Largest Ship to Visit UK Port Skips Call at Very Last Minute

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MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa was to have been the largest cruise ship to visit Falmouth, UK in 2024, but unfortunately, poor weather necessitated a very last-minute cancellation of the stop.

Local residents watching the ship sail into Carrick Roads on Friday, May 31, 2024 got a great view of the ship as she made a u-turn to leave again without finishing docking.

Instead, the ship headed back out to sea again and guests were unable to visit the popular Cornwall port as planned. The stop was to have been the third and last port of call on the ship’s 5-night Northern Europe itinerary that departed Southampton on May 27. MSC Virtuosa had already successfully visited Rotterdam, Netherlands and Cork, Ireland.

MSC Virtuosa Cruise Ship
MSC Virtuosa Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: P.Cartwright)

According to Cornwall Live, high winds were the cause of the port cancellation. MSC Virtuosa was to have been in Falmouth from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but at the time the ship was to have been docking, steady wind speeds were 17 miles per hour (27 kph), with gusts as high as 20-22 mph (32-35 kph).

While these winds may not seem particularly extreme, the pressure they can exert on a massive cruise ship can be significant. This could make docking operations tricky, or even cause the ship to impact the dock unintentionally. Furthermore, if the ship is rocking a bit, the gangways could become unstable and dangerous for guests to move on and off the vessel.

The 181,541-gross-ton, Meraviglia-plus class MSC Virtuosa is one of the largest ships in MSC Cruises’ fleet, and one of the 20 largest cruise ships in the world. The vessel features 19 total decks (16 for passengers), which gives her an extensive profile for high winds to exert forces on the ship.

Cruise lines and ship captains always keep the safety of guests and crew members as their top priority, as well as the safety of their vessels and the port communities they visit. While it is always preferable to maintain original itineraries, it is better to cancel a port of call rather than risk damage to the ship or pier and possible injuries to guests and crew members.

Economic Impact

Unfortunately, while MSC Virtuosa missing her visit to Falmouth is a safer option for travelers, the local community does lose out on the economic impact of the ship’s time in port.

Because MSC Virtuosa can carry 4,842 travelers at double occupancy or as many as 6,334 passengers when fully booked, as well as just over 1,700 international crew members, this means local businesses may have lost a significant amount of income on May 31.

Restaurants, retailers, tour operators, transportation providers, local or regional attractions, and others have lost out on business. This can be a common risk for any community that has a significant tourism component to its economy.

MSC Virtuosa Southampton Arrival
Photo Credit: Wayleebird /

Falmouth, on the southern coast of Cornwall, only entertains a few ships each month and their impact can be significant for local businesses. In June 2024, for example, only four ships are scheduled for the port – Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery (June 5) and Spirit of Adventure (June 13), Oceania Cruises’ Oceania Sirena (June 12), and Plantours’ MS Hamburg (June 17).

All four ships combined will only bring roughly 3,300 guests to Falmouth – fewer than would have visited the port on MSC Virtuosa‘s single 12-hour visit.

Read Also: MSC Cruises Reportedly in Talks for Record-Breaking New Ships

Fortunately, MSC Virtuosa will once again attempt to visit Falmouth later this year, as part of an identical itinerary that will depart Southampton on October 20. The ship should be in Falmouth on October 24.

In the meantime, ships from Plantours, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Ambassador Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and other lines will still be calling at the port, weather permitting.

MSC Virtuosa is homeported from Southampton through early November. The ship is offering a variety of Northern Europe cruises with visits to Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, France, and other destinations depending on the cruise length and departure date.

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