Cruise Industry: First peak at features aboard new Virgin Voyages line

Virgin Cruises is expected to launch in 2019 and Sir Richard Branson, the tycoon behind the Virgin Group, has previously indicated that the cruise line would be launched with new tonnage, but until now we’ve had no indication of what these new cruise ships will look like, or the on-board facilities and amenities they’ll feature.

New images of cruise ship designs, which came to public attention as part of a lawsuit against Virgin, suggest that the new entrant to the cruise industry, Virgin Cruises, won’t be doing anything new structurally speaking.

This leaves us to assume that the USP Richard Branson’s first ever cruise line will be pushing will focus entirely on the service side of the cruise experience.

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Virgin Cruises is expected to launch in 2019 and Sir Richard Branson, the tycoon behind the Virgin Group, has previously indicated that the cruise line would be launched with new tonnage, but until now we’ve had no indication of what these new cruise ships will look like, or the on-board facilities and amenities they’ll feature.

Now, however, we’ve been given a hint as to the design of the Virgin Cruises cruise ships due to documents relating to a lawsuit filed against Virgin Cruises by Colin Veitch, the former President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. Veitch is a former partner of Branson’s on the Virgin Cruises concept and claims that his plans for a “Virgin style” cruise line have been stolen.

FOCUS: Leaked Virgin Cruises ship designs suggest nothing new structurally from new cruise line

The documents submitted as part of the lawsuit include detailed renderings of cruise ships that could potentially sail in the Virgin Cruises fleet, and it seems that Virgin Cruises are taking inspiration from features already present in the global cruise fleet. An exterior rendering of a massive Oasis of the Seas-style cruise ship suggests a split superstructure with an interior space for a huge skydive simulator that takes the Quantum of the Seas class’ wind tunnel to a new level.

A white superstructure on Virgin red hull appears to channel the two-tone colour scheme characteristic of TUI Cruises’ Mein Schiff cruise liners, while branding around the bow takes inspiration from British cruise line P&O’s new exterior livery.

FOCUS: Leaked Virgin Cruises ship designs suggest nothing new structurally from new cruise line

The unique axe-bow rendered in the images would make Virgin Cruises only the second cruise line to build a ship to this design, after German cruise line AIDA Cruises debuted the innovative bow design aboard their new cruise ship AIDAprima. The axe-box reduces hydrodynamic resistance underway, while also reducing the motion of the ship as it passes through waves rather than over them.

Virgin Cruises have promised to offer a revolutionary new cruise concept to the industry, re-inventing the cruise experience in the same way that Virgin Atlantic Airlines re-imagined flying for the general public in the 1980s. The renderings above suggest that the cruise line may be focusing more on the service side of the cruise experience then, rather than the physical, in differentiating the brand.

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Virgin has been successful with this approach in every industry into which it has expanded and some analysts have suggested the new cruise line may scrap or re-structure many of the ‘pet hates’ of cruise passengers, such as single supplement charges, in-room dining fees, service charges and other extra charges that cruise lines have introduced in recent years.

By focusing on the cruise experience rather than the hardware, the cruise line may be able to corner a market largely saturated by cruise giants Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and their various subsidiary brands.

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