Virgin Voyages unveils new details of first ship
Luxury and ultra-luxury are among the most lucrative sectors of the cruise market at the moment, with many brands looking to get a slice of the action and respected lines seeking to launch new ships. Crystal Cruises has recently seen vast expansion with the launch of new river and expedition brands, while the popular luxury hotel chain, Ritz-Carlton, is looking to launch their cruise brand with a range of elegantly-designed yachts.
In 2014, the Founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, also unveiled plans to launch a cruise-based product. Since then, details have been trickling through, but yesterday saw the official keel ceremony take place for the line’s first vessel at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy. Virgin Voyages’ President and CEO, Tom McAlpin stood beside Richard Branson as the two arrived at the ceremony via a 200-foot crane drop.
With just over two years to go until the launch of this new vessel, eager customers and travel partners looked on in anticipation, awaiting details of what they might be able to expect.
From the start, it was made clear that this new vessel would be adult-only. This is in-line with what Virgin Voyages is looking to achieve by offering a distinctively intimate on board feel. According to Virgin, this decision was made after consulting travel professionals and “future sailors”.
Virgin has always been regarded as a game-changer, with innovative and sophisticated new products that have been generally well received. Virgin Voyages is no different, with the line planning to rename balcony cabins “sea terraces” and passengers being regarded as “sailors”.
Each of the three newly-announced vessels that are set to be built for Virgin Voyages in the coming years will be known as the “Lady Ships”. This is a clever play on the term “your ladyship” which, the line has said, will be a nod to British heritage.
Virgin’s first new-build will have a gross tonnage of 110,000 and capacity or 2,700 passengers. Compared to Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, which has a gross tonnage of 151,400 and capacity for 2,695 passengers, there will be slightly less space-per-passenger on board the new Virgin Voyages vessel.
The hull of the first new build will, in traditional Virgin style, be a silver-grey colour with splashes of red. A mermaid design, designed by artist, Toby Tinsley, will also feature on the bow of the ship.
Speaking at the event, McAlpin said: “Virgin Voyages is creating a sophisticated ship and a transformational experience that offers our sailors a place where rejuvenating day-life meets exciting nightlife and everything in between.”
Further details have the onboard features and when cruises will go on sale have yet to be confirmed, but it has been previously announced that the ship will operate itineraries out of Miami. Passengers, or “sailors”, will be able to embark on sailings around the Caribbean, with potential for the vessel to dock in Cuban ports.
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