While our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivered the state of the nation address yesterday many hundreds of kilometres away in Cape Town, we couldn’t help but wonder what he would say about the gathering of South Africans aboard the MSC Musica, sharing moments of joy and laughter, with no thought of conflict or suspicion – just ordinary people living the South African dream out here on the water.

Cruising in the middle of the Indian Ocean inspires a different take on where our country is heading. There is no room for pessimism when the untamed waters remind you of how insignificant South Africa’s issues really are in the bigger picture. There is no room for unhappiness when the cocktails and food taste this good.

Lunch at Kaito Sushi Restaurant on board the MSC Musica.

As a country we may feel like we’re all at sea, but in truth we are more alike and better off than we thought. We eat from the same buffet, and swim in the same water. We may have different tastes in music, but we love to dance all the same.

Cruising is a way of experiencing life as South Africans away from our comfort zones. Out at sea, on the elegant MSC Musica, we are at the mercy of a foreign crew: an Italian captain, Indonesian waiters and Filipino entertainers. They come from all walks of life to make the MSC Musica a truly international experience, yet you can spot the South Africans from a mile away. They are the ones laughing the loudest, smiling the hardest and living their best life.

A relaxed atmosphere and togetherness is what cruising is all about.

Back home we can be hard on each other, playing up our differences against one another and raising eyebrows of suspicion at every turn. On the cruise, we are different. We are united by the sound of music and the energy of the dance. Out here, we find common ground to share a laugh in the elevator and a drink on the dance floor. We tell jokes only South Africans can appreciate. Here, we are not Indian, or Coloured, black or white – we are South Africans.

There are the golden oldies from Pretoria who’ve come on an adventure of a lifetime, the young ones from Durban looking to score a good time at the disco and the summer bunnies from Cape Town seeking out the sun’s rays on the pool deck and revelling in the idea of actually swimming in the warm sea off the coast of Pomene island.

One of the shore excursions is Pomene Island in Mozambique.

For some, cruising is a way to reconnect with distant family and friends. For others, it’s a way to meet new acquaintances over a cocktail or a late-night visit to the pizza buffet. It’s clear that although we’re all heading in one direction, everyone is on their own journey.

And MSC brings this experience to them.

For a moment, we are just South Africans surrounded by people of the world who don’t care what job you have, what neighbourhood you live in or what car you drive. The only thing that matters is that you smile back.

The cruise is a way to connect with family or meet new people.

For a few precious days we get to forget the issues we may have at home while the president does his best to convince us that everything is under control. He tells us he is doing his best to revive the economy and reduce crime. He tells us he will create jobs and that the dream of non-racialism is still alive. Out here, in the deep blue, you can see it for yourself. Thank you, MSC, for giving us this beacon of hope in a sea full of negativity.

Cruise season ends in April, click here for more information on how to book.

Article written by

Nidha Narrandes

Nidha Narrandes is a food-obsessed travel addict with 19 years of journalism experience. She is happiest on a road to nowhere without a plan. A masterchef at home, she can't do without chilli - because chilli makes the world a tastier place.