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7 Things We Learned About Virgin Voyages’ First Cruise Ship

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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?

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.

    Pink Agave will be the high-end Mexican restaurant aboard Virgin’s first ship. Rendering courtesy of Virgin Voyages.

  3. 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?”
  4. 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.”

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    This rendering shows Tom Dixon’s design for the high-end VIP area which will sit atop the ship. Image courtesy of Virgin Voyages.

  5. 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.”
  6. 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 differents 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.”

    This rendering shows The Dock, designed by Roman & Williams, and described as “an outdoor lifestyle space with a focus on comfort, social life and an appreciation for the ship’s gorgeous views.” Rendering courtesy of Virgin Voyages

  7. 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? 

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Cruise Ships Diverted By Tropical Storm

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If there’s one thing cruisers have learned over the past couple years, it’s that Mother Nature gets an almost perverse thrill out of throwing a wrench into the best laid vacation plans. So it should come as no surprise that Tropical Storm Alberto is causing several cruise lines to make itinerary changes in order to avoid unpleasant weather as best they can.

Two Carnival Ships Impacted So Far

As of Saturday morning, the National Weather Service’s Twitter feed reported that Alberto was “moving northward toward the Southeastern Gulf of Mexico.” Meanwhile, Carnival announced that two of their ships would slightly alter their itineraries in order to avoid the storm’s path.

Carnival Fantasy

Carnival Fantasy was one of two of the line’s ships to alter itineraries as a result of Tropical Storm Alberto. Photo, as well as featured photo, courtesy Carnival Cruise Line. 

Although scheduled to visit Cozumel on Saturday, the Carnival Valor instead went to Progreso. From there, it will, as previously planned, spend a Fun Day at Sea on Sunday before returning on Monday to Galveston, Texas. Meanwhile, the Carnival Fantasy made the same change to its own itinerary — swapping Cozumel for Progreso — followed by a sea day on Sunday before returning to Mobile, Alabama on Monday.

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Royal Caribbean Itinerary Changed

Meanwhile, according to the Royal Caribbean Blog, that line’s Majesty of the Seas also skipped its scheduled Cozumel stop in order to avoid the storm, instead spending the night in Havana, Cuba. And in news unrelated to the storm, Royal’s Vision of the Seas apparently experienced a ship-wide blackout for about 15 minutes earlier this week. According to announcements made by the captain, the power loss was caused by “a technical malfunction” which was later resolved, allowing the ship to resume her 12-night Mediterranean cruise out of Barcelona.

Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the seas spent the night in Havana, Cuba.

With the storm continuing its approach, and Governor Rick Scott having Saturday morning declared a State of Emergency across Florida in anticipation of its arrival, there is every likelihood that the cruise lines could announce more itinerary changes in the hours and days to come. Cruise Radio will update this story as it learns of any such developments.

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Inside The Party For Carnival Horizon [PHOTOS]

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Given that Queen Latifah is the Godmother of Carnival’s newest ship, you had to know a good time was going to be had by all at the Carnival Horizon’s official naming ceremony. Held in New York City on a picture-perfect afternoon, the event featured plenty of food, lots of drink, singing, dancing and even a pretty substantial charitable donation.

Welcome To Flavortown

Things got under way with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as celebrity chef Guy Fieri welcomed guests to the latest outpost of Flavortown, the Pig & Anchor Smokehouse/Brewhouse. With live music playing, servers dished out hearty helpings of the venue’s signature foods, including trashcan nachos, dragon chili cheese fries and a pecan pie that was, according to the genuine Southern belle at our table, “to die for.”

Guy Fieri and brewmeister Colin Presby, doing the honors.

After that, the traditional naming ceremony kicked off with Brand Ambassador John Heald offering up a tip of the hat to “the one man to blame” for the fact that “I now have X’s in the back of everything I’m wearing,” Fieri.

Next up was the traditional prayer of blessing, followed by Carnival president Christine Duffy welcoming everyone aboard before discussing the very special bond between the cruise line and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Speaking proudly of the $16 million dollars raised by Carnival since the partnership first began in 2010, Duffy then presented the hospital with a check for another $100,000 and directed everyone’s eyes to the 24-foot Dreamscape, which anchors the atrium and now features among it’s displays 33 pieces of art created by St. Jude patients.

Artwork done by St. Jude patients lit up the Dreamscape.

Next up was the ship’s Godmother, Queen Latifah, who also happens to be a major supporter of St. Jude. After thanking the crowd “for looking so good,” Latifah asked everyone to take another look at the artwork-adorned Dreamscape. “My mom was an art teacher,” she said of her recently-deceased parent, “so I appreciate what the kids do. I know what it does for a child’s heart to create like that.”

Of being Godmother to a cruise ship, Latifah admitted it was “one of the coolest things I’ve ever been asked to be a part of in my life!” She was then joined on stage by Captain Luigi De Angelis and, together, they poured an oversized bottle of champagne (“This is the only time the captain will hold a bottle of champagne like this,” quipped Heald) over the ship’s inaugural season bell.

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“Only at Carnival Cruise Line,” quipped Heald of the ceremony, “do we water the plants with Moet.”

With the official business of the day out of the way, it was time for the fun to start in the Liquid Lounge, where Latifah battled Philadelphia Eagles player Jake Elliot in an epic Lip Sync Battle hosted by popular Carnival cruise director Matt Mitcham. But before the main event could begin, the crowd was in for an unexpected treat when Duffy was joined on stage by Carnival Corp’s President and CEO, Arnold Donald, for a lip synched performance of The Black Eyed Peas’ party anthem “I Gotta Feeling.”

Duffy and Donald proved they definitely choose fun.

With Duffy cheering on Elliot, and Donald firmly in the Queen’s corner, the main event began. And while footballer Elliott took the pumped-up crowd back to the days of MTV’s Headbangers Ball by donning a massive wig to perform Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” this was Latifah’s battle to lose. And if you know anything about the singer/actor/businesswoman — who also happens to be a past Lip Sync Battle champion — it’s that she does not come to lose. The moment she and the Playlist Productions performers took to the stage to perform “It’s Raining Men,” it was all over but the cheering. Of the stripping background dancers, Mitcham joked that Latifah’s performance was “like Baywatch and Magic Mike went wild,” while Donald said that the dancers “inspired me to keep my shirt on!”  

Elliott put up a good fight, but he couldn’t dethrone the Queen.

Before being crowned the winner, Latifah admitted there was one thing about her new role which she’d found disappointing. “Shouldn’t Godmother’s have a wand?” she asked… only to promptly be presented one, with which she sprinkled “love dust over the crowd, even my sworn enemy Jake.”

The evening ended with a bang… or, more precisely, a whole lot of bangs.

With the scheduled events of the evening over, invited guests dispersed to enjoy the live entertainment taking place all around the ship, as well as movies in the Imax and Thriller Theaters, a party on the Lido deck, a midnight buffet and an impressive fireworks display that was, appropriately enough, set in part to the tune “New York, New York.” 

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June Special: Kids Sail Free to the Bahamas

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With summer around the corner, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has a special deal for families traveling with kids. Valid for all June cruises, those 16 and under will sail free if they’re staying in the same stateroom with two paying parents.

With the school year wrapping up and Father’s Day on June 17, it’s the perfect time for a quick escape to the Bahamas. Both of the line’s ships, Grand Classica and Grand Celebration offer a number of activities for guests on their way to the island. There are youth clubs divided by age, swimming pools, multiple dining options, a mini movie theater, mini rock climbing wall, a ball pit, and more.

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There’s also a number of shore excursions that families can take part in once they arrive, including snorkeling, a beach day, cruising the beach in an open-top Jeep, swimming with dolphins, parasailing, kayaking, glass-bottom boat tours, and more.

For more information, visit bahamasparadisecruiseline.com.

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