MSC Cruises, one of the largest privately-owned cruise ship companies in the world, have announced that all of its 2020/21 season voyages to South Africa (including Cape Town) have been cancelled effective immediately.

All passengers who are affected by the cancellation are eligible for a voucher to the value of their current cruise package. They will also receive an on-board credit of $50 (R729) which they may use for their next cruise.

The company is hoping to resume all operations in the country during their next local cruise season which begins in November 2021.

The cancellation of the 2020/21 season comes following the delay of local authorities to approve cruise operations in South Africa. Regulations currently stipulate that large cruise ships are prohibited from entering the country.

According to MSC, they have been working closely with local authorities since March 2020 on developing safety protocols designed for the wellbeing of guests and crew. In December 2020, MSC presented an on-board inspection of the protocols to various local authorities. However, while authorities indicated that they were satisfied with the protocols, MSC was still awaiting on approval which led to the company making the decision to cancel all operations.

A difficult decision

“This was a difficult decision to make as we had invested in preparing as much as possible while the relevant authorities conducted their analysis,” Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises South Africa said in a statement.

“While we await their final decision, the delay makes it impossible for us to perform the remaining sailings. At the same time, we are optimistic for the future about cruise holidays in South Africa and for the 2021/22 season we will offer our guests, with whom we already have a long-standing relationship, memorable, relaxing and safe holidays on board two MSC Cruises ships based in the country for the first time.”

MSC are planning to bring two ships to South Africa during their 2021/2022 cruise season where one of the ships, MSC Lirica, will be homeported in Cape Town. This will mark the first time that two different class MSC Cruises’ ships will be deployed in the country simultaneously.

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