MSC Cruises is returning to the UK next year with a short series of ex-UK sailings from Southampton.

The line will base Fantasia-class ship MSC Splendida in Southampton for six sailings, having pulled out of the UK market this year.

Among the sailings will be MSC’s first round-Britain itinerary starting in a UK port. Previous cruises had embarked in Hamburg.

Giles Hawke, MSC’s executive director for the UK and Ireland, said he hoped the “staggered return” of ex-UK sailings would be built on in 2017.

“A lot of our guests and agents have been asking us to base a ship in the UK,” he said. “People love travelling with us and want to embark in the UK with us.”

The line’s 2016 programme also includes new northern Europe cruises and longer Mediterranean sailings.

During the summer season, MSC will offer 270 sailings across 22 itineraries, made up of nine core seven-night Mediterranean itineraries, seven Med sailings of between nine and 12 nights, and new Baltic and Norwegian fjords cruises.

For the first time, a Fantasia-class ship will operate the Dubai winter season, with Bahrain making its debut on the itinerary.

Over the past year, the line has focused on fly-cruise, but the 2016 programme also includes cruise-only prices.

Hawke said: “We have responded to feedback by making cruise-only an attractive option for those who wish to make their own arrangements or for agents who want to create their own packages.”

For simplicity, cruise-only fares for European itineraries will be set £150 lower than fly-cruise packages, and £400 lower for the Caribbean and Middle East.

Upgrades from outside to balcony cabins on Fantastica fares are also available for £50 a person.

Bookings before August 31 will qualify for savings of up to £300.

The 2016 brochure has a new look and feel, with more space dedicated to each itinerary.

It also includes four pages of information about the four ships MSC has on order.