• MSC Cruises’ latest flagship, MSC Virtuosa, sets sail from Southampton tonight as cruising restarts in the UK
• MSC Virtuosa embarks on her maiden voyage around the British Isles
• She begins 3- and 4-night mini cruises, before starting 7-night sailings in June

London, UK – 20 May 2021 - 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, with a port call at the picturesque isle of Portland.


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 12th May, welcomes her first 1,000 guests on board today.


Gianni Onorato, CEO, 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 have been delighted in previous years that many British guests have chosen our fleet of modern ships for their holidays at sea in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Gulf region of the Middle East and Southern Africa so I’m extremely pleased that this summer we can provide British holidaymakers with a well-earned, enjoyable and safe break now also closer to home.


“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, just one part of the of the Company’s industry-leading and proven health & safety protocol developed by a Blue Ribbon Panel of experts. This protocol was first deployed on MSC Grandiosa in August 2020 and has since helped protect thousands of guests sailing on the ship in the Mediterranean.


Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland added: “Today is a very special day as we welcome guests back on board for a much-deserved holiday and the maiden voyage of MSC Virtuosa. Embarking 1,000 returning as well as new guests directly in Southampton allows them to explore the best the British Isles has to offer in a safe and convenient way. Our new flagship offers a whole host of brand new facilities, plus everything they have come to expect from a cruise with us, we are sure this will be a summer holiday to remember.”


MSC Virtuosa, our newest ship, and with a whole host of new activities and experiences, we know our guests are going to create life-long memories on board this summer. This landmark moment of restarting cruising from the UK has been long-awaited


MSC Virtuosa will be sailing with a reduced capacity of 1,000 under government guidance.


Members of the public are gathering around the waters of Southampton to see the 181,541 gross ton, 1,085ft-long ship sail away tonight, as British holidaymakers take the first steps on board the ship for an unbeatable summer holiday, with everything in one place. 


Following her maiden voyage, MSC Virtuosa will return to Southampton on 24th May 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 5th June. 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.


Bringing guests experiences that they have missed over the last year, MSC Virtuosa has live music performances, a choice of four full-scale theatre shows, 21 bars and restaurants, DJs and more – all safely following MSC Cruises’ tried and proven health & safety protocol.


The ship is also home to the world’s first futuristic, immersive experience at sea, the MSC Starship Club, featuring Rob the humanoid robotic bartender, shaking up a galactic choice of cocktails for guests.


MSC Virtuosa’s UK cruises add to current sailings in the Mediterranean of MSC Grandiosa and MSC Seaside as the Company moves ahead to have nearly half of its fleet back in operation during the summer.