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MSC Cruises has confirmed it will remove its only UK-based ship in 2015 to focus on its Mediterranean operations.

The decision comes after the line announced a two-year ‘Renaissance Programme’ to update its four Lirica-class ships. Among them is the only UK-based vessel, MSC Opera.

Renovations on the ship will take at least six months, which will effectively remove her from her post for more than half the year.

MSC Cruises executive director for the UK, Ireland and Australia, Giles Hawke said as a market leader for Mediterranean cruises it was important the line maintains its position by increasing its fly-cruise capacity.

“We are considering various charter options and working with our air partners to come up with the best approach to keep up with the current customer demand for fly-cruises direct to the Mediterranean,” he said.

Mr Hawke added that MSC would consider returning to Southampton in 2016.