SA Cruise News

MSC Orchestra returns to service in South Africa after COVID outbreak

MSC Orchestra has resumed her South African cruise season out of Durban, after pausing operations for a month following a COVID-19 outbreak in December.

MSC Orchestra departed Durban this week on a four-night cruise to Cape Town with 900 crew and nearly 1,000 passengers onboard, her first since December when as many as 100 passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.

MSC Orchestra

MSC Orchestra will spend the rest of the month cruising from Cape Town, before departing on January 24th for Durban, but this 7-night itinerary will take the ship deep into the Indian Ocean to Marion Island.

She’ll return to Cape Town in late April, sailing two 5-night itineraries to Walvis Bay and a 4-night cruise back to Durban on May 4th, calling in Port Elizabeth along the way.

From Durban, MSC Orchestra will spend February and March sailing 3- and 4-night cruises to Pomene Bay and Portuguese Island respectively.

Pomene Bay in Mozambique is a new cruise destination exclusive to MSC SA

These itineraries are subject to change, and may yet be suspended again if there are any further COVID-19 outbreaks aboard MSC Orchestra.

MSC Cruises’ season in South Africa comes amid the spread of the new Omicron variant of the virus, which has proven more contagious than previous strains.

It was first discovered by virologists in South Africa, leading to the country being frozen out of the global travel industry with flight bans and strict quarantine rules for returning tourists that made travel to South Africa unfeasible.

Several cruise lines cancelled their scheduled cruise seasons out of Cape Town as a result, but because MSC Cruises only sells its South African cruise itineraries to the local source market, it was able to reposition MSC Orchestra to Durban and push ahead with its planned cruises.

Cape Town, South Africa

The COVID-19 outbreak in December struck on the ship’s very first cruise of the season, so the countless South Africans with cruises booked may yet be disappointed again, especially given the rampant spread of COVID-19 infections aboard cruise ships elsewhere in the world.

The emergence of the Omicron variant has prompted MSC Cruises to implement a vaccine mandate for its South African cruise season at the last minute, angering many passengers and leading to a spate of cancellations, which subsequently led to prices for some cruises being dropped to rock bottom.

For those willing to take the chance, there are therefore some great deals to be had on cruises out of Durban this year.

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