Shosholoza Ocean Academy & MSC Cruises Reopening Update: August 2020

Shosholoza Ocean Academy & MSC Cruises Reopening Update: August 2020All of us with MSC Cruises hope you and your loved ones are staying healthy and safe.

As mentioned in our previous communications MSC Cruises is planning a phased re- opening of cruises, pending authorization from all the government authorities involved in various countries around the world. We promised that as more information related to the re-opening became available, we would be in touch to provide it.

MSC Cruises has been working closely with the relevant authorities for the final validation of our protocol to enable us to gradually return to cruising. Our new operating protocol has been designed to protect the health and safety of guests, crew as well as the local communities that the Company’s ships will visit. The protocol meets and goes beyond guidelines provided by key international and regional regulatory and technical bodies and includes universal COVID-19 testing for all guests and crew prior to embarkation as well as during their time on board.

The great news is that, as an industry leader in health and safety protocols and procedures, MSC Cruises has received clearance for a limited start of cruising. This is only the beginning of our return to the oceans and we are excited at the prospect of seeing our beautiful ships, your homes away from home, at sea again.

For this initial phase of the restart two ships are preparing – flagship MSC Grandiosa and popular ship MSC Magnifica. MSC Grandiosa will offer 7-night cruises in the Western Mediterranean and MSC Magnifica will serve the East Mediterranean. The itineraries that are planned include; Greece and Malta where the authorities have not only re-opened their ports to cruising, they have also approved our health and safety protocols.

In order to ensure these 2 vessels only at this stage are manned to return to cruising, MSC Cruises has developed, in conjunction with local health and government authorities, very specific protocols regarding identifying, testing and quarantining crew for this process.

In order to select the countries where crew travelled from careful consideration was given to many factors, including but not limited to, Country COVID-19 statistics and government protocols in place, complexity of visa and travel arrangements, guest demographics for the planned itineraries and the positions required to be filled on board.

For all those crew remaining at home globally, keeping in mind that only 2 ships are scheduled to start at this time, the following reminders regarding your eventual re- embarkations on the remainder of the fleet when, pending authorization from all the government authorities involved in various countries around the world, operations eventually fully resume:

  • If your contract was interrupted due to the halt of operations and you signed off before the end of your contract with your freeze deal, you will be prioritized for re- embarkation when MSC Cruises resumes full operations.
  • If you completed your contract during the halt of operations or have not yet embarked during 2020 you will be rotated into the schedule according to the operational needs once MSC Cruises resumes full operations.
  • If you are a candidate crew member, having been approved for embarkation but no contract has been provided, you will potentially be scheduled into the rotation, after first giving priority to returning crew as outlined above. You should consider your embarkation on hold indefinitely. As reopening plans develop further and more vessels return to service, we will be in touch with further information.

Please note that, if your contact details are up to date, there is no need to contact your agency. We will be in touch with you the moment we receive a new engagement proposal/contract for you.

While at home, keep your documents current as much as possible – such as your passport, etc. If they are expiring soon, please do not spend money on renewing your STCW or Medical Certificates. Only renew them when we contact you about an engagement proposal/contract.

Those returning crew can access the e-learning and get stuck into our new courses available; ‘Welcome back to MSC’ is a new course that covers the basics of our new health and safety protocols aboard, also we have many other courses to get you ready for your re-embarkation such as English and German courses, Social Media Guidance, Child safety and GDPR.

When you return to our ships, you will be walking into a new world with many changes that you might not have been used to before.

We thank you for your continued commitment and hope you are keeping healthy and safe.

Best Regards,

Andre Schlemmer
Chief Operations Officer