MSC Cruises revealed today further details of the recently announced short breaks and week-long summer sailings around the British Isles departing from the port of Southampton. Starting 20 May, MSC Virtuosa – the line’s recently delivered and newest flagship – will be deployed to the UK for her inaugural season and replace MSC Magnifica to spend summer operating this special range of sailings to some of the UK’s most popular ports such as Portland, Liverpool, Greenock and Belfast. All operations will be conducted in accordance with relevant government requirements and will see the implementation of MSC Cruises’ industry-leading health and safety protocol. The sailings are available to UK residents only, both vaccinated and unvaccinated at the present time. Sales open for these cruises on Thursday, 1 April.
Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director MSC Cruises UK & Ireland said: “Following our recent announcement that we intend to offer cruises in the UK we have been overwhelmed by the response from MSC Cruises customers and avid cruisers eager to get back on board and experience a cruise with us this summer. I am personally very proud to be able to bring our newest ship MSC Virtuosa to the UK so that our valued British guests are the first to officially come on board and the first to experience this incredible next generation ship. She is the latest, most-innovative and environmentally advanced to join the MSC Cruises fleet and we couldn’t be more delighted to offer UK holidaymakers and their families the chance to discover her world class facilities. We have all been waiting for something exciting to look forward to and this ship has lots of new features for our guests to experience including new speciality restaurants and a brand-new immersive entertainment lounge with a humanoid robotic bartender and much more.”
MSC Virtuosa will initially operate six mini-cruises that with embarkation in Southampton will include a stop in Portland. These will be followed by a series of seven-night sailings providing embarkation also in the ports of Liverpool and Greenock, giving holidaymakers across the UK the option to easily escape on holiday with minimal travel.
The range of four-night mini-cruises will offer a late sail from Southampton and will provide the ultimate short getaway for couples or friends in search of a quick escape. The ship will call at the Isle of Portland in Dorset, part of the Jurassic Coast, where guests will be able to go ashore to enjoy the perfect day out at the beach. The itinerary will also include two days at sea so that guests can enjoy the incredible array of facilities that MSC Virtuosa has to offer.
From June 12th, holidaymakers can join seven-night sailings that will include stops in Portland and the cultural city of Belfast and offer multiple ports of embarkation including Liverpool and Greenock, close to Glasgow.
UK PORTS ARE READY TO WELCOME MSC CRUISES GUESTS
In addition to offering multiple embarkation ports on the 7-night cruises, guests will also be able to go ashore and visit the different destinations. This is a key aspect of a cruise holiday for a rich and complete experience, and MSC Cruises tried and tested ‘social bubble’ ashore visits deliver the same high standards of health and safety as on board. This is reassuring not only for guests but also the destinations that are visited as healthy guests are visiting their communities and that best practices of health and hygiene will be applied when local attractions are visited.
Antonio Paradiso continued, “We wish to thank for their support the ports and the different authorities in the UK. These special sailings not only represent a step towards the restart of the cruise industry in a safe and secure manner but also that of the local economies. Bringing a new ship to the different regional ports will enable our guests to discover the best of the UK this summer, showcasing different British ports around the country.”
Rebekah Keeler, Head of Cruise for ABP Southampton said, “We are really excited to be welcoming MSC Virtuosa to the Port of Southampton for her range of summer sailings.We are proud to be the departure port for MSC Virtuosa’s inaugural sail and are sure that she will be a popular choice for cruise passengers as we welcome MSC Cruises back to the port this summer.”
Angie Redhead, Head of Cruise Liverpool said, “With the return of domestic cruising, our 2021 season in Liverpool promises to be bigger and better than ever and we are absolutely delighted to not only be hosting so many calls from a cruise line as prestigious as MSC but also being able to offer guests the opportunity to join an MSC cruise in Liverpool for the very first time.
We are rightfully proud of our maritime heritage in this city and we can’t wait to extend our unique Liverpool welcome to all of the guests on board; with a whole host of world class attractions and experiences just a stone’s throw away, we just know that MSC guests are going to love their time here with us and we look forward to working closely with MSC to ensure the best possible experience for all on board.”
Ian McQuade, General Manager Commercial at Portland Port said, “Portland Port is delighted to be included in MSC’s plans for the resumption of passenger cruises for the UK market and can’t wait to welcome the beautiful MSC Virtuosa to the port. The port has maintained an excellent relationship with our local Port Health Authority throughout the pandemic and it is clear that MSC Cruises has developed a thorough set of protocols to ensure the safe restart of operations.
MSC’s guests can look forward to a taste of quintessential England when they visit Portland. From golden beaches to the rolling green hills, winding country lanes, picture postcard villages and numerous attractions of Dorset. After the last 12 months I am sure that these cruises will offer a much-welcomed relief to many eager holiday makers”.
ABOUT MSC VIRTUOSA – MSC CRUISES NEW FLAGSHIP
MSC Virtuosa is designed to offer a dynamic and dazzling guest experience with innovative features and facilities and she is also one of the most environmentally-advanced ships in MSC Cruises’ fleet. Some of the highlights include:
- An enhanced MSC Yacht Club, with stylish private facilities and accommodation including a panoramic lounge, gourmet restaurant and private pool and sun deck
- MSC for Me – the multi-channel digital experience to help guests make the most of their holiday experience
- A choice of 10 restaurants and 21 bars including two brand-new specialty restaurant concepts – HOLA! Tacos & Cantina and Indochine
- The brand-new MSC Starship Club featuring the world’s first humanoid robotic bartender offering a futuristic immersive bar and entertainment experience
- A 945-seater theatre and the stunning Carousel Lounge at the aft of the ship with live productions and shows every night
- Extensive kids’ facilities including with LEGO® play areas and a Chicco baby club
- 112-metre-long Mediterranean promenade lined with boutiques bars and restaurants topped with a breathtaking LED sky screen with animations throughout the day and night
- Five swimming pools including an extensive magrodome pool and a 1,000sqm aquapark
- A dedicated entertainment area with an FI simulator, bowling, XD cinema
- The luxurious MSC Aurea Spa with full range of treatments and the state-of-the-art MSC Gym by Technogym®
- The largest shopping area at sea with 1,168 sqm of retail space with 11 boutiques and 250 different brands
MSC Virtuosa was previously scheduled to serve itineraries in Northern Europe out of Germany, she will be replaced by MSC Seaview. Booked guests and travel agents will be contacted directly.
To ensure guests can enjoy total peace of mind when booking, MSC Cruises’ Stress Free Cruising programme offers guests flexible booking conditions, particularly in the event of further changes in the regulatory environment, allowing them to change their sailing up to 15 days prior to departure, valid on cruises booked by 31 May 2021.