NATIONAL NEWS - South African ports have been considering requests on a case by case basis from passenger liners urgently seeking permission to dock in order to refuel, restock provisions or to repatriate South African crew.
None of the cruise liners currently calling have any passengers on board.
Acting Chief Harbour Master at Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Captain Sabelo Mdlalose, said: “The banning of passenger liner operations at a number of ports globally, including South Africa, due to the Covid-19 outbreak has left the cruise industry in limbo. These vessels would have disembarked passengers several weeks ago elsewhere and their crews have had to remain on board for an extended period as the ships make their way across the globe.”
As the port landlord, TNPA works closely with the Department of Transport and the South African Maritime Safety Authority to ensure the safety and security of shipping, as is required by any signatory of the International Maritime Organization.
“This means we have a duty to assist ships requiring essential services like bunkering and replenishment of supplies, as this becomes an issue of safety of life at sea. However, we ensure that all safety precautions are taken and that a risk assessment is conducted for each vessel by the Joint Operations Centre at each port.”
Acting Harbour Master at the Port of Durban, Captain Justin Adams, confirmed that the Port of Durban will this week see five Carnival Cruise ships calling between Tuesday, 26 May to Thursday, 28 May.
The five ships will be refuelling and restocking inventory to meet their daily operational requirements.
According to Cruise Hive, of the five, Carnival Fascination is taking crew back to Mumbai, India, and Durban, South Africa; Carnival Dream Is sailing to east Asia with stops in Durban, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Manila, Philippines; Carnival Liberty is also sailing to Mumbai, India, and Durban; Carnival Conquest is sailing to east Asia with stops in Durban and Manila, Philippines and Carnival Ecstasy is also sailing to Mumbai, India with a stop in Durban.
South Africa’s 2019-20 cruise season typically ends in late April to early May.
Ministerial Regulations signed into effect by Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, on 18 March 2020 prohibited further cruise liner calls unless for disembarkation of a returning South African citizen and/or a permanent resident, or embarkation of a departing foreign national.
“We assure South African citizens that these vessels are being managed in accordance with the Regulations and all COVID-19 protocols, including ensuring that the vessels have been at sea for a 14-day quarantine period before docking in South Africa, and also ensuring that any disembarking individuals go into quarantine when they come ashore,” said Captain Mdlalose.