The new MSC Virtuosa has arrived in Southampton in anticipation of her maiden voyage and kickstart the UK cruise industry. In one week from now, the new Meraviglia-Plus class cruise ship will depart, a huge moment for the industry and the start of a busy summer season of UK domestic sailings.
MSC Virtuosa Prepares
The giant new vessel arrived at the Port of Southampton in the UK on Wednesday afternoon for the very first time. Many welcomed the new ship, and MSC Cruises UK even did a live broadcast covering the momentous moment.
Photo Courtesy: MSC Cruises
Port tug boats made the traditional welcome by spraying water, and the ship eventually arrived at Port of Southampton’s City Terminal, Berth 101.
What’s special about her arrival is not just because she’s the new MSC flagship, but also she will be the first ocean cruise ship to restart the UK industry since operations first came to a stop back in March 2020. MSC Virtuosa is a positive sign, and all eyes will be on her maiden voyage on May 20.
MSC Virtuosa Cruise Ship: Overview & Things to Do
The MSC cruise ship will now remain in port to prepare for the first voyage and this includes taking on stores. There will be 1,000 guests onboard and the ship is already sold out.
The cruise line has already said that all crew members are being vaccinated as part of a fleetwide vaccination program. this will no doubt be completed while the ship is in port. Crew members will be busy setting up their departments and making sure everything is in place, ready for the first guests.
Photo Credit: Andrew Sassoli Walker
No Need To Be Fully Vaccinated
There will be health and safety protocols for all guests, but MSC Cruises is the only cruise line sailing from the UK that does not require guests to be fully vaccinated. Guests will need to have a negative test before embarkation, and there will be health measures in place during the entire duration of each sailing.
There has been some confusion over what tests are required to prove a negative test before embarkation. MSC Cruises has said that a PCR or Lateral Flow test is acceptable, and guests will need two copies of the results to show at the terminal.
Cruisers are using the free home test kit provided by the UK’s NHS. This results in an email and SMS message to prove if a person is positive or negative. A further test is then completed at the terminal.
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UK Domestic Sailings
So the MSC Virtuosa will begin cruises on May 20 out of Southampton. She will sail 3- and 4-night sailings around the British Isles. From June 5, the new ship will begin week-long itineraries, including calls to the island of Portland, Belfast, along with additional embarkation ports of Liverpool and Greenock.
The ship is the third in the fleet to restart operations, following MSC Seaside and MSC Grandiosa, sailing in the Mediterranean. MSC Virtuosa is 181,541 gross tons and among the largest cruise ships in the world. She has a guest capacity of 4,842 at double occupancy, along with 1,704 international crew members.