DURBAN - The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is gearing up to welcome cruise vessels and passengers to its South African shores during the upcoming 2021/22 cruise season.
Ayanda Mantshongo, TNPA executive manager of corporate affairs and external relations, said the port cities of Cape Town, Mossel Bay, Port Elizabeth-Gqeberha, Durban and Richards Bay are scheduled to receive a total of 20 passenger vessels this cruise season, which will begin in November and will end in May 2022.
Mantshongo said the first vessels are expected to dock at the Port of Cape Town at the end of the month, while other cities will welcome their first vessels during December.
Captain Sabelo Mdlalose, acting chief harbour master at TNPA, encouraged visitors to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines, including social distancing and mask-wearing, both onboard and while exploring the various cities.
“We are thrilled to be able to welcome cruise passengers and crew back to our shores,” said Mdlalose.
Following the country’s move to adjusted Covid-19 Alert Level 1 regulations on October 1, the Department of Transport confirmed that passenger ships could plan and recommence tourism activities along the South African coast.
In addition, the port authority said passenger vessels would be permitted to call at SA ports to replenish fuel, stores and provisions; for repairs and maintenance; and for medical evacuations, emergencies and other services approved by the Department of Transport.
Other regulations during the season include:
- 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.
- International embarkation and disembarkation will be restricted to Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth-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 (Port Health), as well as Marine Notice 21-21(C) issued by the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA).
- Passenger vessel owners and operators – including MSC and Rennies – will also need to adhere to strict operating protocols.
- Embarkation and disembarkation must be staggered at terminals to ensure social distancing and must comply with curfew restrictions. No visitors will be allowed to board any passenger ships whilst alongside.
Mantshongo encouraged passengers to contact the medical doctor onboard if they develop any signs of Covid-19 or suspect that they are getting sick.
“Infirmaries should be available 24/7 and fully equipped to deal with any Covid-19 infections onboard,” she said, adding that cabins should be cleaned daily, and hand sanitiser dispensers must be available.
Mantshongo added that onboard entertainment and dining activities should be done in line with social distancing guidelines.
“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 Mdlalose.