Even as both Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines were rolling out new ships, the folks at Virgin Voyages made sure to remind everyone that very soon, they’ll be throwing their hat into the ring when their first ship is rolled out in 2020. During a Facebook Live event Wednesday evening, Virgin hosted a panel featuring some of the ship’s designers… and gave us a first look at what their new ship will offer! So what did they reveal?
- They want to reinvent cruising.
“We pride ourself on being more than just another cruise line,” said Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of Virgin Voyages, during the “ship tease” in New York City. “It’s why we designed our ships to be smaller than most to provide a more personal and intimate experience for our sailors. And it’s 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’s experienced.”
- It really will be an adult’s only ship.
Described as “adult by design” by McAlpin, he went on to say, “which means that we are designing a modern cutting-edge 18-and-over sanctuary at sea.” This particular announcement definitely got a rousing round of applause from those in attendance.
- Many of the people involved had never been on a cruise before.
Designer Tom Dixon, who worked on — among other things — the ship’s high-end Mexican restaurant, Pink Agave — praised Virgin for thinking outside the box. “The idea of working on the sea for the first time appealed to me a lot,” he admitted. “It’s quite risky to do what Virgin has done here: Get a bunch of people who have never been on a cruise before… there’s a logic to that madness, which is that if you’re going to encourage people to go on cruises, a new demographic, then why not use designers that haven’t been on a cruise and say, ‘Well, what would it be that would entice you to go on a cruise?”
- This will be a high-end ship… with an even higher-end VIP area.
While discussing the top-deck VIP area (known as Richard’s Rooftop after Virgin founder Richard Branson), the panel discussed the fact that there was a certain challenge to making that space stand out when the entire ship was designed to be a lux experience. Dixon said that cruise ships are “amazing structures with an amazing view, and what you want to do really is bring comfort and a higher level of materiality and probably a bit of calm into the proceedings” while “minimalizing some of the visual noise.”
- Virgin is looking to bring back the glamour via “retro futurism.”
“The influences were partly to do with the glamorous age of cruise liners,” says Dixon. “There was this romance to cruising that I think has partially vanished. I mean, it’s been replaced with synthetic glamour in a lot of cases.” With Virgin having left behind some of its previous endeavors and looking toward cruising and space travel, the designer was captivated by the intersection of “somewhere between the glamour of the 20s and 30s and the glamour of the future… is a rather interesting combination.”
- The ship is looking to be all things to all people.
“What I really like,” said Rob Wagemans of the design firm Concrete Amsterdam, “is the ship is full of contrasts. A lot of spaces that are calm, and a lot of spaces that are extremely crazy! We really used this philosophy of being disruptive and trying to really change the perspective of what the audience wants. Do they really want to have a 7-day calm experience… or do they want to have 15 different experiences through the day?” At the end of the day, because different designers were used to create different spaces, Wageman says that, “You can live the lifestyle that you like, and not the lifestyle that the brand of the ship dictates.”
- There’s a LOT of white.
Based on the renderings shown of the VIP area, a “test kitchen” restaurant and other public spaces, this is a ship that is almost blindingly white. (Guess with no kids on board, there’s less concern about juice boxes being spilled on those nice white loungers!)Are you excited about the first ship from Virgin Voyages? What do you find most appealing about what’s been revealed so far?