First look at Virgin Voyages' new ship as pre-sale list opens

Virgin Voyages' first cruise ship, to be launched in 2020, will be adults-only, it was revealed at a keel-laying ceremony yesterday.

Rendering of front of ship.

Richard Branson and the president and CEO of Virgin Voyages Tom McAlpin showed up at the keel laying announcement for Virgin Voyages in an air cage. They were joined by Fincantieri's Alberto Maestrini and Bain Capital chairman Stephen Pagliuca to weld ceremonial coins into the keel.

The three vessels, called "Lady Ships", don't have names yet, but the design unveiled today featured a silver-grey design with smoked glass and the image of a mermaid decked out in Virgin's iconic red, creating what Branson says "will be the most recognizable ship sailing the seven seas".

Virgin Voyages' first-ever cruise ship will only be open to the 18-plus crowd.

"The entire ship will be built with an attention to detail, reflecting the craftsmanship and materiality inspired by super yachts", said McAlpin. The livery was conceptualized by Ben Christie and David Azurdia from the Magpie Studio in London.

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Aside from the age restrictions, Branson and McAlpin revealed some of the ship's other features that they hope will make it stand out from the rest of the market. The spirit of our ship will be represented by a handsome mermaid design that will adorn the bow.

What do we know about Virgin Voyages? The company said the mermaid was inspired by figureheads on historic vessels and was designed by London-based artist Toby Tinsley, who also designed the feminine motif for Branson's Virgin Galactic spaceflight company. Putting down the deposit will get cruisers on the pre-sale list and be among the first to secure a cabin.

McAlpin wrapped up the ceremony by introducing Grammy Award-winning artist Boy George who then performed as the night's superstar DJ.

Virgin Voyages did not elaborate on any of its "surprises", though McAlpin said Virgin Voyages is committed to creating a "sophisticated ship and a transformational experience" for passengers to enjoy both daytime activities and "exciting nightlife". These creators are responsible for some of the most talked about travel spaces in the world, including Ace Hotels, The Standard High Line and Mondrian Hotels.

Virgin Voyages, which will be sailing itineraries in the Caribbean, will also be turning ship waste into energy, thanks to a partnership with Scanship. At some stage, Virgin will also have ships for kids. Keep watch on virginvoyages.com for more updates.

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