SA Cruise News

Sign of hope for South African cruise sector as foreign yacht, tourist ban lifted

South Africa has relaxed its anti-coronavirus restrictions further, allowing bottle stores to return to normal opening hours, and in a crucial hint for the future of cruises, reopening to tourists and foreign yachts.

The easing of travel and foreign yacht restrictions was announced this week by South Africa’s co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and provide hope that cruise travel might follow.

The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

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In an address to the nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa elaborated on the rule changes, confirming that the country is now open once more to all tourists from around the world, provided they have taken a PCR test within the last 72 hours.

“We are also opening up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate,” said President Ramaphosa Wednesday.

“By using rapid tests and strict monitoring we intend to limit the spread of the infection through importation. We expect that these measures will greatly assist businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors,” he added.

The president’s full address can be seen below:

The reopening of the country for tourists is encouraging as the cruise sector waits to find out if the 2020/21 South African cruise season will be allowed to go ahead as scheduled.

MSC Cruises currently has MSC Orchestra positioned in Durban ready to restart cruises in the Indian Ocean as soon as the government gives its approval.

MSC Opera was due to cruise roundtrip from Cape Town for the 2020/21 season.

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The cruise line was forced to cancel MSC Opera’s planned season out of Cape Town due to ongoing travel restrictions at ports along her repositioning route from Europe.

While talks between MSC and the government are ongoing regarding the coming season, the easing of restrictions this week categorically excluded cruise tourism from the amendment to the country’s lockdown rules.

In a section on travel, the new amendment decrees that all commercial seaports are open, and that “small crafts will be allowed entry into seaports, in line with health and border law enforcement protocols.”

In a different segment of the rules, a list of the economic activities that remain explicitly banned includes “passenger ships for international leisure purposes, excluding small crafts, in line with health and border law enforcement protocols.”

So cruise ships remain banned for now, while passenger and crew aboard a yacht will be subject to the same rules as air passengers – including the requirement for a negative PCR test for the coronavirus no more than 72 hours old.

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