Tag Archives: Richard-Branson

Virgin Voyages ‘Valiant Lady’ to Head for the Med

Virgin Voyages today announced their second ship debuting in May 2020, will be called ‘Valiant Lady’, and is be based out of Barcelona, Spain. From here she will sail 7-night Mediterranean itineraries, with late-night stops and overnight stays in ports such as Ibiza.

Valiant Lady will sail 3 different itineraries with breathtaking ports of call, open for booking in December 2019.

  1. The exotic delights of Barcelona, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Marseille and Olbia
  2. A fantastic sampling of the Med featuring Barcelona, Ibiza, Toulon, Ajaccio, Marina di Carrara, and Cagliari
  3. Spanish immersion, stopping by Barcelona, Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and the British port of Gibraltar

A Home in Barcelona for Summer 2021

Most cruise ships dock at Termina C in Barcelona, which is a 10-minute bus ride to the first point of interest, Las Ramblas. However, Virgin Voyages have secured a prime location usually reserved by luxury liners and mega-yachts. Valiant Lady will dock at the World Trade Center Barcelona, just steps from Las Ramblas, allowing Sailors to be as close to the heart of the city as possible. It gives walking access to the most popular spots such as Poble Sec, el Raval, Barri Gotic, Port Vell and the famed urban beach of La Barceloneta. Departing every Sunday, sailors can enjoy extra time in Barcelona and take advantage of a range of flight options.

Later Stays and Overnights

Sailor and First Mates (travel partners) wanted later stays in ports, which Virgin Voyages have delivered on every itinerary. Sailors can now make the most of their time in port. Every sailing features a Friday overnight stay in Ibiza, one of the most stunning and thrilling Balearic Islands. Whether it’s a beach club, market, spa, sunset, or a late-night out, there is no other place like Ibiza.

Introducing ‘Valiant Lady’

The name ‘Valiant Lady’ was inspired by the Latin valere and the French, Vaillant, meaning “bold”, “strong”, and “courageous”. The image of women historically only graced the bows of ships to bring protection to a vessel. However, ‘Valiant Lady’ embodies the idea that women design, captain, lead and champion change in the maritime industry.

Scarlet Squad

Valiant Lady will continue Virgin Voyages’ ‘Scarlet Squad’ program. This is aimed at recruiting, supporting and mentoring female shipboard talent and growing opportunities to access leadership roles onboard. This includes areas such as marine, technical and hotel management that statistically show low numbers of female leadership.

Recommended Reading Champagne Delivery at the Shake of Your Phone

Future Sailors, First Mates, and travel advisors are invited to check out Virgin Voyages by visiting www.virginvoyages.com or following @virginvoyages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Virgin Voyages Announces Sneak-A-Peak Sailings

VIRGIN VOYAGES ANNOUNCES CELEBRATORY MAIDEN VOYAGE EXPERIENCES 

Virgin Voyages have made exciting announcements on what to expect for the Scarlet Lady’s Maiden Voyage. The much-anticipated voyage will depart Miami on the 1st April next year. In true Virgin style, the first celebratory sailing will be an unforgettable experience.  Celebrity guests will be at every turn, and I am sure there will be much speculation as to who will be onboard. Special onboard events with exciting surprises will give Sailors an enhanced Virgin Voyages experience.

TWO NEW SNEAK-A-PEAK SAILINGS

Virgin Voyages also announced two special preview Sneak-a-Peek sailings, so sailors can sample the Virgin Voyages experience. with the first one departing 26 March 2020.

The adult-only cruise promises to be a cruise like no other, with their fresh approach to cruising.  Scarlet Lady officially sets sail on its Maiden Voyage April 1st.

The three-night Sneak-a-Peek Scarlet Lady sailings will feature the ship’s marquee experiences. These include a stunning day at Virgin Voyages exclusive Beach Club at Bimini. Sailors will enjoy a Scarlet Night Party, access to all restaurants and the opportunity to experience complete versions of entertainment offered onboard.

Bookings for Sneak-a-Peak sailings open on VirginVoyages.com Friday, November 15th. The first sailing will run from Thursday, March 26 – Sunday, March 29. The second sailing will run Sunday, March 29 – Wednesday, April 1.

Recommended Reading Mark Ronson Virgin Voyages Minister of Music

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Mark Ronson Virgin Voyages Minister of Music

“Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin brand were legendary game-changers in the music industry and it’s a thrill to join them as they bring that same spirit to sea travel,” Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson Takes Role as Minister of Music for Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages have announced that Academy, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson to be ‘Minister of Music’ for Virgin Voyages.

The role will see Ronson creating a series of pre-voyage and onboard playlists for Sailors. He will also curate the vinyl record selection in the RockStar Suites and in Voyage Vinyl, the ship’s vinyl and music shop. Ronson will be working with Virgin Voyages’ music teams to define the brand’s sound both at sea and at their exclusive luxury resort, The Beach Club located in Bimini in the Bahamas.

Ronson has committed to four performances at The Beach Club at Bimini in 2020. To experience Ronson’s July 9 poolside performance, guests need to book the July 5, 2020 Mayan Sol sailing featuring stops in Costa Maya, Mexico and Bimini, Bahamas.

Diplo Joins On Deck Residency Program

Virgin Voyages also announced that legendary DJ and record producer, Diplo, will perform at the Beach Club in 2020.

At The Beach Club so that Sailors can experience moments of relaxation and serenity as well as high-energy excitement. Mornings will begin with yoga and meditation. The energy will be gradually amplified as the day progresses, reaching a crescendo in the afternoon with DJ-led pool and floatilla parties at the centre of the club. Day will cascade into night with a calming fire ritual where Sailors will enjoy acoustic tunes over an open bonfire.

Scarlet Night- A Party to Remember 

One of Virgin Voyages signature onboard parties Scarlet Night, will take Sailors on a journey around Scarlet Lady. Scarlet Night was conceived, designed and produced by award-winning producer Randy Weiner. It is a glamorous occasion of awe and mystique that pushes the boundaries of entertainment. Groundbreaking music will set the mood, as Sailors dance the night away. The experience will be out of this world, with art installations and performances throughout the ship as the night progresses.

House of Yes from Brooklyn, New York will create an unrivalled after party. They were recently named the number two Best Thing To Do in the World by Time Out, known for their theatre-infused nightclub. A fabulous outfit is a must in here, and guests should expect the unexpected, including circus spectacles, immersive cinema, cabaret performances  and beyond.

For one night only! A taste of the unique onboard experiences come to London with a star-studded Scarlet Night event.

For one night only, Londoners will experience a taste of Scarlet Night as the event comes from sea to land. The event held this evening (Tuesday 21st May) will bring to life the energy of Scarlet Night. Guests can expect extraordinary music and performances along with a featured guest performance from Mark Ronson. The special event will be attended by VIPs, celebrities and more. The likes of which include Geri Horner and Holly Branson.

Scarlet Lady to visit the UK

Scarlet Lady will visit Dover and Liverpool in late February 2020. A number of exclusive events for First Mates (travel advisors), media and VIPs will be hosted onboard. Scarlet Lady will make her way across the pond, to her new home of Miami.

More than 2,770 sailors and 1,160 amazing crew from around the world will be on each sailing from Miami to the Caribbean in 2020. Keep watch on virginvoyages.com for more updates.

Virgin Voyages Brings Rock and Roll to the High Seas

The new cruise line set to disrupt the cruise industry, Virgin Voyages, has revealed details of its mega yacht inspired suites.

Scarlet Lady is the first of four Virgin Voyages ships being built by leading cruise ship design and construction company Fincantieri.  The adult only vessel, being dubbed by Virgin Voyages as Rebellious Luxe, will be floated out in Genoa, Italy on 9th February. Setting sail in 2020, sailors will be able to book one of these incredible suites from 14th February 2019.

British Interior Designer, Tom Dixon led the team working on the design. The idea of the RockStar Suites was to combine yachting glamour with Virgin’s rock and roll heritage.

Key Features of RockStar Suites

The Best View Money Can Buy

All suites will be situated on the upper decks of the Scarlet Lady and configured to maximise views of the ocean.

Ships and champagne go hand in hand, and every suite has a specially-designed champagne table on its sea terrace.  An ice bucket fits perfectly in the centre of the table and will be complemented by stargazing loungers, and sustainably sourced Yellow Leaf terrace hammocks.

In true Rebellious Luxe style, Virgin Voyages suites will have a full bar and cocktail kit . The first round is on the house.

All suites are fitted with blackout curtains and mood lighting that automatically adjusts to the time of day. In-room tablets are provided to enable Sailors to adjust the lighting to exactly how they like it.

Every suite will enjoy luxurious comforts with a plush European king bed, premium linens and upgraded bath amenities.

You can play that funky music with your very own gold-plated vinyl record player accompanied by an en-suite collection of classic records.

Many suites will feature a Peek-A-View shower, an all marble shower with a dichroic glass window carved in the centre, allowing sailors to stay connected to the sea. The top suites will also have an outdoor Peek-a-View shower.

RockStar Lifestyle

A dedicated RockStar Services Crew are on hand for Sailors from the moment they book their cruise.

Once onboard, suite guests will have their very own “Rockstar Coordinator,” to ensure they enjoy backstage access at every corner, with early access to onboard entertainment, restaurants, their very own wardrobe team to help unpack and repack, complimentary pressing service and nightly express swimsuit drying service.

Shore Things

Suite guests will enjoy a private transfer to and from the ship in Miami, an exclusive express VIP pathway to the ship during embarkation.

Access to Richard’s Rooftop

All RockStar Suites Sailors will have access to Richard’s Rooftop. A secluded private members club at the top of the ship.

Branson Brings Rock and Roll to the High Seas

“Virgin has always avoided stuffy formalities and brought a lot of excitement and a bit of rebelliousness to our customer experiences,” said Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group. “With these glamorous suites, Virgin Voyages is bringing rock and roll to the high seas and spoiling our Sailors like the rockstars they are.”

Sweets for my Suite

Among the 78 RockStar Suites aboard the Scarlet Lady, there are 15 Mega RockStar Suites primely located on deck 15. These are named the Massive Suites, Fab Suites, Posh Suites and Gorgeous Suites.

Sailors staying in one of the Mega RockStar Suites will receive a personalised bar filled with their favourites. The RockStar Services Crew will tend to their rider list, to make their voyage perfect; all red gummy bears, an electric guitar and beyond.

Massive Suite

The two Massive Suites are the largest of the RockStar Suites at 2,147 sq. ft. including an expansive sea terrace. Located above the ship’s bridge, the suite can accommodate up to six guests.  Each has its very own music room stocked with guitars and an amplifier.

A circular oversized couch is the centrepiece of the room. This is the perfect place to host parties with its adjacent in-room bar.

The suite includes a glamorous bath and dressing room area complete with a hot tub, vanity area, two full-sized wardrobes and a marble-clad bathroom with a Peek-a-Boo shower area that overlooks the bedroom and out to the ocean.

The sea terrace has a private hot tub and a Peek-a-View outdoor shower. Other features include a circular conversation pit, a lookout point, two full length hammocks and a catamaran net for stargazing, circular sea bar loungers and a meditation area overlooking the ocean. Just in case you feel like treating your guests to a private performance, a staircase leads you gracefully to the table top.

Fab Suite

At 950 sq. ft., an open wall separates the space into distinct bedroom and living areas, featuring an extra-long sea terrace with an outdoor shower, stargazing loungers, a hammock and a champagne table.

Posh Suite

The Posh Suite features an all marble bathroom with dichroic glass to stay connected to the sea.

This 833 sq. ft. suite features a fully stocked bar a record player and a spacious lounge. A peek-a-boo shower offers views of the ocean.  The sea terrace comes complete with lounge chairs, outdoor shower and champagne table.

Gorgeous Suite

The Gorgeous Suite features an outdoor shower, loungers and a hammock.

The 570 sq. ft. Gorgeous suite features an open plan lounge and bedroom. The luxurious bathroom has a window for inspiring sea views. The expansive sea terrace features an outdoor shower, lounge chairs and a hammock.

Brilliant Suite

The 482 sq. ft. brilliantly designed suite has an open plan featuring a stocked bar with record player and sea terrace complete with a hammock swing chair.

Cheeky Corner Suite

Between 607 and 847.8 sq. ft, the Cheeky Corner Suites’ have wrapping panoramic views from the corner of the ship. This provides the perfect views of the sea with direct views of the sea, larger balconies with sofa loungers. Interconnecting doors enable guests to connect with adjacent sea terrace cabins and more.

Sweet Aft Suite

The best wake views can be enjoyed in these suits. Between 416 and 661 sq. ft., the suites are located at the aft of the ship. Enjoy sea views from the bed or even from inside the shower, with more views from the suite’s sea terrace.

Seriously Suite

Between 352 and 357 sq. ft, the Seriously Suite is the most popular RockStar Suite. Featuring an open plan lounge and bedroom, sea terrace with chairs, plus a luxurious bathroom with seaviews.

Competition

Until 31st January, enter for the chance to win the opportunity to Party Like a rockstar.  Virgin Voyages are holding their next #ShipTease event in New York City on Valentine’s Day and you could be there. Those interested in the sweepstakes should visit www.virginvoyages.com to enter.

Open to legal residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia, Canada (excluding Quebec) and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). Entrants must be at least twenty-one (21) years of age or older at the time of entry.

Future sailors and travel partners can find more information by visiting www.virginvoyages.com or following @virginvoyages on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Virgin Voyages – The World On A Plate

Scarlet Lady’s Dining Gives You The World On A Plate

Another elaborate Virgin Voyages bash was held this week at Chef Jody Williams’ New York Gastrothèque, Buvette. The company chose the perfect venue to unveil the latest wave of designs by their Creative Collective.

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

“We want our eateries to delight and ignite serendipitous experiences for our sailors, so have set out on a mission to capture the spirit of dining in the best cities of the world and bring it to sea,” said Tom McAlpin, president and chief executive officer for Virgin Voyages. “Because food is the fuel for our bodies and souls, and we’re Virgin Voyages, naturally it all had to be included within your ticket price.”

Sailors will have more than 20 dining options to choose from including restaurants, seaside lounges and casual eateries. Each restaurant has it’s own bar and designed to create experiences that reflect the daily lives of their sailors and who they aspire to be.

In alignment with the cruise lines promise to have the most sustainable ships at sea, their effort to cut back on waste will see all food made to order. There will be no buffets onboard and the restaurants that are typically exclusive on land, will be open to all at no extra charge.

Virgin Voyages aims to be one of the cleanest fleets at sea, with a ban on single-use plastics Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

The Restaurants

WAKE

Image: Virgin Voyages – Wake Restaurant served steak and seafood

Situated in a 5,866 square foot restaurant at the aft of the ship, designed by Roman and Williams, Wake offers sailors a dramatic view of the ship’s wake.

Image: Virgin Voyages Steak and Seafood Restaurant Wake

Serving a theatrical take on steak and seafood, Wake is the most glamorous restaurant on the ship with an experience inspired by The Wolseley – London and The Grill – New York, a dramatic grand staircase.

Image: Virgin Voyages Steak and Seafood Restaurant Wake

Offerings include a raw bar (design inspired by the bow of a speedboat), land and sea classics, a table-side cocktail cart and a Sommelier led Magnum program.

RAZZLE DAZZLE

“There’s a Virgin twist on everything you’ll see aboard the Scarlet Lady, which means there will be no stuffy formalities, boring buffets and no main dining rooms. Sailors are not going to want to leave our ship after they experience how we’ve designed our restaurants and tasted the dishes we are going to be serving up in 2020,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group.

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

With an interior scheme that nods to the namesake, the bold camouflaging of ships from WWI using patterns of black and white paint, Razzle Dazzle was designed by Concrete Amsterdam.

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

With vibrant and creative twists on vegetarian fare and a juice bar.  Razzle Dazzle delivers a healthy dose of nice with just the right amount of wrong.

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

The “nice” menu offers plant-based vegetarian and vegan dishes including must have munchies such as the Impossible Burger.

The “naughty” side enables sailors to order meat “add-ons” and offers to spike their healthy smoothies with boozy shots.

Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

To live up to the boldness of its name, Razzle Dazzle will not simply brunch but rather Drag Brunch, where sailors are treated to a performance by the Scarlet Lady’s resident drag performer and friends.

Brita Filter performs at the Virgin Voyages Sea-licious Event in New York Photographer: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

For a small fee, sailors can opt to enjoy bottomless drag-inspired cocktails like the “Yasss Queen” and the Razzle Dizzle, a CBD infused cocktail.

THE TEST KITCHEN

Image: Virgin Voyages Test Kitchen

The Test Kitchen will offer sailors innovative and avant-garde cuisine in a clean and modern space designed by Concrete Amsterdam.

Image: Virgin Voyages Test Kitchen

Inspired by Escoffier’s Ma Cuisine, this laboratory-like eatery is part cooking school and part restaurant, making it the ultimate place for discovery through cuisine with an atmosphere that is educational, experiential and social all in one.  The chef-driven set menus are presented in the form of an ingredient list to Sailors who will discover how the chef combines the list of flavors throughout the course of the meal.

Image: Virgin Voyages Test Kitchen

This eatery hosts a number of different experiences throughout the voyage from cooking classes, to mixology school to coffee labs, and even a few late-night lock-ins, where sailors will be invited to raid the chef’s fridge and dig into a midnight feast.

GEONBAE

 

 

Image: Virgin Voyages Geonbae Restaurant

Geonbae, the equivalent of the expression bottoms up in Korean, is a Korean BBQ restaurant designed by Soft Room.

Hosted by the loudest servers at sea, each meal will begin with a complimentary round of soju for the table and throughout the evening sailors are encouraged to take part in lively Korean drinking games.

Image: Virgin Voyages – Geonbae Restaurant

A social, hands on, interactive, fun dining experience, Geonbae features specially engineered flameless grills built into each table and invites Sailors to literally play with their food as they cook their perfect BBQ.

PINK AGAVE

Image: Virgin Voyages – Pink Agave Upscale Mexican Restaurant

An elevated Mexican restaurant designed by Tom Dixon, Pink Agave transports sailors to the vibrant streets of Mexico City through immersive void lighting.

Image: Virgin Voyages – Blue Agave Mexican Restaurant

Offering a wide variety of Mexican specialties that inspire sailors to discover authentic Mexican flavours including tlayudas, memelas, sopes, tortas, esquites, and tamales.

Image: Virgin Voyages Pink Agave Mexican Restaurant

Pink Agave’s dishes can be paired with a cocktail from the Scarlet Lady’s expansive collection of mezcals, or signature Agua Fresca cocktails. Pink Agave is designed to be a lively shared plate restaurant experience, where the DJ amps up the energy of the room as the evening hours slip away.

EXTRA VIRGIN

Image: Virgin Voyages Italian Restaurant Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin is the ships trattoria serving regionally-inspired and approachable food, deeply rooted in Italian culinary traditions with handmade fresh pasta made daily.  A meal begins with shared antipasti followed by approachable pasta-centric favourites.

Image: Virgin Voyages – Italian Restaurant Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin features a wide and wonderful world of amari and digestivi and traditional Italian aperitifs. The wine list will be designed with a unique infographic system to help sailors better understand Italian wines, enabling them to navigate to the perfect bottle.  The integration of a Coravin at the bar will allow sailors to taste rare Italian wines by the glass.  Extra Virgin will offer an Aperitivo hour each day with drink specials and small plates.

DOCK

Image: Virgin Voyages – Dock

The dock is a perfect place to hang day and night.  Set at the aft of the ship on deck 7, The Dock is a beach club-inspired space.

Image: Virgin Voyages Dock RestaurantCarts of Mediterranean small plates, salads, dips and mezzes provide perfect grazing options throughout the day.  Flame grilled to order skewers provide filling hot options for those wanting a substantial bite to eat.

THE GALLEY

Image: Virgin Voyages The Galley

The Galley will be the main space for the quick and casual meal throughout the day.

Image: Virgin Voyages – The Galley

The food hall will feature a mix of more than eight shops and food carts. Each one offering a unique concept, with irresistible signature dishes that changes to suit the time of day.

Image: Virgin Voyages – The Galley Food Hall

The Galley’s concept includes;

  • Dedicated bakery and pastry shop
  • Panini shop
  • Burger grill
  • Taco shack
  • Sushi bar with bento boxes
  • Noodle bar
  • Soup and salad stand
  • 24-hour American diner.

THE PIZZA PLACE

Image: Virgin Voyages – Pizza Place

The beach club-inspired Pizza Place offers a quick, easy and delicious meal.  Sailors can choose from the classic menu or design their very own pizza.

Image: Virgin Voyages – Pizza Place

This is a great spot for a casual lunch or late-night, post drink, hunger buster.

With such international cuisine, you can see how Scarlet Lady offers you the world on a plate!

Virtual Tour

I’ve created a video to help bring the ship to life. It’s on my YouTube channel. If you are not already, why not subscribe to my channel. If you like the video please give it a thumbs up. Feel free to leave a comments about your thoughts on the Virgin Voyages dining concept, below.

Recommended Reading

Champagne Delivery at the Shake of Your Phone

More information can be found at Virgin Voyages

The Most Irresistible Vessel on Earth?

Modern, Cutting Edge 18 and Over Sanctuary at Sea

It’s what all cruise lines are trying to do but will Virgin Voyages lead the way in persuading people to take their first voyage on a cruise ship? I’ve compiled the renderings in this short video, to try and capture the essence of the first Lady Ship.

In true Virgin style, the company has approached the creation of a cruise ship in a very different and risky way. No surprises there! The decision for the first ship’s experience to be “Adult By Design” (minimum sailing age is 18), was made after feedback received from future sailors and travel professionals who are looking for a more premium experience with some Virgin style surprises thrown in.

Tom McAlpin, CEO and President of Virgin Voyages announced at the latest ship design reveal in New York, “Adult by Design, means we are designing a modern, cutting edge 18 and over sanctuary at sea”.  Virgin Voyages also promises to be one of the cleanest fleets at sea.

Tom McAlpin President and CEO of Virgin Voyages speaking in New York at the latest ship design reveal.

The design team, otherwise known as the Creative Collective, are respected visionaries known for their forward thinking designs. Tom McAlpin credited them by saying “Our Creative Collective have contributed tremendously towards ensuring that we will become the most irresistible, alluring and recognisable vessel anywhere on earth”.

Part of Virgin Voyages Creative Collective Design Team talking at the design reveal in New York.

More Than A Cruise

McAlpin continued “At Virgin Voyages we pride ourselves on being more than just another cruise line, which is why in everything we do and every decision we make, we are always working to redefine how the world views sea travel.”

“It’s why we named the company Virgin Voyages, because we see this as more than a cruise. This is a journey. It’s why we designed our ships to be smaller than most, to provide a more personal and intimate experience for our sailors. and its why with each step we take we are working to change the way this kind of vacation not only looks, feels but most importantly how it is experienced.”

Virgin Voyages SVP Product Design, Dee Cooper, who was responsible for leading the design and experience work at Virgin Atlantic, had never been on a cruise ship before this project. Talking about her approach to this project in New York,  she said “We wanted to give our Sailors lots of  choice, and if you think about this amazing city that we are in at the moment, you choose to go uptown and glam it up and be refined and glamorous, and you chose to go downtown to the West Village and be a bit more relaxed. And we wanted to give our Sailors diversity across the ship.”

It’s Very Risky To Do What Virgin Voyages Have Done

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages Richard’s Rooftop, VIP Space – located right at the front at the top of the ship celebrating the ocean

Tom Dixon of the Design Research Studio in London, responsible for Richard’s Rooftop and the upscale Mexican restaurant, Pink Agave said,  “It’s very risky to do what Virgin Voyages have done here. To get a load of people that have never been on a ship before. But there’s a logic to that madness. Which is if you are going to encourage people to go on cruises of a new demographic, then why not use designers that have not been on a cruise and say ‘what would it be to entice you to go on a cruise?’ maybe.”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages Retrofuturism – The Romance of Sailing, where the glamour of the past meets the glamour of the future.

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – Richard’s Rooftop designed by Tom Dixon

Tom says he has been influenced by the glamorous age and romance of cruising “which has partially vanished and been replaced by synthetic glamour in a lot of cases. Somewhere between the glamour of the 20’s and 30’s and the glamour of the future, which is something that doesn’t seem to happen anymore.” According to Dee Cooper, Tom fondly refers to this approach as Retrofuturism.

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – Richard’s Rooftop

Designers Thrive On Restrictions

Pink Agave – Upscale Mexican Restaurant

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – Pink Agave Mexican Restaurant designed by Tom Dixon

When asked what was different about working in a cruise ship environment, Tom replied “The idea of diversity in a controlled environment was interesting and unique.  The challenges included technical, low ceilings, steel construction, vast amounts of restrictions in terms of  materials the flammability and wear and tear, but restrictions are what designers thrive on. Battling but being inspired by them equally.”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – Pink Agave Mexican Restaurant designed by Tom Dixon

Virgin Always Challenge the Cliché

Rob Wagemans – Concrete Founder Creative Director, responsible for The Test Kitchen and The Athletic Club said “Virgin is Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll.” Rob is from Amsterdam with offices in the Red Light District and says that teaming up with Virgin Voyages “Could not be a better match. Virgin always challenge the cliche and they look at the world in a different way than the majority of the world does and they see that the modern society has a different behaviour than the past.”

“They really know how to treat me well on an airplane and no other airline can do it like Virgin does. So if they come to me and say – What I’ve done with the air industry I want to do again on the sea, can you help me? –  I say Hell Yes! As long as I don’t have to go on a Disney Cruise.”

Don’t Let A Cruise Line Dictate Your Lifestyle

Rob continued “What I like is that the ship is full of contrast. There are a lot of places that are calm and a lot of places that are extremely crazy, and luckily we have a lot of crazy spaces. So we really used this philosophy of being disruptive and trying to really change the perspective of what the audience wants. Do they want to have a 7 day calm experience that is different everyday? Or do they want to have fifteen different experiences throughout the day or throughout half a day? And I think the last thing is what people really like. They zap from one world to the other world and from sophistication into casual and that could happen in an hour and this ship will provide all these different worlds by different designers and they are all in contrast and you can live the lifestyle you like and not the lifestyle that the brand of the ship dictates.”

The Test Kitchen – A Restaurant and A Laboratory

You can visit The Test Kitchen many times and have a completely different experience. Concrete Amsterdam’s Head of Interior Design, Lisa Hassanzadeh explains “In the first place its not only a restaurant, its a laboratory and that’s very distinguishable from other restaurants we have done before. So it has a double function you can of course have dinner there, but during the day it’s a cooking school, but not only that it’s also a laboratory for being the best barista or becoming an expert in beer and wine. So you can get really your hands dirty there as well . But there is a great dining and drinking experience there in the evening.”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Test Kitchen designed by Concrete Amsterdam

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Test Kitchen designed by Concrete Amsterdam

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Test Kitchen designed by Concrete Amsterdam

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Test Kitchen designed by Concrete Amsterdam

The Athletic Club

Rob refers to this as “A contrast within spaces. Its a huge space on the top. We were inspired by the downtown Athletic Club in New York not just about sporting but the social life that happens in the dressing rooms where the muscled men would socialise and eat oysters. In the end, sports is about two things, being active, being sweaty, creating a better shape for your body and the second part is that you look at them, you look at the bodies, look at the winners, so we decided to combine these two spaces.”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Athletic Club designed by Concrete Amsterdam

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Athletic Club designed by Concrete Amsterdam

“We have huge sunbathing beds where you can look at people jogging on the jogging track. The bar below with trophies dressed in gold as you are a winner. There is a boxing ring, basketball court, outdoor and indoor gym, cabana for a nap and privacy, brain training games, all kinds of things, interesting food to feed your body with healthiness, so everything is in harmony. We challenge every aspect of the concept. Total harmony within spaces.”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Athletic Club designed by Concrete Amsterdam

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Athletic Club designed by Concrete Amsterdam

The Dock

Located at the aft (back) of the ship on deck 7, The Dock has been designed by Roman and Williams. Co-Founders, Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer wanted to capture the essence of what they love about the sea.

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Dock designed by Roman and Williams

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Dock designed by Roman and Williams

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Dock designed by Roman and Williams

When looking for inspiration, Robin Standefer says they “were thinking about a dock with an incredible restaurant, Morocco very salty, chilled.”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Dock designed by Roman and Williams

Robin Standefer explains the vision for The Dock. “The design is understated, its beautiful but its more about the food and the people in the space.”

The Manor

Roman and Williams are well known for their incredible designs is New York’s top nightclubs The Boom Boom Room and The Guilded Lily. You can clearly see their design style in the elaborate and beautiful lighting throughout the venue.

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Manor – nightclub designed by Roman and Williams

Robin Standefer says “We wanted to create a myth. Together we really helped to create a certain drama with the lighting. It’s got a Mezzanine and balcony and amazing lights, like mirrored ball, chandeliers that almost breathe like a jellyfish, as they curl up and down. We want to melt their inhibitions and then allow them to have a powerful and memorable experience.”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Manor – nightclub designed by Roman and Williams

When talking about the nightclub, Dee Cooper declared “If Virgin can’t do the best nightclub at sea, no-one can. It’s in our DNA!”

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Manor – nightclub designed by Roman and Williams

Image Credit: Virgin Voyages – The Manor – nightclub designed by Roman and Williams

“We needed to do more on this ship.” said Dee Cooper,  “We needed to think about the lifestyles all of us lead in these amazing cities we live in around the world. Whether it’s New York or London, or it’s holiday destinations like Ibiza or Miami, we know that we all have amazing vacation and holiday experiences and our sailors expect the same, and these guys (Creative Collective) really created quintessential holiday romance for everybody.”

Cruise Cynics

But is the design of a cruise ship enough to encourage people to try out their sea legs? I talked to someone who has vowed cruising is not for her, to see if these renderings would give her second thoughts.

Image Credit : thelondoner.me Valentina needs a bit more convincing before stepping onboard a cruise ship.

Valentina De Pertis – Cyber Security CMO (and sister-in-law)  Instagram: @vdepertis

“It love the renderings, it looks absolutely stunning, the deck looks wonderful. It’s a good idea for Virgin to do something like this. However moving it to a completely different target audience, for example people who don’t like cruising, or people who wouldn’t normally go cruising, young adults or something, I think a nice deck and a beautiful ship isn’t enough.”

“There are already nice decks and beautiful ships and presidential suits on other boats. There are lovely areas that already exist. So it’s not enough to get the people who are stereotypically and unfairly biased against it.”

“You would really have to change the people. So having more young adults in the same industry, maybe young influencers, getting people blogging from a certain age interested in it.”

“Also, changing up the food, because the food is already really good quality, but just modernising it, and onboard entertainment.”

“So really the whole experience would have to change, apart from the destinations because going to multiple destinations is already beautiful.”

“You’re stuck on this boat, and if you’re stuck with people who might not be your type of people, or with food that’s absolutely gorgeous, but maybe not something that you would search out if you were on land. If they get all of that sorted out then I actually would book a trip I think and we (the family) all would.”

How A Cruise Ship Is Made

Although everyone was excited to hear about and see the renderings of the cruise lines first ship, Tom McAlpin gave an interesting summary as to the ship building process. He said “It starts with one year of designing followed by another full year of engineering before any construction even begins. Then they start construction by cutting a load of steel followed by the laying of the keel which is the first section of the ship. This is a big block and they place it into the dry dock. They include a lucky keel coin which is a maritime tradition for blessing the vessel for good fortune.” You can read more about this in my post  Getting Laid In Genoa with Boy George. 

Here is the video I took in Genoa of Richard Branson welding the lucky coin into the keel.

Image Credit: Nikola Petrovic – Virgin Voyages Chief Engineer – “Proud moment to see the first main engine being installed in the engine room for our first ship.”

Virgin Voyages first Ladyship will be constructed of 108  blocks in total.  48 blocks weighing up to 6,000 tons each have been built so far and they are up to deck 16. The ship is being built in three different shipyards. Romania, Palermo and Genoa and will all come together in Genoa in July for the ‘Hook Up’ Event. She will sail 7 night Caribbean itineraries from Miami, Florida.

 

Scarlet Lady Keel Laying Ceremony

After a month long countdown to the #ShipTease, I still can’t believe the day I had at the keel laying ceremony with Virgin Voyages. Thank goodness I invested my time and money in going to the event. Now I feel I have a much clearer picture of the vision intended for the new cruise line.

Somehow I ended up in a VIP group hosted by Stacy Shaw, Vice President of Sales and Business Development. We were taken to a conference room at the Fincantieri offices. CEO and President of Virgin Voyages, Tom McAlpin greeted us and asked us if we wanted a glass of champagne. Silly question. With that the sliding doors rolled apart. There stood Sir Richard donning an officers jacket, wheeling a trolley loaded with champagne on ice. What a wonderful surprise!

Sir Richard Branson serves champagne to Travel Partners at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, to celebrate the keel getting laid in Genoa.

Working With Travel Agents

There has been much speculation as to whether Virgin Voyages will be working with Travel Partners on this, and although nothing has been announced, Sir Richard did say that he had been told by Tom that the group in the room (apart from me) were very important and that he had to make a good impression. With that, he got down on his knees and pretended to kiss the feet of one of the guests. Take from that what you will, but why spend all that money on flying people from the US over to Genoa, putting them up in a five star hotel and plying them with champagne, if you have no intention of working with them?

Over 18’s Only

So the next big thing that has everyone talking, is the over 18 policy. Although it has been reported as adult only, Virgin Voyages is keen to use the term Adult By Design. Why? Because the term “adult only” conjures up the image of a strip club, and that could not be further from the vision of a holistic, sophisticated, sanctuary at sea that offers a place for rejuvenation, relaxation and exploration.

It’s understandable that some people may feel a bit disappointed that they can’t take their kids onboard. I felt the same at first. When I travel for pleasure I take my 4 year old son with me. An over 18 policy makes it challenging for me to go on one. But then when I started to imagine the reality of a cruise with no kids onboard, it made me think that actually I would LOVE the option to go on a cruise without kids. If I can’t do it now, then it will be something to look forward to, but think of all those people who CAN go.

In fact this morning I saw comments in a Facebook fan group for one of the major cruise lines, where people were saying they thought it was a great idea, and wished the cruise line they were “loyal” to, would do the same. Virgin said they had taken the decision based on customer feedback, so clearly there is a demand for it. Whether those people are existing cruisers or existing Virgin Holidays customers, I don’t know, but either way they are definitely onto something.

Does It Look Like A Ship?

Well did the first car look like a horse and cart? This is NOT a cruise ship. Forget everything you/we know of cruising as it is today. Virgin Voyages’ First Ladyship is more of a mega super yacht with it’s smoked glass and silvery-grey hull. The cruise line are also declaring their commitment to the happiness of their crew, with better accommodation than any other cruise ship. I wonder if they will include gratuities in their fares (ooh don’t mention gratuities!)

Clime Onboard A Cleaner Ship

I want to talk about how these ships are going to be so much more energy efficient than ships out there at the moment. I want to tell you how the Swedish company Climeon have found a way to make these ships save masses of CO2. All I know is that they have discovered a way to turn waste hot water into energy and that it may be a good time to buy shares in Climeon. This video will give you a better idea of what they have designed.

What A Night!

To those of you that follow my blog you will know that this event was my first official press gig. That could be a problem because I don’t think there is likely to be anything like this again, well at least for another year, and I will probably be banned from that one after they see my video.

All I want to say is, what a way to start! I hope you have enjoyed reading about it and that you will take a look at the video I have put together in an attempt to capture the vibe.

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Richard Branson Finally Gets His Ship Together

“I have never been on a cruise, and never wanted to – they sound stuffy and dull. “But I would love to go on a Voyage – they sound adventurous, exciting and glamorous.” Richard Branson

We are just days away from the Virgin Voyages Keel Laying Ceremony. Taking place at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Genoa, Richard Branson has promised to reveal more about the new cruise line.

The daily countdown to the event, branded #ShipTease has reminded the social media world how the Virgin Group do things differently. Richard Branson is the peoples’ person and rather than sit behind a desk giving corporate interviews about the direction of the brand, he chooses to re-enact the famous scene from Rocky, by running up the the 72 stone steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Not bad for a man of 67, but then again that’s nothing considering an example of a Richard Branson family holiday is an eight day mountain hike starting at the Matterhorn in Switzerland, then cycling 100 miles a day through the mountains from the northern most point of Italy to the southern most point. From there, swimming to Sicily, followed by another bike ride, and a marathon which would take them to the top of Mount Etna. This family are certainly not afraid of taking on a challenge!

The World’s Most Gorgeous Ship

Richard Branson has dreamt of starting a cruise line since he was 27 years old, and now he’s making it a reality. Virgin Voyages have placed an order for three mid sized cruise ships, which ties in nicely with the brands’ vision about being the best rather than the biggest.

Although Virgin Voyages have remained tight lipped on ship renderings, let’s see what we can imagine based on the experiences the cruise line have promised to deliver so far;

  • To build a bold new cruise line
  • The World’s most gorgeous ships with irresistible style
  • It’s all about you, the sailor
  • Far from ordinary
  • Mission to bring “true sea change” to cruising
  • Ports offering “unique and very sociable experiences”
  • Commitment to launch one of the cleanest fleets at sea
  • Celebrate curiosity not force you to follow one itinerary
  • Sailing beyond the World thats known on the ship of things to come
  • The Creative Collective, a unique team of Designers and Architects known for creating trends not following them

Don’t Miss The #ShipTease

There was such high demand for people to attend the Keel Laying Ceremony in Genoa, that Virgin Voyages were unable to cover travelling expenses. That has prevented a lot of people from going, but I will be there. I have scraped everything together to fund this trip as I believe that it will be a truly memorable occasion. I live and breathe the cruise industry, but my own personal values match that of the Virgin brand, free spirited, customer focused, honest, fun and to be the best. So for these two to come together, makes me really excited for the future of cruising.

For those not going in person, it will be live streamed from 1900 GMT on their Facebook page 

You can also follow any of my social media channels for photos and news from the evening.

Don’t know what a Keel Laying Ceremony Is? Click here to find out.

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