Today marks the restart of cruising in the UK after 14 months, as MSC Virtuosa sets sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton around the British Isles.
MSC Cruises is the first cruise line to restart sailing in UK waters, deploying the latest flagship in its fleet for UK holidaymakers this summer.
MSC Virtuosa, which arrived in Southampton on May 12th, welcomes her first 1,000 guests on board today.
Gianni Onorato, chief executive, MSC Cruises, said: “Dedicating our brand-new ship MSC Virtuosa for UK cruises this summer bears testament to our absolute commitment to the local market and truly shines a light on its ever-growing importance to us.
“We are, of course, also incredibly proud that MSC Virtuosa’s first ever sailing heralds the resumption of cruise holidays from British ports, and we would like to thank the UK government and other local authorities for their support to us and the overall cruise industry to allow domestic cruising to restart.
“Our shipping prowess led the way last August with our initial restart in the Mediterranean thanks to a new health and safety protocol designed to protect our guests and crew, as well as the destinations that our ships visit, that effectively set a new standard for our industry.
“The sailing today from Southampton is a great step forward for both MSC Cruises and the British cruise sector.”
Both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests are welcome on board, as all guests are tested at embarkation.
MSC Virtuosa will be sailing with a reduced capacity of 1,000 under government guidance.
Following her maiden voyage, MSC Virtuosa will return to Southampton on May 24th ready for guests to disembark and 1,000 more holidaymakers to board.
As well as the series of three- and four-night mini cruises, MSC Virtuosa will offer seven-night cruises from June 5th.
The week-long sailings include calls at Portland and Belfast in Northern Ireland, as well as offering multiple ports of embarkation including Liverpool and Greenock, close to Glasgow, Scotland, on top of Southampton.