IT WAS meant to be a beautiful night for the launch of a beautiful ship... but unfortunately for MSC Bellissima, the British weather intervened.

The naming ceremony of the new cruise ship had to be abandoned part way through after high winds began to shake the huge marquee which had been erected on the quayside for 2,000 invited guests.

Italian movie legend Sophia Loren, the ship's 'godmother' was due to have been on stage to press the button which would have launched a bottle of champagne crashing against the ships bows, but proceedings had to be moved back onto the ship for safety reasons.

Daily Echo:

Instead she performed the ceremony from a bridge above the main promenade deck with the events being beamed up on screens around the ship and the LED ceiling above the prom.

MSC chairman Pierfrancesco Vago walked out on stage while his CEO Gianni Onorato was speaking.

"Stop" he said. "the British weather has intervened, it's not safe for us to here".

READ: Stars arrive in Southampton to name stunning new ship MSC Bellissima >>>

Earlier guests' attention had been drawn to the ceiling of the huge marquee as the plastic walls and roof began to flap loudly, and things became worse when the metal frame work could be seen to judder and sway.

The guests trooped back aboard the ship where, after some confusion, an announcement was made about the makeshift ceremony.

"We shall break that bottle no matter what," said Mr Vago.

Sarah Macefield, a freelance journalist who covers the cruise industry, told the Echo: "I have seen lots of launches in Southampton and abroad and this is the first time I've seen one abandoned.

Daily Echo:

"It's a shame because it was going so well and it was one of the most impressive ceremonies I've seen."

Before the weather took a hand guests heard Italian tenor Andre Bocelli and his son Matteoa start proceedings and saw a performance by Cirque du Soleil.

Nile Rodgers and Chic were also due to have performed but their show was cancelled. 

MSC issued the following statement: "While we were in the middle of the naming ceremony of MSC Bellissima in Southampton, UK, worsening weather conditions required us to conclude the ceremony inside the ship. This decision was taken in the interest of safety for all our guests and employees.

"The traditional breaking of the bottle was completed in the presence of the ship’s Godmother, Sophia Loren, with all guests watching from the ship.

"While it’s never fun to interrupt a party, we made sure this festive moment was continued in all its beauty, glitter and with all our great guests participating inside the ship. And a party it was!"

Following the rejigged naming ceremony guests sat down to a three-course meal prepared by Micheline starred chef Raymond Blanc.