BirdLife South Africa, together with more than 1000 confirmed passengers (and counting), is Flocking to Marion once again, between 24 – 31 January 2025!

 

Will you be on board?

Seabird expert, author and artist, Peter Harrison MBE, tells you why he will be joining Flock to Marion AGAIN! 2025

3 REASONS TO SECURE YOUR SPOT NOW!

#1 THE LIFE LIST


Keen to add Wandering (or perhaps Tristan) Albatross to your life list? What about King Penguin? Or Blue Whale? All possible when you book for ‘Flock’.

#2 THE SOUTHERN OCEAN

It’s hard to explain the connection you’ll feel to the vast wilderness that is the Southern Ocean when you join ‘Flock’. Did we mention the stargazing?

#3 THE CAMARADERIE

Imagine being stuck for 7 days with over 2000 passionate birders, photographers and nature-lovers, with nowhere to go. Sounds fantastic, right?

WE’RE FLOCKING TO MARION AGAIN!

On 24 January 2025, the MSC Musica will set sail from Durban towards Marion (and Prince Edward) Island. Will you be on it?

After a preferential booking period, during which Flock to Marion AGAIN! 2025 bookings were exclusively open to BirdLife South Africa’s donors and members, reservations can now be made by the general public.

Secure your spot, along with over 1000 others (and counting), on this fantastic bucket-list voyage by either contacting the MSC Cruises call centre on +27 11 844 6073, or by clicking here.

Where else in the world can you find yourself watching Wandering Albatrosses soar past an arm’s length away at sunrise, tucking into an all-you-can-eat buffet (hint: pancakes) at breakfast, making new friends with like-minded bird- and nature-lovers over sundowners, and enjoying the immense privilege of watching Peter Harrison MBE talk about his life at sea that evening – all in one day?

Don’t delay, as spaces are filling up quickly!

BOOK BELOW

Whether you’ve already booked to join our Flock to Marion AGAIN! 2025 voyage, or are still deciding whether to join us, we know you’ll have many questions. To assist in this regard and over the coming months, we will be posting, revising and updating this Q&A document. You can also email us at flock@birdlife.org.za.

Our ship

Our ship is the MSC Musica.

You can find out more about this ship, such as cabin types, deckplan, dining options, entertainment, and more, here.

Our dates

We will be departing Durban on Friday 24 January 2025, and returning to Durban on Monday 31 January 2025. Please aim to be at the Cruise Terminal before midday (12h00 SAST) on Friday 24 January 2025, or better yet, the evening before if you can.

How to book

You can book for Flock to Marion AGAIN! 2025 via the MSC Cruises call centre by calling +27 11 844 6073, or you can book online here.

Remember to have your personal information at hand, including ID or Passport number ready, and don’t forget to let the booking team know if you are a Pensioner or a MSC Voyagers Club member, in order to get a discount.

General communication

Once you have booked, you will receive a unique Booking Reference Number – please use this in all correspondence with MSC Cruises.

Facebook group

Feel free to join our Flock to Marion AGAIN! 2025 Facebook community here, in order to stay up to date, access questions and answers, and connect with fellow ‘Flockers’.

MSC Cruises website

For all MSC-related enquiries, please visit the www.msccruises.co.za website.

Onboard packages

To pre-book your drinks packages, click here.

To pre-book your WiFi packages, click here.

Shuttle Service

There will be a shuttle service operating from King Shaka (Durban) International Airport to the Durban Cruise Terminal before embarkation on 24 January 2025, and back to the airport after arrival on 31 January 2025. We will release more details about this soon.

Has the necessary permit to enter the Marine Protected Area (MPA) around Marion Island been granted?

We have not yet been granted a permit to enter the Prince Edward Islands (i.e. including Marion Island) Marine Protected Area and currently we will therefore not be able to sail within 12 nautical miles of the two islands, but we remain hopeful and optimistic. We will reach out to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to try to obtain the necessary permit.

Should we obtain a permit, we anticipate being able to approach to within 1 km of Marion Island, but will obviously not be able to land there.

What birds can I expect to see on the voyage?

Some of the seabirds that will be seen include: King Penguin, Wandering, Grey-headed, Sooty and Light-mantled Albatrosses, Kerguelen, Grey and Blue Petrels, Subantarctic Shearwater, Common and South Georgian Diving Petrels, and Grey-backed and Leach’s Storm Petrels. If permission is obtained to enter the 12-nautical mile zone around the islands, then Kerguelen Tern, Crozet Shag and Lesser Sheathbill could also be seen. You can view the full list on this web page soon.

Seabird & Marine Mammal ID Workshops

We will soon announce pre-Flock workshops which will help you identify the many seabirds and marine mammals we are likely to see on the voyage. Funds raised from these ID workshops will go towards important bird conservation, such as our work to halt the decline of the African Penguin. More details coming soon.

Do these birds count for my South African bird list?

All bird species seen within 200 nautical miles of the Prince Edward Islands (i.e. within the South African Exclusive Economic Zone around the islands) qualify for the South African Bird List.

International visitors to South Africa

For the international visitors joining us, it is necessary to have at least two blank pages for entry and exit stamps and your passport must be valid for at least 30 days from the intended date of departure from South Africa. For more information, please visit: https://www.southafricavisa.com

For those requiring visas for South Africa, please visit www.vfsglobal.com for further information.

Health and Safety

MSC Cruises’ priority is the health and safety of all guests and crew.

Thanks to the opening up of international and regional travel, since the COVID-19 pandemic, MSC Cruises is glad to welcome all guests back on board their ships without any testing requirements or concerns about their vaccination status.

The MSC Musica is equipped with a 24/7 Medical Centre staffed by professional doctors and nurses and has a contingency response plan in collaboration with the authorities ashore.

Why do I have to pay a R1500 Guiding & Lecture Fee per person?

We will have more than 50 seabird and marine mammal experts stationed at various locations around the ship, who will be available to assist in guiding throughout the day. There will also be a number of informative lectures, including by some of the world’s seabird and cetacean experts.

How do I become a member of BirdLife South Africa?

To join BirdLife South Africa you can email Shireen at membership@birdlife.org.za, or you can join online here.

Is the MSC Musica built to withstand the Southern Ocean conditions?

MSC Cruises would not take us there if the ship could not sail in those waters. Safety will be paramount and the captain will avoid rough seas and bad weather.

Where can I find more information about MSC Cruises?

https://www.msccruises.co.za/faq