Cruise Line Focus

Cruise line focus: Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages promises casual sophistication aboard a fleet of adults-only cruise ships designed specifically for the millennial cruise market.

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Sir Richard Branson, chairman and founder of Virgin Group, surprised the cruise industry in 2014 when he announced that he was planning to launch a new cruise line.

In actual fact, however, the British tycoon has reportedly long had an interest in owning his own line.

Virgin Voyages will take delivery of the first of three 110,000-ton, 2,750-passenger ships in 2020. The cruise line, headed up by Tom McAlpin, a veteran of the cruise industry, will target British, European and North American millennials, but will be an adult-only cruise line.

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The Virgin Voyages cruise experience

There is little known as yet about the actual onboard experience or amenities and facilities the ships will have.

According to McAlpin, there will be a casino, a mainstay of the modern mainstream cruise industry, but there won’t be any Broadway or Broadway-type shows, which is also a fairly synonymous aspect of the cruise experience.

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There wont be Broadway-style shows aboard Virgin Voyages, but there will be innovative live music and entertainment.

Virgin Voyages is also working with land-based hotel designers to create the ships’ interiors, rather than cruise ship designers, reflecting Branson’s desire for the ships to be more reminiscent of hotel than other cruise ships.

The cruise line has invited travel agents and future passengers to submit design ideas via its website. The name of the first ship will also be chosen by the public. Between June 2015 and October 2016, the company says it received 25,000 suggestions.

What we do know about the ships so far is that they’ll have speciality restaurants, and lots of areas for play and relaxation.

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Pink Agave will be a specialty Mexican restaurant aboard Virgin Voyages.

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Dining aboard Virgin Voyages

When it comes to dining, there will be an upscale Mexican restaurant called Pink Agave featuring electric blue metallic lighting fixtures, oversized banquet tables and porthole windows to let in natural light.

There will also be a bar area in the foyer and a private dining room for larger groups.

Another specialty restaurant revealed thus far is Test Kitchen, a restaurant by night and an interactive learning center by day, with a fun laboratory-inspired décor.

The entryway features lighting fixtures that mimic the periodic table and design elements add to the laboratory feel with metallic furniture, beakers and test tubes. There’ll be hands-on cooking classes and training in how to be a barista.

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The Dock aboard Virgin Voyages.

Out on deck, there’ll be an aft area called The Dock, inspired by seaside lounges in the Hamptons and Ibiza. It will feature wooden deck chairs, loungers and day beds.

Up on the top deck, Virgin Voyages have taken the sun deck concept and tweeked it, The Athletic Club will be a space in which to relax, play or see and be seen.

There’ll be a huge daybed capable of accommodating 80 people, white and red-striped semi-circular loungers, and a 220-square-foot area of triple netting where cruisers can lay out and overlook the open space and decks below, just like they would if sailing on a catamaran.

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The Athletic Club aboard Virgin Voyages.

There will also be a sports bar here, with pub games like air hockey, as well as 10 cabanas overlooking the ocean with beverage service from the adjacent bar. Incorporated into the Athletic Club will be a basketball court, boxing ring, and indoor and outdoor gyms.

Also on the top deck will be Richard’s Rooftop, a chic outdoor lounge reserved exclusively for the ship’s suite passengers. It will have a futuristic feel with circular loungers, giant umbrellas and, of course, a full bar.

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Richard’s rooftop will be the cruise line’s super swanky nightclub.

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One of the most important spots on-board will be The Manor, the ship’s signature nightclub with a colour scheme of green, purple and gold.

Considering that Virgin started out as a record store, and owns a chain of radio stations across the world, this nightclub is likely to have some of the best music at sea.

On the technical side, we know that the Virgin trio of ships will be some of the most environmentally-friendly at sea.

Sir Richard Branson is a well-known philanthropist and environmental activist and he has partnered with Swedish clean-energy company Climeon. The ships will introduce a system designed to turn waste water into electricity, which will in turn reduce the company’s carbon footprint.

As a subsidiary of Virgin Group, the cruise line is expected to bring Virgin’s quirky approach to other market niches to the cruise industry.

Branson says the cruise line will have “Virgin touches”, but has not yet elaborated on what this will entail, beyond the striking red Virgin livery.

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Virgin Voyages destinations and itineraries

The first ship to be delivered will cruise in the Caribbean year-round from Miami from 2020 onwards.

It’s not yet known where the other two ships will be deployed, but its likely at least one will be homeported in the Mediterranean during the summer, perhaps as a fly-cruise option for the British market.

Virgin Voyages has said that it is considering all options for cruise destinations and may even consider cruising from Dubai.

Types of passengers on a Virgin Voyages cruise

Virgin Voyages wants brand loyalists who have never cruised before to try it aboard its ships.

Many passengers are therefore likely to be first-timers, and because Virgin is targeting millennials, they’ll be fairly young at 20 to 40 years old.

Because the cruise line is adults-only, many are also likely to be modern childless couples.

Cruise ships in the Virgin fleet (working names as ships aren’t yet named):

Due in 2020: Virgin 1

Due in 2021: Virgin 2

Due in 2022: Virgin 3

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