Our journey to the MSC Rhapsody started with a Comair flight to Durban, we spent the night at The Deck on Manning (a B&B). The owner (Nicoleen) was really wonderful, picking us up from the airport and dropping us off at the harbour. It was raining at Durban Harbour, but the porters were enthusiastic and got us and our luggage from the car into the boarding area very quickly. Once the luggage was dropped off we entered another closeby warehouse where we had to wait our turn to board. They had a system whereby you were allocated a colour (this is South Africa after all!) on entering the warehouse, and when your colour was stuck above the check-in entrance you could check-in (note the stunning advertising spot Avis has, and the sign on the right says "alcohol assumption prohibited beyond this point - presumably that has been a problem!).
At the waiting warehouse they had a female vocalist playing songs to the large crowd waiting for their turn to board whilst sitting under banners advertising www.msccruises.com and Cruises SA.
On checking in they first gave us little credit card sized cards with our names on them, then checked whether we wanted to have the first or second sitting for supper. Then a couple of pretty ladies joined us, and the photographer took a photo, before we finally let them swipe our credit card to allow spending on board (they immeidately took off R2569.33).
We boarded the Rhapsody through Durban's rain (the best Durban weather in January, as there isn't so much hot humidity) to a warm welcome.
From the deck we could see this group braving the rain by sheltering under an umbrella and waving their goodbyes.
After the Durban boarding of the Rhapsody Svalka showed us to our cabin (the most luxurious we've ever had the pleasure of staying in). About an hour after we had left Durban harbour, an alarm went off for us to assemble at the muster stations and learn how to put a life jacket on, and be told how fire is the biggest threat on board. Our baby was sleeping so we didn't join in the safety drill (nobody noticed).