MSC Cruises has revealed it aims to have a ship sailing from the UK again by 2017.

Speaking to Travel Weekly at the Clia Selling Cruise Conference in Southampton after the cruise line announced an order for two new ships, Giles Hawke, executive director of MSC Cruises, said he believes a Fantasia-class ship will sail out of the UK in three years’ time.

The two additions will be built in Fincanteri shipyard in Italy and there is an option to build one more.

The Italian line already had two ships on order to be built in St Nazaire, France, and an option for two more.

The total value of the new orders for four ships and three optioned is almost €5 billion.

Hawke said: “It’s exciting news. Globally we are the third biggest cruise line in the world and these new ships widen our strength.

“We will have 16 ships and the smallest will have more than 2,000 passengers.

“There is a real opportunity for the UK to grow and in 2017 the aim is that we will have a Fantasia-class ship ex-UK, and that’s an exciting prospect.”

But Hawke stressed that current efforts were focused on growing UK sales for Mediterranean fly-cruises after the line announced it would not have a ship based in Southampton next year.