MSC Cruises new ship MSC Virtuosa sailed into Southampton yesterday (Wednesday) ahead of its maiden cruise around the British Isles on May 20.
The 19-deck vessel will kick-off a summer of domestic sailings by 12 cruise lines while international sailings from the UK remain restricted.
P&O Cruises largest ship Iona is due in Southampton for a naming ceremony by Hays Travel chair and owner Dame Irene Hays on Sunday followed on Monday by the christening of Viking Cruises newcomer Viking Venus by broadcaster Anne Diamond in Portsmouth.
MSC Virtuosa will become the Euroopean line’s third ship back in service, joining Mediterranean-based MSC Seaside, which welcomed passengers back on board last week, while MSC Grandiosa has been sailing since last August.
The new ship will initially depart from City Cruise Terminal in Southampton before moving to the newly-named Horizon terminal once it has opened at a date to be confirmed.
MSC Virtuosa features a 112-metre promenade with an LED sky dome, MSC Starship Club with humanoid robotic bartender, Rob, plus an aquapark and clubs for children.
The line’s UK managing director Antonio Paradiso said: “The arrival of our flagship MSC Virtuosa into Southampton today is an exciting moment, as we prepare to welcome UK guests back on board from May 20 for her inaugural season around the British Isles.
“We are proud to be the first cruise line to set sail from UK waters this summer and offer holidaymakers the chance to experience all of the new and incredible features on board our latest and most innovative ship.”