It’s been earmarked as the latest cruise brand with an edge. And especially if it’s going to be built by the fun-loving billionaire philanthropist, Richard Branson.
And on Wednesday, Mr Branson’s vision of creating Virgin Voyages came to life with the steel cutting of the brand’s first ship at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy.
While there are no details of the two ships which will be deployed in 2021 and 2022, the steel cutting ceremony itself was unlike any other.
There was an air of playfulness and whimsy with the steel cutter bearing a banner that said, “Hi. I’m the steel cutting machine.” Even the hashtag of the event, #MakeShipHappen was more align to the brand’s target market of millennials. Or as Virgin Voyages would say, “sailors and mermaids”.
While the man himself was not in attendance, Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin gave a rousing speech about the brand. And he was surrounding by some very attractive ‘ship engineers’ who were clad in Virgin red overalls, wife beater singlets and red hard hats.
“The design collective includes some of the world’s most stylish firms who are creators of design trends, not followers. Together they are imagining a vessel unlike anything sailors have experienced before that will be a complete departure from the ordinary,” said Mr McAlpin.
“With this group, we have a depth in creativity that brings a different perspective to space design at sea that will change cruising for good. Irresistible style will finally find its sea legs.”
To top off the event, the steel cutting was counted down by Mr Branson via a prerecorded video and as the cutter made its first incision engraving the logo on the ship’s first piece of steel, fireworks, pyrotechnics and music went off to celebrate the occasion.
The first Virgin Voyages ship will be 110,000-tonnes and be able to accommodate for 2,860 passengers. It will sail on seven-night itineraries from its Miami homeport, offering a vibe similar to those found throughout Branson’s other travel-related productions like Virgin Atlantic airline and Virgin Hotels.