A new chapter in British maritime history was written last week as UK cruising returned with the maiden sailing of MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa. Tom Parry reports on the experience of a cruise holiday in this new era for the industry and considers how MSC’s impressive achievement reflects another piece of seafaring history.
Sitting in a resplendent drawing room at Minterne House in Dorset during MSC Virtuosa’s first shore excursion on Saturday (22 May), I’m hearing how the home’s ancestral owners, the Digby family, helped Admiral Nelson to an unlikely victory during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Outgunned and pitted against unfavourable odds, innovation and resilience were used to triumph.
To me, the story was incredibly apt given Virtuosa’s launch and MSC Cruises’ return during the first cruise voyage from the UK for more than 400 days.
OK, so cruise ships in 2021 are a bit different to 19th-century warships – far fewer cannons for a start – but the modern-day parallels are there.
Fighting against its own formidable adversary in Covid-19, which ground an industry to a halt, MSC has had to be resourceful and resolute in order to restart operations and lead an industry back towards recovery.
You imagine Nelson would have approved.