Norwegian Cruise Line says it has not yet made any adjustments to its scheduled South African cruises aboard Norwegian Jade, but is monitoring the new Omicron variant closely.
Norwegian Jade is scheduled to cruise from Dubai to Cape Town in December, and sail several roundtrip itineraries from South Africa’s Mother City during January, but those plans are threatened by new travel restrictions.
In a statement provided to Cruise Critic, Norwegian Cruise Line said it had not yet altered its scheduled cruises in South Africa aboard Norwegian Jade.
“The safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit remains our highest priority,” a spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line said. “We closely monitor the evolving impacts of the everchanging COVID-19 global pandemic situation and the new regulations being implemented.”
“While it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries, at times unforeseen circumstances may require us to make modifications. We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time. We will update them as appropriate,” it added.
Azamara is scheduled to begin sailing roundtrip from Cape Town aboard Azamara Pursuit in January, while MSC Cruises is scheduled to homeport in Durban.
Other cruise lines, with scheduled one-off international itineraries sailing from Cape Town include Crystal, Ponant, Regent Seven Seas and Silversea between January and April.
Unless investigations of the new Omicron variant by the World Health Organization and national health authorities find that it is no more dangerous than other known strains of COVID-19, it is likely that travel restrictions will remain in place, precluding international fly-cruise passengers from visiting South Africa.
These scheduled cruise itineraries will need to be cancelled or re-routed as a result, as most cruise lines sailing from South Africa rely on the global market for bookings. Only MSC Cruises has established a strong foothold in the local source market.
First detected on November 9th, 2021, in Botswana, Omicron has a significant number of mutations over previous novel coronavirus strains and is responsible for a spike infections across South Africa.
“Preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant,” the WHO has reported, although it is conducting further investigation to corroborate these concerns.
The travel ban placed on South Africa has severely impacted the country’s tourism industry, which contributed 3% to the national economy prior to the pandemic, and directly employed 700,000 people.