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South African Ports Support Cruise Ships on Repatriation Voyages

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Seabourn cruise ship during a stop in South Africa courtesy of SAMSA

By The Maritime Executive 06-04-2020 06:41:05

As part of the ongoing effort to complete the repatriation of crew members to their homes around the world, cruise ships have been arriving in unusual ports of call.

South Africa is one of the areas that is playing host to a range of ships, many of which are new to the area. Unlike many ports around the world, South Africa has been permitting technical calls for the cruise ships. This was recently expanded to also permit South African nationals working on the ships to disembark during the technical calls.

According to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) more than 200 South Africans citizens or permanent residents were returning home on cruise ships during May while thousands of crew members were also in transit on the ships bound for Asia.

Three cruise lines recently completed technical calls in South Africa. This included the first calls by a Carnival Cruise Line ship in the ports.

Two cruise ships operated by Princess Cruises, the Crown Princess and the Island Princess, made technical calls at Cape Town in mid-May. The Crown Princess arrived in South Africa with 2,139 crew members, of which 30 were South African, according to SAMSA. 

“The vessel disembarked South African crew and its medical team while in Cape Town,” reported SAMSA. South Africa granted special permission for the medical team, which had been aboard the cruise ship, to be replaced by a new medical team so that the ship would meet its safe manning requirements before proceeding on its voyage. The disembarking crew was subjected to the local COVID-19 regulations, including a 14-day quarantine before returning to their homes. The Crown Princess also took on bunkers and supplies before departing. She is expected to arrive in Manila next week joining the current repatriation effort underway in The Philippines.

The same day that the Crown Princess left Cape Town, the second Princess cruise ship, the Island Princess, arrived with 1,416 crew members on board. A total of 62 South Africans were permitted to disembark before the Island Princess continued on its voyage. She is expected to arrive in Jakarta on June 8.

Cape Town also received cruise ships from Holland America Line that were following a similar route to the Princess ships from Florida and the Bahamas to Asia. The Rotterdam made a technical call in Cape Town with 800 crew members on board. Twelve were South African and left the ship before she sailed bound for Jakarta where she arrives on June 5. Also visiting Cape Town was Holland America’s Zuiderdam and Veendam, which had 626 crew members including 49 South Africans. The two cruise ships are sailing in tandem next scheduled to make a technical visit at Reunion in the Indian Ocean.

Among the most unique arrivals in South Africa have been five cruise ships all operated by Carnival Cruise Line, marking the line’s first visits to the country. The Carnival Dream made a technical call before continuing to Jakarta while the Carnival Liberty, with 1,601 crew members including four South Africans, stopped before continuing to Mumbai. The Carnival Conquest stopped on her voyage to Jakarta while the Carnival Fascination recently stopped en route to Mauritius. The last Carnival cruise ship, the Carnival Ecstasy is currently in the waters outside Durban.

In addition to each of these cruise ships making calls to disembark South Africans and take on supplies, Ponant’s exploration cruise ship Le Bougainville replenished stores and her fuel in South Africa before continuing a trip north along the Atlantic coast bound for Europe.

SAMSA explained that each of the ships required coordination among multiple departments to ensure that all regulations relating to COVID-19 were enforced. All of the ships reported that the crew aboard was healthy, but under South African regulations only citizens and permanent residents were permitted ashore.

Currently, these are the last of the cruise ships scheduled to visit South Africa, but they are part of a large convoy of cruise ships that have been dispatched to different parts of the globe transporting crew home to family and friends.