– a glance at the wonderful world of cruising

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Cruise Ship Schedule for Port of Durban 2022-2023

Seven Seas Voyager arriving in Durban on 24 December 2015. She will make another two visit to the port and othe Southern African destinations during December this year. This picture is by Trevor Jones in Africa Ports & Ships
Seven Seas Voyager arriving in Durban on 24 December 2015. She will make another two visits to the KZN port and other southern African destinations during December this year.  This picture is by Trevor Jones

Cruise Ship ETA’s at Port of Durban

The following cruise ships are booked to call at the Port of Durban in the  2022/2023 South African summer cruise season.  This list will be added to or updated as necessary.  Many of these ships will similarly call at other South African ports. Africa Ports & Ships will attempt to list the other ports provided we are able to obtain the necessary information.

Year & Month Date Ship Name
October 17 Europa 2
24 Hanseatic Spirit
November 02 Europa 2
19 MSC Orchestra
19 AIDAaura
20 MSC Orchestra
20 Zaandam
21 MSC Orchestra
25 MSC Orchestra
28 MSC Orchestra
December 02 MSC Orchestra
03 AIDAaura
05 MSC Orchestra
09 MSC Orchestra
12 MSC Orchestra
13-14 Seven Seas Voyager
15 Hanseatic Spirit
16 MSC Orchestra
17 AIDAaura
19 MSC Orchestra
26 MSC Orchestra
27 Norwegian Jade
28-29 Seven Seas Voyager
28-29 Azamara Journey
30 AIDAaura
January 02 Nautica
08 Norwegian Jade
09 MSC Orchestra
10 Azamara Journey
13 MSC Orchestra
13-14 Nautica
14 AIDAaura
16 MSC Orchestra
20 Norwegian Jade
20 MSC Orchestra
21 Nautica
22 Azamara Journey
23 MSC Orchestra
24 AIDAsol
27 MSC Orchestra
28 AIDAaura
30 MSC Orchestra
03 MSC Orchestra
06 MSC Orchestra
10 MSC Orchestra
11 AIDAaura
13 MSC Orchestra
15 Azamara Journey
17 MSC Orchestra
19 Costa Deliziosa
20 MSC Orchestra
21-22 Artania
23 AIDAaura
24 MSC Orchestra
27 Azamara Jounrey
27 MSC Orchestra
March 02 Artania
03 MSC Orchestra
06 MSC Orchestra
10 Zuiderdam
10 MSC Orchestra
13 MSC Orchestra
17 MSC Orchestra
20 MSC Orchestra
24 MSC Orchestra
27 MSC Orchestra
31 MSC Orchestra
April 01 Silver Cloud
03 Queen Mary 2
09 Insignia
09 Silver Shadow
22 Seabourn Sojourn
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Added 19 October 2022


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Blue Days At Sea: Top of the ship - Queen Victoria's Sun Deck at Sea. All pictures by David Hughes. by David Hughes, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Blue Days At Sea: Top of the ship – Queen Victoria’s Sun Deck at Sea. All pictures by David Hughes

by: David Hughes

21 July 2020

The devastation caused by the dreaded coronavirus pandemic has surely thrown the whole of the travel industry into disarray, no doubt about that. On its own, the cruise industry has taken some very hard knocks. We have recently caught evidence of middle-aged ships going to the breakers, or being hastily placed on worldwide shipping sale lists, an ominous sign marking the end of the line for many once graceful ladies of the sea.

However, when it comes to the prestigious and much-loved Cunard Line, one is happy to report that all current three Cunard Queens have not been toppled from their thrones. Indeed, a fourth Queen is scheduled to be built, for entry into cruising service in two years time.

How do South Africans stand in the midst of all this good news? Well, simply to add that two of the Cunard Queens are due to call at South African ports during 2021. The last transatlantic liner in regular service, QUEEN MARY 2, also goes cruising, and shall be calling at local ports during her World Cruise early in the New Year. QUEEN VICTORIA is also scheduled to call in April.

One sincerely anticipates that the wonderful world of cruise holidays will return to some kind of normality soon. Most cruise lines are hopeful about returning to some limited business by end 2020,. with “Full Steam Ahead” prospects for 2021! Perhaps they are being brave, but there are jobs and people’s livelihoods at stake, both ashore and afloat.

Queen Victoria at the quay at Port Elizabeth - a Good boost for Local Tourism Operators ashore, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Queen Victoria at the quay at Port Elizabeth – a Good boost for local tourism operators ashore

May I whet your cruising appetite further? My travel partner Buddy Ross & I were invited by Cunard to sample life aboard QUEEN VICTORIA on her most recent South African call, and loved every moment aboard. It was a superb, wonderful experience to be there and soak up all that traditional Cunard ambiance and style of service on board one of their ships.

We had flown to Mauritius, and embarked aboard Queen Victoria for a week, which ended in Cape Town. En route we stopped off at Reunion Island, then on to our own Port Elizabeth.

Scene of Fine Dining - The Britannia Restaurant, showing the Captain's Table under the Globe, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Scene of Fine Dining – The Britannia Restaurant, showing the Captain’s Table under the Globe

It was great to find a good sprinkling of South Africans aboard – working as crew members, whether in the restaurants, beauty salons or libraries. More of our locals have gone out to sea these days, and who can blame them when being paid in US Dollars can be somewhat lucrative. Still, hard work is involved and seafarers have to be ready to take the rough with the smooth. (think of grumpy, demanding passengers…….you do get them!).

Aboard ship we found a whole range of interesting public rooms to explore, ranging from the traditional Chart Room Cocktail Bar to the Grand Ballroom, where live music is provided every evening (as well as bingo, quizzes and traditional English afternoon tea during the daylight hours, just to name a few past-times). The Observation Room with its expansive windows with great views looking forward over the bow was a super location for early evening cocktails and canapes.

Our beautiful balcony cabin did not disappoint either. A welcome bottle of champagne on arrival was…….well, very welcome indeed! It was super to relax on that balcony and be lazy as we watched the ocean glide by. Whales were spotted off the southern tip of Madagascar. Not to mention near home, off the shores of Cape Agulhas, where pods of dolphins surrounded the ship – hopefully a good omen to mark her future cruising in our own waters!

Not the Titanic Stairs -but the similar Victorian styled atrium. featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Not the Titanic Stairs -but the similar Victorian styled atrium

Cuisine in the main dining room, for us being the Britannia Restaurant, was up to the great expectations that Cunard lays down. Petit fours and ginger slices at the door at the end of dinner is always a welcome touch too. Service was impeccable, and the company good to. What more can one really say?

And so, if like this scribe, you have been dreaming and scheming under lockdown at home about cruising, then it’s surely high time to stop dreaming and start planning! Cunard had a traditional slogan boast back in the 1950’s, set for the Transatlantic run, as well as cruising, which stated “Getting there is Half the Fun”. As an avid cruiser, I have always found this remains true to form.

Timepiece of Elegance - Te Shopping Arcade with a Victorian styled timepiece with a distinct London theme (made by DENT & SONS, also creators of London's famed BIG BEN at Westminster), featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Timepiece of Elegance – Te Shopping Arcade with a Victorian styled timepiece with a distinct London theme (made by DENT & SONS, also creators of London’s famed BIG BEN at Westminster)

It is now high time to blow the cobwebs off those ancient cruise holiday photos. Do go online, as all cruise lines in this era can be called up on the box to look over future cruise itineraries for 2021. They are itching to take future cruise bookings, and some of the Cunard offers include lovely incentives to start your planning now!

Further information on any of the Cunard World Cruises, with the South African calls included, or worldwide for that matter, may be located by contacting Cunard’s South African Agent, being White Star Cruise & Travel, who are based in Johannesburg. Tel. 011-4633293, email or discover their own website for latest special offers. And “Happy, Festive Cruising to All, for 2021”.

* David Hughes travelled as a guest of Cunard Line/White Star Cruise & Travel.


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Vernon Buxton recalls the time of Union-Castle

Appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

The 28,700gt EDINBURGH CASTLE glides into Durban in the 1960s, being fussed along by one of the tugs that were such a staple sight in that major harbour for so many years.

One of the greatest tragedies in the annals of maritime travel and transport was the demise in 1977 of the 1900-founded weekly Union-Castle Line passenger service between South Africa and Britain. It ended an unparalleled sea-travel era…and I was at T-Jetty in Durban harbour on the very day, 77 years later, when the curtain  came down on ‘The Golden Era of Sea Travel’…read all about it below…

You had to be around in those earlier years to fully comprehend what an incredible service the historic passenger line offered as a means of getting from Durban to Southampton and back. There was the main west coast route in the Atlantic Ocean, or a Suez Canal course that included the Indian Ocean, that included interesting ports of call.

I’m about to feast on the joy that Union-Castle ships brought me and to wallow in the nostalgia and romance of travel that imbued my soul between the 1950s and.70s. I invite you to share in even a touch of my bliss-filled recollections.

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You can see it down there, the weekly Union-Castle vessel (which I can’t identify) berthed at the Ocean Terminal at Durban’s T-Jetty, which was an exceptional facility for the mailships, but later became all but unusable. The N-Shed in the foreground has been for too many years a ‘temporary’ terminal for cruise liners, especially the MSC ships that are seasonally homeported in Durban. A brand new terminal is on the way at the Durban harbour mouth…read on…..

I clearly remember from an early age being attracted to ships, mainly passenger vessels, but I’ve always had an aesthetic eye on cargo ships too. The earlier ones were  really beautiful. There were no cruise liners in those days, when ships were mainly a means of getting from Point A to Point B, albeit in considerable comfort and a very high standard of services. It simply wasn’t all cheap n’ nasty like it is today.

During our 1950s visits to Durban (from Southern Rhodesia, as it was known until 1964) I always thrilled to the sight of the weekly Union-Castle Line vessel, with its red and black funnel and lavender-coloured hull entering or sailing from the port of Natal.

In later years, when I lived in Durban, I was at the harbour mouth every Wednesday at 5pm to see the Union-Castle Royal Mail Ship sail. These ships would spend a day each in East London and Port Elizabeth and three days in Cape Town. Then off they would go, with calls at Las Palmas or Madeira. Each vessel would gently glide passed me quietly as I stood at The Point – with a crushing yearning to be aboard…

The journey to England took up to two weeks and later, with the introduction with more powerful engines, the faster mailboats covered the route in 11-13 days. The ‘mail ships’ were the bearers of vast volumes of letters and parcels being cross-exchanged between South Africa and Britain. The cargo component, of course, required longer turnaround times at various ports of call and thus afforded the British crew a breather, also allowing ample time for victualling and repainting, which was undertaken with unfailing regularity in any of the South African ports…certainly until fortunes began to wane after the mid-1960s.

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One of my earliest Durban recollections was of the 20,109gt WINCHESTER CASTLE, notable for its square-shaped fo’c’sle. She was the personification of maritime aesthetics and I craved to sail on her. (Michael Johnson of Ballito and his family were with us on one of those 1950s Durban forays – do you recall being on the wharf with me, Mike? We stayed at the Majestic Hotel, remember? It’s now a Garden Court, next to the historic Balmoral Hotel on the Marine Parade.)

The Union-Castle Line operated between Europe and Africa from 1900 to 1997. Two smaller cargo vessels were on the route for another year.

 Many of the line’s vessels were requisitioned for service as troop or hospital ships in the First World War and eight were sunk by mines or German U-boats. Many vessels were again requisitioned in the Second World War. Three – DUNNOTTAR CASTLE, CARNARVON CASTLE (both of which I well remember) and DUNVEGAN CASTLE (not in my recall) became armed merchant cruisers. PRETORIA CASTLE (1939) was also first requisitioned as an armed merchant cruiser, but later served as an escort carrier.

After WW2, Union-Castle made good use of its three ships converted to troop transports to carry the vast number of emigrants seeking new lives in East and South Africa.

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A grand vessel was the 1930s-built WARWICK CASTLE (20,445gt). As you can see, the earlier vessels gave considerable preference to cargo space, with deep holds fore and aft. In between these cargo spaces, however, there was more than enough room for splendid passenger accommodations and services. The WARWICK (if you say ‘war-wick’ you’re a philistine!!!) was a beauty, don’t you agree?

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By 1961 I could no longer resist a Union-Castle voyage and had occasion to take a two-night sailing from Beira to Durban on the 17,029gt BRAEMAR CASTLE. The journey required two nights prior on a steam train from Salisbury, via Umtali (now Mutare), which included a daytime run through the vast, expansive game-filled Gorongoza Game Reserve…eat your heart out! I adored that tiny taste of Union-Castle, she being one of three identical liners built in 1951-52 for the east Africa service; the others being RHODESIA CASTLE and KENYA CASTLE. My palate for ocean sailing was a touch more than assuaged. Here’s an Internet image of BRAEMAR taking on bunkers at Aden, one of her many exotic calls on the Suez route. If only I’d chosen the east coast route when my chance came.

What a loss when it all ended. How utterly special was this rather smart way of traversing the Atlantic and Indian oceans. The cuisine and accommodations were entirely acceptable – if not en suite – and there was adequate fun and distraction, with daily deck quoits and in the evenings ‘Bingo’ sessions and usually a 5-piece dance band for ‘fox-trotting’ the night away.

Moreover, everyone made the effort to dress appropriately…oh yes, jacket-and-tie for the gentlemen, if you please, and long dresses were expected of spouses; cocktail dresses were not done, my dear!

That, of course, was before the American Boeing 707 erupted onto the scene (first flight, 1957) and began to blow all the passenger lines apart, save for the Cunard Line, which had fortuitously built a new trans-Atlantic liner, the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, with a touch of ‘cruise liner’ adding to her overall appeal…and the overall survival of the brand name Cunard.

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Another 1930s-built masterpiece was the 27,000gt CAPE TOWN CASTLE, seen departing the beautiful city after which she was named. Across the decades since its inception, the Union-Castle Line boasted almost 50 vessels in its fleet, a feat accomplished by no other passenger-carrying line. The ships were all British-built and manned, which begs the question: ‘What the hell happened to British ship-building after the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2?’ It’s a national disgrace, really, when you consider how the French, Germans, Italians and Finns have flourished in the fields of maritime technological and engineering magnificence. Contemporary cruise liners are truly the product of genius, if lacking the romance of bygone days!

 In the late 1960s sea passengers discovered the kick of overnighting across the Atlantic or out to the colonies in a four-engine jet. Yes, progress is progress and the sad fact was that passenger ships had indeed lost their lustre and so many well-known shipping lines hit the wall in a deadly progression. My friend David Vincent in Durban (he’s still there, with a pulse, hi David) and I caught the tail-end of that trend when we crossed the Atlantic on the penultimate voyage of RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH between Southampton and New York in 1968. She returned to Southampton one last time and that was it for one very famous ocean liner. Scenes of her later on fire in Hong Kong harbour gutted me.

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The slim and sleek 28,705gt PRETORIA CASTLE was later bought by the South African consortium Safmarine and became the SA ORANJE. She was the first Union-Castle ship to be completed after the war and she and her identical sister EDINBURGH CASTLE sailed on the mail run to Cape Town from 1948. Say what you like, today’s cruise liners can’t hold a candle to those classic vessels. The main feature, which you can see in all these pictures, was the Promenade Deck, where gaily-cushioned loungers were lined up from end to end, allowing passengers to see who’s who aboard, sip gin and tonic or opt for hot bouillon at 11am, while watching expansive sea vistas sweep by…and marvelling at the flying fish in Equatorial waters. There were two classes on all Union-Castle vessels, but Safmarine opted for one class only, which was a most agreeable arrangement for passengers, decidedly this passenger included.

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Though I now regret not opting for the east coast service via Mombasa et al, my ongoing desire for a longer voyage was satiated in 1966 by a Durban to Southampton run on the SA VAAL, the former TRANSVAAL CASTLE. This 32,697gt gem had only just been acquired by Safmarine and though – gone was the lavender hull – this one-class vessel was simply perfect in every way. One is not discerning as a 24-year-old, but how can I forget dinner with six choices of soup (three hot, three cold), multiple hors d’oeuvres, four roast choices and a dozen or more puddings, all served in a white-gloved, table d’hote-style. Goodness gracious me, these days you have to serve yourself from a lack-lustre buffet spread? (oh, the horror, the horror…and if you think I’m being pretentious, I am guilty as charged! Standards are standards, friends.)

 The SA VAAL voyage took 18 days, with a stop at Las Palmas, before rounding the alluring Isle of Wight and then graciously gliding up the fabled Solent towards historic Southampton. I had difficultly facing reality again when made it up to London by train, phew, one had to make decisions!


Appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news
Picture: Trevor Jones

The pride of the Union-Castle fleet was the 37,640gt flagship WINDSOR CASTLE. You travelled in First or Tourist class (snobs called it ‘steerage’), according to your means, but everyone hailed the experience on the west Africa run. In 1977 I was The Natal Mercury reporter assigned, along with the accompanying photographer, Terry Haywood, to do a colour piece on the final sailing of the WINDSOR from Durban…thus signalling the lamentable termination of one of the grandest ocean services that ever existed, the likes of which can never be repeated.

Appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news 

When I arrived at the Ocean Terminal, colourful bunting ‘cried’ in a mild summer breeze and clouds of bright streamers floated down from the ship, whilst brass bands rendered heart-tugging pieces…the crew on deck joining in with ‘We’ll Meet Again…’. Two familiar high-stacked Durban tugs nudged the large vessel away from the crowded wharf for one last time and WINDSOR CASTLE ever-so-gently slipped away towards the harbour mouth with three farewell hornnn…hornnn…hornnns! I had a lump and half in my throat as a giant slice of maritime history and romance made its way graciously across the Bar (a dangerous sandbank in shallow water), swung gently to starboard and then, with a big puff of black smoke from her large red and black stack, the WINDSOR accelerated as she charted her farewell course beyond the famous Bluff… thus ending the ‘Golden Era of Sea Travel’…forever. (I just pinked a tear writing this.)

Appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

1977 marked the end of the large mail ships, but the smaller GOOD HOPE CASTLE and her sister, SOUTHAMPTON CASTLE (pictured) signalled the true end of the Union-Castle mail ship service a year later. These two 10,558gt vessels, capable of attaining a speed of 27 knots, were actually very fast cargo vessels, with accommodation for just 12 passengers (who actually found them very unstable in rough seas. I’d have loved them.) They were both sold in 1978. Farewell, goodbye, cheerio, totsiens…till we never meet again…end of story…end of an era! How I crave one of these voyages as I press ‘send’.

 Appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

A deliciously eccentric arm of my own family, meanwhile, had in the 1950s built their own version of a Union-Castle ship in the Johannesburg suburb of Buccleuch, still called Buccleuch, named after the estate of the Duke of Buccleuch in Scotland. The family owned most of the land in that area north of Johannesburg CBD. The ship was the BUCCLEUCH CASTLE, constructed as a tea room out in the bush. It was that very remoteness that proved to be the obstacle to success and the Chapman-Gibsons – ‘Skipper’ and Aunt Girlie – lost money on that venture. The ship became all sorts of things in later years and today there is not a shred of evidence of its existence. My cousin Guy Macleod and I recently went searching for the site of the lavender-hulled, brick-built ship and saw only ankle-high grass. The top of that funnel roughly marks the spot where the Gautrain flashes by in both directions daily.

 Appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news

And now – 43 years after Union-Castle days – this is the brand new Ocean Cruise Terminal now taking shape very close to the harbour mouth in Durban. It will provide a luxury base for world-cruise callers, but especially for the MSC Cruises group that homeports ships here during the summer cruise season. It will be a great new asset for good old Durbs! Should have been done years ago.

I shall ‘sail away’ now, with this amusing anecdote relating to the snooty days of trans-Atlantic sea travel. Nancy Astor was a close friend of Maud ‘Emerald’, Cunard, wife of Cunard Line founder, Samuel Cunard.

Nancy, Viscountess Astor (left), was ‘orfen’ invited – with an almost indecent regularity – as Emerald, Lady Cunard’s companion (travelling el freebie, ‘naturaleh dah-ling’) ‘accraws’ The Pond, mainly aboard Samuel’s RMS QUEEN MARY or RMS QUEEN ELIZABETH. They were both frightful snobs. One afternoon, during the essential white-gloved tea interlude in the liner’s Queen’s Room, Nancy turns to Emerald and asks: “Ai’ve been ‘invaited’ to dine at the Captain’s table tonight…have you, dear?”

Appearing in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime news









There’s a lethal hesitancy as Emerald most elegantly licks the cream from a tiny cake off her impeccably well-manicured fingers. “My deah,” she replies, directing a withering look at her bemused friend’s face: “They know vereh well here to not dare to ‘invaite’ me to the Captain’s table…I would not be seen dead dining with the crew!”

Perish the thought, dining with the crew! 😊 As much as I regret that Union-Castle is now all but forgotten, I’m somewhat satiated by being the beneficiary of such incredible experience and memories – and I deeply hope you also had a chance to sail away on one of those revered vessels that were so representative of the ‘good old days’. If you didn’t, you’ve no idea what you’ve missed.

Vernon Buxton

10 July 2020



MSC Orchestra and MSC Musica to cruise South Africa

MSC Orchestra at Cape Town, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime cruise news

MSC Cruises confirmed on Monday (22 June) full details of its Winter 2020/2021 Season, offering over 90 different itineraries across the Caribbean, Mediterranean, the Gulf, South Africa, South America and Asia – all of the regions where MSC Cruises traditionally operates.

Itineraries range in length from two to 24 nights, along with the third MSC World Cruise departing in January 2021 and an extensive Grand Voyages programme.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO commented, “We have reviewed and updated our complete Winter 2020/2021 Season, starting in late October and we are pleased to now confirm the full details. Our Winter programme sees us offering cruises in all of the regions of the world where we traditionally operate and whilst there are some updates to the original planned deployment of specific ships, we are still able to offer our main itineraries so that guests can enjoy the holiday that they booked with us.”

Yesterday’s announcement follows the Company’s recent confirmation that the entire MSC Cruises fleet, including two brand new vessels currently under construction, will be in operation starting from March 2021 for the Summer 2021 Season (Northern Hemisphere summer).

In addition, MSC Cruises confirmed today the voluntarily further extension of the halt of operations of its ships operating from U.S. ports in the Caribbean until 15 September 2020. The announcement impacts two ships – MSC Seaside and MSC Armonia – that were previously scheduled to sail in the region during this time period.

Guests affected by the cancelled cruises will receive a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) by 13 July, where they have the opportunity to transfer the full amount paid for their cancelled cruise to a future cruise of their choice – on any ship, for any itinerary — through to the end of 2021. Meanwhile for the Summer 2020 Season, MSC Cruises has previously announced the temporary halting to its current ship operation up until 31 July in the other regions where the Company operates.

In conjunction with yesterday’s announcement, the Company also revealed that a new comprehensive and enhanced health and safety protocol is being developed in collaboration with relevant national health authorities and with the support of a team of external medical experts.

This protocol will cover all aspects of the cruise from the booking phase through to disembarkation and the return home. It will also include all aspects of life on board and the precautionary measures will ensure the health and wellbeing of guests and crew including enhanced sanitation measures, guidelines for life on board as well as enhanced medical facilities and health screenings for guests and crew. The full details of these new precautionary health and safety measures will be announced in the coming days.

MSC Orchestra featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime cruise news
MSC Orchestra,    picture Wikipedia

Winter 2020/2021 programme overview

MSC World Cruise 2021

MSC Magnifica will sail her third World Cruise, following on from the high level of appreciation from World Cruise guests in 2019 and 2020, replacing the previously announced MSC Poesia. MSC Magnifica is the latest ship in the Musica class and is well-placed for this voyage with one of the highest ratios of balcony cabins and impressive onboard features including the pool with a magrodome and extended dining areas. The original itinerary is fully confirmed and the 119-day journey around the globe will commence on 5 January 2021, with guests travelling to 53 destinations across 33 countries in style and comfort.

The Mediterranean

MSC Grandiosa will replace sister-ship MSC Virtuosa for the winter, as delivery of this ship is delayed due to the delays and postponements caused by the health pandemic. All guests currently booked on MSC Virtuosa will be automatically reprotected to MSC Grandiosa, the Company’s current flagship, with the original itinerary – the MSC Cruises signature seven-night “Six Pearls” western Mediterranean cruises, with embarkation possible at each port: Marseille, France, Genoa, Italy, Civitavecchia/Rome, Italy, Palermo, Italy, Valetta, Malta and Barcelona, Spain.

MSC Magnifica will offer two festive cruises in December with a five-night Christmas cruise calling Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona and Civitavecchia and a ten-night New Year cruise from Genoa, Marseille, Barcelona before calling Gibraltar, Lisbon/Cascais in Portugal, Cadiz/Seville and Malaga in Spain before returning to Civitavecchia/Rome and Genoa.

The Caribbean

MSC Meraviglia will sail every Saturday from Miami, United States, on one of two itineraries: an evening experience in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Charlotte Amalie, US Virgin Islands, Nassau, The Bahamas and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, The Bahamas or Ocho Rios, Jamaica, George Town, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Mexico and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

MSC Armonia homeporting in Miami, will offer three-, four- or seven-night cruises to Key West, Nassau and Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve.

MSC Seaside will offer three-, four- or seven-night cruises from the brand-new embarkation port of Port Canaveral in Florida, United States, with cruises calling at a range of destinations including Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, George Town, Grand Cayman as well as Cozumel and Nassau.

Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will remain a key highlight of the MSC Cruises offering from Florida, with all three ships calling at the private island destination in The Bahamas. Exclusive to MSC Cruises’ guests and located just 65 miles from Miami, the island is surrounded by 64 square miles of marine reserve, offering guests a unique opportunity to discover local marine life, soak up the spirit of Bahamian culture and reconnect with themselves and each other.

MSC Poesia will replace MSC Splendida, to serve the South Caribbean and the Antilles with the original planned itineraries departing from Fort de France, Martinique on seven-night, seven-destination itineraries and 14-night from Barbados sailing to some of the best of islands the Caribbean has to offer.

MSC Musica to sail from Cape Town and Durban during the 2020-2021 cruise season, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime cruise news
MSC Opera arriving in Durban in an earlier season. Picture Trevor Steenkamp

Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar

MSC Fantasia will replace MSC Seaview and MSC Lirica in this region, offering seven-night sailings with Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the exclusive beach resort of Sir Bani Yas island in The United Arab Emirates, as well as Bahrain and Doha, Qatar. The cruise concludes with an overnight Dubai stay for time to explore all that the cosmopolitan city has to offer.

South America

MSC Seaview with her stunning outdoor areas will replace MSC Grandiosa, offering seven-night cruises from Santos, Brazil to the Northeast of the country and calling the new port of Maceio, Salvador and the island of Ilha Grande/Angra dos Reis and Buzios.

MSC Musica, replacing MSC Fantasia,will offer seven -night cruises from Santos calling Itajai/Santa Catarina, Brazil, Punta Del Este, Uruguay and an overnight in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

MSC Sinfonia replacing MSC Orchestra will offer eight or nine-night cruises from Buenos Aires calling Montevideo, Uruguay, Buzios, Rio de Janeiro, Ilhabela or Ilha Grande/Angra dos Reis, Itajai Brazil, with the possibility of embarking in the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

MSC Preziosa will operate her original planned itineraries from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with a range of cruises from three to eight nights.

MSC Opera at Durban, picture Trevor Steenkamp, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime cruise news
MSC Opera at Durban, picture Trevor Steenkamp

South Africa

MSC Orchestra, replacing MSC Musica will offer a range of cruises from either Durban or Cape Town to destinations including Maputo, Mozambique, Portuguese Island, Pomene, Mozambique and Port Elizabeth, as per the original planned itinerary.

MSC Opera will operate the planned itinerary from Cape Town and Durban.

A highlight for the season will be a 14-night New Year cruise on MSC Orchestra visiting five spectacular destinations, including an overnight stay in Port Louis, Mauritius.

The Far East

MSC Bellissima will offer a choice of different length cruises in Asia- a detailed sailing programme will be announced soon.

Spectacular Grand Voyages

MSC Fantasia, which replaces MSC Seaview, will depart on her Grand Voyage from Barcelona, Marseille and Genoa on 14, 15 and 16 November, respectively, as she moves to Dubai for winter. MSC Opera will offer the original planned itinerary from Italy to South Africa. All other Grand Voyages from Europe to the Caribbean, South America and South Africa will be cancelled.

In Spring 2021, nine Grand Voyages will be available with ships returning from the Emirates, Brazil, South Africa, Martinique and the United States, sailing to Europe for the start of the Summer 2021 Season.

MSC Opera in Cape Town where she will be homeported this coming summer, featured in Africa PORTS & SHIPS maritime cruise news
MSC Opera in Cape Town where she will be homeported this coming summer

Further booking information for international cruises

All guests whose booking is affected by any changes will be automatically reprotected to another ship serving the same or similar itinerary. These guests will be eligible for compensation as follows:

All guests who have booked an inside or ocean view cabin will receive a cabin upgrade [2]

All guests booked in a balcony cabin, a suite or a Yacht Club cabin will receive a shipboard credit of €100/$100 per cabin (€50/$50 for single cabin occupancy) for cruises up to six nights and for cruises of seven-nights or above [3], guests will receive €200/$200 (€100/$100 for single cabins occupancy) [4]

All new guests booking with MSC Cruises before 31 July 2020 will benefit from flexible booking conditions to give them added peace of mind should they need to reschedule or cancel their cruise covering cruise departures from 1 August 2020 through to 2 May 2021 with the possibility to reschedule free of charge up to 15 days prior to the cruise departure date for cruise only bookings; up to 21 days for Fly&Cruise bookings.

For further details on existing bookings, guests should contact their Travel Advisor or visit the MSC Cruises website at


1]  Winter Season 2020/2021 runs from October 31 through to March 2021.
2]  Compensation does not apply for MSC World Cruise, MSC Preziosa as well as bookings previously made on MSC Musica and MSC Opera South Africa.
3]  Applies to all ships and itineraries with the exception of MSC Magnifica World Cruise and MSC Preziosa
4]  Not applicable for Yacht Club cabins

MSC Opera with Cape Town and Table Mountain beyond, featured in Africa PORTS 7 SHIPS maritime cruise news
MSC Opera with Cape Town and Table Mountain beyond