Virgin Voyages

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Review of Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages (formerly named Virgin Cruises) is a cruise line headquartered in Plantation, Florida (USA). Virgin Voyages was created in a joint venture between Virgin Group and Bain Capital, with the latter having a majority shareholding. The establishment of Virgin Cruises was announced by Virgin Group on December 4, 2014. The new cruise line it is scheduled to start operations in 2020.

In 2020, Virgin Cruises officially starts operations from Miami with a 2800-passenger vessel constructed by Fincantieri Italy. Two additional 2800-passenger / 110,000-GT vessels will follow in 2021 and 2022.

The announcement was made in the end of June 2015 in Miami, during a press conference (media event "making waves") for the new cruise line brand. Richard Branson - founder of Virgin Group, arrived on a helicopter landing near Miami's Museum Park. According to Mr Branson, the total building cost for the 3 Virgin cruise ships is less than USD 2 billion.  Virgin fleet will operate on 7-day Caribbean cruises (no details on specific itineraries so far).

Virgin Voyages cruise ship design

The inaugural President and CEO of Virgin Voyages is Tom McAlpin. He is a founding member of Disney Cruise Line's launch team and later its president. Prior to heading Virgin Cruises, McAlpin has served as CEO of The World cruise ship.

On June 23, 2015, the cruise line announced it had signed a letter of Intent with Fincantieri (Italian shipbuilder based in Trieste), for the construction of 3 cruise ships scheduled for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. The cruise ships will be mid-sized, each of 110,000 GT with 1,150 crew and 1,430 passenger cabins capable of hosting a total of over 2,800 passengers.

Steel cutting for the ships will start in February 2017. The keel laying in Genoa is scheduled for the 4th quarter of 2017. The total cost of the project is nearly US$2 billion.Virgin Voyages cruise ship design

According to President and CEO Tom McAlpin, the trio of ships will be premium product, with high percentage of balcony staterooms. The newbuilds would differ from other cruise ships by "design, size and program onboard" and targeted to the "young at heart."

Tom McAlpin shared they did not see themselves as a big player in cuise industry, but as "a small boutique line that will offer different experiences.”

The first ship of Virgin Voyages will be initially homeported at Port Miami, Florida and will operate on 7-day Caribbean itineraries departing each Sunday.

In October 2016 Virgin Cruises, the cruise line announced in 2015 by Virgin founder Richard Branson, declared it was rebranding as Virgin Voyages in attempts to bring Virgin-brand experiences to cruising. At the time it was first announced, Branson had said his goal was to create a cruise line more likely to appeal to millennials and other people who don’t normally take cruise vacations.Virgin Voyages

“We think we can create something that is really fun.”

McAlpin and Branson hinted that those experiences might take some cues from other successful Virgin ventureslike Virgin Hotels. The hotel offshoot of Virgin boasts free WiFi, minibar drinks at street prices, privacy doors allowing guests to go on about their business while room service brings requests, and pet-friendly amenities with no weight or size restrictions.Virgin Voyages cruise ship design

One of the new ship features is already confirmed: new clean energy system via partnership with Swedish company Climeon Ocean. This way, Virgin Voyages will be the first major line to partner with Climeon, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by converting the generated by ship engines heat into electricity for onboard use. All Virgin newbuilds will have 6 Climeon units, each, creating a savings of 5,400t of carbon dioxide per ship, annually.

Earlier in 2016, Virgin Cruises settled a $300 million lawsuit filed by former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch, who claimed Virgin had stolen his ideas and moved on with the cruise line concept without him.

In the promo video for the new cruise line, Virgin Voyages promises a “holiday you can’t predict” that will “celebrate your curiosity, not force you to follow one itinerary.”

Where the new cruise line Virgin Voyages may take its guests has not yet been announced. However, Branson mentioned one destination that was on his list. When asked about Cuba being a potential port, he immediately replied, “Yes!”

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