MIAMI BEACH — The Virgin Group cruise line will sail under
the name Virgin Voyages, the company said Tuesday.
“I’ve never fancied going on a cruise ship but I do fancy
going on a voyage,” said Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, shortly after
making his characteristically flamboyant entrance to the press conference at
the Faena Hotel Miami Beach.
The line had been going by the name Virgin Cruises since the
venture was announced in the summer of 2015.
Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin said that the company remains
on track to take delivery of the first of three 110,000-gross-ton ships that it
has on order from Fincantieri in 2020, with the next two ships to follow in
2021 and 2022.
Fincantieri will begin cutting steel in February, he said,
and keel laying will come toward the end of 2017.
Virgin didn’t reveal many details about the vessels, which
are each slated to carry 2,700 guests and 1,150 crew members. But the company
is promising a transformative product that will differentiate the Virgin Voyages
experience from other cruise lines.
“It’s incredibly exciting. It’s under lock and key,” Branson
said of the design specifics and ship offerings, noting that he didn’t want
Virgin’s competitors to learn too much too soon.
One thing McAlpin did reveal is that Virgin Voyages is the
first cruise line to enter into a partnership with Climeon, a Swedish green
energy solutions company.
Together the companies will install a system on the Virgin
vessels that will convert the heat the ships produce into clean energy. Each
ship will have six Climeon engine units, which will save an estimated 5,400
tons of carbon dioxide annually per vessel.
“It would take 180,000 trees 30 years to absorb this much
CO2,” McAlpin said.
He said that Virgin has all but completed a
multibillion-dollar financing deal with lead lending partners CDP and
UniCredit, backed by the Italian export agency SACE.
“We just need the final rubber stamp from the Italian
government,” McAlpin said.