MSC Cruises set to hire 2 000 from SA as crew this year

File photo of MSC Musica. MSC Cruises boost tourism in South Africa.

File photo of MSC Musica. MSC Cruises boost tourism in South Africa.

Published Jul 10, 2024


MSC Cruises was on track to hire 2 000 South Africans as crew this year, Ross Volk, managing director of MSC Cruises South Africa said yesterday.

“We want to get to 2 000 South Africans on board ships this year; 1 000 next year; and by 2027 to 2028 around 5 000 South Africans on board our vessels,” he said in an interview.

Volk explained that MSC South Africa has some specific metrics, such as hiring 70% of people from previously-disadvantaged communities.

This enabled these employees to earn dollars and then spend that money within South Africa.

“We had a bit of a (hiring) gap within Covid-19. It was a bit problematic, but we’re pushing towards those goals. So we are on track at the moment to reach 2 000 South Africans this year,” Volk said.

He said South Africans as crew members were “quite highly sought-after in the US”, adding that South Africans spoke English “so there's no challenge with language”, and they were hard workers.

The Swiss-Italian global cruise line also employed around 360 staff in the country.

MSC Cruises South Africa recruits new crew from its Shosholoza Ocean Academy Recruitment & Training, Volk explained.

With South Africa having the highest unemployment in the world, Volk said he believed tourism was the gateway to the unemployment crisis in the country.

“I believe firmly that tourism has the absolute opportunity to break the unemployment crisis that faces South Africa because you don’t need a degree to interact with people; you don’t need a degree to be a South African. South Africa has such a rich culture diversity, that it’s really important for us to embrace it,” he said.

MSC Cruises is also promoting South African artists in the creative economy with employment opportunities.

Volk explained that it had partnerships with themed cruise organisers that spanned all music genres across South Africa.

“We’re always looking to support local artists. We’ve got a partnership now with Mi Casa. We’re looking at Kurt Darren, DJ Fresh and Euphonik as partners in terms of some of our cruises,” he said.

MSC Cruises also aims to bring young, up-and-coming artists on board to do entertainment.

“We launched a programme last year with Maroela Media in conjunction with Darren around letting listeners and readers vote who they think the next up-and-coming artist should be. We’ll hire them to come on one of the themed cruises,” Volk said.

“So we’ve (now) got two new young up-and-coming artists on two sets of cruises to give them the opportunity (with an audience of) 3 000 people.”

Patricia de Lille

Volk was also optimistic for South African tourism after the reappointment of Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille, which provided continuity and was good for the tourism sector.

“It creates an understanding of the portfolio. The connections to other ministers is also important. I want to see how Ms De Lille interacts with Home Affairs and Transport. These new ministers are important for our business and for income inbound tourism,” he said.

Tourism on the mend post-Covid-19

“It’s rebounded exceptionally well globally, but also within South Africa.The past two years have certainly seen a bigger recovery. In my view, South Africa was on an 18 month to two-year time lag to the rest of the world. So we bounced back a little slower in terms of the trends,” he said.

“There was an element of doubt towards the start of the elections… But now that there’s a lot more positivity around travel, I think we can look forward to some some positive times going forward,” Volk said.