Dubai, United Arab Emirates – 27 November 2021 – MSC Cruises, the world’s third largest cruise brand, today will host the naming ceremony of MSC Virtuosa when Hollywood superstar Sophia Loren officially names the ship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
MSC Cruises chose Dubai to host the ceremony in recognition of its long-term commitment to the UAE and the wider Middle East market where it is the brand leader.
Equipped with some of the latest marine technologies available, MSC Virtuosa is one of the world’s most environmentally advanced cruise ships. No effort has been spared to minimise her footprint. MSC Cruises shares the UAE’s ambition to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and MSC Virtuosa represents yet another milestone on the journey towards reaching this goal.
MSC Virtuosa can carry up to 6,334 passengers and 1,704 crew and is set to serve the Arabian Sea until March 2022 from her base in Dubai.
The event at Port Rashid, in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism and DP World, reflects the growing importance of the Emirate as a must-visit destination for global cruise holidaymakers and reinforces the importance of the cruise industry’s contribution to the further development of tourism in the UAE.
A long-standing maritime tradition, the official Naming Ceremony of the ship will take place in the presence of the Master of the Vessel, Captain Francesco Veniero and local dignitaries.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, said, “We are honoured to host this time-honoured maritime tradition ceremony in the United Arab Emirates during its Golden Jubilee year and with it, to mark our longstanding and long-term commitment to this region. This is also why this winter MSC Virtuosa, a new and one of the most technologically and environmentally advanced ships in our fleet, will homeport in the country as part of our deployment in the Gulf region. Cruising is an integral part of the UAE’s dynamic tourism industry, and thanks to our uniquely global distribution network we will continue to promote the country and the Middle East all around the world as an attractive holiday option to support the further growth of the tourism industry locally.”
Hosted by well-known UAE TV personality Omar Butti as Master of Ceremonies, Hollywood icon Sophia Loren will take to the stage to officially name her 17 MSC Cruises’ ship by cutting the ribbon that breaks the bottle on the ship’s hull.
The star-studded night will culminate in a spectacular firework display against the stunning Dubai skyline, before a celebratory gourmet dinner in one of the ships’ elegant restaurants. Event guests will be also treated to a performance by internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Rag'n'Bone Man, who will perform his best-known hit songs.
His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, commented: “Dubai continues to chart a course forward as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations and the cruise capital of the Middle East, as we continually strive to realise the goal inspired by our visionary leadership to make Dubai the most preferred, visited and revisited destination. Hosting the naming ceremony for MSC Cruises’ newest flagship vessel, MSC Virtuosa in Dubai, is testament to the popularity of the city as the cruise gateway to the region. Dubai’s reputation as a cruise hub continues to grow in stature and iconic moments and milestone events such as these reflect the crucial contribution of cruising to the city’s tourism industry. With Dubai continuing to welcome international tourists, this event will build on the momentum generated by the recent launch of the new cruise season, further fuelling growth during this landmark year for Dubai featuring Expo 2020 and celebrations surrounding the UAE Golden Jubilee, and beyond.”
MSC Virtuosa features 10 restaurants, 21 bars and lounges, plus five swimming pools, and will serve stunning Arabian Sea itineraries throughout the winter season from her base in Dubai to offer the ship’s guests with the opportunity to experience the best destinations in the Gulf region, including Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island and Qatar.
The innovative ship stands 19-decks tall and is set to welcome her guests this winter for week-long cruises from Dubai with the very best of fine dining international cuisine, world-class entertainment, relaxing bars and lounges with the largest shopping area at sea, spa and fitness centre, an aquapark and clubs for toddlers to teenagers. The ship’s showstopping feature is its iconic 112-metre promenade with a stunning LED sky dome, the social heart of the ship.
One unique feature waiting for guests is the brand-new MSC Starship Club which is available exclusively on MSC Virtuosa and stars the world’s first futuristic humanoid robotic bartender, called Rob.
The event at Port Rashid will take place in compliance with all public health and safety protocols established by the Dubai government, supported by MSC Cruises’ industry-leading health and safety protocol that allowed the line’s ships to restart operations in 2020. The special occasion is also part of celebrations surrounding the Golden Jubilee of the UAE and coincides with Dubai’s hosting of World EXPO 2020.
Following the naming ceremony, MSC Virtuosa will depart on 28 November from Dubai for her maiden Gulf voyage with visits to Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island and Doha.