MSC Cruises SA's Ross Volk on current Covid-19 challenges and suspended cruises
The cruise industry was thriving before the Covid-19 outbreak. Suddenly, cruise ships were not allowed to enter ports, and some ships spent days at sea trying to control the number of onboard cases.
MSC Cruises had become a popular holiday choice for South Africans in recent years, with many trading international escapes for a few days of leisure at sea.
Travellers sailed MSC Orchestra during the 2019/2020 cruise season. According to the Department of Health, two people on board the February 28 to March 2, and March 13 to March 16 cruises were tested positive for the coronavirus.
MSC Cruises have worked tirelessly to ensure that all the passengers on the ship were informed and assisted the Department of Health to trace the passengers.
IOL Travel chatted to Managing Director for MSC Cruises South Africa Ross Volk on the Covid-19 outbreak affect on the company and their plans going forward. This is what he had to say:
Your industry has been hugely impacted by Covid-19, with MSC recently having two cases. How has coronavirus impacted MSC Cruises in South Africa?
The last seven cruises of the local season and the Grand Voyage back to Europe were suspended.
What are MSC's strategies around Covid-19? Some cruise destinations have postponed until next year. Will this be the case in South Africa?
Everyone is waiting to see how Covid-19 will spread and impact the global economy. It is ever-changing and difficult to comment at present.
It is nice to see that MSC is working closely with the Department of Health to trace the passengers. How has the process been going?
We have and always will comply and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders. The Department of Health is no exception. We have worked closely with them to provide accurate information that assists them in their efforts.
How will this affect your 2020/2021 cruise season?
It is too early to comment. It all depends on progression of Covid- 19.
Have MSC Cruises reevaluated their onboard procedures following the covid-19?
Our onboard procedures have always been high quality and have, in many cases, exceeded minimum requirements from health authorities and the World Health Organisation.
How are your staff coping with all the cruises grinding to a halt?
Our crew is doing well and are in good health. Some have returned to their home countries. We are in regular contact with them. In terms of office staff, we are all complying with the national lockdown and working from home. Their salaries are unaffected, and they will still be paid.