Have you ever been in a position where you are looking for something different for a conference, incentive or event should consider holding their conference at sea, or perhaps on one of Africa’s lakes.

Among 5 of the best options for cruise conferences, two are based along the Zambezi River. The two are Southern Belle (Lake Kariba) and the Zambezi Explorer (Victoria Falls).

For the Lake Kariba overnighters: Southern Belle

Southern Belle, Lake Kariba

Southern Belle, Lake Kariba

The Southern Belle is located in Manchinchi Bay near Siavonga on Lake Kariba, the largest artificial lake in the world. With a length of 220km it is a peaceful retreat from city life and an African bush experience that is unique and entirely different from safaris and game tours. Zambia also has a wealth of spectacular wildlife and it showcases the African bush at its best. It is one of the largest houseboats in Southern Africa with 3 decks and 21 en-suite cabins, as well as a lobby, sundry shop, restaurant and bar, top deck with bar and a swimming pool.

The conference room can seat up to 30 people classroom style and 20 people in a U-shape set and it has a verandah for tea breaks. Hire of the conference room includes writing pads, pens, mints, cordials, water, white boards, soft boards, screen, markers, flipcharts and data projector.

The Green option: Zambezi Explorer

Zambezi Explorer, Victoria Falls

Zambezi Explorer, Victoria Falls

The newly launched Zambezi Explorer is the latest offering by the Zambezi Cruise Company. It runs exclusively on solar energy, resulting in minimal carbon emissions. The 140-seat cruise boat caters for corporate and leisure events and either individual decks or the entire craft can be used exclusively for functions or product launches. It’s 30 square meter roof is carpeted with a network of photo-voltaic cells, capturing solar energy that powers the requirements.

The Zambezi Explorer offers a pre-dawn sunrise cruise, a lunch with a cruise tour above the Victoria Falls, as well as a sundowner drink and an upstream cruise. On occasion, the vessel may also be chartered for dinner cruises.

The Zambezi River has two Cruise options that have made the top conference cruise options. There are a number of options out there but here are 5 reasons to hold you conference on water.

A Captive audience:

Zambezi Explorer sunset cruise on its top deck

Zambezi Explorer sunset cruise on its top deck

Danny Bryer, Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue for the Protea Hospitality Group, jokes: “It’s very hard to go AWOL from a conference when you’re on a boat in the middle of a lake!” But he is correct in that meeting and event planners don’t have to worry about delegates missing important sessions or drifting away from the group when everyone is gathered on-boars a vessel.

The Novelty factor:

Stefano Vigoriti, Director of New Business Development for MSC Cruises says the cruise industry is the fastest growing tourism sector worldwide because it offers new and fresh approaches to the MICE industry as opposed to the tried-and-tested land-based obvious destinations.

Exclusive use:

The Southern Belle (operated by Protea Hotels) often gets group bookings for the entire boat, because, with 21 en-suite cabins, it’s a comfortable size for things like management retreats, team-building sessions and brainstorming. “The conference venue can accommodate up to 30 people and it also has a private verandah for breaks,” says Bryer. The benefits of hiring an entire vessel for a conference are that there is less opportunity for a distraction, plus the ability to customise activities and mealtimes to suit the schedule of the group.

Great entertainment:

Southern Belle Lounge

Southern Belle Lounge

Entertainment can come in many forms on board floating conference venues. “From big cruise ships to smaller houseboats which provide the option of luxury gourmet cuisine, available 24 hours a day, coupled with internationally acclaimed floor shows and nightly varied entertainment,” said Vigoriti. But those that opt for the more sedate option can also select from a wide array of activities. On-board the Southern Belle, outside of conferencing time, delegates can relax in the lounge and bar or watch the waves on Lake Kariba from the comfort of the swimming pool on the foredeck. A number of cultural tours can also be arranged and, at night, the Southern Belle offers a front-row seat for a spectacular Milky Way display.

Value for Money:

The exceptional value for money a cruise offers is the key reason why crusing has seen such a surge in popularity, according to Vigoriti. Meeting planners often have the option of selecting all-inclusive packages bundling accommodation, conference facility access, activities and meals, which makes it much easier to contain costs and budget effectively. “Another unique selling point that is often overlooked is that all activities are in one place. This eliminates additional expenses for activities and entertainment plus less absenteeism,” he said.


Corinna Howard from Outlook Africa explains why the Southern Belle was ideal for her client.

Our company organised a South African car launch on the Southern Belle for one of the world’s largest motor companies. We chose this venue because we were looking for something completely different and a car on a boat definitely filled the bill – especially for motoring journalists who have generally done and seen it all.

The Southern Belle had everythbing we needed, from luxurious rooms toan elegant conference venue. And being on a boat the group cant stray, which helped to focus their attention on the job at hand. The route and scenary are also different as you are on one of the world’s largest artificial lakes. I would recommend the Southern Belle as a conference and launch venue because of the staff’s friendliness and professionalism; it really is a special venue.


From: www.meetmag.co.za