MSC Orchestra’s cruises from Durban in South Africa have not been impacted by Cyclone Freddy, which crossed the Mozambique Channel this week and made landfall Thursday near Maputo.
At the time of writing, MSC Orchestra was approaching Maputo, where she will anchor offshore so that passengers can be tendered ashore to Portuguese Island, which lies just a few kilometres offshore of the Mozambiquan capital.
The ship is currently sailing a 3-day roundtrip cruise from Durban to Portuguese Island, she departed Durban on Friday afternoon and will return tomorrow. Her previous itinerary was also unaffected by the cyclone, which remained well north of Maputo.
Cyclone Freddy developed 21 days ago in the Timor Sea, when it was first reported by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). It has broken previous records for how east it developed, and is one of 5 cyclones in known history for how far it travelled across the southern Indian Ocean.
At its strongest on its 9,000 kilometre journey, Cyclone Freddy developed into a Category 5 equivalent, the strongest type of storm system on the Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 270km/h, but by the time it made landfall in Mozambique it had thankfully weakened to a Category 3.
At least 7 people have been killed in Mozambique, but early intervention by the Mozambique government and a host of UN agencies, significantly reduced the number of people who would have otherwise potentially been killed by the storm. In Madagascar, at least 5 people were killed.
UN agencies are providing assistance to those in need as strong winds and high seas continue to threaten Mozambique with dangerous and exceptional rainfall levels.
Conditions off Maputo, however, are forecast to be favourable for tendering passengers ashore to Portuguese Island, with the swell not expected to exceed 1 metre.
MSC Orchestra’s next scheduled cruise from Durban is a 4-day itinerary to Pomene, which is further north than Maputo, but Freddy, now downgraded to a tropical storm, is no longer expected to swing south toward Durban.
Instead, the system is expected to move west and weaken as it goes inland, but could still bring significant amounts of rain that can generate flooding in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.