MSC Cruises expects to operate its summer cruise season in Southern African waters, sailing from South Africa with no changes to the programme.
Ross Volk, md of MSC Cruises SA, told Travel News that no changes had been announced to the itineraries, although there was still administrative and organisational work that needed to take place before operations could start up, such as the availability of regional cruise destinations.
However, he was confident that cruising out of South Africa was workable and said the company was collaborating with government to ensure it happened.
“There may be some changes, but for the time being, the plan is to open the season on November 20.” MSC Orchestra will set sail in November and MSC Opera in December.
There’s a good case for local cruising, said Ross. He explained that because the cruises were almost entirely made up of South African passengers, there was a common risk level. Moreover, the island destinations where the vessels call are self-contained and isolated from other communities.
Most importantly, over the last six months, MSC Cruises had invested significantly in developing hygiene protocols, said Ross. “One of the key pillars of the protocols is the fact that universal screening and testing will take place at the port before anyone embarks on the cruise.” He added that the cruise line was using the latest testing technology – the antigen COVID swab.