On Wednesday, December 1, MSC Cruises South Africa announced that all guests for its 2021/22 local cruise season must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in addition to the requirement to also take a PCR test before their scheduled embarkation date.
“The measures have been put in place in light of the evolution of the pandemic ashore, including the new Omicron variant, and with the wellbeing of the cruise line’s guests as its number one priority,” the statement read.
However, it was previously announced in October that MSC Cruises planned to welcome vaccinated and unvaccinated guests on board, but that this could be subject to change depending on possible new health measures made by the South African government, as well as the evolution of the pandemic.
Vaccination-only cruises are now in place as MSC Cruises aims to resume its South African sailings with the new health and safety measures on 6 December, 2021 by means of MSC Orchestra, a popular ship for South African holidaymakers.
Ross Volk, Managing Director of MSC Cruises South Africa said, “Our health and safety protocol has led the way in the industry not just because we were the first major cruise line to resume international operations in summer 2020 but also because of its flexibility to adapt to the evolution of the pandemic ashore.
“South Africa is currently seeing an increase in infection rates ashore and to ensure the wellbeing of those on board our ship and at the communities we call, our preventative measures again demonstrates that health and safety is our number one priority.”
But the audience didn’t respond well to this news after the MSC Cruises took to Facebook to announce the latest new travel regulations for the 2021/2022 cruise season. Here are some of the responses:
“MSC I hope you have a backup plan because you are going to lose millions because of this”
“We want our money back, then. Thanks for nothing…”
“Why offer an unvaccinated option and then cancel last minute. An absolute disgrace.”
“I will be requesting a refund. I will not be forced to be vaccinated.”
“When we booked, you said unvaccinated guests were welcome and no such rules were in place. We will be demanding a full refund! Furthermore, we will boycott you going forward.”
The Enhanced Health and Safety Requirement for MSC Orchestra Guests include:
- All guests older than 2 years old are required to provide a certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before embarkation
- All guests who are 12 years old and above must be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson.
- Guests will be considered vaccinated if they have received the full set of COVID-19 shots more than 14 days before the start of their holiday at sea.
- Guests between the ages of 12 and 17 years will be considered fully vaccinated if they have received one dose of an accredited vaccine, which is in line with government regulations.
- Unvaccinated guests aged between 2 and 11 who accompany vaccinated guests will have to undergo an antigen lateral flow test at the embarkation port at a cost of R300 per person.
- The original test results and vaccination certificate must be presented at the cruise terminal before embarkation in either a paper or electronic format and must be in English.
- The PCR test certificate must contain the guest’s personal data, date of the test, identification/contact details of the centre that performed the analysis, technique used, and negative test result.
- Any existing guest who will not be fully vaccinated in time for their departure date can opt to either postpone their holiday with a voucher for a future cruise at a later date or request a refund.
- MSC Cruises requires all guests to have an insurance policy that covers any COVID-19 related risks, including cancellation, repatriation and medical expenses. For guest’s convenience, the cost of the new MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan will be additionally charged and added to their cruise fare.
For more information, visit the MSC Cruises website here.
Picture: MSC Cruises