MSC Cruises has officially launched its latest ship, MSC Bellissima, at an improvised ceremony in Southampton.
The proceedings, which had been taking place in a giant marquee next to the ship, were halted as the winds of Storm Freya descended on Southampton.
Before then, the star-studded evening, which was being hosted by the TV presenter, Holly Willoughby, saw performances by Andrea Bocelli and his son, Mateo; and a heart-stopping rendition of Cirque du Soleil’s exclusive show on board.
The 2,500 guests did not get a chance to see Nile Rodgers, who had been due to perform towards the end of the ceremony.
The event was moved inside to Bellissima’s promenade where Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC’s executive chairman, conducted the christening with the company’s fleet-wide godmother Sophia Loren. Passengers were able to see the Champagne bottle smash by watching the giant LED screen that lines the ceiling of the promenade.
During his speech, Vago said that the company held the ceremony in Southampton because of the importance of the British market. Bellissima, which can hold up to 5,686 passengers, is the largest cruise ship to be launched in Southampton.
“Southampton is a new home for us, a place we want to build roots and put down ties,” he said.
Bellissima is the first MSC ship to have Zoe, the industry’s first digital assistant, in every cabin on board. The technology, which is the equivalent of Amazon’s Alexa, can answer questions in seven languages.
Earlier in the day, MSC announced a partnership with the celebrity chef Raymond Blanc. He will provide a dish for the line’s Elegant Evening menu.
“I am truly looking forward to collaborating with MSC Cruises on some exciting projects, including the development of one of my signature dishes for the Elegant Dinner menu,” he said. “I believe we have a shared passion for the guest experience, and together we will create some truly memorable moments for diners on board.”