The Sovereign Cruise Club’s reservations manager, Tony Mallinson, visited the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa last week to witness the unveiling of Virgin groups next adventure Virgin Voyages.
Tony has described his experience below and he has outlined some of the key highlights of what you can expect from the new ship:
Upon arrival at the shipyard we were greeted by the Virgin Voyages crew and given our safety equipment for the day, before proceeding to the end of the dry dock where the event began. In amongst the VIP guests were workers from the shipyard, cruise agents and members of the press.
Sir Richard Branson made a grand entrance to the event by arriving on a speedboat in the marina before taking centre stage. Speeches were made about the birth of the brand from Guiseppe Bono (CEO of Fincantieri shipyard), Tim McAlpin (President & CEO of Virgin Voyages) & Sir Richard Branson. The ship is currently being built in two shipyards with the bow section being built in Genoa and the stern section (housing the motors and generators) is currently on route from the Romanian shipyard.
After the speeches had taken place we were moved to the bow section where the anticipation was building regarding the name of the first Lady Ship. Tim McAlpin took to the stage to explain how Virgin Voyages are set to invest heavily in Equal Opportunities for men and women and have introduced “The Scarlet Squad”. The Scarlet Squad will aim to recruit more female crew members in senior positions, Virgin are heavily invested in the training and recruitment of female captains and officers not only for their first ship but for many more to come.
The Scarlet Squad was relevant to the unveiling of the ships name. In keeping with the history of Virgin Atlantic and the naming of their planes to be female, Sir Richard Branson announced that their first ship will be called “Scarlet Lady” after his second aircraft and for the future of females in a male dominated industry.
We thought that this announcement was the main event, however, we were proved to be wrong. Following the naming ceremony we found ourselves in front of a steel cutting machine emblazoned with their tagline of “Make Ship Happen” and the date of 20th July 2018. The second announcement of the day came from Tim McAlpin who announced that we would be witnessing the cutting of the steel for their next Lady Ship, this was to show their investment in the cruise market and also the shipping industry at Fincantieri.
Over lunch we were given more of an insight into the Virgin Voyages brand and their commitment to the environment. Virgin set out to explain how their “Vitamin Sea” programme will abolish the use of single use plastics onboard when the ship launches in 2020. With the abolishment of single use plastics Virgin announced that still, sparkling and soda water would be complimentary in all areas of the ship, to eliminate the tons of waste that is made from plastic bottles on board the ships. The external areas of the ship will be centred around the health and wellbeing concept as there will be multiple venues offering health, fitness and rejuvenation. The Crow’s Nest which will be a private sundeck, will host sunrise and sunset yoga, while The Athletic Club will feature an outdoor boxing ring, gymnastics equipment, cabanas and a sports bar.
A running track, The Runway, will circle around the ship and The B-Complex will host spin, yoga and cardio classes which offer a direct view of the sea. Other features include a well-being pool which will have fitness equipment, a Gym and a Tonic bar, and Redemption, which will be the ship’s spa; this will house a hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, cold plunge pools and quartz beds. At night the spa’s thermal suite will host night-time parties with a DJ.
If you are an experienced cruiser then you will be aware of the rules that cruise lines have in place. However with Virgin Voyages there are no rules or stigmas, if you would like a meal in a formal venue one night you can or if you would prefer relaxed casual dining then you can opt for this instead. There will not be an enforced formal night dress code onboard the ships.
After lunch I was in a Q&A session with Sir Richard Branson and Tim McAlpin who explained a few more details of their concepts and also their future for the company. The first ship will be adults-only and based in the Caribbean, there are plans for two additional adults-only vessels with the vision to have two additional vessels which will introduce family cruising to Virgin Voyages.
The Sovereign Cruise Club has been selected as a preferred partner for Virgin Voyages and we are looking forward to being able to share more information on our social media platforms when we receive it.