MSC has revealed its UK cruises will start at less than £500 per person for a four-day sailing.
The Italian cruise line will operate a series of cruises from Southampton onboard its newest flagship, the MSC Virtuosa.
The cruises were originally due to be on MSC Magnifica. Anyone who has already booked will be transferred to the Virtuosa.
Virtuosa’s Northern European cruises from Germany will now be operated by MSC Seaview and passengers bookings will be automatically transferred.
What UK cruises is MSC offering?
MSC will start with six mini-cruises from Southampton followed by a series of seven-night cruises, which passengers can join in Southampton, Liverpool or Greenock, near Glasgow.
On sale now, the cruises, which start in May, cost from £499 for a four-night, all-inclusive package.
For families, there’s a seven-night all-inclusive sailing from Southampton to Portland and Belfast from £2,036 for two adults and two children. Included are three full sea-days.
Will I be able to get off the ship?
Yes. Unlike P&O Cruises’, MSC is stopping at several ports on its round-UK cruises, depending on the itinerary.
Its four-night mini-cruises will offer a late sail from Southampton, calling at the Isle of Portland in Dorset, part of the Jurassic Coast, where guests will be able to go ashore.
From 12 June, its seven-night sailings will include stops in Portland and Belfast, as well as Liverpool and Greenock to pick up passengers.
However, you won’t be able to wander on your own or organise your own shore activities. MSC insists that all guests who disembark take its official excursions.
Last year, MSC banned some Italian customers from returning to one of its ships after they broke away from an official tour.
Will I have to be vaccinated?
No. Some cruise lines, including Cunard, P&O and Princess insist that passengers must be vaccinated, but not MSC.
However, if you haven’t been vaccinated you’ll have to produce a negative Covid test taken no more than 72 hours before the cruise.
You can’t use the free NHS Covid tests, you’ll have to pay for a private test. Costs vary but start at around £70 per person.
You must also have proof that you’ve taken out Covid-specific travel insurance.
What is MSC Virtuosa like?
MSC Virtuosa is the cruise line’s newest ship. Here are some of its stand-out features:
- 10 restaurants and 21 bars including two brand-new specialty restaurant concepts – HOLA! Tacos & Cantina and Indochine
- The world’s first humanoid robotic bartender
- A 945-seater theatre and the Carousel Lounge at the aft of the ship with live productions and shows every night
- Kids’ facilities including with LEGO® play areas and a Chicco baby club
- 112-metre-long Mediterranean promenade lined with boutiques bars and restaurants topped with an LED sky screen with animations throughout the day and night
- Five swimming pools including amagrodome pool and a 1,000sqm aquapark
- FI simulator, bowling, XD cinema
- Spa with arange of treatments and a gym
- The largest shopping area at sea with 11 boutiques
This ship has lots of new features for our guests to experience including new speciality restaurants and a brand-new immersive entertainment lounge with a humanoid robotic bartender and much more – MSC UK & Ireland MD Antonio Paradiso
Is it safe to book a cruise now?
The ban on domestic cruises is expected to be lifted on 17 May when hotels in England are due to re-open, but this isn’t guaranteed.
If the ban is extended and cruises can’t go ahead, you should be entitled to a full refund.
If you change your mind after booking, MSC will allow you to change your sailing up to 15 days before departure as long as you booked by 31 May 2021.
The cruise line says it has enhanced, ‘industry leading’ health safety protocols onboard.