Flagship MSC Virtuosa is first cruise ship to depart from the UK in 14 months.
Geneva, Switzerland - 20 May 2021 - Cruising from the UK resumes today after a 14-month hiatus when MSC Virtuosa departs from the port of Southampton for a four-night sailing that marks the start of her maiden season at sea.
The MSC Cruises’ flagship will be the first ocean liner to sail in British waters since the global cruise industry came to a voluntary halt in March 2020 as a result of the global pandemic ashore.
MSC Cruises was the first major cruise line to resume sailing in international waters in August 2020 when MSC Grandiosa began weekly cruises in the Mediterranean following approval by a range of European authorities for an advanced health and safety protocol that has since effectively set a new standard for the industry.
Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises, said: “We are very proud that MSC Virtuosa’s first ever sailing marks the resumption of cruising from British ports after an enforced break of more than a year and effectively heralds the next phase of restart for our industry.
“Our shipping prowess led the way last August with a health and safety protocol designed to protect our guests and crew, as well as the destinations that our ships visit. The data, knowledge and experience we have gleaned since our initial restart in the Mediterranean has helped us to drive forward with our plans to have nearly half of our fleet back at sea during this coming summer, with more to follow in other key markets around the world.
“Since our restart last August in the Mediterranean thousands of guests have had a safe and enjoyable cruise holiday on board one of our ships and we look forward to many more having the same well-earned relaxing breaks with their friends and families in the weeks and months ahead as more of our ships return to water in the UK, across the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.”
MSC Virtuosa’s UK cruises add to current sailings in the Mediterranean of MSC Grandiosa and MSC Seaside as MSC Cruises finalises its preparations to restart five more ships across East and West Mediterranean and in Northern Europe in the coming weeks following the go-ahead from relevant authorities to resume the Company’s safe and responsible operations. MSC Cruises is also awaiting eagerly for authorities in the U.S. to allow for Caribbean voyages to resume, as well as other markets the Company has served traditionally.
The brand new environmentally-advanced 181,000 GT MSC Virtuosa will be available during the summer for British residents only and for guests of all ages who are either waiting for a COVID-19 vaccine or who have already been vaccinated. All guests are tested before they embark the ship and non-vaccinated guests are required to also show proof of a negative test conducted up to 72 hours prior to embarkation.
Other pre-boarding and onboard protective measures also apply to both guests and crew, in line with MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol that was developed last year with input from international health experts, including MSC Cruises’ ‘COVID-19 Blue-Ribbon Expert Group’, and in close cooperation with national and regional health, transport and safety authorities throughout Europe.
Many of MSC Virtuosa’s 1,150 crew have received COVID-19 vaccines as part of MSC Cruises’ comprehensive and ongoing fleet-wide vaccination programme for all crew members that got underway at the beginning of May.