Despite reservations over the current unstable political and economic outlook for South Africa, MSC Cruises has committed to sending MSC Musica to the South African cruise market for the first time in 2019, the cruise line said in a statement this week.
MSC Musica is the first cruise ship ever built specifically for MSC Cruises when it launched its ongoing 11-billion euro fleet expansion and rejuvenation, which included the ‘renaissance’ refit on all Lirica class cruise ships.
MSC Sinfonia is one of the Lirica class ships that was cut in half and lengthened in 2015 and she has been the stalwart of the South African cruise market since 2013 when MSC Melody was sold out of the fleet. MSC Sinfonia’s time as SA’s favourite cruise ship now appears to be nearing its end.
According to MSC Cruises, she will sail her final season out of Durban in 2018 and will be replaced by the larger MSC Musica the following year. Musica is only 20m longer than Sinfonia, but is almost twice the size in terms of gross tonnage, with 300 additional cabins and a passenger capacity that is only marginally higher, meaning more space for each guest on-board.
Around 65% of all her cabins have balconies and 79% are classed as ‘outside cabins’. This means that she will offer a far superior product in a cruise market that, despite its longevity and relevant stability, has for years been treated as a second-class source market by the major cruise lines.
In addition to bringing MSC Musica to sail round trip cruises out of Durban, MSC Cruises are also (finally!) adding a new cruise destination to the Indian Ocean mix, giving South Africans more choice than simply Portuguese Island and Barra Lodge.
Like both those destinations, however, Pomene Bay, is also in Mozambique, and is known as one of the most picturesque sites in the country. MSC has marketed it as a fishing and snorkelling heaven with pristine beaches, much like Barra Lodge and Portuguese Island.
“We are constantly trying to make travel better and easier for South Africans. We are confident that travellers will enjoy a new destination and the Musica,” said new managing director for MSC, Ross Volk. “Our goal is to also expose South Africa to international markets and overseas cruises that we plan.”
Volk added in an interview with IOL that some of the challenges in the South African market were the economic stability of the country and the unabridged birth certificate ruling, which is an impediment to getting international cruise travellers to cruise from South Africa.