2020/2021 Cruise season cancellation - Despite MSC Cruises strenuous efforts to restart operations with industry-leading health and safety protocol

• MSC Cruises confirms 2021/2022 local season with two ships based in South Africa for the first time


Johannesburg, South Africa – 18 February 2021 - MSC Cruises said today that the delay to approve cruise operations in South Africa had led to the Company cancelling all its remaining sailings for the 2020/21 season.


MSC Cruises has worked since March 2020 in close collaboration with the relevant authorities in South Africa for approval of its comprehensive health and safety protocol designed for the wellbeing of its guests and crew.


We have appreciated our interaction with government and thank them for their hard work and diligence in all our communication during these difficult times.


In late December 2020, the Company showcased an onboard inspection of the vessels’ rigorous and robust protocol to the various authorities in South Africa including the Department of Transport, Department of Health, Port Health, Department of Home Affairs together with the South African Maritime Safety Authority.


While authorities indicated that they were satisfied with the protocol MSC Cruises had presented, we are awaiting approval to resume.


Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa, said “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.


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.


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.”


Ross Volk concluded: “At the same time, we are optimistic for the future about cruise holidays in South Africa and for the 2021/22 season we will offer our guests, with whom we already have a long-standing relationship, memorable, relaxing and safe holidays on board two MSC Cruises ships based in the country for the first time.


“We would like to thank all our guests, travel agents, partners, destinations and local authorities, who have given us support in these challenging times.”


Voyages for the remainder of the 2020/21 cruise season will be moved to the next local cruise season between November 2021 and April 2022 with embarkation from both Durban and Cape Town with MSC Cruise operating for the first time two ships in South Africa.


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 onboard credit of USD 50 per cabin to be used for their next cruise as a recognition for the involuntary inconvenience caused by the cancelled cruises.


MSC Cruises continues to invest in South Africa and support the tourism sector through various initiatives including the construction of a new passenger cruise terminal in Durban due to open in November 2021.


As part of the KwaZulu Cruise Terminal Consortium (KTC), MSC Cruises has invested over R300 million in the project. The multi-user, state-of-the-art terminal will substantially boost tourism numbers, create thousands of new jobs and lead to supplier development.



2021/2022 Local Season Cruise Programme


MSC Cruises – the number one cruise line in South Africa, Europe, South America and the Gulf – has announced that the Company will be bringing two ships to South Africa’s shores for the 2021/2022 cruise season. This will mark the first time that two different class MSC Cruises’ ships (Lirica and Musica Class) will be deployed in the country simultaneously and will mean that 42,300 additional guests can discover why cruising is popular in South Africa.


From November 2021 to April 2022 MSC Lirica, which will be homeported in Cape Town, will join MSC Musica homeported in Durban.


MSC Cruises confirmed today full details of its summer 2021/2022 programme, offering over 14 different itineraries across South Africa with cruising ranging in length from 2 to 14 nights.


We have reviewed and updated our complete summer 2021/2022 season, starting in late November, and we are pleased to now confirm the full details,” explains Ross Volk, MD for MSC Cruises South Africa.Our summer programme sees us offering cruises in all of the destinations we traditionally operate, and while there are some exciting new updates to the original schedule, we are still able to offer our main itineraries so that guests can enjoy a safe and relaxing cruise holiday with us.


An exciting new Southern African itinerary for cruisers


MSC Lirica, which can host approximately 2,350 guests and was completely refurbished in 2015 as part of the Company’s Renaissance Programme, will offer 24 cruises next season alongside MSC Musica. MSC Musica can cater for approximately 3,200 guests and will offer 38 cruises. The ships will alternate routes, providing South African cruisers with a wider choice of options to suit their holiday needs. This means that both Cape Town and Durban ports of embarkation will get to experience the leading cruise line’s elegant and diverse product offering and enjoy more cruise destinations and packages than ever before.


One MSC cruise that has proven extremely popular with our guests is the 14-night New Year Cruise around Southern Africa, and our 2021/2022 cruise itinerary will be no different. The cruise will depart from Durban on 26 December and will incorporate destinations including Portuguese Island; Nosy Be, Madagascar; followed by Port Victoria, Seychelles; and then Port Louis in Mauritius, returning to Durban on 09 January.


Guests wishing to experience the delights of a briefer MSC Cruise holiday in the 2021/2022 season can book onto a myriad of departures that offer three-, four- and five-night sailings around the South African coastline until April 2022.


Highlights of these itineraries include Pomene Bay in Mozambique – a marine safari experience complete with its own beach club – Portuguese Island, and Maputo.


For further details visit the MSC Cruises website at www.msccruises.co.za


Notes for Editors


MSC Cruises health and safety protocol


MSC Cruises in August 2020 became the first major cruise line to resume sailing following the global shutdown of the industry in March caused by the pandemic ashore.


MSC Grandiosa, the Company’s flagship, set sail on Sunday 16 August from Genoa in Italy with guests on board for the first of her 7-night voyages in the Western Mediterranean.


This was achieved following approvals from the relevant authorities in Italy, Malta and Greece of an   industry-leading health and safety protocol designed to protect the wellbeing of all guests, crew and communities to be visited.


This industry-leading protocol, which was designed at the outset to adapt to a fluctuating health situation ashore, was recently strengthened in line with the current evolution of the pandemic in mainland Europe, with a series of enhanced rigorous measures.


The additional measures include the following:


  • Additional on-board antigen testing for COVID-19 of all guests mid-way through their cruise which are on top of the existing pre-boarding universal testing for all guests;
  • Frequency of testing of all crew during their time on board increased from twice-a-month to weekly, which is in addition to pre-boarding testing for all crew and other ongoing health monitoring measures;
  • Increased frequency of on-board sanitation, in particular of public areas and high touch points;
  • Tightening of the definition of close contact for tracing purposes, reducing the time that individuals are in contact from 15 minutes to 10 minutes.


The MSC Cruises protocol is based on nine key elements, many of which have been adopted by other cruise companies, the Cruise Lines Industry Association and international airlines and airports.


1.            Testing of all guests at least twice per voyage

2.            Testing of all crew at least three times before embarkation and weekly on board

3.            Only protected shore excursions, as organised ‘social bubbles’

4.            Ventilation with HVAC fresh air

5.            Contingency response that does not burden local health infrastructures

6.            Isolation space on board and tracking and tracing including close contacts

7.            Masks

8.            Physical distancing – aided by reduced capacity of the ship

9.            And COVID-19 prevalence monitoring