The cruise industry in the UK has restarted with the MSC Virtuosa departing at 7:00 PM from the Port of Southampton on May 20, 2021. The industry had been on hold for 14 months until the new cruise ship kicked off operations with passengers onboard.
It comes before a busy summer season of multiple cruise lines resuming operations from the UK including P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and many more.
MSC Virtuosa Embarkation
Now that the new Breakaway-plus class vessel has departed, many will wonder how the embarkation experience went in this new world of masks, tests, and vaccinations. Even though there are more documents and things to do for going on a cruise, it’s all worth it!
Cruise Hive is onboard the very first sailings which is also the maiden voyage of MSC Virtuosa. It’s a 4-day voyage to Portland, which is a port in the UK very near to Southampton.
So arriving at the City Terminal in Southampton by car is very easy, especially with the options to enter through Gate 8 or Gate 10. The official car parking is super simple and can be booked easily online.
Our arrival time was 12:20 as stated on our MSC Cruises ticket but we actually arrived at the terminal just before 12 which was totally fine. We went through a five-phased before being able to go onboard. There were three of us going on the cruise including a 3-year-old.
Phase One – Initial Documents Check
We arrived at the terminal and lined up for about 30 minutes. there are several desk in the inital interior entrace of the terminal where staff will make sure passengers have the required docusments including health questionsaure, travel insurance, passports, and proof of a negative covi-19 test.
We found out that it’s imperative to make sure the travel insurance covers cruises, and the document has the word COVID cover in there. We actually didn’t know this, so we had to go through an 80-page document to find the tiny wording.
Phase Two- Security Check
Once clearing the initial check of documents and insurance we headed to another line further in the facility which is mainly for security.
It was about another 20-30 minute wait which isn’t easy when you’re with kids. There were only two lines open for scanning, so that slowed things down.
Phase Three – Testing
Once cleared security, we headed into the terminal’s main part, which includes testing and check-in. Testing was really fast for us and only took about 10 minutes. Each phase seems to be faster as passengers start going through.
We provided our health questionnaire and then went through to be tested. This was just a nasal swab. It was straightforward and fast. We also received a waiting group number which is needed in the final phase.
Phase Four – Check-in
This is where we go and check-in where there was no wait. We handed in passports and any final documents needed to receive the MSC ship card and wristband.
The wristband tracks movements onboard and allows for contactless payments and opening the cabin. Check-in took about 10 minutes.
Phase Five – Final Wait
And the final phase to embarkation was sitting in a waiting area with our assigned number from testing. Once all is good, our group of about 20 or so people got to finally go onboard the MSC Virtuosa. This took around 8 minutes.
The entire process was over one hour and 30 minutes, but that was just for us. It was probably slightly faster for many others with fewer people and without a child.
A nice welcome onboard with some champagne and then straight to the stateroom to settle in and ensure all is in order. After doing some filming for the BBC, we then finally had some lunch after 3:00 PM. The dining side of things is an entirely different post which we will cover soon.
Also Read: The UK Cruise Industry is Officially Back!
Keep checking Cruise Hive for all the latest on the MSC Virtuosa maiden voyage and the first cruise from the UK in 14 months.