Cruising may be different in a pandemic world, but the lure of activities and shore excursions remain attractive for passengers.
However, South African travellers may have to wait a little longer as some of the world’s leading cruise companies have delayed their SA cruise restart.
Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, cancelled its upcoming cruises in December and January due to a global pandemic.
The cruise line said in a statement: "The safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit remains our highest priority. Accordingly, we continue to closely monitor the evolving global public health environment and are ready to adapt as needed. Given the recent concerns surrounding the Omicron variant, we have made the decision to cancel the five voyages on Norwegian Jade scheduled to depart from or disembark in South Africa beginning December 3, 2021, through and including January 26, 2022. All affected guests and travel partners will be contacted directly." (sic)
NCL initially planned to sail on December 21-with voyages exploring the South African coastline and Namibia.
MSC Cruises also voluntarily suspended all its domestic sailings in South Africa until January 8, 2022.
The managing director for MSC Cruises South Africa, Ross Volk, explained the reason for the suspension.
“We made this voluntary decision in an abundance of caution towards our guests, our crew and the communities that MSC Orchestra was scheduled to visit in the coming weeks. This is what our health and safety protocol is designed to do, in accordance with the evolution of the pandemic ashore and to ensure the utmost protection to our guests and crew.
“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.
”We understand that our decision will be very disappointing to those guests that will have their voyages cancelled but I hope that they will understand that it was made with their wellbeing in mind, as the health and safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our number one priority," he said.
Nick Wilkinson, the regional VP of Business Development Middle East and Africa for Norwegian Cruise Line, said companies put a lot of work to ensure guests’ overall health and safety onboard.
Some only allow fully vaccinated travellers and require PCR tests at least 48 hours before departure.
Travellers need to wear their masks in all public spaces once onboard the ship.
Wilkinson foresaw a travel boom for South African cruise passengers. He said South African showed resilience.
"Their love for travel hasn’t waned during the pandemic," he said.