Following our unprecedented Flock to Marion adventure in January this year, BirdLife South Africa wished, yet again, to take birders to look for seabirds, this time in tropical waters which are seldom accessible to birders. Flock to the Mozambique Channel was planned for late-November 2023. As before, creating a worthwhile experience for our passengers is our foremost consideration and we believe that this was achieved during the three previous Flocks at Sea (in 2013, 2017 and 2022).
We have unfortunately had to make the regrettable decision to cancel the Flock to the Mozambique Channel seabirding voyage. The reason for the cancellation is that the new ship, the MSC Splendida, that MSC Cruises will be using in South Africa’s waters during the 2023/2024 cruise season, is unsuitable for our purpose. This beautiful vessel has limited birding space on its lower decks and no viewing spaces on the bow or stern, and, as we want to ensure that our passengers have the best possible opportunities to view seabirds, we have decided to not go ahead with this voyage.
We are immensely grateful to MSC Cruises for accommodating our birding voyages, and the company remains a valuable partner of BirdLife South Africa. The excellent relationship has been mutually beneficial and has generated substantial funds for BirdLife South Africa’s important conservation work.
We will continue to explore other opportunities for future Flocks at Sea, and we will notify our members and the birding community as soon as new plans are developed.
We understand that this news will be disappointing for many birders, as it is for us, but we do not wish to compromise our passengers’ birding experience, nor the previous successful voyages we’ve had with MSC Cruises.
We hope that you understand our reasoning and support us on the next voyage when opportunities are identified.