SHE'S the largest ship ever to be named in Southampton and she's due to arrive today ahead of a star-studded weekend of events at the port.

MSC Cruises's Bellissima is due to arrive in Southampton today before being officially named by Italian cinema legend Sophia Loren. She will be joined by fellow Italian superstar, singer, Andrea Bocelli who will be performing alongside his son Matteo.

MSC, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise company officially took delivery of the ship from French shipyard from Chantiers de l’Atlantique.

Oscar-winning actress Loren, 84, will christen Bellissima – which means beautiful – tomorrow in what is set to be one of the most glamorous events staged in the city.

Holly Willoughby, presenter of This Morning, Dancing on Ice and, more recently, stand-in for Ant on I'm A Celebrity..., will host the naming ceremony at which screen goddess Loren will perform the traditional ribbon-cutting and officially name the luxury vessel before more than 3,000 guests from 20 countries.

As wellas the Bocellis three-time Grammy Award-winner Nile Rodgers and his band Chic will be providing live music for the evening.

MSC Bellissima will feature two brand new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows, Varélia and Syma, and as part of the evening’s celebrations, guests will be treated to an exclusive performance during the naming ceremony, on the pier - the first time the famous circus troop has performed at a ship naming.


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The entertainment will then continue on into the evening back on board the ship with a gala dinner followed by live music from platinum-selling UK singer Leee John.

On Sunday there will be further celebrations in Southampton on board MSC Bellissima as MSC Cruises will invite 3,500 travel agents from the UK and Ireland.

This will be the company’s largest ever agent event and will feature a performance from Southampton born chart-topper and DJ Craig David.

Bellissima weighs in at 171,598 GRT (gross register tonnage) and measures 315m in length.

She will be the company’s biggest vessel to date, capable of carrying 5,700 passengers.

The ship will have a specially designed performance space to accommodate Cirque du Soleil shows produced exclusively for the ship.

The entire ceiling of the inside promenade will be covered by a giant 480sqm LED screen – a virtual sky transmitting images around the clock. There will also be 20 bars, 10 restaurants and a water park.

She is the first MSC Cruises ship to feature ZOE, the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant. The voice-enabled virtual personal assistant will be found in every cabin and can answer hundreds of questions about the cruise.