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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Having many years of experience in the cruise industry we understand the most common questions that are typically asked by first time cruisers, and so we’ve compiled the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions to assist you in planning for your cruise holiday.

Cabin Occupancy & bedding configuration

Cabins are either 2 bedded; 3 bedded, or 4 bedded. The cabins cannot accommodate more passengers than the actual number of beds in the cabin, so a 2 bedded cabin can take only 2 passengers, a 3 bedded only 3 passengers and so on.

The bedding in the 2 bedded cabins are 2 lower beds which can be converted into a double bed, so it’s not necessary to have to move cabins if you wanted 2 separate beds or a double bed. The cabins are made up as doubles as a matter of course so it’s only when you want 2 separate beds that we need to request that the cabin is made up with twin beds.

The 3 and 4 bedded cabins have 2 lower beds convertible to double (the same as the 2 bedded cabins) and aside from the Suites, the 3rd and 4th beds are “Upper” bunk beds. This must be considered when requesting to book 3 or more adults (and especially elderly passengers) to share one 3 or 4 bedded cabin as this will directly influence the in-cabin comfort of the guests. (In the Suites, the 3rd bed is a sleeper couch).

There are no cabins which can accommodate more than 4 passengers, and so separate cabins must be booked and paid for to accommodate more than 4 passengers.

MSC’s Kids Free Policy

A maximum of 2 Children under 18 cruise free and pay only the mandatory charges when sharing the same cabin as 2 full paying adults.

Most specials advertised are based on pricing for “2 people sharing” meaning they’re based on 2 bedded cabins and for this reason the Kids Free Policy cannot be applied to these Specials as additional passengers cannot be accommodated in a cabin that caters to a maximum of 2 people only.

The Kids Free policy is therefore only applicable in “multiple” cabins where 2 adults and 1 or 2 children can be accommodated in the same cabin, i.e.: 3 or 4 bedded cabins. The multiple cabins do carry a small surcharge and so should you wish to add children to your cabin, you must request rates on a 3 or 4 bedded cabin.

Passports and supporting documents

Every passenger (including children and infants) must present their own valid passport to clear immigration at the port when cruising to Mozambique (Maputo; Portuguese Island; Ilhe de Mozambique; Pomene); The Indian Ocean Islands and Namibia. Passports must have at least a 6-month validity left on them when cruising. E.g.: If I am cruising in March, my passport should be valid until September of that year. (Diplomatic passports are not valid for leisure travel)

It is further important when travelling outside of South Africa with children under 18 to contact the Dept. of Home Affairs to ensure that you have the correct supporting documents (in addition to passports) to be presented to the Immigration officials at the port to be permitted to travel. Any passengers failing to present all the required documentation will be denied embarkation and in such cases the passengers will not be entitled to any compensation, refunds or rebooking either by MSC or SA Cruises. The cruise is forfeited with 100% cancellation penalties applied.

http://www.dha.gov.za/files/Brochures/Immigrationleaflet.pdf

For cruises that do not leave South African waters as in “Cruise to nowhere” and “Coastal cruises Durban – Cape Town and v.v” only your official ID document is required, and in the case of children an original birth certificate is required to be presented at the port to be permitted embarkation.

Visas

South African passport holders do not require visas or vaccinations to travel to Mozambique; Mauritius; Reunion or Walvis Bay. Foreign passport holders will require a visa for Mozambique which is obtained onboard at a cost of$25 per person which is added to their onboard account. (SADAC Passport holders do not require visas for Mozambique; i.e.: Angola; Botswana; Lesotho; Madagascar; Malawi; Mauritius; Namibia; Seychelles; South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania; Zambia; Zimbabwe). Foreign Nationals must check the visa requirements for Mauritius; Reunion and Walvis Bay with the relevant Embassy and should further ensure that they have the relevant re-entry visas into South Africa following their cruise.

Vaccinations

No vaccinations are required for travel to Mozambique, Mauritius, Reunion and Walvis Bay. Whilst Mozambique is a malaria area it is worth noting that the ship calls during the day when mosquitos are less active. Any concerns in this regard should be discussed with your GP, Pharmacist or local Travel Clinic.

Cruise Tickets

Your cruise tickets are issued at least 21 days prior to sailing (provided the full payment has been received and the Passenger Registration Forms have been completed in full and submitted online) and are e-mailed to you. Passengers are required to print their cruise tickets (single sided only) to carry with them for presentation at the port to be permitted embarkation and to securely attach the bar-coded luggage labels received in the attachment with the tickets securely to checked baggage for identification and delivery to the cabin.

Cruise Check in

All passengers must ensure that they have checked in for their cruise at least 3 hours prior to embarkation to ensure that they don’t “miss the boat”. The ports are not managed by MSC Cruises and much the same as an aircraft cannot be held back for late passengers, the cruise ship is no different. All port operational activities are scheduled to ensure the smooth operation of the port and so a cruise ship may not delay its scheduled departure time to wait for late passengers. In the event a passenger arrives too late to embark the ship, the passengers will not be entitled to any compensation, refunds or rebooking either by MSC or SA Cruises. The cruise is forfeited with 100% cancellation penalties applied.

It is very important to take note of what the cruise-line lists as “dangerous items” with which you will not be permitted to pass through security in the terminal. These items will be confiscated and will not be returned to the passengers. Please take note of pocket knives of any sort which are often carried by unsuspecting passengers, and are confiscated by port security and not returned.

Booking Flights

It is suggested that you book flights to arrive no later than 4 hours before the scheduled cruise departure time as any delays in the flights could cause you to miss your cruise.

The ship arrives back into port very early in the morning at the end of your cruise (06h30am), and all passengers are disembarked by 08h30am at the latest to embark the awaiting guests on the next departure. It is suggested that you do, however give yourself some leeway and book flights departing no earlier than 4 hours after arrival into port. If for any reason the ship is late in (perhaps due to poor weather or other factors beyond the Cruise line’s control) then you should give yourself enough time to get to the airport in time to still make your flight.

Getting between the Airport and the Port

A shuttle operates between the airport and the port on the day that the ship is in port. For ease of convenience the shuttles can be pre-booked and added to your cruise booking to be settled at the same time as your cruise booking. The shuttles operate on a rotation basis for the entire morning with the first one being at 08h00 and the last around 12 midday. It is important not to book flights to arrive at 12h00 as you will miss the last shuttle. You must be at the shuttle point at least 15 minutes before the last shuttle is scheduled to depart or you will miss the shuttle, and very likely be too late to get to the port in time for your cruise too.

Parking

Parking is available on a first come first served basis at Durban port. The daily parking fee per car is added to your onboard account to be settled at the end of your cruise together with your other onboard expenses. There is more than enough parking to accommodate all passengers arriving by car. In Cape Town, we recommend a family member or friend drops you at the port and collects you at the end of your cruise as there is no parking available at the port, but at nearby Portswood Square, Breakwater & V&A Waterfront which are all some walking distance, especially with luggage.

Luggage

First and foremost, NEVER pack valuables, medication or breakables into your checked luggage, and ALWAYS ensure that your checked luggage is securely locked. We can’t imagine you’d include such items in your checked luggage when flying; and would never check in “open” bags for a flight, and the same applies with cruising. Neither the cruise line nor the travel insurance will reimburse you for any damage to or loss of such items that were included in your checked luggage – these items are to be carried on your person, in your hand luggage and stowed in the in-cabin safe once onboard.

There is no weight restriction on luggage on a cruise, however on cruises of 4 nights or less each guest (adult & child) is permitted only 1 checked bag per person. Any additional bags will be carried subject to space available and will be charged at $25 per bag, which will be added to your onboard account to be settled at the end of your cruise.

It is worth remembering that the cabins have very limited space and so it is best to pack smaller bags so as not to clutter the cabin area.

Any travel documentation (passports, cruise tickets etc.) or essential medication that has been packed into your checked luggage cannot be retrieved once the baggage has been checked in. The cruise line loads tonnes of luggage for each departure and so 1 bag cannot be retrieved from this massive amount of luggage and you will be unable to be checked in and will miss your cruise.

Food and alcohol

MSC Cruises operates to the highest standards of food safety and to prevent the introduction of food borne illness no passenger is permitted to carry any food or beverage with them onboard.

Your cruise fare includes all meals which include breakfast, lunch, tea-time afternoon treats; dinner; midnight snacks; 23-hour pizza station; hamburger and hot dog grill available throughout most of the day.

Tea, coffee, water and juice are available at coffee stations during meal times and tea times. (water is available all day from the water stations).

Any beverages such as coffee / tea / juice / water which are ordered and not obtained from the self-service bar are charged for.

Excellent value for money beverage packages are available for pre-purchase on the MSC Website.

Appliances onboard

There are no coffee/ tea making facilities or clothes irons in the cabins. These are also not permitted to be carried by passengers as these pose a fire hazard onboard. Coffee and tea is available at coffee stations at various times of the day, or can be ordered I one of the bars/restaurants (at a charge) and there is a facility onboard to manage passengers’ laundry requirements the same as in a land-based hotel (extra charges apply and laundry packages are available for pre-purchase)

The plug sockets in the cabin 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 all cabins.

Internet and cell phone reception

The cell phone reception is interrupted depending how far from land the ship is at any moment. You will have no cell phone signal when the ship is some distance from the land. You must activate your international roaming to be able to make and receive calls when the signal is available.

The cruise line offers various internet packages which may be pre-purchased to keep you connected with friends and family and social media. You’ll find more information on the packages on MSC’s website.

Dress Code

During the day the dress code is casual, you’ll spend most of the day in your swimming costume on the deck and around the pools. (Swimming costumes are not permitted to be worn in the main restaurants). It is important to ensure that you have some comfortable shoes/slip ons to wear on the deck as the deck gets very hot during the day and can cause blistering and injury. Most evenings are casual with a tropical theme, or an Italian theme or such-like planned by the onboard entertainment team. Notice of the events planned for the next day are included in the daily programme which are placed in the guests cabin each evening. On cruises of 4 nights and more there are generally 2 nights that are more “formal” where you’ll get to dress up, have some beautiful portrait pictures taken (to purchase at a charge) and there is usually at least 1 occasion during the longer cruises to meet the Captain and Senior officers.

Paying for goods and services

The currency onboard the ship during the local South Africans season is USD. The ship is a cashless environment and all purchases made onboard are charged back to your onboard account to be settled before you disembark at the end of your cruise. Your purchases are charged back to your onboard account by means of your cruise card, which is available in your cabin once you have embarked the cruise and accessed your cabin. This cruise card is not only your cruise charge card but also your security card used to swipe you off the ship at the various ports of call and back onto the ship at the end of the call.

To begin to make purchases with your cruise card you will be required to activate your cruise card at one of the “totems” located throughout the ship by using your credit card, or by registering cash at the reception desk. The cruise line will block a $150 hold against your credit card, and as your purchases reach or exceed this initial amount, they block a further $100 each time. These amounts are blocked for up to 15 days after you have disembarked the ship, after which time they are released and only your actual charges remain. Please ensure that you’ve made provision for this as these amounts are blocked in addition to your purchases and can cause some distress if not properly understood and provision made.

Photos and DVD’s

It is very important to budget for some photos. Often passengers disembark having not purchased the photos taken by the ship’s photographers and then contact us to ask if it is possible to purchase them after they have disembarked. It is not possible. The ship destroys all unsold photos and recycles the paper and so we are not able to assist in obtaining any photos after you have disembarked. It’s a good idea to pre-purchase one of the photo packages available on MSC’s website so that you have made provision in advance for photos. The photographers onboard are excellent and there is no doubt that there will be photos taken by them that you will want to purchase, and if you haven’t budgeted for them, it’s such an opportunity missed.

ESSENTIAL DOCUMENTATION

Passenger Registration Forms

It is a legal requirement that all passengers complete and submit their own Passenger Registration Forms. For the forms to be submitted is it required that passengers read, understand and accept the MSC Standard Terms and Conditions as each passenger will be deemed to have read and understood these upon submission of the forms.

The cruise tickets are issued from the information provided to MSC in these forms, and no tickets can be issued until these forms have been fully completed and successfully submitted. The information supplied such as names, surname, date of birth, passport numbers etc. must match the passengers’ passports as this is verified at check-in and any discrepancies found will result in delays and could result in denied embarkation, or penalties.

In accordance with EC directive 98/4 1/CE of 18.06.1998 the Company is required to collect passengers’ personal data to facilitate the research and rescue operations in the event of an accident, it is therefore imperative that the Passengers’ personal information and not that of a 3rd party / Booking Agent be provided in the Passenger Registration Forms.

Passports

Every passenger (including children and infants) must present their own valid passport to clear immigration at the port when cruising to Mozambique (Maputo; Portuguese Island; Ilhe de Mozambique; Pomene); The Indian Ocean Islands and Namibia. Passports must have at least a 6-month validity left on them when cruising. E.g.: If I am cruising in March, my passport should be valid until September of that year. (Diplomatic passports are not valid for leisure travel)

It is further important when travelling outside of South Africa with children under 18 to contact the Dept. of Home Affairs to ensure that you have the correct supporting documents (in addition to passports) to be presented to the Immigration officials at the port to be permitted to travel. Any passengers failing to present all the required documentation will be denied embarkation and in such cases the passengers will not be entitled to any compensation, refunds or rebooking either by MSC or SA Cruises. The cruise is forfeited with 100% cancellation penalties applied.

http://www.dha.gov.za/files/Brochures/Immigrationleaflet.pdf

For cruises that do not leave South African waters as in “Cruise to nowhere” and “Coastal cruises Durban – Cape Town and v.v” only your official ID document is required, and in the case of children an original birth certificate is required to be presented at the port to be permitted embarkation.

Vaccinations

No vaccinations are required for travel to Mozambique, Mauritius, Reunion and Walvis Bay. Whilst Mozambique is a malaria area it is worth noting that the ship calls during the day when mosquitos are less active. Any concerns in this regard should be discussed with your GP, Pharmacist or local Travel Clinic.

Visas

South African passport holders do not require visas or vaccinations to travel to Mozambique; Mauritius; Reunion or Walvis Bay. Foreign passport holders will require a visa for Mozambique which is obtained onboard at a cost of$25 per person which is added to their onboard account. (SADAC Passport holders do not require visas for Mozambique; i.e.: Angola; Botswana; Lesotho; Madagascar; Malawi; Mauritius; Namibia; Seychelles; South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania; Zambia; Zimbabwe). Foreign Nationals must check the visa requirements for Mauritius; Reunion and Walvis Bay with the relevant Embassy and should further ensure that they have the relevant re-entry visas into South Africa following their cruise.

Customs

It is a Customs requirement that all the onboard shops and concessions as well as the casino are closed when the ship is in port, and so it is not possible to make purchases or play in the casino when the ship is in port. There are no limitations in respect of the amount of alcohol or cigarettes that one can purchase, however alcohol is not permitted to be consumed onboard and so it is stored by the duty-free shops onboard and available for collection prior to disembarkation.

Cruise tickets

Your cruise tickets are issued at least 21 days prior to sailing (provided the full payment has been received and the Passenger Registration Forms have been completed in full and submitted online) and are e-mailed to you. Passengers are required to print their cruise tickets (single sided only) to carry with them for presentation at the port to be permitted embarkation and to securely attach the bar-coded luggage labels received in the attachment with the tickets securely to checked baggage for identification and delivery to the cabin.

The Embarkation forms attached to your cruise tickets are verified against your travel documents (passports, ID etc.) at check in and any discrepancies found will result in delays embarking you. It is important to check the information on your Embarkation Forms when your cruise tickets are received, to ensure that corrections are made and the revised Embarkation Forms sent to you.

The emergency contact person listed (name and cell phone contact) must be a person who is not cruising with you who can be contacted in the event of any unforeseen event onboard.

WHAT TO BRING

What to pack

The most essential items to carry with you include:

  • Spending money (usually in the form of a credit card which is the most convenient form of payment onboard)
  • Essential medication (the ship does not have a pharmacy onboard and so you will not be able to obtain any essential medication onboard)
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletries
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Comfortable walking shoes (flat or slip ons) The deck gets very hot during the day and you will need shoes to be able to walk on the deck (even a short distance) in the heat of the day. A pair of flat shoes is always a good idea as any sudden movement of the ship can cause a person to lose their balance; and further the deck is often wet by the very nature of the environment and so passengers are all warned to ensure that they take great care when out on the deck. (especially the elderly)
  • 2 x Swimming costumes (One to wear whilst the other one dries)
  • Beach wear
  • Smart/Casual evening wear (something a bit smart for at least 1 night on cruises longer than 4 days)
  • It is not necessary to pack swimming towels as these are provided in the cabin for use onboard (and they take an enormous amount of packing space in your luggage!)

Dress Code

During the day the dress code is casual, you’ll spend most of the day in your swimming costume on the deck and around the pools. (Swimming costumes are not permitted to be worn in the main restaurants). It is important to ensure that you have some comfortable shoes/slip ons to wear on the deck as the deck gets very hot during the day and can cause blistering and injury. Most evenings are casual with a tropical theme, or an Italian theme or such-like planned by the onboard entertainment team. Notice of the events planned for the next day are included in the daily programme which are placed in the guests cabin each evening. On cruises of 4 nights and more there are generally 2 nights that are more “formal” where you’ll get to dress up, have some beautiful portrait pictures taken (to purchase at a charge) and there is usually at least 1 occasion during the longer cruises to meet the Captain and Senior officers.

Carry-on luggage

Passengers on cruises 4 nights and less can carry on 1 (one) small bag each. Carry-on luggage may not exceed 126cm in combined length, width and height including any handles and wheels (length of 56cm, width of 45cm, depth of 25cm)

It is very important to carry your travel documentation and essential medication in your carry-on with you, and further to ensure that you have not packed any items that the Cruise line has listed as “dangerous items” e.g.: Pocket knives including swiss army knives etc.

It is suggested that since you are only able to access your cabin from 13h00 on the day of embarkation that you include in your carry-on luggage a change of clothing so that you’re able to change from your “travelling” clothing into something more comfortable in which you can relax on the deck.

Luggage Tags

Your cruise tickets include a bar coded luggage tag for each passenger travelling. You are required to print these luggage tags and attach them securely to your checked luggage for identification and delivery to your cabin. Upon arrival at the port your checked luggage is scanned and loaded onto the ship and delivered to your cabin during the afternoon (usually after the cruise has departed). If you’ve booked the airport shuttle service, your bags are scanned by the shuttle operators and taken directly to the loading area to be loaded onto the ship.

Damaged / Lost Luggage

Onboard Should you find that your luggage has been damaged during embarkation, you must report to the reception desk onboard with your luggage for them to inspect the luggage and to complete a “Lost/Damaged luggage form” on which the staff member acknowledges that they have inspected the bag and seen the damage.

On disembarkation: You should approach the Information desk at the port where the cruise line representative will hand you a copy of a “Lost/Damaged luggage form” on which the staff member acknowledges that they have inspected the bag and seen the damage.

It is important that these procedures are followed if you intend to submit a claim to the insurance for the Lost/damaged luggage; and further that you keep the damaged bag for inspection by the insurance company as they are entitled to request to view the bag if a claim is submitted.

HEALTH AND MEDICAL

This area unfortunately is most often overlooked by passengers in the excitement of booking a cruise, resulting in sometimes unfortunate and far-reaching consequences.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition it is essential that you contact the cruise insurance provider, Oojah Travel insurance and make them aware of your condition, check your cover with them, and in some cases even pay a small supplementary amount to proceed with the cover. Any event onboard, resulting from a pre-existing condition that was not previously brought to the attention of the insurer is not covered by the insurer and could not only place your life at risk, but also incur massive repatriation costs.

The cruise line is required to know at least 30 days before departure of any special needs that a passenger may have, to confirm whether these special needs can be managed onboard. The cruise line is within their rights to refuse to carry a passenger where they have deemed that the passengers condition cannot be managed onboard in the event of a life-threatening event occurring during the cruise. The ship does not have a fully equipped medical facility onboard.

The Special Needs form is available on MSC ‘s website, and should be printed, completed and sent to us at least 30 days before the passengers’ scheduled departure.

Pregnancy

Provided a woman does not reach or exceed her 24th week of pregnancy during her trip, will be permitted to travel. Any passenger who has reached the 24th week of pregnancy will unfortunately not be carried by the cruise line. Many passengers request that they be permitted to travel with their Dr’s permission and we advise that this is not possible. The cruise lines insurance does not cover any passenger beyond their 24th week of pregnancy, and so the cruise line will not carry such a passenger.

CANCELLATION AND CHANGES

The deposit Any booking made more than 75 days before the cruise departure date is required to be secured with a R3 000 non-refundable deposit within 72 hours of requesting the booking to be made.

In all instances this deposit is 100% non-refundable, except in the case that the passenger booked to travel is deceased or the passenger booked to travel has been hospitalised over the cruise dates; or the passenger is pregnant and will reach or exceed the 24th week of pregnancy during her cruise (written proof is required to accompany any request for a refund in this case). Only the actual cabin booked to be occupied by the affected passenger is refunded, any cabins booked for accompanying passengers who wish to cancel are subject to the 100% non-refundable deposit.

Requesting a Change to your booking It is important to note that MSC is not required to agree to any change requests made by the passenger. Should the cruise line agree to the changes, they have outlined the penalties which will be applied to any agreed changes.

Where you have requested that a passenger booked be replaced with a new passenger, effectively a request for a “name change”, should the cruise line agree to the change, a fee of R600 per person will be charged to process the name change into the name of the new passenger.

Where you have requested that the cruise dates booked are changed to an alternative cruise date, and this request has been made more than 60 days before the scheduled cruise departure of the existing departure booked, should the cruise line agree to the change, a fee of R500 per person will be charged to process the date change. The difference in cruise fares between the current cruise booked and the new cruise requested become payable. The change is not made at the same cruise fares originally booked or the same discount percentages booked on the original cruise. The current rates on the new sailing selected become payable.

No date changes are permitted within 60days of the scheduled cruise departure.

Where you have requested to cancel your cruise booking completely, and it is 60 days or more before the scheduled departure of your cruise, the non-refundable deposit of R3 000 per cabin is forfeited.

Where you have requested your cruise booking to be cancelled between 59-30 days before the scheduled cruise departure 50% of the cruise fare is forfeited.

Where you have requested your cruise booking to be cancelled within 30 days of the scheduled cruise departure, 100% of the cruise fares are forfeited.

INSURANCE

The mandatory insurance policy included in the South African local cruise fares contains restrictions regarding pre−existing medical conditions which unless declared and accepted by Hollard Travel Insurance in writing prior to travel may invalidate any subsequent claim. Please contact Hollard Travel Insurance for more information.

** Only children who are the legal/adopted children of the adults with whom they are travelling share in the adults’ cover, a separate policy must be purchased for all other children, and should be notified to us at the time of booking as no passenger may embark the ship without insurance cover. The insurance premium cannot be removed from your cruise charges and the premium paid is non-refundable in all cases.

The Master policy number for all MSC Passengers is: OOJ10AP2013

Should you have any questions or are in any doubt about the cover provided it is important to call the Hollard Travel Insurance helpline on 0861HLLRDT (0861455738)

Please refer to the policy Wording on the MSC Website at: https://www.msccruises.co.za/en-za/Assets/1617%20MSC%20Cruises%20South%20Africa%20%20Policy%20Wording.pdf

No date changes are permitted within 60days of the scheduled cruise departure.

Where you have requested to cancel your cruise booking completely, and it is 60 days or more before the scheduled departure of your cruise, the non-refundable deposit of R3 000 per cabin is forfeited.

Where you have requested your cruise booking to be cancelled between 59-30 days before the scheduled cruise departure 50% of the cruise fare is forfeited.

Where you have requested your cruise booking to be cancelled within 30 days of the scheduled cruise departure, 100% of the cruise fares are forfeited.

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