Cruise ship passengers will be marooned until 2am on Saturday

Passengers stranded since Thursday aboard a cruise ship unable to dock in Cape Town because of a southeasterly gale will only be able to come ashore early on Saturday.

MSC Musica at anchor off Mouille Point on Thursday night. Gale-force winds have prevented the giant cruise ship from docking in Cape Town harbour.
Image: Twitter/Sean Hough

City of Cape Town traffic spokesperson Richard Coleman said on Friday that the MSC Musica would make its next attempt to dock at 2am.

Ross Volk, MD of the ship’s owners, told TimesLIVE the company had “designed an entertainment regimen that will keep passengers engaged and interactive” while the vessel remained at anchor off Mouille Point.

Facebook posts from passengers depicted a merry atmosphere. Samantha Alexander posted videos of people dancing on an outside deck.

The ship took refuge from Cape Town’s famous gale-force southeaster – known as the Cape Doctor – behind Lion’s Head after Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) decided it was too risky to dock at the V&A Waterfront’s cruise ship terminal.

The ship was supposed to have docked by midday on Thursday. It would have departed for Port Elizabeth later that day on a “Toks and Tjops” cruise featuring Springbok legends Toks van der Linde, Breyton Paulse and Jean de Villiers.

Volk said: “There are sufficient provisions on board. The wellbeing of the passengers is of primary importance to us and that’s been factored into everything that’s going on, and we’ve attempted to communicate with passengers as best we can.”

But while those on board are unlikely to start eating fellow passengers anytime soon – and there are enough lime slices at the bar to stave off scurvy – those waiting to board are feeling the pain.

Emraan Rasdien said on Facebook he had been saving for five years for the Toks and Tjops cruise to Durban, which was supposed to mark his 30th wedding anniversary.

“Feeling very frustrated in a hotel room. Should have been on the MSC Musica now en route to Durban,” he said on Thursday evening on the MSC Cruises Facebook page.

Volk said all the passengers had travel insurance. “Every passenger locally has travel insurance which has already been activated and that’s been taken into account for passengers in Cape Town, and those who have missed connections,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cape Town traffic authorities have been keeping an eye on the ship’s movements because of the traffic that would result from the 3,200 passengers  disembarking.

Volk said it was very unlikely that they would instruct the captain to come in while the southeaster continued to blow. The wind is expected to drop only on Friday night.

“The wind affects it significantly because of the size of the ship, and the entrance to the port is not as wide as in other places and that causes a dangerous situation, which you’d want to avoid,” he said.

“The captain will make a decision and if he feels it’s safe he’ll attempt to come in, otherwise he’ll wait at safe anchorage point to protect the ship, the crew and the passengers on board.”


Source: TMG Digital

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