Sir Richard Branson makes waves in the luxury cruise business

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Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson has launched Virgin Voyages, a luxury cruising experience with a $3.9 billion fleet of cruise ships. Baroque Travel finds out all the details


Founder of the legendary Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson launched a keel laying ceremony for the first ships in the luxury fleet at the end of October at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Genoa, Italy. He hosted a ‘ship tease’ party where he revealed some of the details regarding the first three luxury cruise ships in the cruise line, which will take to the seas in 2020 from Miami, with an expected 2,700 passengers and a crew of 1,150.


Branson arrived on stage by being dropped by a 200-foot crane. He expressed delight that construction was finally starting and called it “a very big day for Virgin Voyages, an exciting new holiday option for travelers”. Details regarding the cruise ships and the vacation experience were also explained. Ships will be built with great attention to detail, apparently, in the same way that shipbuilders create super yachts. On the Virgin cruise ships, 86% of cabins will have a sea terrace and 93% will boast an ocean view.


Interestingly enough, the cruise ships will not provide facilities for children, but are being designed for adult-only cruising, something that Virgin Voyages calls ‘Adult by Design’. To be a guest on one of these ships, guests will have to be 18 years or older. These cruises are expected to appeal to a younger crowd eager to experience a luxury, more premium experience. Of course, Branson will ensure that there are a few surprises added into the mix, something that is a Virgin trademark.


The ships themselves will certainly stand out from the crowd, with sleek silver-grey hulls, smoked glass, and distinctive Virgin red touches. The funnels of these vessels will be in iconc Virgin red. The first fleet to be built will be known as the ‘Lady Ships’, a play on the words ‘your ladyship’, which was inspired by the company’s British heritage. An eye-catching mermaid design will adorn the bows of these ships, inspired by figureheads on historic ships.


In addition, the fleet will be ecologically minded. Virgin Voyages has already signed up with Scanship, who provide advanced waste management systems, to explore high-tech systems to reduce ocean discharge and turn waste into energy.

Most of the details about the cruise ships are still being kept under wraps, although CEO Tom McAlpin did promise a “sophisticated ship and a transformational experience”, with “rejuvenating day-life” and “exciting nightlife”. Before the ships are even constructed, Virgin Voyages is offering future passengers a $500 refundable deposit for access to cruises.


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