SA Cruise News

MSC Cruises to replace Musica with Orchestra for 2019/2020 South African cruise season

MSC Cruises will deploy MSC Orchestra in Durban, South Africa for the 2019/2020 cruise season, instead of MSC Musica, according to scheduled itineraries for both ships.

MSC Cruises confirmed the change to Cruise Arabia & Africa Tuesday.

“MSC Orchestra will be cruising from South Africa for the 2019/2020 season,” a spokesperson said via email. “The itineraries will be released next week and will be available on msccruises.co.za.”

The 2020 cruise schedule for MSC Musica has her sailing roundtrip out of Buenos Aires rather than Durban and Cape Town, her two South African homeports during the coming cruise season.

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MSC Orchestra is almost identical to MSC Musica.

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MSC Orchestra on the other hand, is homeporting in Buenos Aires for the 2018/2019 season, and Europe until October, 2019, with no scheduled cruise itineraries between then and April, 2020, when she will cruise from Durban to Venice.

That 25-night repositioning cruise can only mean that she is due to be homeported in Durban during the 2019 winter cruise season that traditionally runs from November to April each year.

The move means that MSC Cruises’ big gamble on the South African cruise market has paid off. During the most recent cruise season, MSC Musica was sent to Durban to replace the much smaller MSC Sinfonia.

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The deployment to Durban of MSC Orchestra underscores MSC’s growth plans for SA cruise market.

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It boosted the Italian cruise line’s capacity in the SA market by around 40%, a massive increase on a year-to-year basis, but MSC Orchestra is a sister ship to MSC Musica, which means that the most recent cruise season was successful enough for MSC to justify the larger ship deployment.

“Cruise tourism is the best performing travel sector globally and South Africa has not been left behind,” says Moshe Motlohi, the manager at Transnet Durban Port. “We have seen tremendous growth since we started. For example, last year there has been 22% growth in that business.”

The growth is being driven primarily by the South African public as a source market, rather than international tourists fly-cruising from Durban.

According to Christopher Rudolph, brand performance director at MSC Cruises, this is because of the value-for-money a MSC cruise from Durban represents.

“If you want to fly to Pomene, you have to go to Johannesburg, then Vilankulos and then you have a four-hour drive… [Cruises] are the best value for money. You’re on a resort hotel moving to new destinations offering exciting activities,” he says, referring to MSC Cruises exclusive new cruise destination in Mozambique.

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