Rebranded ‘Virgin Voyages’ Signs Contracts for Three New Ships at Fincantieri

File Photo: Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Voyages' President and CEO Tom McAlpin as he arrives by helicopter for a news conference at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, Florida June 23, 2015. Branson’s London-based Virgin Group is launching a cruise line with two, custom-designed ships the company announced on Tuesday. The Virgin Group, which already has an airline and space tourism businesses, is partnering with private investment firm Bain Capital for the cruise line. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
File Photo: Sir Richard Branson with Virgin Voyages’ President and CEO Tom McAlpin as he arrives by helicopter for a news conference at the Perez Art Museum in Miami, Florida June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Virgin Group’s billionaire founder Sir Richard Branson has unveiled the company’s rebranded cruise line now known as Virgin Voyages.

The company also revealed that it has officially signed shipbuilding contracts for three ships with Italian shipbuilding group Fincantieri.

“Thousands of future sailors and travel professionals shared their thoughts with us and tasked us with delivering the most irresistible vacation at sea and that our name alone should leave them dizzy with anticipation,” said Sir Richard. “I’m excited to reveal we are now Virgin Voyages, and while we have lots of work ahead to build our three ships, we can’t wait to welcome you aboard the ship of things to come.”

Virgin Voyages, formerly Virgin Cruises, is backed by lead investors Bain Capital Private Equity and Virgin Group, who expect the multi-billion dollar financing package for the purchase of the three ships to be finalized shortly. The lead lending partners will be Cassa depositi e prestiti (Cdp) and UniCredit, and the loan will be fully backed by Italian export credit agency SACE and supported by SIMEST, both subsidiaries of Cdp. McAlpin.

Steel cutting on the first of the three new ships is scheduled for early 2017, followed by keel laying in Genoa in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“Our world class partners like Bain Capital Private Equity, Virgin Group and Fincantieri as well as financial powerhouses like Cdp, UniCredit, SACE and SIMEST, showcase Virgin Voyages’ strong backing and commitment to developing an incredible product. This is anything but just another cruise or holiday, it will be a transformational experience delivering a very ‘Virgin style’ of adventure,” said Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin.

Virgin also revealed that it has signed a partnership with clean energy innovator Climeon for use of their Climeon Ocean system, which will transform low-grade energy into clean electricity on all three of Virgin’s ships. Virgin estimates the use of the system will result in an estimated reduction of 5,400 tons of carbon dioxide per year per ship.

“The Climeon heat power system is an environmental breakthrough, and working with Virgin is of major importance to us. We are excited that Sir Richard Branson and Virgin, with their focus on sustainability, have decided to become a pioneer of this technology. Transforming hot water to electricity will be a major source of energy production going forward,” said founder and CEO of Climeon, Thomas Öström.

Virgin Voyages’ first ship will arrive at PortMiami in 2020 for a range of Caribbean itineraries.

According to Virgin Voyages, the ships will have capacity for more than 2,700 passengers and 1,150 crew.