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Cruise from Cape Town to "Nowhere"

Where does the cruise to nowhere go? (we often get asked this) - usually the Captain will steer the ship into an area where the weather is best, so passengers can enjoy some fun in the sun and calm waters. The cruises to nowhere from Cape Town are extremely popular and normally sell out months before departure. For the 2017/2018 cruise seasons, cruises from Cape Town to nowhere will be on the MSC Sinfona cruise ship, which replaced the MSC Opera.

Cruise dates for the 2017/2018 seasons, Cape Town to nowhere:

Ship:
Cruise:
Departure Date:
Return Date:
Nights:

MSC Sinfonia

SN48

24 Apr 2017

28 Apr 2017

4

MSC Sinfonia

SN49

28 Apr 2017

30 Apr 2017

2

MSC Sinfonia

SX21

13 Jan 2018

15 Jan 2018

2

Review of MSC Melody cruise to nowhere

This is a review of our MSC Melody cruise to nowhere (more or less Mossel Bay), which left Cape Town on the 14th Jan and returned on the 17th Jan 2011. We're happy to report that embarkation procedures at the Port of Cape Town have improved substantially since the review was written.

Here's a photo of the Melody at the Eastern Mole in Table Bay Harbour.

MSC Melody at the Eastern Mole in Cape Town

I like the fact that you can feel the roll of the MSC Melody in the waves of the ocean, and the hum of its engines. Some of the larger cruise ships are just too stable, to the extent that you don't develop sea legs (i.e. that feeling when you first get ashore that you still need to compensate for the roll with your legs).

Embarking at Cape Town harbour

We were initially meant to embark at 12h00, but due to the late arrival of the Melody we got an sms the night before the cruise, telling us that embarkation was being moved to 15h00. Embarkation took place at the Eastern Mole of Table Bay Harbour (turn-off near the Royal Cape Yacht Club), which contrasted starkly with the previous embarkation point at the V&A Waterfront part of Cape Town harbour, in front of the Table Bay Hotel (see photos of MSC Rhapsody cruising into Cape Town). (Ed: The Eastern Mole is now longer used as a passenger ship embarkation point).

Eastern Mole of Table Bay Harbour

The Port Authorities in Cape Town would do well to improve the facilities - there were 2 tents which could not fit even a quarter of the passengers, and the rest of us made do outside with a strong wind blowing dust onto us.....eventually at 18h30 we got on board the ship. And if you wanted to breastfeed your baby, you got directed to a dirty portaloo. C'mon Cape Town, we can do better than this.

Here's a photo of the tent on Table Bay Harbour's Eastern Mole, where the luggage is stacked (literally), before being moved aboard the MSC Melody cruise ship.

cruise luggage tent in Cape Town luggage about to board the MSC Melody in Cape Town's Table Bay Harbour

Here's a tug fighting the swell in the harbour, and it was so windy that stones were used to hold down the cruise cards inside the tent.

tugboat & cargo ship paperweights to hold cruise cards down

If, like us, you have a long wait until you can board your cruise ship, I recommend the views at the end of this jetty on Table Bay Harbour's Eastern Mole. Take care, if it's windy, that you don't get blown off!

jetty on Table Bay Harbour's Eastern Mole, Cape Town MSC Melody from the jetty on Table Bay Harbour

Because the winds were over 60 knots per hour, the Port of Cape Town was closed, and the ship eventually left the Port at 02h10 when the winds had died down. To make up for the delays, they offered free cocktails in the lounges between 10pm and 10:30pm.

Calypso deck of the MSC Melody with Table Mountain in the background

Meals & drinks

The dhal lentil soup was a big winner for me (although some found it too salty).

Drinks are usually charged for, so take full advantage of the occassions when they're free - in the mornings there are free juices and tea/coffee, watch out for announcements of free or discounted cocktails and drink the water from the taps in your room. If you buy water, buy 1.5 litres instead of 0.5 litres (1.5 litres costs $2.30 while 0.5 litres costs $1.3).

The cocktails seem to be made with syrups, so don't, for example, expect fresh strawberries with your strawberry dacquaries.

cranes in Table Bay Harbour

The cabin

Our cabin was a category 9 outside cabin, which appeared larger than those on the MSC Sinfonia cruise ship. We had a double bed (which wasn't just 2 singles pushed together) and a double-bunk. Our room was kept clean and tidy by a friendly fellow by the name of Ricorbert (spelling?) from Madagascar.

cabin on the MSC Melody cruise

Tugboats

tugboats approaching the MSC Melody in Cape Town

Two tugboats. On the left, the tug is battling the wind in Table Bay Harbour. On the right, the tug is manoevering to guide the Melody into the harbour.

tugboat in the wind tugboat

Cellphone & 3G cards

Most of the way we found we could get cellphone reception, but 3G connections were less than intermittent. The best connection was achieved when we were at anchor in Mossel Bay.

The WIFI hotspot in the MSC Melody was expensive ($20 for 60 minutes) and offered a slow connection. Unfortuanately, some of my email accounts were blocked from downloading their emails - I suspect that they are blocking what they consider to be non-standard ports (for whatever reason, most likely security).

Ship's black box

Most people are aware of the black boxes in plans, and ships also have them - called Voyage Data Recorders (and like those in planes, they are orange, not black). The protective storage unit is tamperproof and designed to withstand the ship sinking, storms, heavy seas, fire, collision, explosion and shock. Here's the MSC Melody's Voyage Data Recorder, which can be seen on its top-deck.

MSC Melody's Voyage Data Recorder

Passing Cape Hangklip

The boat eventually left Table Bay Harbour at 02:30am, at 0700am it passed Cape Hangklip, 1012am we passed Cape Aghulhas and at 1730pm we reached Mossel Bay. Wind speed was 70 knots and we cruised through 4m high swells (sea was too rough to go out and sea Mossel Bay). Here's a photo of the MSC Melody anchored outside Mossel Bay.

MSC Melody outside Mossel Bay at sunset

On the ship

view of Table Mountain as we cruise into Cape Town harbour

above the closed in pool on the MSC Melody cruise ship lifeboats above the Calypso deck
foredeck of the Melody cleaning on the MSC Melody in the early morning
top deck of the MSC Melody entering Cape Town Melody with Lions Head

Lifeboats

MSC Melody lifeboats with Table Mountain in the background

lifeboat of the MSC Melody, registered in Panama lifeboat on the Melody

inflatable lifeboats

lifeboat with
life boat with Cape Town in the background red lifeboat

Activities on board

Activities included dance lessons, pilates, aerobics, stretching, general knowledge quizes, ball games, bingo, cinema and cabaret shows.

Funniest moment

Whilst watching us round Table Mountain at about 6am, a young man let me know that he'd only left the disko an hour ago. He was having some difficulty ordering a black label beer, and bemoaned that "there's no place for a white moffie in a black country". After giving the man the beer, the barman said "Thank you Sir", to which he replied, "How many times must I tell, it's Ma'am, not Sir"!

Pool fun

There's plenty of activities taking place around the Calypso Pool. Here's the wet t-shirt swim.

The pool was filled with salt sea water in Cape Town, so was pretty cool on the first day, but had warmed up by the last. Next to the pool are 2 jacuzzis, which are very popular amongst the kids. A lot of the organised activities take place around the Calypso pool. There is also an indoor pool, which isn't as popular.

pool on the MSC Melody cruise ship Calypso pool on the MSC Melody

Cruising to Cape Town

On the morning of disembarking I got up at sparrow fart (we had to be out of our rooms at 7am), and wondered around the ship in a sleepy state, where I was half-dreaming half-awake (of course on a cruise the awake state is anyways similar to feeling dreamy).

MSC Melody cruising around the Cape Peninsula in the morning

When we got to Cape Town, 2 tugboats engaged to pull us safely into Table Bay Harbour's Eastern Mole.

Here's a view of Table Bay Harbour and Cape Town.

Author :

Terms and conditions

Starlight Cruises emailed us the following terms and conditions, together with an electronic file containing our tickets (which we had to print out).

NOTICE TO PASSENGER: Attached are your Board coupon, Passenger Ticket and (if contracted) Transfer Voucher. Before accepting them, carefully read all the terms of the following Passenger Contract which contains important conditions and limitations. Clauses 20 to 26 set out some of your rights, MSC Crociere?s limitations of liability, court jurisdiction and time limits to file claims or to bring suit.

PASSENGER CONTRACT

Carefully read all terms and conditions before accepting them. Clauses 20 to 26
set out your rights and limitations to make claims against MSC Crociere S.A., its
servants and subcontractors. Please retain this document for future reference.
1. CONSTRUCTION
All references to "Passenger" singular shall include the plural. All references to the
masculine shall include the feminine and vice versa. Clause headings are
inserted for convenience only and do not form part the terms and conditions of
this Ticket and shall not affect its construction.
2. AGREEMENT
In consideration of the Fare, MSC Crociere S.A. ("MSC Cruises" or "The
Company") agrees by issuing the Passenger Ticket ("the Ticket") and Passenger
Contract ("the Contract") to transport the person named in the Ticket ("the
Passenger") on the specific Voyage ("the Voyage") on named or substitute
vessels. By accepting the Ticket and Contract, the Passenger agrees to be bound
by all its terms, conditions and limitations. All prior oral and/or written agreement
is superseded by this Contract. This Ticket and Contract cannot be amended
without written and signed consent from MSC Cruises or its authorised
representative. The Ticket and Contract cannot be assigned or transferred to any
other person. Invalidity of any clause shall not affect the validity of this Contract
or of any other clause of this Contract.
3. PARTIES DEFINED
The term "the Company" includes MSC Crociere S.A., its agents, servants, the
carrying vessel ("the Cruise Ship"), its owner, charterer, operator, any tenders or
other means of transport provided by the Company to the Passenger.
"Passenger" includes the person named in the Ticket and the travel agent or other
person authorised to receive the Ticket and Contract on behalf of the Passenger.
The "Master" is the Captain or person in charge of and commanding of the Cruise
Ship.
4. THE FARE
The fare includes cabin accommodation, meals on board and entertainment
offered on the Cruise Ship. The Fare does not include alcoholic beverages,
cocktails, any soft drinks, mineral water, any medical expenses, any independent
contractors' services or products, shore excursions, or any fees, charges or taxes
imposed by any government agency.
5. CABIN OCCUPANCY
A Passenger shall not have the right to exclusive occupancy of a cabin with two
(2) or more berths unless he has paid supplement for exclusive occupation. The
Company reserves the right to transfer the Passenger from one cabin to another
and may adjust the Fare accordingly.
6. TRAVEL INSURANCE
All passengers must obtain travel insurance to protect against loss or damage to baggage
and personal effects, trip cancellation, emergency medical disembarkation and/or
repatriation expenses, accidental death or injury, illness and medical expenses sustained
or incurred in connection with your cruise. Passengers should be aware that some forms
of routine health insurance do not protect Passengers when outside of their usual location
of residence The Company may require Passengers to provide proof of such
insurance coverage prior to departure.
7. CANCELLATIONS, DELAYS AND REFUNDS
(A) The Cruise Ship's operation is subject to weather conditions, mechanical
problems, vessel traffic, government intervention, duty to assist other vessels in
distress, availability of berth facilities, and other factors beyond the Company's
control.
(B) The Company does not guarantee that the Cruise Ship will call at every
advertised port or follow any particular route or time schedule. The Master and
the Company shall have an absolute right to change or substitute the advertised
schedule, ports, itinerary or route, or substitute other ships, without notice. If a
scheduled port of embarkation is substituted, the Company shall determine and
arrange transportation to the substituted port at no expense for the Passenger.
(C) No part of the Fare is refundable, except as specifically provided as follows:
(i) Before the Voyage begins, the Company has the right to cancel the Voyage for
any reason without notice. The Company shall refund the full amount of the Fare
received, and the Company shall have no further liability.
(ii) If the scheduled Voyage departure is delayed more than six (6) hours, the
Company may arrange at no additional expense to the Passenger, such hotel
accommodations as the Company deems appropriate until the Cruise Ship is
ready to board. In this event, The Company shall have no further obligation to the
Passenger.
(iii) After the Voyage begins, the Master may terminate the Voyage at any nearest
port or at the next port of the itinerary. The Company's sole liability shall be to
make a pro-rata refund of the Fare received. The pro-rata refund will be
calculated based on the number of whole days of twenty-four (24) hours that the
Voyage is reduced. No pro-rata refund will be made for part of a day. The
Company shall provide substitute transportation of its choice to the point of
disembarkation.
(iv) If the scheduled duration of the Voyage is extended, the Company shall have
no liability to the Passenger, and the Passenger shall not be liable to pay any
extra Fare.
(v) If the duration of the Voyage is reduced, then the Company may make a prorata
refund based on the number of whole days the Voyage is shortened by more
than twenty-four (24) hours.
8. CANCELLATION AND CHANGES BY PASSENGER
The Passenger may cancel the Contract at any time prior to the commencement
of the Voyage by giving notice in writing to MSC Cruises. A full refund will be
payable to the Passenger provided such request is received by MSC Cruises no
less than seventy-six (76) days prior to the scheduled sailing. Requests received
less than seventy-six (76) days in advance will be subject to the charges as
outlined in the MSC Cruises brochure. Name changes and Voyage date changes
are considered cancellations and will be subject to charges.
9. NON-USE OR PART-USE OF TICKET
If the Passenger fails to board the Cruise Ship before departure, or joins the
Cruise Ship at another port, or leaves the Voyage while in progress, the
Passenger shall not be entitled to any refund of the Fare unless circumstances in
clause 7 and 8 above apply.
10. NOTICES AND PAYMENTS
If the Ticket has been purchased through any travel agent, organiser or booking
representative ("the Agent"), the Passenger authorises the Company to give any
notices and to pay any refund owed to the Passenger to the Agent on his behalf.
The failure of the Agent to pay the full Fare to MSC Cruises is considered a
breach of Contract by the Passenger when the Ticket has been purchased
through an Agent.
11. EXTRA CHARGES
The Passenger shall pay in full all charges for goods and services incurred, or
incurred by the Company on his behalf, before the end of the Voyage.
12. TRAVEL DOCUMENTS
The Passenger shall comply with any governmental travel requirements, laws or
regulations for all ports of call on the Cruise Ship's itinerary. All Passengers must
present for inspection the Ticket and Contract, a valid Passport and any visa,
entry or exit permit, required by any port on the Cruise Ship's itinerary.
13. SECURITY
The Passenger shall present himself for boarding at least two (2) hours before
scheduled departure to complete any pre-boarding procedures and security
inspections. For security reasons, the Passenger agrees that agents of the
Company may search the Passenger, his luggage, and any accompanying
property. The Company shall have the right to confiscate any articles carried or
contained in any luggage which the Company, in its sole discretion, considers
dangerous or pose risk or inconvenience to the security of the Cruise Ship or
persons on board. Passengers are prohibited from bringing on board any articles
that can be used as a weapon, explosives, illegal or dangerous goods. The
Company reserves the right to search any cabin, berth or other part of the Cruise
Ship for security reasons at any time.
14. HEALTH AND FITNESS TO TRAVEL
The Passenger warrants that he is fit to travel by sea and that his conduct or
condition will not impair the safety of the Cruise Ship or inconvenience the other
Passengers. Any passenger with a condition that may affect his fitness to travel
must submit a physician's certificate prior to departure. If it appears to the
Company, the Master or the Cruise Ship's Doctor that a Passenger is for any
reason unfit to travel, likely to endanger health or safety, or likely to be refused
permission to land at any port, or likely to render the Company liable for
Passenger maintenance, support or repatriation, then the Company or the Master
shall have the right to take any of the following courses: (i) Refuse to embark the
Passenger at any port; (ii) Disembark the Passenger at any port; (iii) Transfer the
Passenger to another berth or cabin; (iv) If the Cruise Ship doctor considers it
advisable, to place him in the Cruise Ship's Hospital or to transfer the Passenger
to a health facility at any port, at the Passenger's expense.
15. YOUNG PASSENGERS
Adult Passengers travelling with person under age 18 shall be fully responsible for that
person's conduct and behaviour. Passengers under age 18 may not order or consume
alcoholic beverages or participate in gambling. When voyages include a port located in the
U.S.A. the same conditions apply for passengers under age 21.
16. MEDICAL SERVICES BY INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
Medical services are available on board the Cruise Ship as a convenience to the
Passenger. The Cruise Ship's doctor and medical personnel are independent
contractors and are entitled to charge Passengers for hospitalisation, any medical
services and medicines provided. The Cruise Ship's doctor and medical personnel
are not under the Master's control for treating Passengers, and the Company
shall not be liable in any way for medical services or medicines provided or not
provided. Medical facilities onboard and in the various ports of call may be limited. The
Company shall not be liable in any way for referring guests ashore for medical services or
for the actual medical services rendered ashore.
17. OTHER INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS
The Cruise Ship carries on board service providers who operate as independent
contractors. Their services and products are not included in the Fare, and the
Company is not responsible for their performance or products. These contractors
may include, hairdresser, manicurist, masseuse, photographer, entertainer,
fitness instructors, shopkeepers and others providing services. The limitations
referred to in clauses 23 to 26 shall apply to all independent contractors all of
whom are considered beneficiaries under this contract.
18. TRAVEL PACKAGES AND SHORE EXCURSIONS
Hotel accommodation and all transport (other than the Company's Cruise Ship)
included in Package Tours or Shore Excursions, are operated by independent
contractors even if sold by Agents or Organisers on board the Cruise Ship.
"Package" and/or "Organiser" shall have the same meaning as contained in the
European Union and Council directive of 13 June 1990 on Package Holidays and
Package Tours (90/314/EEC). The Company shall not be responsible in any way
for the conduct, products or services provided by such independent contractors.
19. PASSENGER'S LUGGAGE AND PERSONAL PROPERTY
Each Passenger is permitted to carry on board two (2) suitcases and two (2)
pieces of hand luggage. The Passenger agrees to pay the Company's current rate
for any excess luggage.
(i) Passenger's luggage and property shall include only personal belongings, and
any commercial property shall be subject to an additional charge.
(ii) The Company shall not be responsible for any fragile or perishable property
carried by the Passenger.
(iii) No animals or birds are permitted on board, except assistance dogs licensed
to Passengers with disabilities providing the Company has given its separate
consent at the time the Ticket was purchased. The Passenger shall have full
responsibility for such dogs.
(iv)Passengers with their own wheel chairs must check that suitable
accommodations areavailable at the time of booking, and a written addendum is
signed by the Passenger and Company and is added to the Ticket and Contract.
The Passenger agrees to, and should arrange for another Passenger to assist
him during the Voyage if necessary.
(v) All luggages must be securely packed and distinctly labelled. The Company
shall not be liable for loss, damage or delay in delivery of any luggage, if luggage
is not sufficiently labelled.
(vi) The Company shall not be liable for loss or damage to Passenger's luggage
or propertywhile in the custody or control of stevedores or other independent
shore side contractors.
(vii) All luggages must be claimed upon arrival of the Cruise Ship at final port or it
will be stored at Passenger risk and expense.
(viii) The Passenger shall not be liable to pay or receive any General Average
contribution in respect of baggage or personal effects or property.
20. APPLICABLE LAW
The applicable law to this Contract shall be Italian law.
21. JURISDICTION (A) For all claims arising out of this Contract shall be brought in
and be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of Naples, Italy.
22. FORCE MAJEURE & EVENTS BEYOND THE COMPANY'S CONTROL
The Company shall not be liable for any loss, injury, damage, or inability to
perform the Voyage arising from any Force Majeure circumstances such as, but
not limited to: war, terrorism, fire, natural disasters, Acts of God, labour strikes,
bankruptcy, failure of subcontractors to perform, or any other events beyond the
Company's control.
23. NO LIABILITY FOR EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
The Company shall not be liable to the Passenger for any emotional distress,
mental anguish or psychological injury of any kind except where caused by
severe negligence of the Company.
24. LIABILITY
The liability (if any) of the Company for damages suffered as a result of death,
personal injury, emotional distress to the Passenger, or loss or damage to
luggage shall be subject to the following limitations and shall be determined in
accordance with the following:
(A) The International Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their
Baggage by Sea, adopted in Athens on 13 December 1974 and its 1976 Protocol,
(the "Athens Convention") shall apply. (i)The Company shall be entitled to the
benefit of all the limitations, rights and immunities provided by the Athens
Convention including the full deductible under Aricle 8(4) of the Athens
Convention. (ii)The liability of the Company for death, personal injury or illness to
the Passenger shall not exceed 46.666 Special Drawing Rights ("SDR") as
provided and defined in the Athens Convention 1976 Protocol. (iii) Liability of the
Company for loss of or damage to Passenger's luggage or other property shall not
exceed 833 SDR per Passenger. It is agreed that such liability of the Company
shall be subject to a deductible of 13 SDR per Passenger, such sum to be
deducted from the loss or damage to luggage or other property. The Passenger
understands that the conversion rate of SDR's fluctuates daily and may be
obtained from a bank (IV). lf any provision of this Contract is rendered null and
void by the Athens Convention, such invalidity shall be limited to the particular
clause and not to the whole contract.
(B) The Company shall not be liable for loss or damage to any valuables such as monies,
negotiable securities, precious metal items, jewelry, art, cameras, computers, electronic
equipment, or any other valuables unless they are deposited with the Company for safekeeping,
and a higher limit is agreed expressly and in writing at the time of deposit, and an
extra charge is paid by the Passenger for declared value protection. (ii) Extra charges are:
1 % of declared value for a Voyage 1 to 7 days; 2% of declared value for a Voyage 8 to 21
days; 3% of declared value for a Voyage 22 days and over. If the value of any luggage or
property is misrepresented, the Company's liability for loss or damage to the property shall
not exceed U.S. $100. (iii) The Company and Passenger agree not to demand any
security from the other in connection with a claim of any kind. The Passenger waives the
right to arrest the Cruise Ship or to attach any other asset owned, chartered or operated
by the Company. If the Cruise Ship is arrested or attached, then the ship and the
Company shall have the right to any limitation and all defences available herein.
25. NOTICES OF CLAIMS
(A) Notices of claim for death, illness, emotional stress or personal injury, with full
particulars in writing shall be given to the Company and the Cruise Ship within six
(6) months (185 days) after the date such death, injury, or illness occurring. Such
notice shall be sent by registered mail to:
CLAIMS DEPARTMENT,
MSC Crociere
VIA A. DEPRETIS 31
80133, NAPLES, ITALY.
(B)Notices of Claim for loss or damage to luggage or other property shall be given
to the Company in writing before or at the time of disembarkation, or if not
apparent, within fifteen (15) days from the date of disembarkation. Notice shall be
sent by registered mail to the address in Clause 25 (A) above.
26. TIME LIMITS FOR FILING SUIT
(A) All claims against the Company or the Cruise Ship for death, illness,
emotional stress or personal injury to a Passenger or for loss or damage to
luggage or other property shall be time barred as follows: All claims shall be time
barred after two (2) years from the date of disembarkation as provided by Article
16 of the Athens Convention. For claims involving a Passenger under age 18 or
an incompetent person, time shall be calculated from the date of the appointment
of a legal representative. In such cases, such appointment must in any case be
made within three (3) days after such injury or death.
(B) All other actions, including any tort or breach of contract against the Company
and the Cruise Ship not involving personal injury or death, shall be time barred
after six (6) months (185 days), from the Passenger's disembarkation.

Cape Town Stadium and Lion's Head

Whilst on your cruise keep an eye out for other ships sharing the seas with you. Here's the Nova Era, a bulk cargo ship I spotted some 50 nautical miles outside Cape Town (in January 2015). I did a quick internet search, and she's from Liberia with a home port in Monrovia.

Nova Era, a cargo ship, at sea

2015 Investment Cruise

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