Few experiences polarize travelers like a big ship cruise. One of the most common gripes from would-be cruisers is the lack of adults-only space aboard. Now, Richard Branson’s Virgin brand is looking to tackle that problem with Virgin Voyages — the world’s first adults-only big ship cruise line that he’s promising will be “a sea change” in the industry.
In true Virgin fashion, the company is keeping many of the details close to the vest, promising “a few Virgin-style surprises.” What they are saying, however, is that it will be a sophisticated and premium experience, above and beyond what most would expect of other competing cruise lines. As the keel is just now being laid, the only exterior visuals are available through artist renderings. The steel gray hull is fronted by a steeply raked bow that gives the ship a modern, aggressive, and downright cool silhouette.
The interior of each ship in the line will be inspired by the world’s most luxurious superyachts. Virgin is sparing no expense on the design. A team of 10 industry-leading designers — among them PearsonLloyd (whose portfolio includes Lufthansa’s Business Class and Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class) and Roman and Williams (the creative genius behind The High Line Hotel and Ace Hotels) — have been tasked with the layout. Standard in-room amenities are expected to be similarly extravagant. For example, nearly 90 percent of the rooms will feature balconies, or what the company is calling “sea terraces.”
The ship’s crew of 1,150 will tend to a whopping 2,800 guests. While Branson has said they’re not targeting a specific demographic, every passenger will have one thing in common: they’ll all be over the age of 18. Every amenity and, presumably, every entertainment option will clearly be targeted at adults.
The branding is well inline with Virgin — sleek, modern, hip, and a little cheeky. The cruise line’s official logo, for example, features a topless mermaid. The first three Virgin vessels to set sail will be dubbed “Lady Ships” — a clear nod to Virgin’s and Branson’s British heritage.
Virgin Voyages is scheduled to set sail in 2020 with additional ships to follow in 2021 and again in 2022. A $500 refundable deposit secures a spot on the waitlist. Once reservations officially open up, early bird depositors will be at the front of the line to book the first cabins. The first, yet-to-be-named ship will depart from Miami, although Virgin has not yet finalized the itineraries.