MSC Sinfonia (Image supplied)
- MSC Cruises is banking on a post-lockdown rebound in travel and, for the first time, is dedicating two ships to South Africa during the 2022/2023 season.
- The MSC Orchestra will be joined by MSC Sinfonia, which will be based in Cape Town, sailing to Namibia and locally.
- Both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers will be allowed to sail.
- But those not vaccinated against Covid-19 will still need to provide a negative test result.
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MSC Cruises will bring two ships of different classes to South African shores for the upcoming season as it looks to capitalise on the post-lockdown leisure travel rebound.
Unvaccinated guests will be allowed to board but will need to test negative for Covid-19.
The global cruise industry was arguably the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, with ships flagged as vulnerable to infectious outbreaks onboard, which would then spread further once ashore.
Strict travel restrictions caused global cruise passenger numbers to sink by more than 90% in 2021 alone. Several cruise line companies, including the United Kingdom’s second-largest cruise brand, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, and the world’s most-awarded luxury cruise line, Crystal Cruises, shut down.
With most international travel restrictions now lifted, surviving cruise liners are hoping for a swift recovery, with MSC doubling its capacity for South Africa’s 2022/2023 cruise season. It’s the first time that the company will be bringing two ships of different classes to the country simultaneously.
The MSC Orchestra will return to South African waters in November and will have around 40 sailings to Mozambique and local destinations. The MSC Sinfonia will operate approximately 22 sailings out of Cape Town to Namibia and other various local destinations. Itineraries will vary from two to seven-night cruises, the cruise company said in a statement on Thursday.
“We are delighted to be bringing two ships to South Africa this upcoming season, and we reaffirm our commitment to affordable and safe cruise holidays for South Africans,” said Ross Volk, MD for MSC Cruises South Africa.
“Our dedication to playing our part in the recovery of the tourism sector in South Africa has made it possible for us to create a second cruising hub in Cape Town. MSC Sinfonia will be permanently positioned in Cape Town for the duration of the cruise season and will serve our guests seeking a more cultural experience with our cruises to Namibia.”
And while travel restrictions have been lifted, MSC will still have some coronavirus-related health and safety rules.
Vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers will be allowed onboard. Vaccinated guests will no longer need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result before departure.
But unvaccinated guests five years and older are still required to provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test 48 hours prior to departure “in accordance with the local government regulations in South Africa.” Children under five won’t be required to test.