MSC Cruises had hoped to obtain approval for a resumption of cruises, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, after rolling out new health and safety measures for MSC Orchestra, based on the protocols put in place for its resumed operations in the Mediterranean.
Transport officials were given a tour of MSC Orchestra in Durban, and although they expressed confidence in the measures put in place, no approval was forthcoming to allow roundtrip cruises to resume from the port.
Officials taken on the tour in December, 2020, included members of the Department of Transport, Department of Health, Port Health, Department of Home Affairs together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority.
“We are as disappointed as our guests will be that we have had to cancel their holiday plans despite our strenuous efforts to demonstrate that we can operate safely and ensure the wellbeing of our customers, our crew and the destinations we visit with our industry-leading, proven and effective protocol,” said Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa.
“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,” he added. “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.
As a result, MSC Cruises has cancelled the remainder of the South African cruise season, which traditionally runs until late March, or early April. All booked cruises will be carried over to the upcoming 2021/22 cruise season, which runs from November through March.
Ross said MSC remained optimistic for the future of cruise holidays in South Africa and the 2021/22 season. During the upcoming season, MSC Cruises will homeport two cruise ships in South Africa, sailing from both Cape Town and Durban.
All guests whose reservations are affected by the cancellation of the 2020/2021 season in South Africa are eligible for a voucher for the value of their current 2020/2021 cruise package.
All guests affected will also receive an on-board credit of $50 (R729) per cabin to be used for their next cruise, according to the cruise line.
Categories: SA Cruise News