MSC Cruises has announced a change in the itinerary of MSC Virtuosa, one of its largest and newest ships, due to the severe weather conditions caused by Storm Agnes. The ship, which departed from Southampton on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, for a four-night cruise, will not be able to visit Cork, Ireland, as originally planned. Instead, the ship will visit Portland, England, and Zeebrugge, Belgium, before returning to Southampton on Saturday, September 30.
Storm Agnes Threatens Ireland and UK
Storm Agnes is a powerful weather system that is expected to bring strong winds and heavy rain to much of the UK and Ireland later on Wednesday and into Thursday. The Met Office has issued yellow warnings for wind and rain for parts of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, advising people to be aware of the potential impacts of the storm.
According to the Met Office, wind gusts could reach up to 60-80 miles per hour (96-129 kilometers per hour) in coastal areas, including southern Ireland, where Cork is located. Steady winds will be in the range of 10-25 mph (16-40 kph). The storm could also cause localized flooding, power cuts, travel disruptions and damage to buildings and trees.
MSC Cruises Alters MSC Virtuosa’s Itinerary
MSC Cruises has decided to alter the itinerary of MSC Virtuosa in order to avoid the worst of the storm and ensure the safety and comfort of its guests and crew. The ship, which can accommodate up to 6,334 passengers and 1,704 crew members, is one of the most advanced and environmentally friendly vessels in the MSC Cruises fleet. It features a smart assistant named Zoe, a promenade with a digital sky dome, a TV studio and a Himalayan bridge.
The original itinerary of MSC Virtuosa had the ship sailing from Southampton on Tuesday, September 26, and spending a day at sea before arriving in Cork on Thursday, September 28. The ship was then supposed to visit Portland on Friday, September 29, and return to Southampton on Saturday, September 30.
However, due to the forecasted weather conditions in Ireland, MSC Cruises has informed its booked guests that the ship will not be able to visit Cork on Thursday. Instead, the ship will visit Portland on Thursday and Zeebrugge on Friday. The return to Southampton should not be affected by the storm.
MSC Cruises has also stated that any shore excursions booked through the cruise line for Cork will be cancelled and refunded, while excursions for Portland will be moved to the new visit day if possible. If a tour cannot be moved, it will be cancelled and refunded as well. Guests will be given further information upon embarkation on Tuesday.
MSC Cruises has apologized for any inconvenience caused by the itinerary change and thanked its guests for their understanding and cooperation.
Other Cruise Lines Affected by Storm Agnes
MSC Cruises is not the only cruise line that has been affected by Storm Agnes. Other cruise lines that operate in the region have also had to make adjustments to their itineraries or cancel their sailings altogether.
For example, P&O Cruises has cancelled its two-night cruise from Southampton to Zeebrugge on board Britannia that was scheduled to depart on Wednesday, September 27. The cruise line has offered its guests a full refund or a future cruise credit.
Similarly, Princess Cruises has cancelled its four-night cruise from Southampton to Guernsey and Cherbourg on board Sky Princess that was supposed to depart on Thursday, September 28. The cruise line has also offered its guests a full refund or a future cruise credit.
Cruise Hive will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on any further changes or cancellations caused by Storm Agnes.