The new MSC Virtuosa has departed in Southampton on her second-ever sailing with guests.
“I’m still emotional: we have successfully completed our very first cruise out of the UK. And people have had the time of their lives, according to what I’ve seen on social media. They genuinely seem happy. And, more importantly, they felt safe at all times,” MSC’s Managing Director for UK and Ireland, Antonio Paradiso, said from the ship.
“It’s a historic moment for the UK cruise industry. We were the first cruise line to set sail from UK shores. And as I said, we were overwhelmed with the support,” he added.
Paradiso joked that he “made sure it was sunny” for the Virtuosa’s second sailing.
The MSC Virtuosa made history on May 20 being the first cruise ship to set sail in the UK since the start of the pandemic.
The second UK sailing took place on May 22 with the Viking Venus, followed by today’s Virtuosa voyage.
Under the British government’s regulations, only 1,000 passengers are allowed to be onboard the ship, which under normal circumstances can fit 4,888 guests at double occupancy.
The Virtuosa sailings are open only to UK citizens, both those vaccinated and not vaccinated. Non-vaccinated passengers are required to present a negative coronavirus test to sail, as well as undergo a mandatory-for-all rapid antigen test at the port.
Social distancing and mask-wearing are required in public areas across the ship. Safety drills were carried out as soon as all the passengers boarded the vessel, which under the pandemic circumstances, consist of a five-minute video shown in cabins and a mandatory summoning to guests’ assembly points where a member of the crew scans each passenger’s cruise card.
To ensure social distancing, some seats are cordoned off. Theater show capacity has also been reduced from 800 people to 100.
For the first sailings, the Virtuosa is only making one call in the Isle of Portland, where an optional shore excursion will take place. Shore excursions are controlled, where passengers are not allowed to separate from their groups.
“We are back; the cruise industry is finally back,” Paradiso cheerfully concluded.