A new cruise ship owner has appointed Wärtsilä to provide remote operational support for a fleet of new builds, which involves real-time performance monitoring.
Virgin Voyages has assigned responsibility for the maintenance of three cruise ships to propulsion supplier, Wärtsilä. Under a 10-year optimised maintenance agreement, Wärtsilä will maintain the vessels through dynamic planning and remote monitoring in real-time.
To achieve this, Wärtsilä will monitor engine room systems to decide on maintenance schedules, aiming to extend service intervals when the equipment does not require maintenance.
Overhauls can be scheduled to fit the operations of the vessel, improving availability and minimising unnecessary downtime.
This agreement covers remote operational support services, specific fuel oil consumption meters and calibration, spare parts and technical advisory services for the engines. It also includes technical support and training for Virgin Voyages’ personnel.
Virgin Voyages’ three new buildings are scheduled to begin operations in 2020, 2021 and 2022. All three will be equipped with Wärtsilä 46F engines, Wärtsilä’s hybrid scrubber system and selective catalytic reduction systems for exhaust gas cleaning. They will also be outfitted with Wärtsilä’s Nacos Platinum integrated bridge systems.
Virgin Voyages is a joint venture between Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Bain Capital.
Virgin Voyages has confirmed it will sell through agents and instigate an “epic sea change” in the organisation to make the company a business the trade wants to work with again.
Acknowledging that agents in the UK were hurt when Virgin Holidays severed ties with the trade and became a direct-sell-only brand in 2015, vice‑president of sales and business development Stacy Shaw said: “One of my challenges is agents in the UK assuming we won’t be interested in them selling Virgin Voyages.
“But this is more than just having an interest in the trade selling us. My job is one of creating an epic sea change for the organisation and our partners.
“My job is to create a really good news story for the trade that makes us a company that agents really want to do business with.”
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, Shaw added: “However transactionally profitable and amazing selling Virgin Voyages will be, we want to do more than that. We want to focus on the pain points for agents and take them away.”
A new UK-based international sales director is due to be in place by January who will recruit field sales managers. Shaw said: “Their next job will be looking at commission structures, contracts and how we are going to support the trade with marketing.”
She added: “I expect this to take until mid-year, but from then we will really start engaging with accounts and doing a big blitz with the trade.
“We have a big job to do kicking off all the education. One of the most important jobs for next year with the trade is helping them to understand how we’re different.
“We don’t think our product is for everybody and we will be explicit about that. If agents have customers who are looking for Broadway shows and FlowRiders, Virgin Voyages is not for them.”
Virgin Voyages has revealed its first cruise ship will be adult-only.
The decision to not allow children on board was taken after consulting travel professionals and “future sailors” – Virgin’s term for passengers.
Virgin Voyages three-ship fleet will be known as the “Lady Ships”, a play on the term “your ladyship”, which the line said was a nod to British heritage.
The ship’s design, which was unveiled at a keel-laying ceremony at Fincantieri’s shipyard in Genoa, Italy, today (Tuesday), will feature a silvery-grey hull, with smoked glass and splashes of red, while a mermaid design will feature on the bow of the ship.
The first vessel is due to be delivered in 2020.
Group founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages president and chief executive, Tom McAlpin, arrived at the ceremony via a 200-foot crane drop.
Staying true to its promise of breaking with tradition, the line is calling cabins with balconies “sea terraces” and passengers will be referred to as “sailors”.
McAlpin said: “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.”
Customers and travel partners can place a $500 refundable deposit for access to a pre-sale before Virgin Voyages goes on general sale.