PHOTO: The MSC Magnifica cruise liner at the Apia port today with 21 Samoan sailors working onboard
By Faye Seiuli
APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 04 MARCH 2019: It was a trip they can only dream of not knowing it was soon to come. For the twenty one Samoan sailors, serving on-board the MSC Magnifica cruise liner, they were coming home to Samoa onboard their liner and were to be met by the families in the port of Apia.
Travelling between the big cities of Europe and the Mediterranean gives Samoan sailor a glimpse of life on the other side of the world, but when the cruise ship they serve on, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (M.S.C) Magnifica decided to include the South Pacific in her first world tour, it was too good a dream for the sailors to pass.
For many of the Samoan sailors have not been back home for some years and traveling to Samoa on-board the ship they serve and to have their families meet them at the wharf is more than they could ask for.
Twenty one Samoan sailors, all men are serving on-board MSC Magnifica were very happy when they were informed of the ships route.
“This is a very proud moment for the Samoan crew, not only because the ship is travelling to our shores for the first time, for the tourists to experience our people and culture first hand, and for some of us who will be taking time off work to get off here, rather than going back to Italy and catch five flights to return home,” said Vincent Matagi from Papauta.
Matagi has worked on MSC Magnifica for 8 years and will take two months off before flying back to Italy to continue serving on MSC Magnifica.
Willie Roy Dasso from Fa’ala, Palauli has served on MSC for 6 years and is taking two weeks off, before heading back to work next month.
Willie said working on the European cruise ship has given him a chance to experience other cultures. Both he and Matagi serve at the ships fire “department, and of the twenty sailors, five are taking leave at home and five new Samoan sailors takeover from Apia onwards.
MSC Magnifica Tour Service Operator Sabine Hegenbrat said Samoans crew are very reliable members on the ship.
“This is important for the industry because they know all about ships; they know about ship technicality, they know about navigation, they have experience and they are also physical fit. So they do a lot of work for the maintenance of the ship, and they help when we have spare work to do” said Hegenbrat.
She also said Samoan crew work diligently and have a strong work ethic.
Fire is the highest risk on board any ship and this is where the Samoan crew skills come in, not only in controlling but putting out a fire fast, said Hegenbrat.
MSC is a European company that employs almost 1,000 Samoan sailors on-board MSC’s 16 cruise liners that travel various destinations around the world.
This morning, MSC Magnifica docked at Matautu wharf and the captain and crew and passengers were met by the Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and several Cabinet Ministers.
She acknowledged and the management of MSC for the opportunities given to Samoan sailors to work with them and their contribution to the development of the sailor’s families and Samoas’ economy.
The tourists were treated to cultural performances of traditional dancing and demonstration of Samoa’s umu (underground cooking) and the making of tapa.
“We’ve been to many islands but I find Samoa very orderly and very nice,” Velia Dicorrado, an Italian residing in Australia told Talamua.
“Last night as the ship headed for Samoa, the Samoan crew performed traditional dances for the passengers and it was wonderful,” said Velia.
Velia described the performance especially the slap dance as lively that some of passengers started to sway to the clapping, and to top it off, they were introduced to some Samoan cuisine, as a treat ahead of visiting Samoa.
Canadian tourist Rose Mary Miller said Samoan culture is richer than other countries she visited, and it’s nice to see it performed live.
Sabine Hegenbart of Germany, the Tour Service Operator on MSC Magnifika has worked on the ship for 20 years, and has travelled throughout Europe and the Mediterranean and coming to the South Pacific for the first time, she has seen a totally different lifestyle that she only read about on the internet.
“I find Samoa extremely beautiful, the churches have very impressive interior design, very friendly people and good climate. It’s hot but very fresh with the wind,” said Hegenbart.
MSC Magnifica is visiting for one day only left Apia at 6.00pm for Tonga, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and then back to Europe.