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BirdLife SA cruise to Marion Island

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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 09:45   #1
DMW
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BirdLife SA cruise to Marion Island

It doesn't seem to have been widely publicised, but BirdLife South Africa has organised a 7 day cruise from Durban - Marion Island - Cape Town in Jan 2021, on the 2,000 berth MSC Opera.

For seabird enthusiasts, a rare opportunity to see Kerguelan Tern, Crozet Shag and Lesser Sheathbill, plus tons of the usual southern ocean dross

The trip is extremely good value considering the destination (e.g. 550 for a berth in a triple cabin).

https://www.birdlife.org.za/support-...ock-to-marion/

If you are interested, I suggest booking quickly, as it seems to be filling up fast. The cruise isn't currently offered on the MSC Cruises website, so you need to book by phone through their South Africa office (00 27 876300333 calling from the UK).
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 11:17   #2
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It doesn't seem to have been widely publicised, but BirdLife South Africa has organised a 7 day cruise from Durban - Marion Island - Cape Town in Jan 2021, on the 2,000 berth MSC Opera.

For seabird enthusiasts, a rare opportunity to see Kerguelan Tern, Crozet Shag and Lesser Sheathbill, plus tons of the usual southern ocean dross

The trip is extremely good value considering the destination (e.g. 550 for a berth in a triple cabin).

https://www.birdlife.org.za/support-...ock-to-marion/

If you are interested, I suggest booking quickly, as it seems to be filling up fast. The cruise isn't currently offered on the MSC Cruises website, so you need to book by phone through their South Africa office (00 27 876300333 calling from the UK).
Would be a great addition for anyone an already planned trip but not sure I'd enjoy the prospect of 2K people on deck, jostling for position!!!

Where are you seeing that price, that's has to be per day?

'Booking will be open, exclusively for BLSA’s members, from 08h00 on Monday 6 January 2020 to 12h00 on Saturday 18 January 2020. People who are not BLSA members will be able to book thereafter (i.e. from 08h00 on Monday 20 January 2020).'

Also note...

'Based on the overwhelming and very encouraging interest expressed in the voyage we anticipate reaching the 60% occupancy well before 1 September 2020 which will ensure that the original route will be followed.'

So there is a small chance that you'll pay and then not get the advertised route if they don't reach minimum occupancy?
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Last edited by andyadcock : Saturday 18th January 2020 at 11:28.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 12:15   #3
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Andy, they have already exceeded the 60% level so the advertised route is confirmed.

The price of 550 is for the entire cruise, NOT per day. I'm getting it from talking direct directly with the MCS Cruises South Africa office. Prices currently as follows: single inside cabin ZAR 18,183; twin inside cabin ZAR 22,766, triple inside cabin ZAR 31,124. I booked a triple by telephone and have a confirmed booking at that price - which is just under 550 per person.

It seems they are already accepting bookings from people who aren't BL SA members.

Yep, it's a big ugly 2,000 berth cruise ship. The alternative is the BirdQuest small ship charter for >10,000 per person.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 12:33   #4
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That is a bargain!

If I'd got a trip planned, I'd definitely include this, it's probably cheaper than the 3 days I had on the 'Chalice' in 94...........................!

Don't land on the island?

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 also will be seen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMuXCujPliQ

If anyone is interested in doing a couple of weeks in SA in combination with this, I'd definitely be interested?

Time to talk to the wife!!!!
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 12:54   #5
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No landings - would be chaos! Birdlife is working to secure permission to enter the 12km exclusion zone.

There is a public Facebook page with a prospective species list. Best to open the list in a separate tab and zoom in, as it's otherwise impossible to read:https://www.facebook.com/groups/BLSAFlock/
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 12:58   #6
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No landings - would be chaos! Birdlife is working to secure permission to enter the 12km exclusion zone.

There is a public Facebook page with a prospective species list. Best to open the list in a separate tab and zoom in, as it's otherwise impossible to read:https://www.facebook.com/groups/BLSAFlock/
Thanks for this although THIS, is what puts me off......

https://scontent-lhr3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...de&oe=5E977315
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 13:06   #7
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Thanks for this although THIS, is what puts me off......

https://scontent-lhr3-1.xx.fbcdn.net...de&oe=5E977315
What, Kerguelen Tern and Crozet Shag? I think they're pretty harmless...

I'm not trying to convince you here... you aren't going to get an exclusive boutique expedition cruise for 550.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 13:16   #8
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What, Kerguelen Tern and Crozet Shag? I think they're pretty harmless...

I'm not trying to convince you here... you aren't going to get an exclusive boutique expedition cruise for 550.
You don't need to convince me, the potential bird list is fantastic and I'm seriously considering going just for a week for this.

I think you know the pic I refer to, hundreds of people, jammed against the rails for a view.

Is the phone the only option of contact, I can't see anything online by way of direct contact.

With no landing, how do they see the Sheathbill?
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 15:14   #9
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Andy, they have already exceeded the 60% level so the advertised route is confirmed.

The price of 550 is for the entire cruise, NOT per day. I'm getting it from talking direct directly with the MCS Cruises South Africa office. Prices currently as follows: single inside cabin ZAR 18,183; twin inside cabin ZAR 22,766, triple inside cabin ZAR 31,124. I booked a triple by telephone and have a confirmed booking at that price - which is just under 550 per person.

It seems they are already accepting bookings from people who aren't BL SA members.

Yep, it's a big ugly 2,000 berth cruise ship. The alternative is the BirdQuest small ship charter for >10,000 per person.
550 for a week is a good price and about average for some cruises for a week.We're paying around 900 pp for a 13 day cruise round Spain, Portugal and the Med in April, which works out at 535 per week and that includes free coach travel from the north to Southampton all meals, snacks, free teas and coffee plus entertainment and tips[ with P and O]. To be honest cruises generally work out better value for money than land based holidays these days. The complimentary coach travel is saves us 115pp alone.It drops us off right next to the ship and picks us up from there on the way back.
That won't include tips most likely, but on most cruises you can either pay the daily rate, waver them or pay the amount you feel appropriate.
P and O and Fred Olsen and TUI include tips in the price of the cruise.
Not too sure about how many people will be crowding round the railings on this MSC cruise.Not a problem on a normal cruise when you can pick your own spot quite easily- even on sailaways or if you're passing through a particulary interesting area.
Spent many happy cruises seawatching; its a great way to watch birds, whales and dolphins but usually there's only a handful of birdwatchers on board- if that!

Last edited by pratincol : Saturday 18th January 2020 at 15:22.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 15:21   #10
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550 for a week is a good price and about average for some cruises for a week.We're paying around 900 pp for a 13 day cruise round Spain, Portugal and the Med in April, which works out at 535 per week and that includes free coach travel from the north to Southampton all meals, snacks, free teas and coffee plus entertainment and tips[ with P and O]. To be honest cruises generally work out better value for money than land based holidays these days. The complimentary coach travel is saves us 115pp alone.It drops us off right next to the ship and picks us up from there on the way back.
That won't include tips most likely, but on most cruises you can either pay the daily rate, waver them or pay the amount you feel appropriate.
P and O and Fred Olsen and TUI include tips in the price of the cruise.
Not too sure about how many people will be crowding round the railings. Not a problem on a normal cruise when you can pick your own spot quite easily- even on sailaways or if you're passing through a particulary interesting area.
Spent many happy cruises seawatching; its a great way to watch birds, whales and dolphins but usually there's only a handful of birdwatchers on board- if that!

It's 1K if you're a singleton in a single cabin, I'll contact them on Monday with a view to roomshare possibilities.

Over 30 new birds for me there without counting the uncommon stuff.

There are a few birds here that are not on the SA list that I have e.g Gentoo, Crozet Shag yet the blurb says all species on this trip are countable on the national list?
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Last edited by andyadcock : Saturday 18th January 2020 at 15:24.
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 19:32   #11
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Take note of this - the three island species that are of great interest are not really on offer on this trip, though there is a very undetermined chance that they may be added to the list of possibilities before the ship sails.

"We have not as yet secured a permit to enter the Prince Edward Islands (i.e. including Marion Island) Marine Protected Area despite extensive efforts to do so during the latter half of 2019. As things currently stand, we will therefore not be able to sail within 12 nautical miles of the two islands. We will however continue to engage with the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in our efforts 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."
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Old Saturday 18th January 2020, 19:39   #12
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Take note of this - the three island species that are of great interest are not really on offer on this trip, though there is a very undetermined chance that they may be added to the list of possibilities before the ship sails.

"We have not as yet secured a permit to enter the Prince Edward Islands (i.e. including Marion Island) Marine Protected Area despite extensive efforts to do so during the latter half of 2019. As things currently stand, we will therefore not be able to sail within 12 nautical miles of the two islands. We will however continue to engage with the South African Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries in our efforts 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."
That's why I was confused as to how they would see the terrestrial Sheathbill, no Penguins or Shag either I guess.

How should this trip be marketed then, certainly not as a trip to Marion, without that component, it's just another pelagic?
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Last edited by andyadcock : Saturday 18th January 2020 at 19:43.
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