PHOTO: Virgin Voyages initially cuts the steel for its first ship. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Voyages)
The start of an entirely new cruise line is here.
Virgin Voyages commemorated initial construction on its first ever of three ordered vessels at a steel-cutting ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy with the festivities broadcast on Facebook Live.
President and CEO Tom McAlpin was present, along with shipyard representatives, to introduce hull number 6287—the current designation for the as-yet-unnamed ship set to come online in 2020. Above the steel plate was bulky machinery that was even branded for the event.
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The overhead crane read, “Make Ship Happen,” while the track below was playfully labeled, “Hi. I’m the steel cutting machine.”
Before said machine came to life, four women in red overalls hoisting Virgin flags flanked the stage, and McAlpin made some opening remarks including, from a press release:
"Today is the moment when our intrepid, romantic and irresistible vision for Virgin Voyages starts to become tangible. I’ve been inspired by the passion from all those involved, it’s so exciting as we continue to work together to bring true sea change to the cruise industry.”
READ MORE: Sir Richard Branson Introduces Virgin Voyages
Renderings of the final ship have yet to be shared, but McAlpin did reveal a list of creatives who are designing:
— Roman and Williams: Stephen Alesch, Co-Founder; Robin Standefer, Co-Founder
— Concrete Amsterdam: Rob Wagemans, Architect / Creative Director / Founder; Kasia Hiejerman, Architect
— Design Research Studio: Tom Dixon, Creative Director; Gareth Payne, Head of Interior Design; Helen Arvanitakis, Managing Director
— Gem SRL: Giacomo Mortola, Architect / Founder
— Softroom: Chris Bagot, Director & Co-Founder; Oliver Salway, Co-Founder
— WORKac: Dan Wood, Co-Founder
— Knibb: Sean Knibb, Founder
— HL Studio: Patrick Hegarty, Owner; Emil Leon, Creative Director
— HKS inc.: Olga Acosta, Associate Principal, Interior; Adele Cuartelon, Designer
— Pearson Lloyd: Luke Pearson, Co-Founder
READ MORE: What Might We Expect from Virgin Voyages Come 2020
McAlpin added, “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. 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.”
While Virgin Group paragon Sir Richard Branson was not present in person, he did lead a countdown to the pressing of the steel-cutting button remotely.
What first emerged, presented by two men in red overalls, was the Virgin Voyages logo in metal form, which tieless executives then proceeded to sign for posterity. At other times, a ship silhouette is outlined instead, but alas no hints of its shape were given away at the ceremony.
Nonetheless, it was pretty cool to see live video of the submerged plasma cutter super heated and dividing the thick steel, which is available for playback here.
What we do know is the ship will measure in at about 110,000 gross tons, with 2,700 “sailors” and 1,150 “spirited crew” onboard. It will depart from PortMiami for the Caribbean, followed by two sister-ships, only known for now as hull numbers 6288 and 6289.
The broadcast was difficult to hear, but it did sound like more in the way of the ship’s design will be unveiled at the keel-laying ceremony at the end of the year, which indicates that a number of larger blocks will be assembled prior to laying any of them in the building basin.