Cruise ships and coronavirus: a match made on the
  • South Africa now has rules for cruise ship travel, as the sector spools up again after the second longest coronavirus ban among business sectors.
  • But you won't be escaping the thought of Covid-19 during your holiday.
  • You'll have to wear a mask any time you are out of your cabin, and you'll be screened for Covid-19 any time you enter a dining room or entertainment space.
  • There will also be hourly reminders to look out for symptoms.
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Cruise ships are due to return to South African waters during November and December, after the latest version of Alert Level 1 finally unbanned them.

But you won't be escaping the pandemic aboard, new rules published on Friday show.

With near-perfect conditions for the spread of viruses, cruise ships faced the second-longest complete ban of any business in South Africa, with only nightclubs considered more dangerous. But the department of transport is not under the impression that ships are now safe, regulations specific to the cruise industry make clear.

The national regulations around Covid-19 will continue to apply aboard cruise ships, which means face masks will be mandatory in any public area – which means anywhere outside your cabin. 

Cruise ships must screen all passengers for Covid-19 symptoms when they embark, and also conduct antigen testing, and screening will continue throughout: every time you enter an entertainment venue, or a dining room, staff will ask you about symptoms. And if you show any, you'll be whisked off to a special isolation cabin, while contact-tracing is initiated.

There will be similar screening any time you go ashore during a voyage, and again when you return to the ship. Any excursions or embarkation must be staggered too, to keep social distancing going, and may only happen outside of curfew. 

Day visitors will not have to worry about that, though, because they are explicitly banned.

Perhaps most intrusive will be the very regular reminders that come on top of the screenings. Passengers "should be reminded hourly during the cruise that they should contact the cruise medical services if they have any Covid-19 symptoms", the rules require. 

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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