MSC Cruises said there will be at least one ship home porting from the UK for the duration of its partnership with ABP Southampton as well as several of its 17 ships visiting the port and the UK on sailings including grand voyages, northern Europe cruises and transatlantic crossings.
It said Magnifica will make Southampton its home for part of its second ever full season sailing from the UK.
MSC UK & Ireland Managing Director Antonio Paradiso said: “MSC Cruises is serious about the UK market and now more than ever we believe in the potential here and making this long-term commitment to bringing even more passengers to Southampton is evidence of that.
“In 2017 we invested in a new office in the UK, we then focused on growing our teams and putting the right expertise in place to ensure we can provide the best possible support to our passengers and our travel agent partners, and now we are really proud to be further investing in the UK cruise industry at this incredibly important time for both the industry and the UK economy in having a home for our ships here in the UK.”
Meanwhile, the cruise line has also become the first international line that operates in Japan to receive a health and safety certification from the country’s official maritime classification society ClassNK, a major step forward towards MSC Cruises’ operational restart in the country scheduled for April 2021.
The certification of MSC Cruises’ health and safety protocol for Biosafety Management System (COVID-19) now paves the way for the line to open sales in December to local residents for cruises homeporting in Japan and start to work with ports in the country to prepare for the forthcoming season.
Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises’ CEO, said: “We are extremely pleased to have received this certification and are now confident that we will be able to restart our Japan operation serving the local market by April 2021.
“To be the first international cruise line in Japan to be awarded this key certification of compliance is a further testament to our robust and rigorous health and safety protocol which led the way for the entire global industry when in August we became the first major line to resume cruise operation in the Mediterranean.
“We have now safely and responsibly carried more than 30,000 customers in the Mediterranean and can now look forward to offer the same for our guests who live in Japan.”
MSC Cruises became the first major cruise line in August to set sail following a global pause in operations due to the pandemic. MSC Grandiosa continues to offer a limited number of cruises for Italian passengers only.