In a letter sent to guests, MSC Cruises said the move was being made in response to the shoreside evolution of the pandemic and the relaxing of government regulations.
Some elements of the cruise line’s COVID health and safety plan will remain in place, including mandatory testing, health insurance and health screening prior to boarding.
The cruise line indicated that these protocols would remain in place to ensure the health and wellbeing of all guests and to comply with entry requirements still prevailing in Namibia and Mozambique.
There will be differing testing requirements depending on the age and vaccination status of guests.
Unvaccinated guests aged 12 years and over will have to provide a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR laboratory result certificate taken no more than 48 hours before departure at the guests’ own cost.
COVID-19 Vaccinated guests aged 12 years and over will have to provide a negative Antigen laboratory result certificate taken no more than 48 hours before departure, at the guests’ own cost, and show proof of vaccination.
All children aged between 6 and 11 years will require a negative Antigen laboratory result certificate taken no more than 48 hours before departure.
The cruise line notes that guests will only be considered fully vaccinated after receiving a dose of an accepted single-dose vaccine, or the second dose of an accepted 2-dose series. South Africa’s pharmaceutical regulator SAHPRA has approved the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sinopharm vaccines.
“We continue to monitor the pandemic evaluation and may announce changes to the protocols prior to cruising,” the cruise line said in a statement.
Pre-boarding Health Screening
Health screening of all guests in the cruise terminals will include a temperature check and a health questionnaire.
To minimise congestion during embarkation, guests will be assigned a specific arrival time, which will be indicated on their cruise tickets.
“Guests will be asked to respect the timing and will not be allowed to enter the terminal until their time slot,” the cruise line warned.
MSC Orchestra and MSC Sinfonia are equipped with a 24/7 Medical Centre staffed by professional doctors and nurses and have a contingency response plan agreed upon in collaboration with the relevant authorities ashore.
Additional health and safety measures include increased sanitation protocols on board and other crew health requirements and checks.
Insurance that covers Covid-19 will remain mandatory to embark on any local South African cruise for the upcoming season.
“We have developed a unique offering for our guests in collaboration with Hollard,” said MSC Cruises. “Hollard’s new COVID-19 Protection Plan provides: Cover before, during and after the cruise; Cover of cancellation charges; and Cover of medical and related transport expenses.”
MSC Cruises will be homeporting two cruise ships in South Africa for the 2022/23 cruise season between November and March. MSC Sinfonia will cruise roundtrip from Cape Town, while MSC Orchestra will cruise roundtrip from Durban, with a handful of Cape Town departures as well.