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Cruise ship FAQ

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Careful planning will go a long way to ensuring this is your most memorable holiday so take a little time to go through our list of “Frequently Asked Questions”
to let us help you create your own checklist.

Can I be contacted when I am at sea?

Both the Opera and the Sinfonia have a Satellite telephone on board. This service is VERY expensive and should be used for emergencies only.

Cruise Ship:



MSC Opera

+ 870 335 762 710 / 720

+870 335 762 711 / 721

MSC Sinfonia

+ 870 335 671 611 / 621

+870 335 671 614 / 623

What are the most important things to take with me?

Your e-ticket, embarkation form, passport, spending money, camera, sun cream and essential medication are the most important things to carry with you.
Note: Keep your passport on you as you need to present it to Immigration Officials before boarding ship. Keep your medication and all valuable items on you or locked safely in your hand luggage.

What Travel Documents do I need?

You will be required only to print out the Cruise Ticket to present at the harbour for embarkation. Please ensure that your cruise ticket is printed on a seperate page, and not back to back with your embarkation form
Note: If you have not received your tickets 7 days before the date of departure please call us to assist you.

Special circumstances for collecting tickets on Departure:
If you have booked close to departure and there isn’t enough time for us to e-mail your ticket, you will need to proceed to the information desk in the terminal and show your cabin number as stated on your booking invoice.

The embarkation form must be printed out on a seperate page to the e-ticket, and filled in. If the information on your embarkation form has been filled in correctly, then it will be stamped with a green stamp. An incorrect form will be stamped with a red stamp.

Every passenger (adult and child) will need a valid passport to clear immigration at the Port.
• South African citizens with dual nationality - MUST USE THEIR SOUTH AFRICAN PASSPORT TO EXIT AND ENTER SOUTH AFRICA.
• Non-South African Citizens/Permanent Residents must have their permanent residence endorsed in their foreign passport.
The only exception is for cruises that do not leave South African waters as in a “Cruise to Nowhere”; “Mossel Bay Cruise” and Cruises from Durban to Cape Town and vice versa. For these cruises an official photo Identification is
required – your PHOTO ID, Passport, or in the case of children, an original birth certificate is required.

Do I need Visas and Vaccinations?

South African passport holders do not require visas or vaccinations for Mozambique. Foreign passport holders will need to obtain a visa at a cost of US $25. This can be obtained on board and does not have to be prearranged.
(SADAC passport holders do not require a visa for Mozambique.
The following passport holders are not required to pay the Visa Charge for Mozambique: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.)
Mauritius South African and British passport holders do not require visas for Mauritius.

South African passport holders require a visa for Madagascar. Visas can be obtained onboard through the passenger manifest. Madagascar has confirmed that there will be no fee payable for the visa.

Mossel Bay
For these cruises an official photo Identification is required – your ID Book, Passport, or in the case of children, an original birth certificate is required.

Walvis Bay, Namibia
South African and British passport holders do not require visas for Walvis Bay. All passengers require valid passports for Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Is there a cooling off period when I book a cruise and want to cancel?

If MSC has approached you in person, by post or electronic communication to offer to sell you a cruise ticket and as a result, you purchase a cruise ticket from MSC, within 5 business days after the date which you pay the deposit, you may cancel your cruise ticket booking without any charge by giving MSC a written notice of cancellation. MSC shall within 15 business days after receiving your notice of cancellation, refund to you the deposit and any other amount which you have paid to MSC for your cruise ticket.

How much luggage can we take?

There is no weight restriction for cruising, but only HAND luggage which can be carried over gangways and kept in a cabin is allowed on board. We recommend you take smaller bags so as not to clutter your cabin area. Please label your luggage very clearly with your Name / Surname and Cabin Number BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL AT THE CRUISE TERMINAL. Labels must be fixed to all of your main luggage items as you will be handing them over during check-in; for delivery to the ship. Please ensure that all bags are securely locked and that NO VALUABLES OR BREAKABLES HAVE BEEN INCLUDED IN YOUR CHECKED LUGGAGE.

Safety and Security of Luggage:

Please do not put any valuable or fragile items in your main luggage. (Please refer to insurance wording on www.msccruises.co.za for description of “valuables” in terms of cruise insurance policy). Items such as cameras, perfumes, video cameras, jewellery, medication, documentation such as passports and ID cards, money and credit cards should be carried in your hand luggage and kept with you at ALL times. Your luggage must be securely and properly packed and distinctly labelled with your name; contact details and cabin number. MSC shall not be liable for any loss, damage or delay in the delivery of any luggage onboard a cruise if it is not securely and properly packed and labelled.
MSC is not liable for any loss or damage to your luggage or the contents of your luggage whilst onboard the cruise or in the custody or under the control of any port or Service provider. Unless instructed otherwise by the staff onboard a cruise ship you must not at any time leave your luggage unattended. If you do so, the cruise staff may remove and/or destroy such luggage. Your checked luggage will be screened and delivered to your cabin during the course of the afternoon on the day of sailing. Due to high volumes, please allow 2-3 hours after boarding for your luggage to arrive at your cabin. Checked luggage that is screened and found to contain alcohol will be set aside and passengers will be recalled to the terminal to identify their bags, from which the alcohol will be removed and disposed of. In order to avoid any delay in the departure of the ship, luggage found to contain alcohol and which is not identified by the owner will not be loaded on to the ship and will be held at the terminal for collection by the passenger on conclusion of their cruise.

What do I do if I find that my luggage has been damaged?

On board: Should you find that your baggage has been damaged during the embarkation process, please approach Guest Services onboard and request a “Lost/Damaged Luggage Form”. A staff member from Guest Services is to sign and acknowledge that the damage has been viewed by them and has been reported to them.
On disembarkation: Please approach the information desk at the port where an MSC Cruises Representative will hand you a copy of a “Lost/Damaged Luggage Form” that the Representative will sign acknowledging damage to the luggage.
It is important that these procedures are followed if passengers are considering instituting a claim from their travel insurance for loss or damage of luggage.

How do I make sure I don’t “miss the boat”?

All passengers must embark at least 3 hours prior to sailing, please check the embarkation times on your tickets to ensure that you embark timeously. For all WALVIS BAY departures check-in and embarkation closes 2 HOURS prior to sailing and all passengers not on board 2 hours prior to sailing will risk missing the ship.

Can my family and friends come on board to see me off?

Regrettably no visitors are allowed past security control in the passenger terminal. The ship security staff is always present during embarkation and disembarkation and follow international security regulations in the monitoring of passengers and baggage. Our security is your security!

What is the best way to travel to Durban?

You can fly to Durban Airport and take a shuttle service to the harbour or drive by car and leave your car in secure parking at the port.

What if I am flying from Port Elizabeth or East London?

For passengers flying in from the coastal areas, especially Port Elizabeth and East London it is suggested that you book a flight the day before and enjoy the added excursions that we offer in Durban, as unfortunately we have witnessed many delays on the same day departures which have resulted in passengers missing their cruise.

What about Parking at Cape Town port?

Parking facilities are not available at Duncan Dock, E-Berth; secure parking is available at the Clock Tower area. The cost is approximately R 110.00 per car per 24 hour period. This parking cannot be pre-booked and passengers are
warned that it is some distance from Duncan Dock, E- Berth.

Which flights should I book to Durban to ensure that I arrive in time to embark?

We recommend that you book flights to arrive no later than 4 hours prior to sailing as any delays in the flights could cause you to miss the ship. Please refer to the recommended check in times under “How do I make sure I don’t miss the boat”. Please check the embarkation times on your Cruise Tickets in order that you are at the port well in advance of sailing.
Flying home after the cruise: The ships arrive back into the ports between 05h00 and 06h30 on the final day of your cruise. If you plan to fly home on the same day as your return to port, we recommend that you don’t book flights out before 12h00 on that day.

How do I get from Durban Airport to the harbour and back?

There is a continuous transfer service between King Shaka International Airport and the Port when the ship is in harbour. Transfer tickets are on sale at the airport and the harbour at R 130 per person each way, or give yourself peace of mind by phoning our Sales Offices and booking and prepaying your transfers at least 7 days prior to departure in order to receive the tickets at the same time as your cruise tickets. Children under 3 travel free on the transfer – provided they do not take a seat (they would have to sit on parents’ lap). The driving time is 45-60 minutes per way.
The first shuttle will depart from King Shaka International Airport for the port at 08h00 and the last will depart at 13h00. For the return shuttle from the port to the airport the first shuttle will depart the port at 07h30 and last shuttle will depart 09h30 for the airport. The shuttle from Ushaka to Airport will depart Ushaka at 13h00.

How do I get between the Airport or Hotels in Durban and the Port and back?

Taxis are plentiful and are a relatively inexpensive way to get around. We are able to offer Private Transfers should you prefer to take advantage of these.
King Shaka Airport to the Hotel (Marine Parade Only)
1-2 Passengers: R 360 per vehicle one way
Hotel (Marine Parade Only) to Durban Port (Pick up 11h00)
1-2 Passengers: R 160 per vehicle per way
The shuttle will depart the Hotel for the port at 11h00. For the return the shuttle will depart the port at 08h00 for the Hotel. Must be pre-booked at the time of Reservation.

If I arrive by car can I park at Durban harbour while I am away?

Car parking is available only in Durban on a first come first served basis. The fare is R 90 per car per night (valid for all car types), which will be converted into USD at the actual exchange rate and will be added to your onboard account.
VERY IMPORTANT All vehicles are parked at the owner’s risk and MSC Cruises will not be liable for any loss or damage to any vehicles or articles therein, through any cause whatsoever. Drivers are required to sign an indemnity at the Port.

How do I get from Cape Town Airport to the harbour and back?

There is a continuous transfer service between Cape Town Airport and the Port when the ship is in harbour. Transfer tickets are on sale at the airport and the harbour at R 140 per person each way, or give yourself peace of mind by phoning our Sales Offices and booking and pre-paying your transfers at least 7 days prior to departure in order to receive the tickets at the same time as your cruise tickets. Children under 3 travel free on the transfer – provided they do not take a seat (they would have to sit on parents’ lap). The first shuttle departs the Airport for the port at 09h00 and the last shuttle will depart at 13h00. For the return shuttle from the port to the airport the first shuttle departs the port at 08h30 and at 09h30 (Walvis Bay Cruises) and the last shuttle departs the port at 13h00 for the airport.
We are able to arrange Private Transfers between the Airport and the Harbour at the following costs:

1-2 Passengers: R 280 per vehicle per way
Must be pre-booked at the time of Reservation.

How do I get between the Airport or Hotels in Cape Town and the port and back?

We have negotiated Private Transfer Rates should you prefer to take advantage of these. Airport/hotel transfers are not offered.
Rates for Hotel/Port are as follows:
1-2 Passengers: R 160 per vehicle per way.
The shuttle will depart the hotel for the port at 11h00. For the return the shuttle will depart the port at 08h00 for the Hotel. Must be pre-booked at the time of Reservation.

Passenger embarkation
Embarkation in Durban takes place at N Shed – Durban Harbour. Embarkation in Cape Town takes place at E Berth, Duncan Dock. (Driving directions are on the MSC website www.msccruises.co.za.)
Facilities at the Ports are VERY limited, and a lengthy wait at the Port is not necessarily the ideal way to start to a good holiday. As all cabins have been assigned prior to the day of departure, no real purpose is served in arriving at the Port prior to the embarkation times stated. Embarkation times do occasionally vary and are set and regulated by
immigration officials and custom control authorities. We like to remind our guests that the Port facility is maintained and operated by the National Ports Authority (NPA) and not by MSC Cruises.

The procedure for embarkation is as follows: proceed to the check-in desks and hand in your passport/ID and embarkation form. If your form is correct then you will proceed to immigration. If your form is incorrect then you will have to correct the information at the check in desk. Once you have proceeded to immigration, photographs will be taken and then you may proceed onboard.

Group Embarkation
You will be advised of Group check-in procedures by the Groups Sales Agent handling your booking

Do I need to take precautions for Malaria?

Mozambique and Madagascar are Malaria areas. It is best to speak to your doctor or pharmacist or a Travel Clinic if you have any concerns.

What if I am pregnant?

The ship does not have onboard facilities for child birth. MSC shall not allow you onboard a cruise ship if you will be at least 24 weeks pregnant by the date on which the cruise ends. If you will be up to 23 weeks pregnant at the end of the cruise you will not be allowed onboard the ship. Passengers who are up to 23 weeks pregnant at the end of the cruise must obtain a medical certificate from a medical doctor confirming their fitness to travel onboard the vessel taking into account the specific itinerary. Please take special note of the Insurance Policy Wording in respect of Pregnancy, available online at www.msccruises.co.za.

Does it matter how old I am?

A maximum of 2 children under 18 are permitted to share a cabin with 2 adults. When advising a child’s age, it must be the age that the child will be on the date of return from the holiday. In the Balcony Suites onboard a maximum of 2 Adults and 2 Children under 12 only are permitted. Travel may be refused or costings adjusted if the date of birth on the child’s passport differs from the age given on the ticket.
A person under the age of 18 years may not board any cruise ship unless accompanied by an adult. The Responsible adult shall be fully responsible for that minors conduct and behaviour. Minors may not order or drink alcoholic beverages or participate in gambling activities onboard a cruise ship. At all times when on board a cruise ship, a minor must be supervised by the responsible adult, and may participate in onboard activities provided that the minors are accompanied by the responsible adult. The responsible adult will be responsible to MSC for any loss or damage suffered by MSC, including damage to the cruise ship and/or damage to and/or loss of any furnishings, equipment and other property belonging to the cruise ship which loss or damage is caused by the Minor who is under the care of the Responsible adult.
70 years and older:
Passengers over 70 years of age do not need to provide a doctor’s certificate verifying their fitness to travel, however they are advised to study the Insurance brochure available on www.msccruises.co.za very carefully as there are very specific exclusions for passengers over 70 – whether preexisting conditions exist or not.

Can my infant share my cabin with me?

Infants are classified from 0-1.99 years of age and may share the existing bedding in the cabin. A release will need to be signed agreeing to these conditions of travel. If you need a cot for your infant please ensure that it is requested at the time of booking as there are limited cots on board. Alternatively you may bring your infant’s camp cot on board with you.

How do dinner sittings work?

On most cruises, there are two sittings for dinner. An alternative Casual Dining Buffet is available for families or passengers who prefer more casual dining. Please check onboard as to which restaurant will be serving the Casual Dining Buffet (generally served from 18h30-20h00).
La Carevella and L’Approdo Restaurants are used for both dinner sittings. The first is at approximately 18h30 and the 2nd at 20h45.
The Il Galeone and the Il Covo Restaurants are used for both dinner sittings. The first sitting is at approximately 18h30 and the second at 20h45.
Note: Your preference of dinner seating, either 1st or 2nd is a request ONLY at the time of booking, and your table number and allocated dining time is only confirmed to you upon embarkation. If you want to sit with friends and family, please request this at the time of booking. Lunches and breakfasts are generally open sittings and guests can choose between a casual buffet and the more formal restaurants for their meal.

Are we able to have Lunch on the day of embarkation and

Breakfast on Disembarkation day?
Lunch is served on the day of embarkation and passengers embarking by 12h00 be able to enjoy lunch on board on that day. Breakfast is served on the morning of disembarkation between 06h00 and 08h00. All passengers are required to vacate their cabins by 06h45 on the morning of arrival back into the Port.

Is the General Emergency Drill compulsory?

A General Emergency Drill for all passengers and crew will be held before the ship sets sail. Your attendance is compulsory according to International Safety Laws governing ships. Please listen very carefully to all announcements
and read the emergency instructions posted behind the cabin door. During the Emergency Drill all the ship’s services are closed.

Q Do you cater for special dietary needs?

A vegetarian choice is served at each meal time. The meat loaded onboard is certified Halaal and Halaal food is prepared separately from other foods. Kosher meals are catered at an additional cost per meal, and must be ordered at least 14 days prior to sailing.

Can we take liquor on board?

In keeping with the policies adopted by cruise lines throughout the world, personal supplies of alcohol may be confiscated if found in your luggages or if observed in your cabin. Luggages will be thoroughly searched before embarkation. No exceptions will be permitted. Avoid embarrassment in the presence of your fellow travellers – leave your personal supply of alcoholic drinks at home. Liquor purchased onboard at the duty free will be held until
disembarkation. (Liquor confiscated will be returned at the end of the cruise.)

Are there regulations in respect of purchasing alcoholic beverages on board?

You may purchase alcoholic beverages onboard the cruise ship. MSC shall
not sell any alcoholic beverage to a Minor during the cruise. MSC may refuse
to serve you an alcoholic beverage if in MSC’s opinion you may be a danger
and /or nuisance to yourself or other passengers on the cruise ship.

Consuming liquor on Port Authorities property

The ports of both Cape Town and Durban harbour are “Alcohol free
Zones”. The carrying and consumption of all alcoholic beverages on any port
property or access road is an offence and any passenger failing to comply
with these security regulations will be escorted from the property.

Can we take food on board?

MSC follows the most rigid procedures to ensure food safety. For this reason
and to prevent the introduction of food borne illness, guests and crew may
not bring on board any beverage or food items.

What beverages, if any are included and are available 24 hours?

Ice; cold water; hot water; American coffee (by dispenser only); decaffeinated coffee & selection of teas (at dispenser area).
Breakfast Buffet: Ice, cold water; hot water; American coffee by dispenser; concentrated juices; instant coffee; decaffeinated coffee; tea; milk.
Breakfast Dining Room: Products offered as per “Dining room breakfast menu”: Selection of teas and infusions; American coffee; decaffeinated coffee; instant coffee; hot chocolate; whole or semi-skimmed milk; fruit juices.
Lunch Buffet: Ice; cold water; hot water; America coffee by dispenser; decaffeinated coffee; instant coffee; tea; milk.
Lunch Dining Room: No free beverage service.
Tea time / afternoon snack: Ice; cold water; hot water; American coffee by dispenser; decaffeinated coffee; instant coffee; tea; milk.
Dinner Buffet (when in place): Ice; cold water; hot water; American coffee by dispenser; decaffeinated coffee; instant coffee; tea; milk.
Dinner Dining Room: No free beverage service.
Midnight snacks (when in place): Ice; cold water; hot water; American coffee by dispenser; decaffeinated coffee; instant coffee; tea; milk.

Can I take my firearm on board?

Cape Town and Durban harbour are gun-free Ports. Firearms, weapons and sharp objects are not permitted in the Port area or on board. Any passenger failing to comply with security regulations will not permitted to board the ship.

How can I stay in touch with friends and family back home?

Mobile phone
Mobile phones rely on signal received from cell phone towers, thus cell phones have no signal at sea. Occasional signal is picked up while cruising along the coast. Many foreign Ports do have signal, but your phone will need to be enabled for International Roaming so please consult with your service provider before you leave.

On board communication facilities
There is an onboard satellite telephone and fax facility but this is expensive and should be reserved for emergencies only. Internet facilities are available onboard at a charge.

Will South African electrical appliances work on board?

The ships run on both 110v and 220v. The plug sockets are American (110v) and European round 2 pin (220v). The South African 3 pin plug will require a European 2 pin round adapter. Hairdryers are available in the cabin.

Is there a Doctor on board?

The ship has a medical facility staffed by a Doctor and nursing personnel. This is a private service and all consultations are charged for. Please note that the medical facility does not operate as a pharmacy and a consultation with the Doctor is required prior to any medicine being dispensed. We highly recommend that you take all necessary medications onboard with you. Please note the mandatory cruise insurance included in your cruise fare does not cover this Doctor. Please also be advised to check with your Medical Aid Scheme prior to departure whether they will reimburse you for any visits to the Doctor on board realising that the Doctor is not a South African Doctor and does not have a practice number, and that you will be within International waters at the time of visiting the onboard Doctor.

What if I get sea-sick?

There is so much to do that most passengers don’t even think about getting seasick. However, a very small percentage of people are susceptible to motion sickness, which is caused by the confusion of the senses, mainly sight and balance. If you are predisposed to motion sickness, several excellent nonprescription drugs (eg: Stugeron, or Avonmine) and various homeopathic remedies are available on the market. It is best to start taking this medication 24 hours prior to cruising. Fresh air and being on deck are excellent natural remedies. Movement of the ship is also reduced with stabilisers.

What if I have a disability or have Special Needs?

If you or any member of your party has any medical condition or disability that need special travel, accommodation or dietary requirements please phone our Customer Contact centre team BEFORE you book your holiday to ensure that we can adequately provide for you onboard. Limited medical services for minor medical conditions are available onboard a cruise ship. The ship is not equipped as a hospital and the medical personnel are not specialists. MSC and the medical personnel shall not be liable for any loss or damages which you may suffer because they are unable to treat your medical condition. You are liable to pay for any medical services and medicine provided to you onboard the cruise ship, at a port or in any other place during the cruise. It is your responsibility to claim such amounts from the insurance policy provided.

What if I need help on board?

The information/reception desk is open 24 hours. There are several heads of department who can also attend to your queries depending on what assistance you require.

What if I require a medical device or have a disability?

If you need to use a medical device onboard a cruise ship or you are mentally or physically disabled, you may not board the cruise ship unless you are accompanied by another person who will assist you throughout the cruise and you have signed and submitted the relevant special needs form to the MSC Cruises office where your booking was made. MSC may refuse to allow you to board a cruise ship if you have not given MSC sufficient notice of your requirements and signed the necessary special needs form before boarding the ship; In MSC’s opinion you are unfit for travelling onboard the cruise ship for the duration of your cruise; or in MSC’s opinion your condition may endanger you or any other passengers if you board the cruise ship. If you are mentally or physically disabled or require the use of a medical device you may not be allowed to go ashore at certain of the ports at which the cruise ship stops.

Fitness to travel?

When booking you warrant that you are physically and mentally fit to travel onboard a cruise ship for the duration of the cruise. MSC may at any time require you to provide it with a Doctor’s letter certifying that you are fit to travel aboard the cruise ship.

What if I have a complaint whilst onboard?

Any Passenger with a complaint whilst on a Cruise must bring it to the attention of the Cruise staff onboard as soon as possible. If the Cruise staff are unable to resolve the problem, any complaint must be notified in writing to the Company within 14 (fourteen) days of the termination of the Cruise. Failure to report the complaint within this time may adversely affect the Company’s ability to deal with it. Complaints relating to any other part of a package must be made promptly to the Company or the supplier.

What if I am celebrating a special occasion?

Congratulations! If you are celebrating a birthday, an anniversary or a special occasion we will try and help make it truly memorable! Simply advise reception as soon after embarkation as possible to give them time to prepare your special cake or treat. Note: A charge will be involved. Packages are also available to be pre-paid - To book or for more information on prices and inclusions call our Customer Contact Centre.

Purchasing Photos and DVDs of our Cruise

There will be many photo opportunities on board, the Ship’s photographer captures many special moments on film. These photographs are put on display and are available for purchase on board. A DVD of your cruise is also available for purchase on board. Please note that at the end of each cruise the photos and DVDs that have not been sold are destroyed, we are therefore unable to obtain any copies of Photos or DVDs for you once you have disembarked the ship.

Is there an activity programme for youngsters?

Kids will have bags of fun with our qualified entertainment staff on hand all day, every day to entertain children and teens aged 3-17, free of charge.

Is there babysitting on board?

Due to Insurance Regulations, private babysitting is not available on board Note: Infants aged from 12-24 months old are not permitted in the child care centre as there are no sleeping facilities separated from playing areas.

How much money do we need?

Meals and entertainment are included in your cruise fare. You will need spending money for drinks (15% bar service charge is levied on all bar and on all restaurant bills); Duty Free Shopping, Photos, Gambling – including Bingo; Laundry, Beauty Salon and any optional shore excursions you would like to book. All prices onboard are in Euros on Cruises Southbound from Europe to S.A. and in US Dollars on all cruises in and around S.A. and from S.A. back to Europe.

Cruise Card / How do we pay for goods & services?

For the convenience of all guests, the ship uses a cashless system. Every passenger (including children) will receive a personalised ID cruise card. Your cruise card will be delivered to your cabin at 1pm. This card must be activated with the relevant deposit before 11pm on the evening of departure. Cruise cards are only available when you enter your cabin, and not at check in. This card may be used for all your purchases onboard, and is also your own personal identification onboard, and for that reason you will be required to show it to the gangway security team whenever you go ashore and return to the ship. Do not lose this card! In the event that you do misplace your card, you must proceed to Reception as soon as possible to have it replaced and to have your old card voided to avoid possible unauthorised charges being made to the card. On request, any cards (for a family for example) can be linked to a master account.

How do I pay my expenses onboard using my cruise card?

You are required to activate your cruise card/s (only 1 member per family need do this) once you have embarked the ship. This then opens up your onboard account and your cruise card can be used for onboard purchases. For all onboard purchases you will present your cruise card and sign for these purchases which will then be added to your onboard bill to be settled in full on the night prior to arrival back in the port at the end of your cruise. You may use the paper print outs of your cruise tickets to make purchases before accessing your cabin and obtaining your cruise card. It is important to note that it is required that you activate your cruise card before anything can be purchased onboard.

How do I activate my Cruise card using my bank Credit Cards?

It is very important the you DO NOT use a DEBIT CARD/CHEQUE CARD or CASH PASSPORT to activate your on board account. Where passengers have used a DEBIT/CHEQUE CARD or Cash/Forex PASSPORT to activate your onboard account (contrary to our prohibition thereof) MSC and/MSC Cruises will not be liable for loss suffered as a result of the use thereof and the onus will rest solely with the passenger to recover funds from their own bank. The following credit cards are accepted on the ship: VISA CARD / MASTERCARD / AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD / DINERS / JCB.
At the accounting desk onboard where you will go to activate your cruise card, you will be required to sign a receipt authorizing MSC Cruises to utilize the credit card number for the total payments onboard. The credit card on-line system will request an initial pre-authorization of USD 150 (the currency in force onboard) (Euros on Ships sailing from Europe to S.A.) The on-line system will then automatically ask for incremental USD 100 single authorization as soon as your expenses exceed the amount of the preauthorization. On the night before disembarkation 2 copies of your onboard bill will be delivered to your cabin. You will be required to verify and sign only 1 copy of the bill that you will receive in your cabin, and deliver that signed copy to the reception desk before disembarking the ship. The 2nd copy will be your passenger copy to take with you.

It is important to note that the pre-authorization is only an estimate of the amount that could be utilised during your time onboard. This pre-authorisation is not an actual debit and the amount is BLOCKED on your credit card for the period of 7-15 working days after your disembarkation. After this period has lapsed your bank automatically releases the pre-authorised amount. The only amount actually debited to your credit card will be the amount that corresponds with the invoice signed prior to disembarkation.

Can I use my cruise card for purchases at the ports of call?

No. The cruise cards are only used to charge expenses and purchases to your onboard bill, and have no value besides for purchases and expenses onboard the ship. For these destinations you would require credit cards/ cash / travellers cheques etc as you would normally when travelling.

What money do I use in the Casino?

The Casino only accepts CASH. The Casino does not accept credit cards or cheques.

Are there ATMs (Automatic teller machines) onboard?

There are no ATMs on board the ships or in the ports. It is therefore important that if you wish to draw cash that you do so prior to arriving at the port and/or embarking the ship.

Is there a bank on board?

The Accounting office does not work as a bank. Small amounts of European currencies and Travellers Cheques can be changed on board at the Accounting Office – commission charges apply. Credits on your cruise card may not be “cashed out” during the cruise. Any credits on your cruise card are paid back only at the end of the cruise when each guest settles their onboard bill. *Reminder: cash is paid back only against cash deposits made and not where credit card pre-authorizations have been authorized.

What about a service charge?

During your cruise you will meet staff throughout the ship who will provide you with excellent service. They are supported by just as many staff and crew who work hard behind the scene to ensure that you enjoy every moment onboard. Hotel Service Charges will be prepaid at the time of booking based on the below amounts:
Southbound Cruises - from Europe to South Africa
Adults 18 years and over R 65 per person per day
Children 14 years and over R 32.50 per person per day
Children under 14 years No Service Charge applied
Northbound Cruises - from South Africa to Europe
Adults 18 years and over R 50 per person per day
Child 3 years and over R 50 per person per day
Child under 3 years No Service Charge applied
All other Cruises
Adults 18 years and over R 50 per person per day
Child 3 years and over R 25 per person per day
Child under 3 years No Service Charge applied
(Example of charges – a 3 night cruise is calculated as 3 DAYS)
Note: A 15% bar service charge is automatically added to all purchases in all Bars and all Restaurants

Mandatory Charges Adult Children 13 - 17 Children 2 - 12 Children under 2
Price for Two Nights
Port Charges R500 R500 R500 R500
Insurance Fee R45 - - -
Service Fee R230 R230 R114 -
Total Cost R775 R730 R614 R500
Price for Three Nights
Port Charges R600 R600 R600 R600
Insurance Fee R60 - - -
Service Fee R345 R345 R171 -
Total Cost R1005 R945 R771 R600
Price for Four Nights
Port Charges R700 R700 R700 R700
Insurance Fee R75 - - -
Service Fee R460 R460 R228 -
Total Cost R1235 R1160 R928 R700
Price for Five Nights
Port Charges R700 R700 R700 R700
Insurance Fee R90 - - -
Service Fee R575 R575 R287 -
Total Cost R1365 R1275 R987 R700
Price for Seven Nights
Port Charges R750 R750 R750 R750
Insurance Fee R120 - - -
Service Fee R805 R805 R399 -
Total Cost R1675 R1555 R1149 R750
Price for Eight Nights
Port Charges R950 R950 R950 R950
Insurance Fee R225 - - -
Service Fee R920 R920 R456 -
Total Cost R2095 R1870 R1406 R950
Price for Eleven Nights
Port Charges R950 R950 R950 R950
Insurance Fee R300 - - -
Service Fee R1265 R1265 R627 -
Total Cost R2515 R2215 R1577 R950

What about tipping?

No tips are requested onboard.

UNICEF Donation

MSC Crociere supports an innovative UNICEF programme to combat poverty and inequality by helping ensure disadvantaged children in Rio de Janeiro and São Paolo gain quality education. Guests are invited to “get on board for children” and make a difference by offering a small donation. This can be as little as € 1 (or $ 1.50), which will be added to the bill at the end of the cruise. However this small donation, valid on all ships in the MSC Cruises fleet, is of course optional. Therefore, passengers may freely decide whether to increase, decrease or cancel it, communicating their decision to the Accounting Office before 22.00 of the last day of the cruise. For more information please read the informational brochure left in every cabin or go to www.msc-unicef.org.

Q Can we snorkel at the destinations?

Yes, but please take note that there is no gear available onboard to hire, and if you intend to snorkel, it is advisable to bring your own. Barra Lodge and Portuguese Island do offer a snorkel excursion with gear hire included from a local source although fin sizes and condition of equipment are not guaranteed. A limited range of snorkelling equipment will be available for purchase at Durban harbour prior to boarding the ship.

Are landings guaranteed?

Landings are weather dependent and the sea conditions dictate whether a successful landing can proceed or not. The Captain has the final say as to whether a landing will proceed or not based on the information he has in regard to sea and weather conditions, and with the safety of the passengers and staff onboard as his primary concern.

Q What about shore excursions?

Shore excursions can be pre-booked (but not paid) on our website www.msccruises.co.za. Please take note of the cancellation policy before proceeding with any online bookings for shore-excursions. The charges will be added to you onboard account to be settled onboard. These excursions fill up very quickly so it is recommended that you go to the Shore Excursion desk as soon as possible after boarding to see what shore excursions are on offer and to pre-book.

Do I need take bath and beach towels?

Bath towels and pool/beach towels available on board.

What is the Dress Code?

During the day casual wear is encouraged although no bathing suits are permitted in the main restaurant. A buffet breakfast and lunch are available on deck should you prefer casual dining. Evenings are generally smart casual (from 18h00) with a formal night on any cruise 4 nights or longer. Every cruise has a PARTY NIGHT where guests are encouraged to dress up bright & bold and anything goes. Although the summer evenings are generally warm, it is advisable to bring a light jumper in case of a sea breeze or to wear indoors as most venues are fully air-conditioned.

Can we purchase tickets for uShaka Sea World?

uShaka tickets are available for purchase on board only. It is recommended that uShaka tickets be purchased on board at the excursion desk in order to enjoy the excursion after the cruise.

Can I request Double / Single beds in the cabin?

The beds on board Sinfonia and Opera are generally convertible lower beds, which means that the cabin can be set up either as a double or as 2 singles as required. In some instances the cabins have a “wedding bed” (double bed) only and cannot be converted to 2 single beds.

Can we get married/renew our vows onboard?

Weddings onboard are not legal and are merely “ceremonial”. You will therefore have to be legally married in a civil service prior to having your wedding onboard. There are 3 packages which can be pre-paid for Weddings/ Renewal of Vows onboard. Please refer to the website for further information on the packages on offer and the inclusions.

Can I take the Mandatory cruise insurance off of my cruise fare?

MSC Cruises has a mandatory insurance charge which is designed exclusively for cruise passengers. This charge, which is very reasonable, is required for all passengers travelling on cruises in and around South Africa. The insurance covers the repatriation of passengers from the vessel as there are no ports of call in reach of the vessels on the routes which they sail. This insurance is not optional and we are required to pay the policy for ALL passengers travelling.

Is the Mandatory cruise insurance included for positioning cruises:
i.e. South and Northbound cruises?

This insurance is NOT included and all passengers on these cruises are to obtain their own fully comprehensive Travel Insurance and to provide such proof to MSC Cruises. No cruise documentation will be processed until such time as this proof has been received as no passengers will be accepted for travel without Travel Insurance in place.


Aboard: On board or on the ship. Used when referring to being or doing something on the ship

About: To turn the ship around

Abreast: To be alongside something – usually another ship or a dock

Add-on: An additional charge to the cruise fare that usually refers to airfare, transfers or land tours

Aft: Back of the ship

Air/sea package: A package deal that includes the cruise price, airfare and transfers between the airports and the ship

All hands: All the crew members working aboard the ship

A la Carte: Dining by ordering items listed individually on a menu

Amidships: The middle section of the ship

Ashore: On land. The opposite of aboard

Astern: Toward the back of the ship or behind the ship

Balcony: A private balcony adjacent to the ship’s stateroom/cabin

Beam: The width of the ship at its widest point, usually right across the middle section of the ship

Bearing: The compass direction the ship is sailing, expressed in degrees

Berth: A built in bed or bunk in the cabin; or the place where the ship is docked in the port

Bow: The front part of the ship

Bridge: The location where the captain and crew controls the ship; where navigation and steering occur

Buffet: A meal at which passengers serve themselves from various dished displayed on a table or sideboard

Bulkhead: The structural wall in the interior of the ship

Buoy: A marker or float used to identify navigational landmarks or channels

Cabin: A passenger room on board the ship- sometimes called a stateroom

Cabin steward: The person who cleans the cabin

Cast off: The release the ship from her mooring

Category: The price level of a cabin based on location, size and amenities

Channel: The deepest part of a river or harbour

Coastal cruises: These are 3 night cruises from Cape Town to Durban and vice versa – down the S.A Coastline

Companionway: A stairway inside the ship that connects deck levels

Course: The ship’s route from one port to the next

Cruise card: Your on board cruise card which serves as both your ID and on board charge card for purchases made on board which are billed back to your cabin

Cruise Director: Head of the ship’s entertainment staff, often emcees events on board

Cruise Scam: Refers to the offer of a cruise trip of cruise holiday package under false pretences, and such an offer is designed to deceive in order to spam people or to swindle them

Cruise to Nowhere: These are 2 night cruises from Durban out to sea and back to Durban and from Cape Town out to sea and back to Cape Town. Passengers do not disembark the ship at any point – It is simply a round trip out to sea and back to the originating port.

Davit: A steel structure that hoists lifeboats over the side of the ship

Debark: To go ashore

Deck: Each level (floor) of the ship

Disembark: To leave the ship and go ashore

Dinner seating: The time a passenger is assigned to a particular dining venue on the ship

Dock: A large structure or excavated basin for receiving ships, equipped with gates to keep water in and out; A place to moor the ship

Double Occupancy: Refers to a cabin shared by 2 people

Draft: The depth of water needed to sail so that the ship doesn’t touch the ocean floor (the draft is measured from the waterline to the lowest part of the ship, usually the keel)

Embark: To go aboard the ship

First seating: The earlier of the two meal servings (dinner seating) in the ship’s main dining room – also referred to as the main seating

Fleet: A number of ships under the same ownership Fore,

Forward: The area towards the bow of the ship

Funnel: The ship’s smokestack

Galley: The ships kitchen

Gangway: Ramp or stairway between the ship and the shore while the ship is docked

Hand: Crew member

Handicapped cabins: Cabins that have been especially designed for passengers with disabilities

Head: Bathroom

Helm: The ship’s steering equipment located on the bridge

Hold: The ship’s cargo area

Hotel Manager: Shipboard director of hotel operations such as housekeeping and passenger services

Hull: The outside shell of the ship from the main deck down to the keel

Inside cabin: A cabin/stateroom that does not have a porthole, window or balcony

Keel: The chief structure of the ship that extends lengthwise along the centre of the ship’s bottom i.e.: the ship’s backbone

Knot: The measurement of the ship’s speed. One knot is one nautical mile per hour

Landing: The transfer of passengers from the ship to the shore via Zodiacs where there is no port or dock for the ship to come alongside such as for Portuguese Island and Barra Lodge

Latitude: The distance North and South of the equator expressed in degrees

Leeward: The side of an island or ship that is sheltered from the wind

Life Boat: One of the small boats carried by the ship for use if the ship must be abandoned

Life Jacket: A buoyant device for saving a person from drowning by keeping the body afloat.

Lines: The ropes used to tie up the ship while it is at the dock

Longitude: The distance East or West of prime meridian expressed in degrees

Lower beds: Beds located at ground level in the cabin – not bunk beds which are recessed into the wall

Lower berths convertible: Cabins on board Sinfonia all have 2 lower beds – convertible to double. This means that a specific cabin number does not need to be requested in order to have double bed in the cabin. Housekeeping will make the beds up as a Double or 2 singles as required.

Maiden Voyage: The very first voyage of a new ship

Maiden Call: The first port of call on a ship’s maiden voyage

Master: The person who is in charge of the ship, the captain

Mini Suite: The smallest, most affordable suite on the ship, often with just a curtain diving the living and sleeping areas

Moor: The hold the ship in place with lines at a berth

Muster: To assemble all passengers and crew

Muster station: A meeting place on board the ship that usually refers to the area where one would go to get into the lifeboats in case of an emergency

Nautical mile: A unit of measurement equal to one-sixtieth of a degree of the earth circumference

Ocean view cabin: An outside cabin/stateroom with a porthole or window

On board: Located on the ship, carried or used on the vessel

Open seating: A meal seating in which tables are not assigned

Outside Cabin: A stateroom/cabin with a porthole, window also referred to as ocean view

Passageway: A hallway inside the ship

Passenger to crew ratio: The total number of passenger divided by the total number of crew members

Pitch: The forward and backward rise and fall of the ship as it moves

Port: The left side of the ship when facing forward; also the harbour where the ship docks

Porthole: A round window on a ship

Port of call: A port at which the ship anchors, moors, and the passengers are allowed to disembark

Positioning cruise: A one-way itinerary that brings a ship from one region to another at the change of the cruise season

Private transfer: Transportation from the airport to the port and vice versa that is not scheduled and must be requested and booked individually

Promenade: An open deck that encircles a ship, often used for walking or jogging

Purser: The officer on board who serves as a financial or administrative manager for guest services

Pullman: A bunk bed that either folds away against the cabin wall or into the ceiling during the day, and is folded down at night to accommodate the additional passengers in the cabin

Quad: A cabin that accommodated 4 passengers

Roll: The side to side movement of the ship

Screw: The ship’s propeller

Second seating: The later of the two meal servings (dinner sittings) in the ship’s main dining room – also referred to as the late seating

Separate Lower beds: Not all cabins on board Melody can be converted to Double beds. Some are separate lower beds and are fixed. For this reason it is important at the time of booking to advice the bedding configuration required in the cabin to be booked.

Shore excursion: A tour guided activity in which guests participate whilst ashore

Shuttle transfer: Transportation from the airport to the port and vice versa. Works on a rotation basis so as the one minibus/coach fills up and leaves so the other arrives to load passengers and transport them.

Single Supplement: An extra charge solo travellers pay to have just one person in a cabin

Sister Ships: Ships built of the same design- sometimes referred to as ships owned and operated by the same cruise line

Sofa bed: A sofa/couch that is folded out to make up an additional bed in the evening

Stabilizer: A retractable arm located below the waterline mid-ship, which can be extended to help reduce the ship’s roll in rougher sea conditions

Starboard: The right side of the ship when facing forward

Stateroom: A cabin

Stern: The back end of the ship

Suite: The largest class of stateroom/cabin, features separate living and sleeping areas

Tender: A small boat used to transport passengers from the ship to the shore. Tenders are used when the harbour is not deep enough for the ship to dock.

Triple: A cabin that will accommodate 3 passengers

Underway: The act of sailing Upgrade: A change in cabin assignment to a better category

Upper berth: A bed similar to a bunk bed, often folded and recessed into the wall

Wedding bed: This is a fixed double bed on board Melody

Zodiac: A type of speed boat used to transport passengers from the ship to the shore. Zodiacs are used where there is no port and the ship has to throw anchor offshore and transfer passengers to the shore in this way

If you have any further questions or if there is anything else we can assist you with please feel free to contact us at cruises@southafrica.to

MSC Sinfonia cruise ship in South Africa


2015 Investment Cruise

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