• Cruise Line to extend vaccination requirement that exists in all other global markets
  • All South African guests to take PCR COVID-19 test prior to embarkation
  • Reinforced measures are part of MSC Cruises’ industry-leading health and safety protocol designed to adapt to the evolution of the pandemic ashore to ensure the maximum level of protection

Johannesburg, South Africa, 1 December, 2021MSC Cruises South Africa today announced that all guests for its 2021/22 local cruise season must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to the requirement to also take a PCR test before their scheduled embarkation date.

The measures have been put in place in light of the evolution of the pandemic ashore, including the new Omicron variant, and with the wellbeing of the cruise line’s guests as its number one priority.

MSC Cruises previously announced on 20 October it planned to welcome guests on board its South African sailings  who had been vaccinated against COVID-19 as well as unvaccinated but that this could be subject to change dependent on possible new health measures made by the South African government, as well as the evolution of the pandemic.


MSC Cruises aims to resume its South African sailings with the new health and safety measures on 6 December, 2021 with MSC Orchestra, a popular ship for South African holidaymakers.


Vaccination-only cruises are in place for all of MSC Cruises’ winter voyages in Europe, North America, South America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.


Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa, said, “Our health and safety protocol has led the way in the industry not just because we were the first major cruise line to resume international operations in summer 2020 but also because of its flexibility to adapt to the evolution of the pandemic ashore.

“This approach has reassured our guests, our crew and the destinations we visit all around the world.

 “South Africa is currently seeing an increase in infection rates ashore and to ensure the wellbeing of those on board our ship and at the communities we call, our preventative measures again demonstrates that health and safety is our number one priority.”

Enhanced Health and Safety Requirement for MSC Orchestra Guests

All guests older than 2 years old are required to provide a certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before embarkation

All guests who are 12 years old and above must be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson.

Guests will be considered vaccinated if they have received the full set of COVID-19 shots more than 14 days before the start of their holiday at sea.

Guests between the ages of 12 and 17 years will be considered fully vaccinated if they have received one dose of an accredited vaccine, which is in line with government regulations.

Unvaccinated guests aged between 2 and 11 who accompany vaccinated guests will have to undergo an antigen lateral flow test at the embarkation port at a cost of R300 per person.

The original test results and vaccination certificate must be presented at the cruise terminal before embarkation in either a paper or electronic format and must be in English.

The PCR test certificate must contain the guest’s personal data, date of the test, identification/contact details of the centre that performed the analysis, technique used, and negative test result.

Any existing guest who will not be fully vaccinated in time for their departure date can opt to either postpone their holiday with a voucher for a future cruise at a later date or request a refund.

MSC Cruises requires all guests to have an insurance policy that covers any COVID-19 related risks, including cancellation, repatriation and medical expenses. For guest’s convenience, the cost of the new MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan will be additionally charged and added to their cruise fare. It will provide coverage before, during and after their cruise. In collaboration with Hollard Insurance, the plan covers cancellation charges as well as medical and related transport expenses.

For further details on what the cover entails click here.

To find out more about the embarkation requirements and the health and safety measures click here.

For further details on existing bookings, guests should contact their Travel Advisor or visit the MSC Cruises website here.