I felt a bit like James Bond as I arrived by speedboat to celebrate the big name reveal with the team at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. It’s so exciting to see the progress being made - we’re nearly halfway through building our first ship.
It was also momentous moment as she touched water for the first time as CEO Tom McAlpin and I turned the wheel to flood the drydock. This will get her ready for jumboisation (to you and me, that means joining multiple sections of the ship together). We also cut the first pieces of steel for Virgin Voyages’ second ship and got a tour behind the scenes – it’s all really starting to come together.
When Virgin Atlantic first came onto the scene they were much like Virgin Voyages, a small player in a massive industry filled with tradition and routine. But I imagined that we could do things differently, that we could deliver a product that put the customer at the forefront of the experience. It was wonderful to hear Tom McAlpin’s vision of how Virgin Voyages will build ships and experiences that support the well-being of our crew and sailors and do everything possible to protect the precious ocean.
If you’re thinking you could do with a dose of vitamin sea, Virgin Voyages will provide a cruise experience like no other. Whether you want to try out some new fitness classes, do some sunrise yoga or relax in the spa and thermal suite, the ship will have everything you could ever want when it comes to looking after your body and mind.
All of our Virgin companies share the desire to make a positive impact on the world we live in and to the customers we serve. Everybody knows that plastic waste is a huge problem facing the world right now – it’s staggering that humans buy a million plastic bottles per minute globally. We really care about protecting the ocean and I’m proud that Virgin Voyages have committed to having one of the cleanest fleets at sea through a zero one-time use plastics policy for its sailors.
Dee Cooper, Senior Vice President of Design for Virgin Voyages, who also helped guide Virgin Atlantic and redefine air travel, shared how the ship’s namesake has also inspired a new programme for female talent development. Globally, women represent less than 3% of the entire maritime industry and in recent years only seven female captains have been appointed to command cruise ships. The Scarlet Squad Programme will aim to recruit, train, and mentor new female leaders in this industry.
It’s crucial for us that all our crew are the happiest at sea – the most important thing about the Virgin family is its people, they are what ensures we stand out above the competition and what make our business so special.
Virgin Voyages’ first ship will arrive at PortMiami in 2020 for her inaugural sailing season, where she will sail to the Caribbean hosting more than 2,700 sailors and 1,150 amazing crew from around the world. Keep up with their progress and find out more at Virgin Voyages.