Virgin Voyages Reveals Public Areas – Other Cruise News: P&O Cruises’ Iona – This Week’s Voyage

by Kevin Griffin

Virgin Voyages, the new cruise line that does not enter service until 2020, has revealed some images of its proposed ships’ interiors. Meanwhile, P&O Cruises in the UK has announced the name Iona for its newest and largest ship, which also enters service in 2020. And this week we look at itineraries of the Baltimore-based Grandeur of the Seas.


Virgin Voyages Reveals Public Areas

Virgin Voyages has revealed further details of its new cruise line and the three new 110,000-ton cruise ships, the first of which is currently under construction by Fincantieri. At a New York City event, Virgin provided a first look into some of the interior designs for the new ship.

The Dock by Roman & Williams - Athletic Club by Concrete Amsterdam (Courtesy Virgin Voyages) (Click to enlarge)

The Dock by Roman & Williams – Athletic Club by Concrete Amsterdam (Courtesy Virgin Voyages) (Click to enlarge)

Tom McAlpin, President and ceo of Virgin Voyages, stated that they are committed to creating “more than just another cruise line.” While the ship will accommodate more than 2,700 passengers, they are seeking to create “a more personal and intimate experience,” he notes.

McAlpin says they spent a full year on design and another year on engineering. Steel cutting for the first ship began in March 2017, with elements being built at three shipyards, including Romania and Palermo The Fincantieri yard at Sestri Ponente in Genoa started assembly on October 31, 2017.

Using what Virgin is calling a “Creative Collective,” they brought together leading interior design firms, none of whom had any experience of cruise ships to develop the passenger spaces. The idea is to bring a new perspective, as part of Virgin’s mission to redefine what consumers can expect from a holiday at sea.

The team includes Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio in London, Roman and Williams in New York, Concrete Amsterdam, Softroom in London, and WorkAC in New York and are harmonising their efforts by sharing their designs “in the cloud.”

Dee Cooper, Senior Vice President of Product Design for Virgin Voyages, who is leading the effort, believes that “The Creative Collective challenged Virgin to do more on ship and think more about lifestyles.”

Richard's Rooftop by Design Research Group - The Manor Night Spot by Roman & Williams (Courtesy Virgin Voyages) (Click to enlarge)

Richard’s Rooftop by Design Research Group – The Manor Night Spot by Roman & Williams (Courtesy Virgin Voyages) (Click to enlarge)

The designs will use some classic nautical elements so that the passengers, whom Virgin calls sailors, “are always conscious that they are at sea.”
Everything is proceeding under the watchful eye of Virgin founder Richard Branson. While he is not involved in the day-to-day of the process, sources familiar with the progress say that Branson is copied in and reviewing at key junctures. The effort is very sensitive to being faithful to the Virgin brand and for example when it comes to the shipboard nightclub, which was inspired by Richard Branson’s history in the music industry. “If Virgin can’t do the best darn night club at sea, nobody can,” they say.


P&O Cruises’ Iona
P&O Cruises has announced the name Iona for its newest and largest 5,200-berth cruise ship, which will be the eighth ship in the fleet when she is delivered in 2020.

Iona, P&O Cruises (Artist impression, P&O Cruises)

Iona, P&O Cruises (Artist impression, P&O Cruises)

The 180,000-ton LNG-powered Iona is to be named after the Inner Hebridean island of that name, and will join P&O in May 2020. The island, also the site of Iona Abbey, is only 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, with a population of around 120 permanent residents.

Paul Ludlow, P&O Cruises senior vice-president, said: “We are an island nation and as Britain’s favourite cruise line, it seems very fitting to highlight one of our most notable islands and celebrate the geographic diversity of the UK, especially as we can trace back our roots to the Scottish Isles.

After a visit to Iona in 1773, the English writer Samuel Johnson remarked: “The island, which was once the metropolis of learning and piety, now has no school for education, nor temple for worship.” The population was estimated at about 70 families.

See video at Youtube: P&O Cruises Iona Animation

This Week’s Voyage

One ship that has fallen out of the public limelight recently is Royal Caribbean International’s 1,950-berth Grandeur of the Seas, built in 1996.

Royal Caribbean International's 1,950-berth Grandeur of the Seas

Royal Caribbean International’s 1,950-berth Grandeur of the Seas

Now based year-round in Baltimore, she offers a series of alternating 5- and 9-night summer Bermuda cruises, with the longer cruise also taking in Nassau and Little Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. The Bermuda calls in each case are overnight while the Nassau departures are made at midnight, giving passengers more time for nightlife.

Every second 9-night cruise is a Canada and New England departure taking in Boston, Portland and Bar Harbor in New England and Saint John and Halifax in Canada.

The 9-night Bermuda and Bahamas cruises are reminiscent of the old Home Lines itinerary that was last offered by the Oceanic from New York. The 5-night cruises leave on Saturdays and the 9-night cruises on Thursdays, with all deparures from Baltimore taking place at 4 pm, until October.

Starting in November, winter itneraries head to the Southern Carbbean and the Southeast and Bahamas. Southern Caribbean cruises last 12 nights and take in St Croix, Antigua, St Lucia, St Kitts and St Maarten, while the 8-night Southeast and Bahamas itinerary calls at Port Canaveral, Miami, Freeport, Little Stirrup Cay and Nassau before returning to Baltimore.

(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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