Virgin Group founder, Sir Richard Branson, and Virgin Voyages President and CEO, Tom McAlpin, hosted a ‘Ship Tease’, where details were revealed about what passengers can expect on the first of three ships, coming in 2020. Live from Fincantieri’s shipyard in Genoa, Italy, they also celebrated the laying of the keel for the first ship, marking the commencement of construction.
Sir Richard and Tom McAlpin arrived on stage via a 61-metre crane drop. They were joined by Bain Capital Chairman, Stephen Pagliuca, and Fincantieri’s Alberto Maestrini to weld ceremonial coins into the keel for good luck and smooth sailing.
Mr Branson expressed excitement that construction is now underway: “This is a very big day for Virgin Voyages, as an exciting new holiday option for travellers starts to get ship shape. She will be the most recognisable ship sailing the seven seas, delivering an irresistible sailor experience. We’re also committed to making sure our crew are the happiest at sea and will be proud to sail with us.”
Tom McAlpin shared specifics on the Virgin Voyages design philosophy and experience: “The entire ship will be built with an attention to detail, reflecting the craftsmanship and materiality inspired by super yachts. Designed to feel more intimate and connected to the sea, 86% of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93% an ocean view. 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.”
McAlpin gave details that the first ship’s experience will be “Adult By Design” – meaning that sailors must be at least 18 or older to sail. The decision was driven by feedback from future sailors and travel professionals.
The world also got its first glimpse of the ship’s livery, which will feature a silvery-grey hull, with smoked glass, and touches of red. The livery was conceptualised by Ben Christie and David Azurdia from Magpie Studio in London. RWD from Beaulieu England created the red Virgin funnel of the vessel.
Virgin Voyages’ first fleet will be known as the “Lady Ships”, a play on the term ‘your ladyship’, giving a nod to Virgin’s British heritage.
Consistent with their commitment to have one of the cleanest fleets at sea, Virgin Voyages signed an agreement with Scanship, providers of advanced waste management systems. Together, they will explore the development of potentially technology that could reduce ocean discharge by turning waste into energy.
The final announcement from Virgin Voyages is that it is now “open for business” online. Future sailors and travel partners can place a $500 refundable deposit for access to a pre-sale before Virgin Voyages goes on general sale.
McAlpin wrapped up the ceremony by introducing Boy George, who then performed.