Last weekend I was invited to Southampton for the naming ceremony the newest MSC ship – MSC Bellissima. I was invited onboard for two nights with the naming ceremony being on Saturday 2nd March. This is part one of my MSC Bellissima blog series – stay tuned for lots more to follow.

MSC Bellissima is the largest ship to have launched in the port of Southampton in England and to date the largest ship for the MSC fleet.

I had received my ‘message’ in a bottle a few weeks ago so I could have my very own Sophia Loren moment to retrieve my invite. It was such a good idea and sparked much excitement from everyone.

MSC Champagne Bottle

The naming ceremony was held in a marquee on the quay alongside the Bellissima. The evening was hosted by the simply stunning Holly Willoughby and we were treated to a performance by Italian singer, songwriter, Andrea Bocelli and his son Matteo, a preview of the show Cirque du Soleil, speeches from MSC Cruises Executive Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Managing director in the UK & Ireland, Antonio Paradiso, The Mayor of Southampton (just to name a few) and we were introduced to the new charity MSC Cruises have joined partnership with – Reuben’s Retreat (more to come in my Bellissima blog series about this).

Holly Willoughby

Photos by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Bellissima

Cirque du Soleil was quite simply breathtaking, I can only imagine how good the full show would be onboard the ship where they have their own adapted stage for the shows.

Cirque du Soleil
Photos by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Bellissima
Cirque du Soleil
Photos by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Bellissima

The event saw a host of celebrities on the blue carpet all there to celebrate this special occasion – Kate Thornton, Carol McGiffin, Craig David, Nile Rogers, just to name a few and of course Sophia Loren, who has served as Godmother to 13 MSC cruise ships since 2003. MSC Bellissima was her 14th to date.

The marquee was filled with special guests, members of the press and media, travel agents … and the atmosphere was amazing. Seeing the beauty that is the Bellissima as the backdrop behind the stage gave me goosebumps, I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for all those involved with working for MSC and for those who had been planning the event for the past 15 months.

Naming Ceremony Marquee
Photos by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Bellissima

Due to bad weather, we had to finish off the celebrations back onboard the ship. All the guests gathered in the Bellissima Galleria and watched Sophia Loren on the bridge along with the Captain and Crew for the big countdown. We were able to witness the smashing of the champagne bottle on the LED screen above us – the eruption from the crowd when the bottle smashed against the bow of the ship was emormous, it was a lovely moment. I think everyone felt very proud.

Photos by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images for MSC Bellissima

We were then treated to a gorgeous 3-course gala dinner cooked by Raymond Blanc. The night continued into the early hours in the London Theatre with a show from Nile Rogers and his band Chic. MSC certainly know how to throw a party.

I am absolutely honoured to have been a part of something so special. I can’t thank MSC enough for my invite. Please stay tuned for more Bellissima blog posts coming soon.

Gala Night MSC Bellissima Naming Ceremony
Photo courtesy of the photographer onboard MSC


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