MSC halts South African cruises amid coronavirus outbreak

The cruise liner said the last cruise, which left on Monday, will return on Friday

17 March 2020 - 12:01 By Khanyisile Ngcobo
MSC has cancelled all remaining South African cruises for the season amid the coronavirus outbreak. File photo.
MSC has cancelled all remaining South African cruises for the season amid the coronavirus outbreak. File photo.
Image: MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises will stop all remaining South African cruises for the cruise season ending April 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company said on Tuesday morning. 

The cruise liner's decision comes days after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the closure of 35 of South Africa's 52 land-based ports of entry in an effort to control the spread of the disease. 

"In light of the extraordinary circumstances the world is currently facing in connection with the coronavirus and in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and government MSC Cruises has taken the decision to stop all its remaining South African cruise departures for the 2019/2020 cruise season ending April 2020.

"The last cruise departed on March 16 2020 and will return on March 20," MSC said.

The cruise liner said customers who had already paid for their cruises would receive a voucher for the value of their current 2019/2020 cruise package, which they can redeem in the upcoming local cruise season in 2020/2021.

Additionally, they will receive shipboard credit of $50 (about R826) per cabin to be used on a cruise in the next season.

"For any other expenses they may have incurred, such as flights, hotels amd transport, they will need to contact their travel insurance company or supplier directly," MSC said.

Ross Volk, managing director MSC Cruises South Africa, said: “This is not a decision we took lightly, but in the circumstances, the health and safety of our guests, crew and the communities ashore – including our employees and their families – must come first. As a family company with more than 300 years of maritime tradition, we felt this was the right decision to make".

South Africa has 62 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.