Speaking at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa on Friday (July 20), Virgin Group founder Richard Branson announced the line’s first ship, which is due to launch in 2020, would be named Scarlet Lady, in homage to sister company Virgin Atlantic.
The name first appeared on one of the earliest aircraft to fly for Virgin Atlantic.
The line said Scarlet Lady would be the flagship for the Virgin Voyages fleet, and was paired with the brand’s mermaid image, which will adorn the hull of the ship reflecting “a powerful spirit guide who is creating a whole new way to travel”.
Elsewhere Branson and the line’s chief executive Tom McAlpin revealed an aim to make Virgin Voyages “one of the cleanest fleets at sea”.
The move will include banning plastic items onboard including straws, bottled water, condiment packets, shopping bags, food packaging, stirrers, and take-away coffee and tea cups. The company said there would instead be a focus on using recyclable and reusable materials across the ship.
Passengers, which the line describes as “sailors”, will have access to complimentary filtered still and sparkling water at all bars and restaurants, as well as specially designed Natura filtered water stations throughout the ship.
“Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in,” Branson said. “Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change.”
McAlpin added: “We believe that in order to fulfill our purpose of creating an ‘Epic Sea Change for All,’ we must make a commitment that is bigger than just eliminating straws.
“We must make a commitment to building ships and experiences that do everything possible to look after the well-being of our precious oceans… We will continue to push ourselves to look for innovative ways to do things that will make a difference.”
Meanwhile in keeping with the ship’s namesake, Branson and McAlpin unveiled a plan to champion women across its fleet.
The “Scarlet Squad” programme will be aimed at recruiting, supporting and mentoring “female shipboard talent” as well as developing opportunities for women to “access leadership roles in onboard areas such as marine, technical and hotel management”, which the line said statistically showed low numbers of female leadership.
“Across the maritime industry, we can do better in onboard recruiting and leadership representation for women,” McAlpin said. “I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an onboard environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential.”
The company said more details on the program would be released in the company’s sustainability and social impact report later in the year.
The news came as Virgin Voyages celebrated construction milestones at the Fincantieri shipyard including the first time the hull of the Scarlet Lady touched sea water, and the cutting of the first pieces of steel for Virgin Voyages’ second ship, which is due for delivery in 2021.