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By Citizen Reporter


MSC Cruises resumes sailing, vaccinated and unvaccinated welcomed

The South African government to date has not mandated passengers be fully vaccinated before a cruise holiday.

MSC Cruises will resume operations on 6 December 2021 following approvals in the most recent Government Gazette.

MSC Orchestra, part of the MSC Cruises fleet, will homeport in Durban and Cape Town for the local 2021-2022 season and offer two-, three-, four- and seven-night voyages up to 11 May 2022. 

The sea cruises company currently plans to welcome onboard both guests who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 as well as unvaccinated, but will amend its position subject to the requirements of either the South African government or any of the other countries that MSC Orchestra is set to visit during the season.  

MSC Cruises, however, strongly urges its guests to be fully vaccinated before their voyage for their own wellbeing and that of other passengers, the ship’s crew and communities in the destinations that MSC Orchestra will visit.

The vessel has recently undergone a major refurbishment and replaces the MSC Musica that was originally earmarked for South Africa in the upcoming cruise season.

MSC Orchestra will welcome guests on a total of 41 local cruises from both Durban – with embarkation at the soon-to-be-inaugurated KwaZulu Natal terminal – and Cape Town providing South African cruisers with a wide choice of options to suit their holiday needs.

Highlights include Pomene Bay in Mozambique – a marine safari experience complete with its own beach club, Portuguese Island and other destinations in Southern Africa. MSC Cruises plans to implement stringent health and safety measures onboard MSC Orchestra and all destinations that the ship will visit.

These measures are based on an industry-leading protocol it introduced in August 2020 for the wellbeing of passengers, crew and the destinations served by its vessels.

The MSC Cruises’ protocol has safely protected hundreds of thousands of guests since its introduction and is currently implemented on 12 MSC Cruises ships operating in Europe, North America and the Middle East. 

We are now eagerly awaiting the relevant authorities in South Africa to issue specifics of their health and safety guidelines which can be built into its own protocol, as required.

Ross Volk, managing director of MSC Cruises South Africa, said: “We are delighted to have received confirmation and approval from the government that cruising and with it our local season can proceed. I believe that our return to sailing will provide a welcome boost to the South African economy in terms of direct and indirect employment, as well as offering safe and relaxing cruise holidays.”

Requirements for travel:

  • All passengers – both vaccinated and unvaccinated – will be required to take a Covid-19 test within 72 hours of their cruise departure and provide proof of a negative result in order to board.  
  • Unvaccinated guests over the age of 18 years will additionally have to undergo an antigen lateral flow test at the embarkation port costing R300 per person.
  • All guests will be required to have an insurance policy to cover Covid-19 related issues such as cancellation, interruption, repatriation, quarantine, medical assistance and related expenses.
  • MSC Cruises offers it own Covid-19 protection plan through Hollard Insurance, which provides coverage before, during and after their cruise. This insurance covers cancellation charges as well as medical and related transport expenses. For further details on what the cover entails, click here.

Health screenings

  • Health screening of all guests in the cruise terminals will include a temperature check and a health questionnaire.
  • Guest embarkation flow will be managed by assigning guests with a specific arrival time, which will be indicated on their cruise ticket.
  • The guests will be asked to respect the timing and will not be allowed to enter the terminal until their time slot, in order to comply with the local social distancing regulations.

Medical care onboard

MSC Orchestra is equipped with a 24/7 medical centre staffed by professional doctors and nurses and has a contingency response plan agreed in collaboration with the relevant authorities ashore.

Additional health and safety measures include extended sanitation onboard and the wearing of face masks in indoor public areas or where social distancing cannot be guaranteed. To find out more about the embarkation requirements and the health and safety measures, click here.

With MSC Orchestra’s sailings set to commence on 6 December, MSC Cruises has had to cancel its originally proposed Southern Africa voyages during November. For more information on cancellations and amendments, click here.

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