Johannesburg, South Africa, 10 December 2021 - MSC Cruises today announced that it has voluntarily suspended all its domestic sailings in South Africa with immediate effect until 8 January, 2022. The temporary suspension was dictated by the cruise line’s industry-leading health and safety protocol in connection with the most recent and sudden evolution, particularly in the past week of the pandemic ashore in the country, that puts the health and safety of its guests and crew as its utmost priority.
The decision will lead to the cancellation of all sailings of MSC Orchestra from the port of Durban and all booked guests will receive a voucher for a voyage later in the season at their convenience or a refund. MSC Orchestra will resume her cruise sailings on 9 January, 2022.
Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa, said, “We made this voluntary decision in an abundance of caution towards our guests, our crew and the communities that MSC Orchestra was scheduled to visit in the coming weeks. This is what our health and safety protocol is designed to do, in accordance with the evolution of the pandemic ashore and to ensure the utmost protection to our guests and crew.
“In light of the most recent evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic across South Africa, we have been in consultation with the government’s Department of Health which is working hard to understand the most up-to-date data of the virus and as health and safety is our number one priority our protocol clearly called for a temporary suspension of our forthcoming sailings with immediate effect.
“We now also await eagerly for any additional guidance from the South African government for its citizens so that we can also reflect any new measures into our own health and safety protocol. ”We understand that our decision will be very disappointing to those guests that will have their voyages cancelled but I hope that they will understand that it was made with their wellbeing in mind, as the health and safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our number one priority.”
MSC Cruises resumed its sailing operation also in South Africa on Monday 6 December after a 20 month hiatus when MSC Orchestra departed from Durban for a 4-night cruise.
The approval to sail was granted by the government’s Department of Health, Department of Transportation and South African Maritime Safety Authority who all approved MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol.
MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol has led the way in the global cruise industry since August 2020, being the first major cruise liner to resume international operations.
The line currently has 12 ships at sea operating regular cruises in Europe, North America, South America, and the Middle East.
MSC Cruises has to date safely and responsibly hosted over one million guests on its ships globally since it resumed operations in Summer 2020. The cruise line continually adapts its health and safety measures to the evolution of the pandemic ashore to ensure the highest level of protection for guests, crew and destinations visited. Todays’ decision is a further proof of this.