MSC cruises announced on Tuesday that it was cancelling its 2021/22 cruise season to Argentina and Uruguay. “Since the beginning of the year and continuing on the path outlined last year to achieve the safe resumption of cruise operations in Buenos Aires, MSC Cruises has been working closely with authorities from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay to reestablish protocols and joint operation rules for the 2021/22 season from Buenos Aires and Montevideo under the new normality”, pointed out a release from the Swiss company.
The release underlines the unconditional support from Argentine and Uruguayan authorities but unfortunately and despite tireless efforts by all sides, last 2 October, Brazil made public ordinance 657 by which cruise operations in Brazil are restricted exclusively to Brazilian jurisdictional waters, meaning only cabotage, a situation which leaves outside the possibility of itineraries to and from Argentina and Uruguay.
Consequently and given the imminent proximity of the beginning of operations, we have had to take the difficult decision of cancelling the 2021/2022 season of MSC Cruises and its vessels, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Orchestra, MSC Preziosa and MSC Splendida which had anticipated operating from and to the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo this coming season.
MSC Cruises Managing Director in Argentina, Javier Massignani said that with great sadness we have had to take the decision of cancelling the cruise season from the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, reasons expressed exceed us as company and impede us from going ahead with the current season. He added, it has always been our objective to attempt a gradual and safe resumption of operations in the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, guaranteeing the logistics and necessary procedures, based on an integral protocol of health and safety, which has already shown its effectiveness both in Europe and in the Caribbean where we have resumed operations with such a support.
The release comes only days after the Uruguayan government announced the protocol for cruise passengers, crew members and companies wishing to call in the country's ports.
Over the weekend Deputy Tourism minister Rene Monzeglio anticipated that cruise vessels which complied with protocols and sanitary measures were welcome as of next November first and revealed that he had received 220 requests from cruise companies to call at Uruguayan ports.
However on Tuesday Monzeglio had to admit that the decision taken by Brazil strongly affects Uruguay, since it is very difficult cruises coming from the northern hemisphere would only want to call at Buenos Aires, Montevideo, or Punta del Este.
The Brazilian decision also frustrated comments from Fernando Rivas, deputy president of the Uruguayan Association of Travel Agencies who had anticipated that after a long 18-month dark tunnel we are beginning to see some light at the end.
Rivas praised Uruguayan health authorities for the approval of sanitary protocols for the cruise industry and other benefits for minors, and revealed that there were 125 cruise vessel calls confirmed for the coming summer months.