MS Europa visits Port of Walvis Bay
The first passenger liner to dock in the Port of Walvis Bay since the Covid-19 pandemic hit Namibia, arrived today. The MS Europa, a luxury, five-star cruise ship arrived with 230 passengers on board for a two-day stay.
The passenger liner terminal was a beehive of activity with local tour operators waiting excitedly for the passengers to disembark from the vessel. Dellmina Haimbodi, the owner of Delly Shuttle Transfers based in Walvis Bay, said that she is happy to see the passenger liner docking in Walvis Bay. “We have really been suffering due to this pandemic. Seeing this liner is a sign that we are getting back to normal.” Haimbodi said that her business was at a complete standstill for the past two years due to the pandemic. “I had five permanent employees. We are currently only two permanent employees, with two freelancers.”
Ivan Narib, a freelance tour guide, stated that seeing the arrival of the passenger liner is a definite highlight for him. “Tourism was at a complete standstill. This visit is going to boost us financially. We hope to see more cruise ships arriving.” Stefan Fischer, who has been a tour guide for the past six years, stated that Covid-19 has done a lot of damage. “Tourism almost collapsed, but its slowly rising up again. If we can give these passengers the best service possible, they will head home and tell their people about us, which in turn creates a greater influx of tourists. It is a very exciting day for us. This is a great opportunity for us to revive tourism again.”
MS Europa captain Dag Dverjasteim said that it is great to be able to visit Namibia once again. “I’ve visited before, but due to Covid-19 everything was closed. This is the first time that we are visiting this beautiful pier and the passengers are very excited to be here.” He said that the passengers will visit Etosha and enjoy dinner in the dunes on Thursday evening. “This is our first call since Cape Verde. Before that we were in the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean and Europe. It is fantastic to be here. We are grateful that Namibia has opened its doors to us.”
He added that all passengers and crew are fully vaccinated. “We do Covid-19 tests every second day throughout the voyage. We have 230 passengers onboard, which is about 60% of our occupancy. We do not sail at more than 70% capacity for in case something happens, we need to have isolation cabins available.”
The next stop for the MS Europa is Lüderitz. The vessel then sails for Cape Town, returns to Walvis Bay, departs for Port Elizabeth and then journeys to Mauritius, the Seychelles, Maldives and Dubai. Dverjasteim said that it depends on the world and the Covid-19 crises when the MS Europa will be back in Namibia. “We are normally here every second year.”