Star-studded naming ceremony for £750million cruise ship is EVACUATED

Star-studded naming ceremony for £750million cruise ship is EVACUATED as fierce winds rock quayside marquee in Southampton where Holly Willoughby and Sophia Loren are among celebrity guests

  • The star-studded event for the MSC Bellissima was being held in a giant marquee
  • But strong gales have meant the ceremony in Southampton has been evacauted
  • Due to perform tonight were R&B singer Craig David and disco star Nile Rodgers
  • It comes as Storm Freya is set to batter Britain tomorrow with 80mph gales

A star-studded naming ceremony for a £750million cruise ship has had to be evacuated as heavy winds rock the quayside marquee – just one day before Storm Freya is set to batter the United Kingdom with 80mph gales. 

The christening event for the MSC Bellissima was being held in a giant marquee next to the liner at Southampton when the decision was made to move the event on board.

The ceremony, being hosted by This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby, will see screen legend Sophia Loren perform the ribbon-cutting duties. 

The christening event for the MSC Bellissima was being held in a giant marquee (pictured) next to the liner at Southampton when the decision was made to move the event on board

Sophia Loren at the naming ceremony of the MSC Bellissima. The cruise ship, the sixth largest in the world, was built at a cost of 1 billion US dollars (£752 million) in Saint Nazaire, France

The ceremony, being hosted by This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby, will see screen legend Sophia Loren perform the ribbon-cutting duties.

The MSC Bellissima, which is the largest cruise ship to be christened in the UK, is pictured after arriving in Southampton ahead of the naming ceremony 

Guests were able to enjoy a performance by tenors Andrea and Matteo Bocelli and a show by Cirque du Soleil at Sea before the decision was made to move the event. 

Also due to perform were R&B singer Craig David, disco star Nile Rodgers and soul singer Leee John.  


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It comes as gales of up to 80mph are set to batter the United Kingdom this weekend as Storm Freya is announced by the Met Office – just days after the nation enjoyed its hottest ever winter temperatures.  

The ferocious weather will bring very strong winds up from the south west of England, major travel disruption and possibly dangerous conditions when it hits late on Sunday and lasting until early Monday morning.


Fashionista: She paired the number with a diamond necklace and aside from a diamond ring let her statement dress take centre stage

Also due to perform were R&B singer Craig David, disco star Nile Rodgers (seen during a photo call at the christening earlier today) and soul singer Leee John

Storm Freya will bring very strong winds, major travel disruption and possibly dangerous conditions when it hits late on Sunday. The Met Office is warning of flying debris, damage to buildings and trees and possible power disruption with the potential to affect other services, such as mobile phone coverage


Met Office graphics show the path of Storm Freya as it makes its way towards the United Kingdom. It’s set to hit western parts of the country first, before bringing fierce winds to the Midlands and North-East England. Some snow could also fall on Monday as temperatures drop to single digits 

A yellow weather warning has been issued for large swathes of the country, including much of South-West England, The Midlands and North-East England and will be in effect from 3pm on Sunday to 6am on Monday.

The Bellissima is the 14th ship to be named by Italian singer and actress Loren, 84, for MSC Cruises, for who she fulfils the role of ‘godmother’.

The cruise ship, the sixth largest in the world, was built at a cost of 1 billion US dollars (£752 million) in Saint Nazaire, France.

It has 2,217 cabins with a capacity of 5,686 guests, 19 decks, 12 restaurants and a 985-seat theatre on board.

One of the yacht club deluxe suites on board the £1billion ship. This suite has been especially designed for guests with disabilities or reduced mobility 

MSC Bellissima will become MSC Cruises’ fourth mega-ship to come into service in less than three years as part of the company’s ten-year €10.5 billion investment programme

The Bellissima, operated by MSC Cruises, also features a 96-metre promenade with an 80-metre LED dome which shows atmospheric vistas, sunsets and starry night skies.

Antonio Paradiso, managing director for MSC Cruises UK and Ireland, said: ‘We are excited to be launching MSC Bellissima, the largest ship coming to the UK and the sixth largest cruise ship in the world.

‘We celebrate her launch in Southampton, an important destination for us as we are the fastest growing cruise line in the UK and a top cruise line in Ireland.

‘This is the largest ship event held by MSC Cruises in the UK, with 6,000 people on board over three days, including 2,300 seated at the naming ceremony on the quayside.’

The MSC Bellissima has been fitted with features to reduce its environmental footprint including an exhaust gas cleaning system to improve emissions, an advanced wastewater treatment system, and LED lighting to save energy.

The liner will spend its inaugural season in the Mediterranean before moving to the Emirates next winter and Asia in 2020.

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