After cruising with the MSC Sinfonia from Durban to Maputo and the tiny Portuguese Island (& Inhaca), it was sadly time for us to disembark in Durban harbour. On board the ship, the director, Stephen Cloete, had a session where he let us know in advance what the disembarkation procedure was. The Sinfonia arrived in Durban at 06h30 on the 5th Feb 2010, and was tied up alongside the Durban harbour at 07h30, and after receiving clearance from the authorities passengers started disembarking at 08h15, and all had disembarked by 09h30 (the ship needs to be readied for passengers embarking on their voyage in the afternoon).
Your luggage is colour-coded according to your cabin, so that you only need to go to the luggage area which has your colour-code. Luggage is sent ashore first, and then passengers. There will be an announcement of which colours have been sent ashore. Once you hear your colour code (each yellow) you are welcome to disembark (you don't have to get off immediately, if you are busy with something).
The evening before you lable your luggage with your name and contact detail (luggage labels are sent to your cabin), and by 02h00 in the morning of disembarkation you need to leave your luggage outside your cabin, at which stage all the luggage will be collected (you will not be able to retrieve it until you enter the maritime centre, so keep your passport on you, as well as something to wear!).
If you need priority clearance (e.g. you've got a flight you need to catch) keep your luggage with you and disembark with it. Otherwise go to reception and get a priority label for your luggage.
On-board account is linked to your cruise card. If you have used a credit card, then Sinfonia staff will close the account for you, and send your account to your room for you to sign. If you have activated your account with cash, you need to close the account manually in order to get your change, with 07h30 on the day of disembarkation being the cut-off time to close the account (or else you will be paged to be brought to reception, as the authorities wont provide clearance until the ship has closed its accounts).
There is a pooled gratuity system for all hotel service personell (15%). You can adjust the gratuities by popping around to the accounting department.
Every department is incentivised according to the comment cards, so NB to fill it in so that departments can benefit from good comments (on our cruise there was the opportunity to win a free cruise if you filled it in). You can highlight individuals who made a difference.