MSC Cruises says the delay in approval for cruise operations in South Africa had led to the company cancelling all its remaining sailings for the 2020/21 season, according to a press release.
The cruise operator says it has worked since March 2020 in close collaboration with the relevant authorities in South Africa for approval of its comprehensive health and safety protocols. Although it underwent onboard inspection of its vessels’ robust protocols by the Department of Transport, Department of Health, Port Health, Department of Home Affairs together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority in December 2020 and authorities indicated they were satisfied with the protocol MSC Cruises had presented, the approval to resume cruising has not yet been given.
Ross Volk, md of MSC Cruises SA expressed the company’s disappointment at the cancellation.
“We did our best to resume operations in South Africa safely and responsibly so that it was possible to sail in the region, just as we did in Europe. This was a difficult decision to make as we had invested in preparing as much as possible while the relevant authorities conducted their analysis. While we await their final decision, the delay makes it impossible for us to perform the remaining sailings” he said.
Voyages for the remainder of the 2020/21 cruise season will be moved to the next local cruise season between November 2021 and April 2022 with embarkation from both Durban and Cape Town with MSC Cruise operating two ships of different classes in South Africa.
Clients with reservations affected by the cancellation are eligible for a voucher to the value of their current 2020/2021 cruise package. They will also receive an onboard credit of USD50 (R733) per cabin to be used for their next cruise.
2021/2022 local season
Ross says the company is optimistic for the future of cruise holidays in South Africa.
The 2021/2022 season will mark the first time that two different class MSC Cruises’ ships (Lirica Class and Musica Class) will be deployed in the country simultaneously and will mean 42 300 additional guests can discover why cruising is popular in South Africa.
From November 2021 to April 2022 MSC Lirica, will be homeported in from Cape Town, and MSC Musica in Durban. The summer 2021/2022 programme, will offer over 14 different itineraries across South Africa. MSC Lirica, (2 350 guests) was completely refurbished in 2015, will offer 24 cruises next season. MSC Musica (3 200 guests) will offer 38 cruises. The ships will alternate routes, providing a wider choice of options. This means that guests embarking both in Cape Town and Durban ports, will get to experience MSC’s product offering.
The ever-popular 14-night New Year cruise will depart from Durban on December 26 2021, incorporating destinations including Portuguese Island, Mozambique; Nosy Be, Madagascar; Port Victoria, Seychelles and Port Louis in Mauritius, returning to Durban on January 9 2022.
MSC Cruises is a member of the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Consortium (KTC), having invested over R300m in the project, the construction of a state-of-the-art passenger cruise terminal in Durban, due to open in November 2021.