MSC Cruises will mark the debut of their new 89,600-ton MSC Poesia in Dover on April 5 with a star-studded VIP event to celebrate the first-ever launch of one of their ships outside Italy.

In line with company tradition, the event will be attended by legendary Hollywood actress Sophia Loren, godmother to the new vessel, who will perform the midnight christening ceremony.

As part of the Musica-class, the MSC Poesia – which translates as poetry – will see her first night in Dover celebrated by live performances from headline acts, including Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli, award-winning singer/songwriter KT Tunstall and jazz supremo Peter Grant, accompanied by the Ronnie Scott band.

American artist Brian Olsen will also provide entertainment with his unique style of performance art, and festivities will continue late into the night, with BBC Radio One DJ Fearne Cotton controlling the ship’s other decks, to ensure celebrity revellers and guests can enjoy the ship’s warm Mediterranean hospitality.

With double occupancy for 2,550 passengers, MSC Poesia will be a sister ship to the popular MSC Orchestra and MSC Musica (launched in 2007 and 2006 respectively) and the ninth ship in the MSC fleet, which has experienced the industry’s largest fleet expansion in the last three years.

After the launch event, she will set sail on her 13 night pre-inaugural voyage to Venice, visiting Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Croatia before arriving in Venice to begin her summer season.