Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. But to those working in, and who are reliant on, the UK cruise sector, that phrase couldn’t be further from the truth.
It’s clear MSC Virtuosa, which restarted from Southampton on Thursday (20 May), hasn’t just come to take 1,000 guests around the UK coast on its maiden voyage – it’s brought a wave of hope for an entire industry that despite being suspended has been on a journey over the past 15 months.
The excitement for cruising’s return was clear from the moment I stepped off the train; my taxi driver, Bela, taking me to the port, had worked at sea with a number of lines and happily recounted his life onboard and how he was looking forward to welcoming more cruise-goers this summer.
Arriving at City Cruise Terminal, masks couldn’t hide beaming smiles from baggage handlers and port staff – at every turn, there were friendly grins and welcoming words.