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MSC Virtuosa maiden voyage marks UK cruise industry restart

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MSC Virtuosa made its debut sailing from the Port of Southampton today
MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa sailed from the Port of Southampton on May 20 in the first of a series of summer cruises, signalling a return to cruising in the UK after 14 months.

The 181,000gt flagship will sail four-night itineraries in the British Isles.

It adds to MSC Cruises' MSC Grandiosa and MSC Seaside currently cruising the Mediterranean.

A new phase for the industry

‘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,’ commented Gianni Onorato, CEO, MSC Cruises.

‘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.'

MSC Cruises was the first to resume cruising in the Mediterranean since the pandemic, commencing operations there last August under its enhanced health and safety protocols. 

Health and safety measures 

Many of MSC Virtuosa’s 1,150 crew have received COVID-19 vaccines, as part of the line’s ongoing fleet-wide vaccination program for crew that began April 30.

Passengers are tested before embarking, with non-vaccinated guests required to also show proof of a negative test conducted up to 72 hours prior to boarding. Only British residents are permitted.

Five more ship expected to sail this summer

MSC Cruises is preparing for five more of its ships to sail the East and West Mediterranean and Northern Europe in the coming weeks; the line is also waiting for US authorities to give the go-ahead for voyages to resume there.

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