Irate passengers are planning legal action against the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) after an “unfair” policy “robbed” the group of a cruise to Mozambique.
Minutes after the weekly MSC Starlight cruise set sail, warnings of a violent cyclone off the coast of Mozambique scuppered the plans of about 2 000 passengers’ of sailing to their holiday destination.
The ship, which left Durban for Maputo and Inhambane in Mozambique last Monday afternoon, was forced to change course to avoid cyclone Funso, about 120km off the Mozambican coast.
MSC Starlight Cruises marketing director, Allen Foggitt, said passengers had been rerouted to Port Elizabeth because of the sea conditions.
Foggitt said passengers received their contracted four-night cruise, however, it was not to their desired destination.
He said while this was not ideal, passengers are informed when booking about the terms and conditions, which stipulate a change in itinerary in the event of factors beyond MSC’s control.
Passengers said although they had received a four-night cruise, MSC did not provide what they had offered, adding that the destination had been a draw-card for many of them.
They said the clause reserving MSC’s right to change destinations and bookings was not in the contract signed, but in the company’s website and brochure.
Durban actor, Joquin Leyn, said about 1 000 passengers decided to take legal action against the company because they were not compensated for their losses.
What began as a R13 000 pre-wedding vacation for his fiancée and himself had become a “cyclonic vortex of financial theft”.
“I want my money back,” said Leyn, of the SABC1 series Fallen.
He said a trip that costs around R130 by bus, ended up costing the couple thousands of rand more than they had bargained for.
“It is robbery. We were charged American dollars not only in South African waters but on our own soil. $7 (R54) for a bus trip to PE’s broadwalk and about $50 to take a guideless walk from the ship,” he said.
A passenger, who asked not to be named, said she felt “robbed” of her first trip to Mozambique.
“We had been planning the trip since last year and had spent a lot of money only to be taken to Port Elizabeth. We could’ve easily flown there.”
“It is unfair because the cost of travelling to Mozambique is not equivalent to the cost of a trip to Port Elizabeth,” she said.
She said despite many passengers asking to disembark when they had been informed of the change in destination, the captain set sail.
She said she would not book another cruise with MSC Starlight Cruises.