SA Cruise News

MSC Cruises cancels remainder of SA season as Coronavirus crisis hits South Africa

MSC Cruises has been forced to abruptly cancel the remainder of its South African cruise season aboard MSC Orchestra following President Ramaphosa’s declaration of a state of disaster due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Just days after reassuring passengers that the remaining roundtrip cruises out of Durban would go ahead as planned, the cruise line was informed by the National Ports Authority that it would in fact have to suspend operations.

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As a result, MSC Orchestra’s current four day cruise from Durban to Pomene Bay will be the last of the season.

“In light of the extraordinary circumstances the world is currently facing in connection with the COVID-19 virus and in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and government, MSC Cruises has taken the decision to stop all its remaining South African cruise departures for the 2019/2020 cruise season ending April 2020,” the cruise line said in a statement.

“The last cruise departed on 16th March 2020 and will return on 20th March 2020,” it added.

Passengers booked on the remaining cruises will receive a voucher for the value of their current 2019/2020 cruise package, which they can redeem in the upcoming local cruise season in 2020/2021.

In addition, they will also receive shipboard credit of US $50 per cabin to be used on a cruise in the next season.

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For any other expenses that they may have incurred, such as flights, hotels, transport, etc. they will need to contact their travel insurance company or supplier directly.

MSC Cruises added that guests booked on the remaining theme cruises as well as the Grand Voyage will receive separate communications to explain the changes relating to these events.

Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises South Africa, said: “This is not a decision we took lightly but under the current circumstances, the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities ashore – including our employees and their families – must come first. As a family company with over 300 years of maritime tradition, we felt that this was the right decision to make.”

The move comes after MSC Cruises suspended operations for eight ships in its fleet, across several destinations. At that time, it was understood the South African season would be completed as planned, but the declaration of a state of emergency threw those plans into chaos.

MSC Cruises initially said it was unaffected by the new measures to tackle the virus, before being informed by the government that they would in fact have to suspend operations.

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