Virgin’s ‘adult only’ cruise ships equipped with green tech; maiden voyage set for 2020

Richard Branson has unveiled three ‘adult only’ Virgin cruise ships that will cost $2.55bn (£1.9bn) in total to build and will take to the seas in 2020.

At a ‘ship tease’ event in Genoa, Italy, the first ship’s keel (the lengthwise structure along the base of a ship) was laid to mark the commencement of construction.

“This is a very big day for Virgin Voyages, as an exciting new holiday option for travellers starts to get ship shape,” Branson said.

“She will be the most recognisable ship sailing the seven seas, delivering an irresistible sailor experience. We’re also committed to making sure our crew are the happiest at sea and will be proud to sail with us.”

The ships will use some innovative ‘green’ technology in order to increase energy efficiency and minimise the impact they have on the environment when sailing.

Virgin has signed an agreement with waste management company Scanship in order to develop a system that uses microwave technology to convert much of each ship’s waste into energy.

They have also partnered with Sweden’s Climeon to recycle waste heat that’s generated and convert it to clean electricity. The system cost several million dollars per ship, but improves its efficiency in the long term.

“The entire ship will be built with an attention to detail, reflecting the craftsmanship and materiality inspired by super yachts,” said Virgin CEO Tom McAlpin.

“Designed to feel more intimate and connected to the sea, 86 per cent of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93 per cent an ocean view. 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.”

The ships are designed to be “Adult By Design”, meaning that passengers must be at least 18 or older to sail, which will allow Virgin to provide a more “premium experience” the company said.

Virgin Voyages’ first fleet will be known as the “Lady Ships” and will include a mermaid design adorning the bow inspired by figureheads on historic vessels.

Future passengers can place a $500 refundable deposit for access to an exclusive pre-sale before Virgin Voyages goes on general sale.

Last week, it was revealed that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia will back Virgin’s space tourism venture with a $1bn investment in Virgin Galactic and other Virgin space projects. 

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