The waiting is over! The Virgin brand have signed a ‘shipbuilding agreement’ for the construction of three identical 110,000grt, 2700 passengers ships with Fincantieri, with the first ship due for delivery in 2020 and the other two by 2022. The first ship is scheduled for sailing out of Miami while the other ship’s home-ports have yet to be announced.
Details and specifications of the ships were not released by Virgin Voyages but the first steel cutting will take place in early 2017 and the keel laying in late 2017.
When it first was announced that Virgin were branching into the cruise market in 2015, they were going with the name ‘Virgin Cruises’. However, that has changed with Sir Richard Branson claiming the word cruise was “awful” and announcing instead that the brand would now be called ‘Virgin Voyages’.
“It should be a departure from the ordinary getaway,” Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages told media, Virgin employees, and Miami politicians and business leaders gathered on Tuesday for the announcement at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach.
Sir Richard Branson was excited at the prospect of the three new ships and promised that they will be providing an experience different to that of other cruise lines. He wasn’t giving too much away with any details, he said:
“It’s incredibly exciting. It’s under lock and key”
The lack of details announced for the new ships is deliberate in order to stop competitors from learning key information at this stage of the process.
One detail that was announced was Virgin Voyages have announced a partnership with Swedish Clean-fuel company, Climeon. Virgin will feature a modern feature called Climeon Ocean which will turn waste into clean, viable electricity which will reduce the carbon footprint. It will, according to Virgin, eradicate around 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per ship each year. This system will be installed on all three ships.
Thomas Ostrom, CEO and founder of Climeon enthused about the deal and predicted that this was the way forward for energy production after these systems having already been installed in ferries:
“Transforming hot water to electricity will be a major source of energy production going forward,”
With details still to be decided and released, it’s an exciting time for potential ‘Sailors’ (Virgin’s new name for passengers) who will await with excitement and curiosity at the designs and itineraries for the ships. After all, Virgin has announced that this new brand and new ships will be a game changer for the cruise industry. It will certainly be interesting to see when the designs are finally released. With McAlpin also disclosing that the financing for the project has all but been agreed, it is the Italian Government they are waiting on to fully rubber stamp and agree to the deal. Until then, it’s carry on as usual in the cruise industry.