Shipbuilder Fincantieri presented Virgin Voyages’ highly anticipated first ship, Scarlet Lady, in Italy on Thursday.
The ship, which successfully completed its first round of sea trials in Europe late last year, is the first of four ordered by the new cruise line from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin, the Governor of the Liguria Region Giovanni Toti, the Mayor of Genoa Marco Bucci, the Chairman of Fincantieri Giampiero Massolo and its CEO Giuseppe Bono were among the notable people in attendance for Thursday’s ceremony.
Scarlet Lady is scheduled to set sail on her inaugural maiden voyage on April 1 following a pair of Sneak-a-Peek preview sailings late next month.
The ship weighs approximately 110,000 gross tons and spans 912 feet in length and 125 feet in width. Like each of Virgin Voyages’ four ships, Scarlet Lady will be equipped with 1,400 guest cabins that can accommodate more than 2,770 passengers.
Guests sailing the cutting-edge ship will benefit from smart wearable technology, allowing them to do things like access their cabin and make onboard purchases, as well as minimal levels of noise and vibration. Guests will even be able to control a wide range of cabin functions from an app on their smartphone, including adjusting the air conditioning, lighting, blinds, music and television.
Scarlet Lady will also operate with a reduced overall environmental impact thanks to a number of unique features, including a scrubber system for the waste management of sulfur dioxides; a catalytic converter to reduce nitrogen oxides; LED lights to reduce energy consumption and hydrodynamic hull design that allows for fuel saving.
Virgin Voyages’ second ship, Valiant Lady is already under construction in the same shipyard and is scheduled for delivery next year. Meanwhile, the cruise line’s third and the fourth vessels, which still have yet to named, will set sail in 2022 and 2023, respectively.
Bookings for Scarlet Lady’s inaugural season opened last summer while bookings for Valiant Lady have been open since December.
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Cruise Companies Should Continue to Invest in Sustainable Technology
Research from GlobalData shows that travelers remain committed to seeking out sustainable options when traveling and suggests that cruise companies keep their eye on the ball.
More than one-third (34 percent) of respondents to GlobalData’s Coronavirus Consumer Survey have said they are still interested in news about a brand’s sustainability initiatives, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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“The main priority for cruise companies at this moment is survival. This will rightly be the main focus until a sense of normality returns to the industry,” Ben Cordwell, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said. “However, companies need to be aware that throwing all their resources at this challenge could have serious repercussions in the long term.”
Cruise companies have increasingly relied on technological advances to operate in more environmentally friendly ways, including using cleaner fuels to curb emissions and reducing the cost of fuel. Cruises are also using digital capabilities that allow for analysis of weather conditions and the optimization of propulsion rate and speed.
Hurtigruten is one cruise line that is leading the way with sustainable practices. Last year, the line introduced its first hybrid vessel, the MS Roald Amundsen, and it has announced that it is converting three more of its existing ships to hybrid power, too.
After a reset to the travel industry as a whole due to the coronavirus pandemic, many consumers may look to move forward with vacations that put less stress on the environment.
“As the general public’s awareness of environmental damage increases, some travelers are likely to be reluctant to go on a holiday with a large carbon footprint,” added Cordwell. “Therefore, it is essential that cruise companies continue to invest in sustainable technology to ensure they continue to attract customers in the years to come.”
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