Cruise liners call at South African ports to repatriate crew

Crown Princess cruise vessel. Credit: HASENPUSCH DIETMAR

A group of cruise liners is calling at South Africa’s port to repatriate crew members. The vessels will then proceed to other international ports to do the same, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) confirmed.

This is after Crown Princess and Island Princess arrived at the Port of Cape Town on 16 May on a scheduled stop.

Crown Princess was carrying 2,139 crew members, of which 30 are South Africans. Among the disembarked passengers was a medical team. Special permission was granted for a fresh medical team to embark to allow the vessel to meet safe manning requirements before it could sail.

The disembarked crew was subjected to the local coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) regulations and will quarantine for 14 days before they can join their families. The vessel also took bunkers and supplies before it sailed on 16 May.

The 62 South Africans on board Island Princess were also disembarked. SAMSA said nine more cruise liners will be calling before the end of the month.

Three Holland America Line vessels are due at the Port of Cape Town. Rotterdam has already anchored with 800 crew on board, 12 of which are South African. Zuiderdam is due to arrive on 20 May, but SAMSA does not have information on the crew yet. Veendam is due to arrive on 23 May with 626 crew, 49 of which are South African.

Meanwhile, Holland America’s Volendam, which was en route to Southeast Asia, diverted to Durban on 18 May to evacuate a 27-year-old New Zealand crew member who had fallen ill.

Three Carnival vessels are due to arrive at Port Elizabeth on 25 May. Carnival Liberty is carrying 1,601 crew, four of which are South African. SAMSA said there is no crew information available yet on Carnival Dream, Carnival Ecstasy, and Carnival Conquest. A fourth vessel in the fleet, Carnival Fascination, is due to arrive at the Port of Durban on 27 May. There is no information yet on the number of crew on board.

MS Le Bougainville arrived at the Port of Richards Bay to replenish stores and take bunkers. The vessel only had its 78-strong crew on board after disembarking its passengers at its last port of call in the Seychelles.

SAMSA said it continued to work with the department of transport, other government departments, and government agencies to ensure that all regulations relating to COVID-19 are enforced and followed by the maritime industry. These regulations, among others, prohibit cruise liner calls into any of the South African ports, any crew changes, or any disembarkations apart from returning citizens or permanent residents.