MSC Cruises suspends South Africa sailings aboard MSC Orchestra

Dec 11, 2021

MSC Cruises announced voluntary suspension of all sailings aboard the cruise ship MSC Orchestra in South Africa with immediate effect until 8 January, 2022. The reason behind this decision is “the most recent and sudden evolution, particularly in the past week of the pandemic ashore in the country, that puts the health and safety of its guests and crew as its utmost priority.” MSC Cruises said in a press release.

According to local media MSC Orchestra first cruise in South Africa has ended with a large number of passengers who tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of the 4-night cruise from Durban. Some local media report that up to 100 guests tested positive for Covid-19. MSC Cruises released a statement on Friday in which Ross Volk, MSC Cruises Managing Director for South Africa, confirmed that all passengers were tested prior to arrival of MSC Orchestra to Durban and that all guests sailing onboard were South African. Mr. Volk didn’t mention exactly how many passengers tested positive for the virus.

“A number of completely asymptomatic guests tested positive during today’s testing procedure upon arrival and they are currently awaiting disembarkation for their safe return home.” Mr. Volk said.

While most of the passengers disembarked the ship on Friday, some are still on board as the company awaits guidance from the local health authorities and they will be allowed to leave the ship on Sunday.

“We made this voluntary decision in an abundance of caution towards our guests, our crew and the communities that MSC Orchestra was scheduled to visit in the coming weeks. This is what our health and safety protocol is designed to do, in accordance with the evolution of the pandemic ashore and to ensure the utmost protection to our guests and crew,” Ross Volk, Managing Director, MSC Cruises South Africa, said

“In light of the most recent evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic across South Africa, we have been in consultation with the government’s Department of Health which is working hard to understand the most up-to-date data of the virus and as health and safety is our number one priority our protocol clearly called for a temporary suspension of our forthcoming sailings with immediate effect.  

“We now also await eagerly for any additional guidance from the South African government for its citizens so that we can also reflect any new measures into our own health and safety protocol.   ”We understand that our decision will be very disappointing to those guests that will have their voyages cancelled but I hope that they will understand that it was made with their wellbeing in mind, as the health and safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our number one priority.”

MSC Cruises resumed voyages in South Africa on Monday 6 December 2021, after a 20 month hiatus when MSC Orchestra departed from Durban for a 4-night cruise. The ship is scheduled to return to service on January 9, 2022 with South Africa sailings departing from Durban and Cape Town until May 2022.