Non-SADC passengers onboard the MSC Sinfonia were previously granted visas onboard when stopping in Mozambique, however the Mozambican government informed the company on October 30 that this is no longer the case and that non-SADC passengers would have to obtain a visa prior to arrival.
Non-SADC passport holders can still obtain a visa upon arrival at various specified border posts and ports in Mozambique; however MSC Sinfonia does not stop at any of these. This has resulted in non-SADC passengers being unable to disembark the ship in Mozambique if they did not obtain a visa prior to departure.
MSC Sinfonia stops at Bazaruto Island (In the Bazaruto Archipelago off the coast of Vilanculos), however there is no customs or immigration facility there, says Rui Monteiro, CEO of the Confederation of Economic Associations (CTA).
The approved ports of entry for tourist visas as per Government Gazette remain the same. In Maputo, visas remain available upon arrival at Maputo International Airport and the Port of Maputo.
Ingrid N Roding, Press Officer for MSC Cruises SA says:”The Mozambique visa change was requested by the Mozambican government.” She adds:”We are sadly just the messenger in this instance.”
Monteiro said: “Unfortunately, the visas for cruise ships were not included in the Government Gazette, and personally, I am not sure how this was processed.”
“This now needs to be addressed so that specific visas for cruise ship passengers can be issued. Unfortunately these cruise ships stop where there are no borders so there is no staff in attendance and therefore, private arrangements have to be made with immigration and customs at times to be able to make this work. It needs to be legislated and I believe, negotiated with the Department of Internal Affairs so that there is procedure in place.”
Monteiro said he will be meeting with immigration officials this week to try and take the matter further.