Virgin Voyages cut the steel on Wednesday 22/03/17 for its unnamed first ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy.
The ceremony, which marks the first milestone in the ship’s construction, included a steel cutter bearing a humorous banner that read, “Hi. I’m the steel cutting machine.”
Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin said “Up until now, Virgin Voyages has been just an idea …But tonight, that all changes. … We’re not just building a ship here. We are building a whole new brand..the world’s most irresistible and talked-about travel brand”.
The line’s first 110,000 ton, 2,860-passenger vessel is due for delivery in 2020. Virgin Voyages has two additional unnamed ships on order, for delivery in 2021 and 2022
Virgin Voyages also announced a multimillion-dollar partnership with Swedish clean-energy company Climeon last year. Virgin will install Climeon Ocean, a system that will to turn waste into clean electricity, thereby reducing carbon footprint, on all three ships.
According to Virgin, the system will eliminate about 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per ship per year.
Malcolm Says: Virgin have been very secretive about their cruise product. Even the available rendering are very sketchy.
Externally the ship looks unique – rather like an Art Deco railway train , which I fully approve of. However these are all just concepts/renderings. There are no guarantees that the ships will look much like any of the renderings, when they are finally constructed. The offices of marine architects must be full of drawings of unfulfilled concepts. I guess that the final design of the ships will probably be less Art deco and more conventional.
It is very unlikely Virgin have designed a ship from scratch. Therefore I wonder if the Virgin ships will be scaled down version of MSC’s ‘Seaside’, also designed by Fincantieri? NCL have purchased a similar design for their ‘Project Leonardo’.
So three mid-sized ships and a reported 7 night itinerary from Miami to the Caribbean – it is hardly ground-breaking, is it? However this will allow ‘Virgin Voyages’ to have synergies with ‘Virgin Atlantic’, Branson’s airline.
Branson is a great entrepreneur, but I wonder what the Virgin brand can bring to cruising that is genuinely new? I don’t doubt that the product will be well marketed and probably aimed at a younger clientele. We can also expect the entertainment and technology on-board to be impressive, after all Virgin started as a record label and diversified into communication and travel.
The problem is that the competition: Royal Caribbean, the Norwegian Cruise Line, Genting, Carnival, and MSC already offer some very modern Hi-Tech ships aimed at the multigenerational family market.
It will be a tough market to crack, but Virgin has a very well established travel infrastructure.
Travelweekly Tom McAlpin Interview HERE