique.
The island has no permanent residents or structures, no pollution, no roads and no traffic, only white sandy beaches and a paradise-like feel.

After breakfast onboard, passengers arrange a tender ticket to disembark to cross to Portuguese Island. (The tender is included in the cruise)

Each and every passenger receives a time slot to access the various tender boats.

The tender ride is an experience on its own. The boats are specially designed for this Mozambican island; contrary to most other tenders around the world, MSC doesn’t use the ship’s tender but a specialized high-speed boat with a capacity of +- 150 people.

Cruise Passenger dancing on the beach of an uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean on a Portuguese Island Cruise
Cocktail on Portuguese Island Inhaca- During a cruise on MSC Orchestra
African man ready to go paddle boarding
Arial photography of a group of cruise traveller on the sandy island situated very close to Inhaca island in the Maputo bay

The tender boats deliver passengers directly onto the pristine white sandy beach of the uninhabited island.

MSC has built wooden structures with bars, decking, shade and an area for serving lunch, on the beach to cater for the 2,500 passengers who disembark every week. The ship crew brings everything on land from the drinks to the Feta Cheese!

Experience the crowd when you get on the Island and then start your journey again, but instead of turning right, turn left. You will find one of the best-kept secrets of the island: the perception of having the island to yourself. To walk around the island takes about an hour and a half (+- 6km) and you will barely see anyone else.

Find a great spot where you can lay your towels down and spend your morning sunbathing and swimming in the warm waters of Maputo Bay.

You will find yourself in paradise, with no noise, no rush and no worries. The only disturbance will be the waves breaking and the sound of birds, a true Robinson Crusoe experience.

Just before lunch, go back to the main area, and head up to the lunch buffet. Take this opportunity to enjoy sipping on a cocktail and listening to live music. As the ship crew is well known to create an island-like feel with the decor and the food served at the buffet.

After a filling lunch, go back in the water to enjoy the last couple of hours of this idyllic island.

Before returning to the vessel, browse the local market for some typical Mozambican souvenirs - wooden items and trinkets, traditional sarongs and powerful rum.

The market is really vibrant and colourful. Despite it not being very big and most of the stalls offering similar items, it is a great spot to meet some of the locals and support them with a purchase or two.

It is now time to return to the ship. The tenders only run from the ship to the beach at Portuguese Island between 08h00 and 12h00, then from the beach to the vessel between 12h00 and 15h00.

It takes around 20 minutes of queuing to get back to the ship and enjoy a shower before getting ready for the evening.


How do you travel from the ship to Portuguese Island?

The ship anchors a couple of miles off the coast of Portuguese Island. Passengers will travel for approximately 20 minutes to the island by tender, which is similar to a speedboat that carries approximately 150 passengers.


Guests are required to get a disembarkation tender ticket with a number on it from one of the lounges prior to leaving the ship. The exact lounge is advertised in the daily newsletter that you get on your bed in your cabin. We recommend that you get a ticket early and then enjoy your breakfast until you get called by the ship.

When the ship is ready to start with the transfer of guests, the reception will call each individual number. You then will join the queue to reach the tender boat.
Tips: similar to the tender in Pomene, the trip from the ship can be very bumpy and wet. We often got caught in the late afternoon Mozambican showers. 

MSC Flamingo, the MSC Cruises tender boat taking the passengers from the MSC cruise ship to the island in the Maputo Bay

Your cruise Ship: MSC Orchestra

The MSC Orchestra is 92,409 tonnes, 2,550 passengers with 1,014 crew members. She is owned by MSC Cruises and is sister to the MSC Magnifica, MSC Poesia and MSC Musica. The Orchestra was in SA during 2019/2020 & replaced the MSC Musica during the 2021/2022 season. MSC Musica vs MSC Orchestra for a comparison of the two ships.

  • 2 Main Restaurants (L'Ibiscus & Villa Borghese)
  • 1 Buffet Restaurant (La Piazzetta)
  • 1 Speciality Restaurant - Shanghai ($/€)
  • 1 Theatre
  • 2 Lounges
  • 16 Bars
  • Casino
  • SPA with treatments rooms
  • Boutiques
  • Card Room & Library
  • Children Playroom
  • Mini-Golf

What is included in your Cruise Fare

  • All meals in the two main dining rooms, the buffet and selected other eateries.
  • All shows in the theatre and other venues are included!
  • Speciality Restaurant ($/€) for a unique dining experience!
  • Shop ’til you drop in the duty-free shopping gallery ($/€)!
  • Get your reading on in the library & game room
  • Keep the little ones entertained with our award-winning kids club for all ages
  • Service fees /gratuities are included so you don’t have to worry about a thing
  • Accommodation in well-appointed cabins - as a crusie vacation is all about spoiling yourself
  • Water, coffee and some juices are included in certain areas of the ship
  • Most on-board activities such as group games, competitions, quizzes, and crafts classes are included - something for everyone to enjoy
  • No entrance fee for the disco / nightclub - let's get this party started!
  • All evening shows are free to enjoy
  • All drinks beyond water, tea, coffee and selected juices in the buffet
  • Shore Excursions
  • SPA treatments & access to SPA area (Subject to experience)
  • Wifi (unless specified otherwise)
  • Casino, photos, shops
  • Service fees (please check - it is INCLUDED in some markets)
  • Aditional Kids activities

Number 1 holiday destination
for South African

Learn more about your cruise to Portuguese Islands - [FAQ]

No, you don't need to be vaccinated for a Portuguese Island, Mozambique Cruise. However, if you're not vaccinated, you will be required to take a PCR test before boarding the cruise ship. If you are vaccinated you will need an Antigen test. Both tests within 48 hours of departure.

Read more in the FAQ about what is required to embark on an MSC Cruise from South Africa

Do I need a Passport to Portuguese Island?

Even if Portuguese Island is a tender and not an actual port, you still need a passport as you are exiting the Republic of South Africa. Immigration in the port of Durban will check your passport details and give you an exit stamp.

Do I need a Visa for Portuguese Island?

South African citizens and most SADC nationals will not need a visa for Portuguese Island, Inhaca Island or for Pomene.
For those travellers that do, the cruise ship will take care of the visa for you. The cost of the visa is normally about USD 50.- and will be settled with your onboard cruise spend at the end of your holiday.

What is the currency on Portuguese Island?

All your drinks can be purchased with the ship's cruise card. The drinks packages can also be used on the island. For any purchases you want to make in the local market, the vendors will accept South African Rands and US Dollars. If you have local currencies (such as Meticais) they will accept them too.

How long do we stay on the island?

The cruise vessel will anchor off Portuguese Island in the early hours of the morning. The last transfer is in the late afternoon. (Check the return time in the ship's gangway or ask the crew for the information)

Do I need to bring my own towels?

You can take the towels that are provided in your cabin onshore, so you don't have to bring your own. Just don't forget to bring them back.

What about umbrellas & loungers?

You can rent loungers & beach umbrellas as part of packages sold onboard the cruise ship. Ask reception or check the daily program for any more details and for things to do.

The MSC Sinfonia, during her 2022/2023 season is not scheduled to go to Portuguese Island. She is staying in and around Cape Town.

All MSC Cruises’ itineraries from Durban start at the Kwazulu Passenger Cruise Terminal. It is located at the end of the Mahatma Gandhi Rd, Point, Durban. The old N-Shed is not in use anymore. Read the blog post for more information on Kwazulu Cruise Terminal.

To secure your cabin, you will need to pay a R3,300 deposit. The balance of your payment will be due 75 days before departure. If you book within 75 days of departure, you will need to pay the full amount at the time of booking.

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Portuguese Island Cruise Specials

Get ready for the 2022/2023 season with some MSC Special Offers and MSC Cruise Deals on Portuguese Island. 

26 Jan  -  
29 Jan, 2024
R 4,400
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