Sir Richard Branson looks set to shake up the burgeoning cruise market after today “teasing” out news of his Virgin Voyages ships, set to be sailing by 2020.

Sir Richard and line president Tom McAlpin hosted a ‘Ship Tease’, where details of the first of three ships were revealed.

With all the fanfare we’ve come to expect from Virgin, the news was broadcast live from from Fincantieri’s shipyard in Genoa, Italy. They celebrated the laying of the keel for the first ship, marking the commencement of construction.

Sir Richard and Tom McAlpin arrived on stage via a 200-foot crane drop, in true Virgin style.

They were joined by Bain Capital Chairman Stephen Pagliuca and Fincantieri’s Alberto Maestrini to weld ceremonial coins into the keel for good luck and smooth sailing.

“This is a very big day for Virgin Voyages, as an exciting new holiday option for travellers starts to get ship shape. She will be the most recognizable ship sailing the seven seas, delivering an irresistible sailor experience. We’re also committed to making sure our crew are the happiest at sea and will be proud to sail with us.”

Mr McAlpin shared specifics on the Virgin Voyages design philosophy and experience. “The entire ship will be built with an attention to detail, reflecting the craftsmanship and materiality inspired by super yachts. Designed to feel more intimate and connected to the sea, 86 percent of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93 percent an ocean view. Virgin Voyages is creating a sophisticated ship and a transformational experience that offers our sailors a place where rejuvenating day-life meets exciting nightlife and everything in between.”

Mr McAlpin said the first ship’s experience will be “Adult By Design” – meaning that sailors must be at least 18 or older to sail. The decision was driven by feedback from future sailors and travel professionals, who are looking for a more elevated and premium experience, with a few Virgin style surprises.

There has been much speculation about what the ships might look like.

According to reports, the design features “a sleek silvery-grey hull, with smoked glass, and of course, distinctive touches of red.

The livery was conceptualized by Ben Christie and David Azurdia from Magpie Studio in London.

Virgin Voyages’ first fleet will be known as the “Lady Ships”, a play on the term ‘your ladyship’, giving a nod to Virgin’s British heritage.

The spirit of our ship will be represented by a mermaid design that will adorn the bow. The mermaid is inspired by figureheads on historic vessels and was designed by London-based artist Toby Tinsley, who also designed the beautiful feminine motif on Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Voyages signed an agreement with Scanship, providers of advanced waste management systems. Together, they will explore the development of potentially game-changing technology that may reduce ocean discharge by turning waste into energy.

Future sailors and travel partners can place a $500 refundable deposit for access to an exclusive pre-sale before Virgin Voyages goes on general sale at

No Virgin launch would be complete without a star performance. Grammy Award-winning artist Boy George performed as the night’s superstar DJ.

Virgin Voyages first ship will arrive at PortMiami in 2020 for her inaugural sailing season where she will sail to the Caribbean hosting more than 2,700 sailors and 1,150 amazing crew from around the world.

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