Cape Town – Cape Town welcomed its first cruise liner, MSC Orchestra, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and it will depart with fully vaccinated guests only.
Cornell Williams, a 56-year-old recently retired prison warden from Brandvlei Correctional Services in Worcester, is ecstatic about his first cruise, he told on Thursday evening.
Williams explains he planned the trip last year but it was cancelled due to the pandemic.
The MSC Orchestra will depart from the Port of Cape Town at roughly 8pm to 10pm on Thursday and will make its way to the port of Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth), and then back to Cape Town on January 18.
Windy conditions delayed the vessel’s arrival time, and subsequently the boarding of passengers.
The MSC Orchestra is hosting radio personality Clarence Ford’s Love Jazz Cruise.
“We are the first cruise out of CPT since 2020 (Local Cruises). In effect, we are an experiment in what a new normal may look like for the South African Cruise season, during times of Covid,” Ford wrote on the event’s Facebook page on Wednesday.
MSC Cruises previously suspended local cruises in South Africa until January 8, 2022, according to a report from in December 2021.
The decision to suspend cruises was made voluntarily with passengers’ heath the main concern, the managing director for MSC Cruises South Africa, Ross Volk, explained.
“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,” Volk said at the time.
Thursday’s cruise involved lengthy Covid-19 testing with all protocols being observed, Williams said.
According to a notice shared by Ford and written by MSC Cruises South Africa, the cruise liner is only accepting fully vaccinated passengers.
“MSC Cruises is only accepting fully Covid-19 vaccinated guests,” the notice reads.
“All guests (12 years old and over) have to be fully vaccinated with an approved Covid-19 vaccine with the final dose administered at least 14 days before the cruise departure date.
“As your cruise is longer than five days, you will be required to additionally take an antigen test at embarkation, at MSC Cruise’s cost.”
The MSC Orchestra is expected to arrive in the port of Mossel Bay on January 15, previously reported.
However, Williams is unaware of this but was told to expect a “surprise” on the way to Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).
The cruise was originally meant to sail to Walvis Bay in Namibia. However, the destination changed to Gqeberha.