MSC Cruises South Africa has announced that guests for its 2021/22 local cruise season must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in addition to the requirement to take a PCR test before their scheduled embarkation date.

The cruise company says the measures are due to the evolution of the pandemic ashore, including the new Omicron variant, and keeping the wellbeing of the cruise line’s guests as its number-one priority.

MSC Cruises previously announced on October 20 that it planned to welcome both vaccinated and unvaccinated guests on board its South African cruises but said at the time that this could be subject to change. Vaccination-only cruises are in place for all MSC Cruises’ winter voyages in Europe, North America, South America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Ross Volk, MD, MSC Cruises South Africa, said: “Our health and safety protocol has led the way in the industry, not just because we were the first major cruise line to resume international operations in summer 2020 but also because of its flexibility to adapt to the evolution of the pandemic ashore. This approach has reassured our guests, our crew and the destinations we visit all around the world.

“South Africa is currently seeing an increase in infection rates ashore and, to ensure the wellbeing of those on board our ship and at the communities where we call, our preventative measures again demonstrate that health and safety is our number-one priority.”

MSC Cruises aims to resume its South African sailings with the new health and safety measures on December 6, with MSC Orchestra.

·         All guests older than two years are required to have a certificate of negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before embarkation. All guests of 12 years old and above must be fully vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine, including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson.

·         Guests will be considered vaccinated if they have received the full set of COVID-19 shots more than 14 days before the start of their holiday at sea.

·         Guests between the ages of 12 and 17 years will be considered fully vaccinated if they have received one dose of an accredited vaccine, which is in line with government regulations.

·         Unvaccinated guests aged between 2 and 11 who accompany vaccinated adults will have to undergo an antigen lateral flow test at the embarkation port at a cost of R300 per person.

·         The original test results and vaccination certificate must be presented at the cruise terminal before embarkation in either a paper or electronic format and must be in English.

·         The PCR test certificate must contain the guest’s personal data, date of the test, identification/contact details of the centre that performed the analysis, technique used, and negative test result.

·         Any existing guest who will not be fully vaccinated in time for their departure date can opt to either postpone their holiday with a voucher for a future cruise at a later date or request a refund.

·         MSC Cruises requires all guests to have an insurance policy that covers any COVID-19 related risks, including cancellation, repatriation and medical expenses. For guests’ convenience, the cost of the new MSC COVID-19 Protection Plan will be additionally charged and added to their cruise fare. It will provide coverage before, during and after their cruise. In collaboration with Hollard Insurance, the plan covers cancellation charges as well as medical and related transport expenses. For further details on what the cover entails visit