Richard Branson's cruise line will be the first major cruise line to offer an exclusive over-18s-only experience across all its ships.
Inspired by the sleek craftsmanship of super yachts, the first 2,700-passenger ship will be lead into port by a mermaid icon designed by Toby Tinsley and feature a motif (designed by Britain's Magpie Studio) that cuts through the water in the colours of silver, smoked glass and signature, bold Virgin red.
Virgin Voyages says the design is "meant to excite and inspire sailors to want to explore every corner."
At its 'Ship Tease' launch event in Genoa, Italy, Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin revealed what cruisers can expect on the first of three ships, including 86 per cent of cabins featuring a sea terrace and 93 per cent an ocean view, plus "Virgin-style surprises".
The Adult by Design decision was driven by feedback from future cruisers and travel professionals, who are looking for a more elevated and premium experience.
Virgin Voyages' first fleet will be known as the 'Lady Ships', a play on the term 'your ladyship', which gives a nod to Virgin's British heritage.
Sir Richard expressed his excitement that construction for the first ship is underway and said: "She will be the most recognisable ship sailing the seven seas, delivering an irresistible sailor experience. We're also committed to making sure our crew are the happiest at sea and will be proud to sail with us."
Virgin Voyages confirmed that it is now "open for business" and travellers can make a $500 deposit for access to an exclusive pre-sale before it goes on general sale.
Amazing new cruise experiences
Amazing new cruise experiences
Cruise ships just keep getting bigger and better every year. 2017 is no exception and, in our opinion, the year that cruising really got cool. Silent discos, private island villas, edible film clubs AND underwater bars - is there anything you can't do at sea these days?
With the help of cruiseexperts.org, we've brought you some of the most impressive new cruise ship features, activities and experiences for the ultimate cruise holiday. Discover some of the most amazing things you never imagined doing at sea...
Movie lovers can experience a unique fusion of film and food with Celebrity Cruises' Taste of Film. The new Rooftop Terrace, available on Millennium class ships, offers an exciting way to enjoy the great outdoors, satisfy your love of movies and dazzle your taste buds all at once. Chic, cosy furniture and a large cinema screen create an idyllic setting for watching your favourite film, while delicious bites and drinks inspired by the film are served during the screening to heighten the experience. The intimate outdoor cinema provides a fun date night on board a ship.
Guests on board MSC Cruises' new mega ship MSC Meraviglia are treated to the culinary delights of world-renowned French chocolatier and pastry chef Jean-Philippe Maury at the Chocolate Bar. While strolling down the Mediterranean-style promenade, dessert-loving travellers can visit the chocolate bar to watch chocolatiers in the open kitchen create sweet masterpieces that seduce the eye and delight the palate. Chef Maury is also the creator of a gourmet ice cream parlour and crêperie on the promenade.
This year, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay, will be opening an exclusive lagoon hideaway, which will feature private luxury air-conditioned villas for a retreat like no other. The 22 villas range from studios to two bedrooms, offering beach chic decor, outdoor terraces and hot tubs. The Exclusive Lagoon Retreat will also feature a floating swim-up bar, a partitioned family beach, private rooms for large groups to celebrate events for up to 75 guests and a Mandara Spa with four treatment rooms for true relaxation.
On Uniworld's newest and most stylish ship Joie de Vivre, travellers have the chance to unwind with yoga, pamper with beauty treatments and work out in the resistance pool by day in the spa and wellness centre, Club L’Esprit. By night, the space transforms into Claude’s, with the swimming pool artfully converted into a dance floor as the venue becomes a vibrant and glamorous entertainment venue.
Vegan travellers on Oceania Cruises' ships can experience the best of culinary diversity at sea as the cruise line debuts its biggest ever vegan menu offerings, along with the only cold-pressed raw juice and vegan smoothie bars at sea. The huge vegan menu, available at breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Grand Dining Room, features more than 250 dishes, with highlights including vegan tortilla, Thai red curry and Tuscan-style bean soup. Acai berry bowls, cold brew lattes and sweet green juice are available in the Raw Juice and Smoothie Bar.
Continuing to set high standards of entertainment, MSC Cruises' new ship MSC Meraviglia has partnered with Cirque du Soleil to showcase two very contrasting shows at sea, each with a different concept, ambiance, storyline and costumes. The shows Viaggio and Sonor were specifically created and are exclusive to MSC Cruises, taking place in the carousel lounge. The on-board experience has been elevated as guests will be treated to a dinner before the show with surprise animation from performers, live music and a table d'hôte three-course menu of eclectic dishes.
Luxury travellers can experience the ultimate Antarctica voyage on the world’s newest, most exclusive ice-class ship with Silversea. Silver Cloud will be converted into an ice-class ship during an extensive refurbishment this summer, before the elite 296-guest ship that launched the ultra-luxury cruise line takes to the polar waters in November 2017. The expedition to Ushuaia will allow guests to traverse Drake’s passage, marvel at spectacular iceberg sculptures and discover the many different species of bird and animal in the region. The ship's finest features will include five dining options, suites with verandas for superb wildlife watching and unparalleled service.
Specifically designed for holidaymakers aged between 21 and 45, Uniworld's U by Uniworld river cruises will sail through Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Slovakia. The new itineraries focus on longer stays in the destination allowing guests to explore the city either on tours or on their own. Some of the coolest experiences for travellers include dining at locals’ homes with VizEat, mixology workshops and morning yoga sessions. There will even be silent discos for guests.
Oceania Cruises has introduced the most comprehensive wellness and healthy living tours for its 2017 cruises, offering experiences on-board that extend to wellbeing activities ashore. With the Wellness Tours Inspired by Canyon Ranch series, guests can enjoy healthy Canyon Ranch breakfasts before a wellness shore excursion such as a visit to the Pope's thermal baths in Civitavecchia, Italy, or vinyasa yoga at Monte Carlo Bay. There will then be spa treatments on the ship and healthy dishes, including steamed Maine lobster, for dinner.
Ponant’s new Le Lapérouse, which is due to set sail in 2018, will be the first cruise ship to be equipped with a multi-sensory underwater space called Blue Eye. The underwater passenger lounge is located beneath the water line and will allow guests to explore the fauna and flora of the sub-aquatic universe, getting up close and personal with the marine life. Guests will also be able to experience the sound of the sea thanks to hydrophones, microphones which detect sound waves under water.
This year, a tale as old as time gets ready to take the stage with Beauty and the Beast, a new musical production inspired by Disney’s live-action adaptation of the animated classic. The show will expand upon the most imaginative elements of the highly anticipated live-action and classic films and delight Disney Cruise Line guests aboard Disney Dream from November. The new production celebrates the romance, adventure and magic of the live-action film, featuring a style of theatre that interlaces classic storytelling elements with cutting-edge technology to create a unique, theatrical experience in the 1,340-seat Walt Disney Theatre.
Uniworld's new 'super ship' Joie de Vivre offers diners an exclusive epicurean experience in the show kitchen. Lovers of French food and wine will create a seven-course meal under the guidance of Uniworld’s expert chefs, before relishing their creations with wine pairings handpicked by the on-board sommelier. Some of the delicious dishes you could learn to create include Normany fish soup, grilled Limousin beef tenderloin and apple tart. Of course, the ship prides itself on a 'farm to table' ethos, so you can expect the ingredients and recipes to change seasonally.