MSC Cruises is in talks with the South African government to try get approval to operate its scheduled 2020/21 cruise season out of Durban and Cape Town amid the coronavirus pandemic.
MSC Cruises’ local office, MSC South Africa, is in “deep consultation” with authorities in an attempt to secure approval for cruises to go ahead before the end of the 2020/21 cruise season, which runs from November to April.
When South Africa went into lockdown earlier this year to attempt to halt the spread of coronavirus, cruises were one of the first businesses to be banned, especially after a COVID-19 scare aboard a cruise ship in Cape Town.
Since then, no cruise ship has been allowed to sail to or from any South African port, except when it is doing so to disembark South African citizens, or if it is in need of technical or operational supplies.
“Passenger ships are allowed to call at any South African sea port only for the disembarking returning South African citizens and holders of South African permanent residence permits, replenishing fuel, stores and provisions, medical evacuation and search and rescue,” said Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula in a recent briefing.
Since then, he has not given any indication of whether cruises will be allowed to resume, despite the government steadily easing lockdown measures.
However, MSC Cruises South Africa is pushing for the upcoming cruise season to be allowed to go ahead, and is currently in talks with the South African government.
“MSC Cruises South Africa is in deep consultation with the government and a range of regulatory authorities to hopefully allow us to sail a proposed upcoming 2020/21 cruise season,” said Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa.
“We hope to receive confirmation shortly that our local season will proceed as proposed following approval from the government,” he added.
MSC Cruises has already repositioned MSC Orchestra to Durban ahead of an anticipated resumption of cruises from the city. MSC Orchestra is a sister ship to MSC Musica, which homeported in South Africa last year, the largest cruise ship ever to do so.
MSC Cruises is one of just two cruise lines to have resumed limited cruises in Europe out of Italy, with strict new health and safety measures in place. The cruise line has presented a plan to SA authorities based on its experience in resuming cruises in Europe.
“We have presented a new comprehensive health and safety proposal to regulators, port officials and a range of other relevant authorities that demonstrates the wellbeing of South African guests, crew on board and the destinations that MSC Cruises South Africa would like to safely visit in the weeks and months ahead,” said Volk.
“The protocol mirrors the safe and effective return to sea in mid-August when the Company’s flagship MSC Grandiosa resumed cruises in the Mediterranean and has since witnessed more than 16,000 guests experience a safe, relaxing and enjoyable holiday with MSC Cruises,” he added.
Categories: SA Cruise News