Branson Steals the Show at Keel Laying for 1st Virgin Voyages Ship

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri held a keel laying ceremony for the first of three new cruise ships being built for Virgin Voyages, part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

The party-like ceremony, Branson’s trademark, held on Tuesday, October 31 in Sestri Ponente, Genoa, saw Branson arrive at the event in a flying cage.

The company also used the opportunity to show the first rendering of the ship and open a pre-sale list.

Each ship will weigh about 110,000 gross tons, be 278 meters long and 38 wide, with delivery scheduled for 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively.

The ships will feature over 1,400 guest cabins that can host more than 2,700 passengers, accompanied by 1,150 crew members on board.

Fincantieri said that the ships will be equipped with an energy production system of approximately 1 MW, which uses the diesel engine’s waste heat, “a project which distinguishes Virgin Voyages in the global cruise scenery.”

The order was first announced in June 2015 when Virgin Cruises entered into a binding letter of intent with Fincantieri for the three mid-size ships. The ship construction contracts are valued at around USD 2.07 billion.

At the time, the company said that PortMiami would be the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020.

The cruise line earlier said that it plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries.

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