I’ve been following the construction of MSC Cruises’ MSC Bellissima for a long time. I visited her in the shipyard where she, and her sisters, are under construction last year. So, I was so excited to be able to come see her during her maiden call to Southampton.
During this I was lucky enough to be invited on board for a couple of nights to get a feel for what makes MSC different than other lines, experience Bellissima up close, and most-excitingly attend the prestigious naming ceremony – the largest ship naming ceremony ever in the UK.
From the moment we stepped on board the excitement was palpable, with a definite party vibe in the air. The naming ceremony took place on our second night on board. So, I scrubbed up and donned my glad rags. All the bars on the ship were alive and bustling with live music, champagne and everyone dressed-up to the nines. There was such a good feeling in the air.
We left the ship to attend the formal ceremony in a marquee adjacent to the ship (the biggest marquee in the UK, if you’re into that sort of fact). It was a star-studded event with the likes of Nile Rodgers, Craig David, Ching He Huang, Carol McGiffin and Kate Thornton in attendance. We took our seats in the huge marquee to the backdrop of the ship. The event began on a high with a duet between Andrea Bocelli and his son, Matteo. This was truly beautiful, and a heartfelt start to the ceremony.
The evening was hosted by British TV presenter, Holly Willoughby who looked utterly stunning and made sure we were enjoying ourselves throughout the evening. Through the course of the event we were treated by a performance of Cirque du Soleil. MSC is the only cruise line in the world with one-of-a-kind Cirque du Soleil performances and MSC Bellissima will feature not one, but two shows in a custom-built space. The performance was mind-boggling, and it literally only touched the surface of what the shows are about. I’d love to see more.
As the evening went on we were treated to various speeches that showcased what MSC are all about, how important their partnership with the UK is and what make them such a unique company. The most heart-felt moment of the whole evening was when the Managing Director of the UK and Ireland, Antonio Paradiso took to the stage to talk about how MSC are partnering to support Reubens Retreat in the UK. Reubens Retreat looks to support families in the UK that supports families with the loss of a child or those that may have an uncertain moment. It was such a touching moment.
Shortly after this unfortunately we had to leave the marquee and head back to the ship due to bad weather. It was such a shame as you could see and feel how much passion had gone into the event by MSC. This did not dampen any spirits and the celebrations continued on board.
Guests gathered in Galleria Bellissima and across the ship to watch Gianni Onorato, the CEO of MSC Cruises, Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises and the Captain of Bellissima, Rafaele Pontecorvo, be joined by Sophia Loren for the all-important christening. Sophia Loren is the godmother to all ships in the MSC cruises fleet. We all watched the special moment where the bottle of champagne was released and smashed over the bow of the ship. The Galleria erupted into thunderous applause to celebrate the naming of MSC Bellissima and continued well into the night.
Watching a ship being christened is such a magical moment and it was amazing to be part of this with MSC Cruises and the guests on board. Click below to head back to the start of this blog series.