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Return of cruise ships after Covid-19

SHIPPING & LOGISTICS
By Philip Mwakio | July 15th 2021
The cruise ship Msc Meraviglia. Kenyan Seafarers have been recruited to work aboard some of the vessels owned by the Mediterranean Shipping company (MSC). [Courtesy]

The world’s largest family-owned cruise liner, MSC Cruises, has hit the high seas again since coronavirus was washed up our shores.

The luxury cruiser follows the MSC Orchestra, a 2,500-passenger cruise ship that entered the Italian city of Venice a few days ago.

Venice, just like Mombasa, is a beautiful Mediterranean Island that is heavily dependent on tourism. MSC Cruises has hired some 500 Kenyans since 2018.

The pandemic has put Mombasa’s robust international tourism influx on hold for more than a year.

The liner has released a list of ships to take up luxury voyages as it seeks to mount a comeback in the East African and European tourism markets.

Among jobs which Kenyans have been hired to undertake on the luxury ship are spa and fitness, guest relations, chef, waiting, housekeeping, butchering, food and beverage attendance among others.

Some of its ocean-going vessels include MSC Armonia which is home-ported in Miami, US, and whose sail-date will be November 1, 2021. It can carry 1,554 passengers.

Its cruise itinerary will be four nights with sails to Ocean Cay and the Key West. 

MSC Bellissima, which started sailing two years ago, will be home-ported in Yokohama, Japan. It will start sailing on November 28, 2021. It can carry 4,500 passengers.

The MSC Divina, home-ported at Port Carneval, starts sailing on September 16, 2021. It has a capacity of 3,500 passengers

Its other fleet of ships that will be sailing in and around Europe and the Mediterranean sea include the MSC Fantasia which starts its itinerary from Genoa in Italy and sails to La Specia, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Barcelona and  Marseille starting November 7, 2021.

MSC Grandiosa, also home-ported at Genoa, started sailing early on January 24, 2021.

MSC Lirica will debut on April 10, 2022 from its homeport of Venice for a five-night sail that will take it to Split, Dubrovnik, Kotor and Corfu respectively. 

In a previous interview, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) said the cruise ship sector is expected to pick up once Covid-19 has been contained.

The tourism sector was one of the hardest hit in the country. A Sh1.3 billion cruise ship terminal has been lying idle at the Port of Mombasa with a number of cruise ships cancelling operations.

Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that international arrivals dropped from 1.54 million in 2019 to 439,447 in 2020 after the government banned all local and international flights in March last year, resulting in low tourist traffic at hotels and animal parks.

The Ministry of Tourism announced that Kenya would lose up to Sh80 billion from tourism last year after an impressive performance in 2019 where the sector earned Sh163.6 billion, a 3.9 per cent rise from Sh157.4 billion in 2018.

“The Treasury has marked tourism among its priority sectors to drive the revival of the economy,” said Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani while revealing the 2021-22 budget.

Mr Yatani handed Sh2.3 billion to the tourism sector to help it recover from an economic fallout caused by the coronavirus.

He allocated Sh1.7 billion to the Tourism Fund and Sh643 million to the Tourism Promotion Fund to help lift the sector battered by the effects of the pandemic.

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Covid 19 Time Series

 

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