February 26, 2019
UPDATE: (10:34 a.m. GMT) -- MSC Cruises has revealed TV presenter Holly Willoughby will host the naming ceremony of MSC Bellissima in Southampton this Saturday, March 2, with Craig David, Nile Rogers and his band Chic providing the music -- as well as world-famous tenor Andrea Boccelli and his son, Matteo.
MSC Cruises' godmother Sophia Loren, who has served as godmother for all MSC ships since 2003, will perform the traditional ribbon-cutting at the ceremony.
A gala dinner will take place onboard the 4,500-passenger ship followed by live music from UK singer Leee John, who is best known as the lead singer of soul band Imagination.
The following day will be marked with activities and entertainment onboard for travel agents and a performance by Southampton-born pop star Craig David.
The line's second Meraviglia-class ship -- and the line's fourth ship to debut in 18 months -- will become the largest ever vessel to launch in Southampton.
Bellissima, which means "possessing intense beauty, delighting the senses" will feature two brand-new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows called "Varelia" and "Syma" with guests attending the naming ceremony getting to see an exclusive performance on March 2.
Cruise Critic was offered a rare behind-the-scenes preview of the new shows during a visit to Cirque du Soleil's headquarters in Montreal in December 2018.
Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises' MD for UK & Ireland, said: "I am so proud to be hosting the Naming Ceremony of MSC Bellissima in Southampton and to have the opportunity to showcase our newest ship to so many of our travel agent partners, media outlets, valued guests and future cruisers."
"MSC Cruises is on a fantastic journey in the UK & Ireland, and the growth, and development we have seen in the last five years has been remarkable. The MSC Bellissima launch celebrations are the next step in this journey that promises, with the continued support of our travel agents to exceed all our expectations."
What can passengers expect onboard MSC Bellissima?
MSC Bellissima will debut a range of new-to-the-line features, including an Alexa-like digital assistant in cabins called Zoe and Hola! Tapas Bar by two-star Michelin chef Ramon Freixa.
There’s also a new magic-themed kids' programme called School of Magic with a weekly Magic Talent Show taking place.
Passengers can expect to find the same features on Bellissima as sister ship, MSC Meraviglia, including a 96-metre promenade with LED sky screen; onboard Italian chocolatier Venchi; a large waterpark; a two-deck indoor amusement park; MSC Aurea Spa and the MSC Yacht Club.
The ship will also feature specialty French restaurant L’Atelier Bistrot, which debuted on MSC Seaside, plus 11 further dining venues and 20 bars.
MSC Bellissima will depart Southampton on March 4 on a 10-night inaugural sailing to Genoa, Italy. From March 17 the ship will offer seven-night itineraries in the Mediterranean, with calls in Genoa, Naples, Messina, Valetta, Barcelona and Marseille.