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Returning to a transformed Walvis Bay

2024-01-25  Eveline de Klerk

Returning to a transformed Walvis Bay

WALVIS BAY – The Walvis Bay harbour was a hype of activity yesterday as hundreds of tourists disembarked from two luxury cruises, the Queen Mary 2 and the MSC Poesia to explore the coastal towns and its hospitality. 

Various shuttles and other means of transport lined up next to the cruise liner to take the visitors to explore the coast. Eager tourists lined up at the gates to buy souvenirs they could take back home for memories.

However, the visit brought back bittersweet memories for Amara Symonds, a South African woman who migrated to the United States in the early seventies.

She disembarked from the Queen Mary 2 to set foot in Walvis Bay, a town she visited as a young woman 52 years ago.

Her last encounter with Walvis Bay was when she was only 18 years old, at the time, the town was still under the apartheid regime.

“I am shocked at how beautiful Namibia, specifically the coast, has blossomed. I was here in 1972. It was just a fishing village, and there was nothing, and it was also part of South Africa,” she reminisced, overwhelmed with joy.

A native of Durban, Symonds migrated to America and currently resides in Los Angeles, driven by her desire to distance herself from the shadows of apartheid but also to get an education. 

Symonds said she was happy to witness the town’s transformation and expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to witness its development over all these years.

“It is amazing. They have shown us onboard how beautiful it is.  The people back then were also friendly and humble. The town itself was spotless and clean. I hope that today’s visit is also memorable. Can you imagine, I am almost 70 years old,” an excited Symonds said.

She also explained that her journey on the Queen Mary 2 commenced in New York, spanning destinations like Barbados and London. 

She said the final stop would be in Cape Town to visit family. She mentioned that her partner, averse to the freezing weather of Europe, opted for the cruise to experience the warmth of summer.

Stewart Fisher, also aboard the Queen Mary 2, shared his thoughts on their African adventure. Having boarded the ship in Southampton, he and his partner found Namibia to be an intriguing destination. 

“We have never been here, but it is a very friendly town and an incredibly nice place. The port is amazingly well-developed, unlike some ports we have seen in Africa,” Fisher explained.

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Lucia Witbooi was also onsite to observe how immigration and visa processes were being dealt with on a large scale. 

“It is quite hectic but smooth. Immigration set up 10 desks to ease the immigration and visa process, as we are currently still doing it manually,” Witbooi said. 

Currently, the port of Walvis Bay does not offer visas on arrival processes. However, immigration officials say that they always advise tourists from countries that are not on the visa exemption list to apply well in advance for their visas. 

“There are those that do not need to apply or need a visa due to the visa exemptions. Others choose to stay on the vessel if they do not have a visa to enter the country,” one of the immigration officials explained.


2024-01-25  Eveline de Klerk

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