I’ve taken my seat. The lights have dimmed, and the talented Soul Sisters are about to come on stage and perform their second set on this, the inaugural cruise of MSC’s newest flagship, Virtuosa.
I’m sitting in the Carousel Lounge on deck seven with around 200 other socially distanced guests watching what can be best described as typical, light-hearted cruise ship entertainment at its best.
After an unprecedented, industry-wide, 14-month pause, Virtuosa is the first vessel to leave a UK port and is certainly stealing the show – with appearances on TV screens across the country this past week.
I can’t help think Antonio Paradiso, MSC’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, and sales director Steve Williams are absolute masters of their craft.
Over the last five years they have developed an impressive agent-facing trade team and have taken a cruise brand, virtually unheard of in the UK market, to be the first to restart UK cruising.
Not only this, but they have enough confidence in the UK market, that they are doing so with their flagship, launching what will be her inaugural season.
I wanted to be on this sailing to experience first-hand the new health and safety protocols that have been introduced and see if they distract from the enjoyment of a cruise. Also, there is something quite special to be part of an inaugural sailing – even in the strange times we’ve been living in.