Virgin Voyages Inks Deal for Fourth Newbuild with Fincantieri

Virgin Voyages

Fincantieri and Virgin Voyages have signed a contract valued at approximately 700 million euros for the construction of a fourth cruise ship, which will be delivered at the end of 2023.

The new vessel will be a sister ship of the three ships on order with Fincantieri.

Construction is underway at the Sestri Ponente shipyard (Genoa) and the first three ships will enter Virgin Voyage’s fleet respectively in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The fourth vessel will be approximately 110,000 gross tons, 278 meters long and 38 meters wide. The ship will feature over 1,400 guest cabins designed to host more than 2,770 passengers, accompanied by 1,100 crew members, the company said.

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Branson: ‘Cruise lines will copy Virgin Voyages’

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Sir Richard Branson predicted other cruise lines will copy Virgin Voyages in “five to six years” time.

Asked how he thought Virgin would be viewed by competitors, he referenced BA’s “dirty tricks” campaign against Virgin Atlantic in the 1990s when competition between the two airlines was at its most heated.

“Competition is always good in any industry,” he said. “It takes years to build new ships. So I think we will have five to six years then people will start copying us but by then we will have reinvented what we have.”

The first of three adult-only Virgin Voyages ships is due in 2020.

More details about what will be on board were unveiled in Genoa today at the Fincantieri shipyard where it is being built and include outdoor yoga, a wellness pool and sea-facing cabanas.

The ship, to be named Scarlet Lady, will also aim to convert all waste on board into clean re-usable energy.

Chief executive and president Tom McAlpin said: “As the (cruise sector) got bigger it had to appeal to a lot of segments but we have an opportunity to create something different and very special. The power of the Virgin brand is very important and we think we can attract people who have never cruised before.”

Virgin Voyages to name first ship Scarlet Lady

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Virgin Voyages will name its first ship Scarlet Lady as it plans to launch a programme to recruit more female crew members in male-dominated roles.

Sir Richard Branson revealed the name today at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa where it is being built.

The name, which also appeared on one of the earliest Virgin Atlantic planes, “reflects the brand’s iconic mermaid image”, according to the line, which will appear on the hull of the adult-only ship due to launch in 2020.

Virgin Voyages will launch a “Scarlet Squad” initiative aimed at recruiting and mentoring female crew in onboard areas such as marine, technical and hotel management, which statistically show low numbers of female staff and senior management.

Travel Weekly joined Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard and Virgin Voyages president and chief executive Tom McAlpin in Italy where the line was celebrating construction milestones, including the flooding of the ship’s drydock and a ceremony to cut the first pieces of steel for its second ship, due for delivery in 2021. Virgin Voyages will launch the third ship in 2022.

More details of the ship’s onboard features were also revealed.

“Across the maritime industry, we can do better in onboard recruiting and leadership representation for women,” McAlpin said. “I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an onboard environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential.”

Sir Richard and McAlpin also announced the company will eliminate the use of passenger-facing single-use plastics, including straws, bottled water, other beverage bottles, condiment packets, shopping bags, food packaging, stirrers, and take-away coffee and tea cups.

The company will emphasize the use of recyclable and reusable materials across the ship.

Complimentary filtered still and sparkling water will be available at all bars and restaurants, as well as at Natura filtered water stations on the ship.

“Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in,” Sir Richard said. “Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change.”

“We believe that in order to fulfil our purpose of creating an ‘Epic Sea Change for All,’ we must make a commitment that is bigger than just eliminating straws,” added McAlpin. “We must make a commitment to building ships and experiences that do everything possible to look after the well-being of our precious oceans. We are delighted with what we’ve achieved so far and will continue to push ourselves to look for innovative ways to do things that will make a difference.”