With South Africa facing an intense third wave of COVID-19 infections, and the country remaining firmly on the red list of most countries’ travel restrictions, the dozen international cruises scheduled from Cape Town for late 2021 look increasingly likely to be cancelled.
There are 12 cruises from Cape Town scheduled for November and December, 2021, but they are increasingly unlikely to actually sail due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa.
There are five cruise ships scheduled to cruise from Cape Town later this year, on 12 different itineraries.
Mein Schiff Herz, Azamara Pursuit and AIDAmira and AIDAaura are all due to homeport in the city and sail several roundtrip cruises during the 2021/22 cruise season.
Europa of Hapag-Lloyd, meanwhile, is scheduled to sail a 16-night cruise to Mauritius.
However, all of these itineraries hang in the balance as South Africa faces record numbers of new COVID-19 infections and a much-maligned vaccine program.
The Delta variant of COVID-19 has found its way into the country and is responsible for much of the spike in new cases, and while this third wave is affecting much of the world, its hitting those countries with slow vaccine roll outs the hardest.
Just 0.8% of South Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated, while only 5.4% have recieved at least one dose, according to Our World in Data.
Cruise lines have put their faith in the vaccine for their cruise resumption plans out of countries in Europe, Asia and the United States, with many either requiring full vaccination of passengers, or only resuming operations from those countries with a high vaccination rate.
South Africa’s 2020/21 cruise season out of Cape Town and Durban was cancelled early this year when MSC Cruises was unable to get permission from authorities to resume operations.
It will be a major blow for the South African cruise sector if the upcoming 2021/22 cruise season faces the same fate, as it looks to be one of the most exciting yet if the scheduled cruises go ahead.
Norwegian Jade, for example, will be homeporting in the country for the first time (sailing roundtrip out of Cape Town), alongside AIDAmira, AIDAaura and Mein Schiff Herz.
MSC Cruises, which has sailed a South African cruise season every year since the early 1990s, has not even attempted to schedule a cruise season for 2021/22 amid the deteriorating situation in the country.
MSC Musica is scheduled to cruise from Durban to Venice in late May, 2022, suggesting her program between November and May has been cleared internally at MSC Cruises, but they have not put the South African itineraries on sale to the public.