Johannesburg, South Africa, 20 October 2021 - MSC Cruises will resume its South African sailings on 6 December 2021 following approvals in the most recent government gazette.


MSC Orchestra, a popular ship for South African holidaymakers, will homeport in Durban and Cape Town for the local 2021/22 season and offer 2, 3, 4 and 7-night voyages up to 11 May 2022.  The vessel has recently undergone a major refurbishment programme and replaces the MSC Musica that was originally earmarked for South Africa in the upcoming cruise season.


MSC Orchestra will welcome guests on a total of 41 local cruises from both Durban – with embarkation at the soon to be inaugurated KwaZulu Natal terminal - and Cape Town providing South African cruisers with a wide choice of options to suit their holiday needs.


Highlights include Pomene Bay in Mozambique – a marine safari experience complete with its own beach club, Portuguese Island and other destinations in Southern Africa.


MSC Cruises plans to implement stringent health and safety measures on board MSC Orchestra and all destinations that the ship will call. These measures are based on an industry-leading protocol it introduced in August 2020 for the wellbeing of passengers, crew and the destinations served by its vessels.


The MSC Cruises’ protocol has safely protected hundreds of thousands of guests since its introduction and is currently implemented on 12 MSC Cruises’ ships operating in Europe, North America and the Middle East.


We are now eagerly awaiting the relevant authorities in South Africa to issue specifics of their health and safety guidelines which can be built into its own protocol, as required.


Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa, said, “We are delighted to have received confirmation and approval from the government that cruising and with it our local season can proceed. I believe that our return to sailing will provide a welcome boost to the South African economy in terms of direct and indirect employment, as well as offering safe and relaxing cruise holidays.


“We have worked co-operatively since last year with all of the relevant authorities, ports and destinations to demonstrate that our new health and safety protocol can ensure the wellbeing of guests, our crew and the communities that MSC Orchestra will visit during the season. We now look forward to receive details of the health and safety guidelines that will allow us to finalise our protocol for the start of our sailing programme.”


MSC Cruises currently plans to welcome on board both guests who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as well as unvaccinated, but will amend its position subject to the requirements of either the South African government or any of the other countries that MSC Orchestra is set to visit during the season. 


The South African government to date has not mandated passengers be fully vaccinated before a cruise holiday nor have other countries in MSC Orchestra’s Southern Africa itineraries made it mandatory for travellers to be fully vaccinated.

MSC Cruises, however, strongly urges its guests to be fully vaccinated before their voyage for their own well-being and that of other passengers, the ship’s crew and communities in the destinations that MSC Orchestra will visit.

All passengers – both vaccinated and unvaccinated - will be required to take a COVID-19 RT-PCR test within 72 hours of their cruise departure and provide proof of a negative result in order to board. 


Unvaccinated guests over the age of 18 years will additionally have to undergo an antigen lateral flow test at the embarkation port costing R300 per person.


All guests will be required to have an insurance policy to cover COVID-19 related issues such as cancellation, interruption, repatriation, quarantine and medical assistance and related expenses. Guests can choose MSC Cruises’ new Hollard COVID-19 Protection Plan that 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


Health screening of all guests in the cruise terminals will include a temperature check and a health questionnaire.


Guest embarkation flow will be managed by assigning guests with a specific arrival time, which will be indicated on their cruise ticket. The guests will be asked to respect the timing and will not be allowed to enter the terminal until their time slot, in order to comply with the local social distancing regulations.


MSC Orchestra is equipped with a 24/7 Medical Centre staffed by professional doctors and nurses and has a contingency response plan agreed in collaboration with the relevant authorities ashore.


Additional health and safety measures include extended sanitation on board and the wearing of face masks in indoor public areas or where social distancing cannot be guaranteed.


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


With MSC Orchestra’s sailings set to commence on 6 December, MSC Cruises regrettably has had to cancel its  originally proposed Southern Africa voyages during November. The planned 14-night New Year’s Eve cruise during the coming season has also been altered into three 4-night cruises and one 2-night sailing as a result of a lack of available ports in the original itinerary.


All guests whose reservations are affected by the cancellation are eligible for a future cruise credit   voucher to the value of their current cruise package as well as compensation in line with the length of their cruise.


MSC Cruises was the first major line in the world to resume operations in August 2020 when MSC Grandiosa began cruising in the Mediterranean Sea.


The restart was achieved thanks to the application of MSC Cruises’ industry-leading health and safety protocol - which will be implemented in South Africa - that was developed with the support of international medical experts, as well as working in close collaboration with local, regional and national authorities in the countries where its ships operate.


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