MSC Cruises to Open New UK Sailings Earlier Than Planned

The 2026 season onboard MSC Virtuosa will be opening up for bookings earlier than expected, with guests able to reserve on March 14.

MSC Cruises revealed that bookings for MSC Virtuosa’s ex-UK 2026 itineraries will be available from March 14, 2024. This early availability marks a first for the cruise line, offering guests the chance to plan their cruise more than two years in advance.

MSC Virtuosa cruises from Southampton have been popular ever since the vessel debuted in the country in 2021. MSC Cruises aims to build on this trend by offering bookings earlier than before, responding to the growing enthusiasm for UK cruises seen in recent years.

Expanded Choice for MSC Guests

Starting March 14, 2024, guests eager to secure their 2026 cruise departing from Southampton will have the opportunity to book their voyage on MSC Virtuosa. MSC Cruises UK and Ireland announced on March 11, 2024, that it is opening bookings for the Meraviglia-Plus-class ship well ahead of the usual schedule.

Antonio Paradiso, Vice President of International Sales for MSC Group’s Cruise Division and Managing Director for the UK & Ireland: “I’m really excited about our Summer 2026 itineraries as we really do have something for everyone. The itineraries are extremely varied and we are visiting destinations all over Europe, some for the very first time.”

The new itineraries that MSC Cruises will offer include a wide variety of destinations and cruises, sailing to areas as far north as Iceland, as well as voyages to the Mediterranean. 

The 2026 summer season includes 7 or 14-night cruises to Iceland and Norway with stops in destinations like Reykjavík, Akureyri, and Isafjordur. 

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

For those looking to visit the Mediterranean without having to go through the hassle of flying, MSC Virtuosa will sail a 9-night Mediterranean cruise in August 2026, featuring calls to Lisbon, Gibraltar, Malaga, and Cadiz. MSC Cruises also offers several two to three-night mini cruises from Southampton to destinations like Cherbourg, France; Bruges, Belgium; and Cobh, Ireland.

Read Also: MSC Cruises Rolling Out Starlink Across All Vessels

“I am pleased that we are offering our lovely customers the opportunity to start booking their holidays two (plus) years in advance, especially as we will be the first contemporary cruise line to open 2026 sales. For the first time ever, we will have three summer seasons open at the same time,” said Paradiso

Importance of Early Booking

MSC Cruises is one of the only cruise lines worldwide to open cruises for sale this far ahead, giving guests the chance to secure their preferred cabins and sailing dates far sooner and usually at much lower pricing than what is the norm in the industry.

Paradiso: “Booking a cruise early is one of the best ways to take advantage of new itineraries when they are released. There are two compelling reasons why you should book in advance. First, some cabin categories are usually in high demand when new cruises are released, so it is important that customers book early to avoid disappointment.”

MSC Virtuosa
MSC Virtuosa (Photo Credit: MartinLueke / Shutterstock)

“And secondly, fares are determined by supply and demand, therefore new itineraries tend to have the best and most affordable prices,” Paradiso added.

Since she entered the UK market on May 20, 2021, MSC Virtuosa has been one of the most popular cruise ships sailing from Southampton. The ship has been at the forefront of the incredible resurgence of cruises sailing from the UK’s cruise capital. 

The vessel will be returning from her winter season in the Middle East following the conclusion of her final cruise in Dubai on March 29. This summer, the 181,541 gross tons MSC Virtuosa will offer guests cruises ranging in length between two- to 14-night starting with an 11-night cruise to Madeira and the Canary Islands sailing on April 23.

For the winter 2024-2025 season, MSC Virtuosa will be cruising the Caribbean, sailing from Martinique and Guadeloupe.

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