MSC Cruises is to lengthen and refurbish one of its ships and homeport it in Southampton for the summer season in 2021.

The ship, which has not been named, will go into drydock and re-emerge as “a super enhanced version” of itself.

Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Antonio Paradiso, managing director for UK & Ireland, said: “This is not just a refitting. It will be a perfect blend of an old prototype ship and a new one.

“The larger ship will sail northern Europe itineraries to the Baltic capitals, Norwegian Fjords, north Cape and some southbound destinations.”

He also said: “It’s the very first time we will have taken 100% commitment of a ship for the UK market.”

To date, any MSC ships sailing out of the UK will have had allocations for several different nations.

Paradiso revealed the ship would partner with “exciting British brands” and be “adapted” to meet the needs of the UK market.

MSC Magnifica, a Musica-class ship, was based in Southampton for the summer 2018 season.

“We learnt a lot from MSC Magnifica, bringing on British food, kettles and tea bags,” Paradiso added. “It has satisfaction scores of 7.5 out of 10 which is great for a first operation out of the UK.

“2021 gives us an opportunity to further improve those scores.”

Paradiso said plans were still being finalised and he would confirm the ship, deployment and details in “two to three months’ time”.