The port cities of Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Gqeberha, Durban and Richards Bay are scheduled to receive 20 passenger vessels during the cruise season, from November to the end of May, State-owned Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) said on November 24.
The first cruise vessel will dock in Cape Town at the end of the month, and the other cities will welcome their first cruise ships during December.
International embarkation and disembarkation will, however, be restricted to Cape Town, Durban and Gqeberha. Cape Town is scheduled to receive vessels from Walvis Bay and Luderitz along the Namibian coast, and Gough Island and Tristan Da Cunha in the South Atlantic.
All crew and passengers arriving at a port to join a vessel will be required to abide by the protocols and regulations issued by the Department of Health, as well as Marine Notice 21-21(C) issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority.
Following the move to adjusted Covid-19 Level 1 regulations on October 1, the Department of Transport (DoT) confirmed that passenger ships may plan and recommence tourism activities along the South African coast. Passenger vessels will be permitted to call at South African ports to replenish fuel, stores and provisions; for repairs and maintenance; and for medical evacuations, emergencies and other services approved by the DoT.
Passenger vessel owners and operators, including MSC and Rennies, will need to adhere to strict operating protocols. Embarkation and disembarkation must be staggered at terminals to ensure physical distancing and must comply with curfew restrictions.
Foreign crew changes will be permitted at all eight commercial ports, and shore leave will be allowed for all crew in line with South African immigration and port health protocols.
“Our ports are ready for the 2021/22 cruise season. We pride ourselves in our role of enabling the South African tourism industry, which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This season will also see the official opening of a new cruise terminal at the Port of Durban,” said TNPA acting chief harbour master Captain Sabelo Mdlalose.
“We are thrilled to be able to welcome cruise passengers and crew back to our shores. We encourage visitors to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines, including physical distancing and mask-wearing, onboard and while exploring our cities.”
Passengers should be encouraged to contact the medical doctor onboard should they develop any signs of Covid-19 or suspect that they are getting sick, and infirmaries should be available 24/7 and fully equipped to deal with any Covid-19 infections onboard.
Cabins should be cleaned daily, and hand sanitiser dispensers must be available. Onboard entertainment and dining activities should be done in line with physical distancing guidelines TNPA said.
The South African cruise industry experienced significant growth before the pandemic and presented new business opportunities for multiple industries across the port cities, including food and beverage, accommodation and retail.
Local tour guides and operators provided a gateway for passengers and crew members to experience the rich diversity that South Africa has to offer, and local supply businesses replenished everything from fresh drinking water, eggs and ice cream, to fuel and engine oil. The ship repair industry also benefitted.
“The reopening of South Africa’s shores to cruise vessels presents a valuable opportunity for the cruise tourism industry. TNPA looks forward to welcoming the cruise vessels, passengers and crew this season to our ports, to help grow the economy and create jobs.”