MSC Cruises has finally confirmed plans to lengthen its Magnifica ship by 23 metres in preparation for the line’s largest ever ex-UK season.

The Musica-class vessel is to go into dry-dock for four weeks in April 2020, returning with 215 additional cabins, a water park, two restaurants and a promenade shopping area onboard.

After its revamp, Magnifica will be able to carry around 4,000 passengers and will offer 24 itineraries from Southampton in summer 2021.

Plans to enhance an existing MSC ship specifically for the UK market have been mooted for nearly a year by the line.

The ship’s lengthening will create an additional 7,000 square metres within the 23-metre extension in which a redesigned kids area and an expanded sun deck area will also be fitted.

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Magnifica previously sailed out of the UK in 2018 during a summer season comprising of 18 sailings.

However, Hamburg was used as an embarkation port alongside Southampton last year. In 2021, Magnifica will homeport in Southampton for the whole season.

Antonio Paradiso, the line’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “Magnifica has always been well received by UK customers. It is a unique ship that looks like a Fantasia-class ship – even though it is a part of the Musica-class. We saw the opportunity to lengthen her even further and make her even younger.

“One of the other reasons why we picked Magnifica is it is popular with families in the UK because of the high ratio of multiple cabins.”

Ninety-two of the 215 new cabins will be balcony cabins which Paradiso said are “popular with the UK market”.

Four other MSC ships will call into the UK during the summer 2021. Although Paradiso declined to reveal which vessels they were, he said homeporting Magnifica in Southampton for an entire season was “an opportunity” for the trade.

“Magnifica’s 2021 itineraries will be predominantly UK sourced,” he said. “We have done well in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. I felt that the time was right to go ahead with this ambitious plan. I have been trying to develop what the trade has been asking for.”

Paradiso said that 18 of the 24 itineraries were new for the line.

The cruises range from two to 14 nights in length and cover Canary Islands, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the Baltic Capitals.

Asked if there would be a launch event in Southampton to relaunch Magnifica, Paradiso said: “Of course. The idea is we normally do a launch party.

“I am not in the position to say whether it will be one, two or three nights but it will be a big party. We will definitely do this. Trade partners, customers and business partners will be there.”

Names for each of the new venue spaces have not been disclosed by the line, but Paradiso did reveal one of the two new restaurants would be a speciality dining venue.

“The speciality restaurant already exists and has proven popular with the UK customers,” he said. “I do not know names at this stage but I will sign them off next month.”

Training modules will be released on the line’s e-learning platform MSC Masters to update the trade about Magnifica’s lengthening, Paradiso added.