German ZDF TV ‘Das Traumschiff’ episode ‘Kapstadt’ is good and bad PR for Cape Town!



I looooove ‘Das Traumschiff’, a German TV series that has been broadcast regularly in the past 20 years or so, so I was doubly excited when our city  ‘Kapstadt’ was the focus of the Boxing Day 2020 edition of  this series.

The edition could not have come at a better time, when our city’s Tourism industry is sorely missing its German tourists, and the Germans are missing not being able to travel to our city. But a subplot of the Cape Town edition has some political sensitivities, not good for our country’s image and tourism future.

The ‘Das Traumschiff’ editions all have a similar flow, going onboard in a previous port, without it being identified; relationships between key characters are developed, there always being some intrigues; the arrival at the theme city, in which the intrigue is usually expanded; and the sailing away from the city and the Captain’s Dinner ending off the episode.

The film team was in Cape Town in January 2020, but the episode could not immediately be completed due to the start of the Corona Virus Lockdown.

In the Cape Town edition the theme is a young lady Leah travelling with her adopted parents, and she has a mission to visit her city of birth, and to find her birth mother. The ‘Apartheid’ word is dropped a number of times. Sadly she discovers that her mother has passed away, and she makes an emotional visit to her mother’s grave. Former South African Motsi Mabuse, now a well-known Dancing competition ‘Let’s Dance’ (based on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’) judge in Germany, played the role of her mother’s friend, who has to break the sad news to Leah. She speaks Afrikaans to her mother at her grave, not grammatically correct,  and not a language she would speak as a township child.

More concerning is that the storyline starts off with a crate of vaccinations destined to unnamed Cape Town townships, in which a Virus has infected inhabitants, the children living here in particular. Given the state of the Corona Virus pandemic now, it was a little too close to home. It contains racial insinuations in that only Black children have been infected by the fictional virus. Even worse is that the container with the vaccinations goes missing but then reappears as it was delivered to an incorrect vehicle. The container with the vaccines is so small that it would not have been sufficient to vaccinate thousands of children.

The vaccination scene is set in Bo-Kaap, no area more colourful in Cape Town, but hardly a township!

A separate ZDF program presents a behind-the-scenes insight into the production of the episode. It presents and refers to further Cape Town locations, such as Signal Hill, Robben Island, Table Mountain, Bo-Kaap with Minstrels, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Penguins at Boulder’s Beach, Dassies, the V&A Waterfront and the Big Wheel, Table Mountain and its Table Cloth and cable car, St George’s Cathedral, Greenmarket Square, St George’s Mall, and the Cape Town Stadium. At De Hoop close to Cape Agulhas a scene with sand boarding is filmed, and whales are sighted.

A sommelier serves a South African wine on board, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, its taste described by the passenger as ‘oily’! A crew member visits her partner as a surprise on a wine farm, looking like Lourensford in Somerset West. The two of them make wine together, and will continue to do so, even though her partner has found a new love in the Cape and she returns to the cruise ship.

Time will tell what impact this ‘Kapstadt’ edition of ‘Das Traumschiff’ will have on Tourism to our beautiful city. Excellent news is that Wesgro is planning to produce a commercial about Cape Town, to attract German-speaking tourists and food lovers to our city.


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide

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