Virgin Voyages showed the cruise world their stuff last night. Sir Richard Branson’s cruise line unveiled interior designs which look like the perfect backdrop for the 3F’s of queer cruising (flirting, frolicking, . . . and friendship-forming, of course, what did you think?)
Leave it to Virgin to shake up yet another industry. Most of the design team admits to being virgins in the sense of lacking experience either in ship design or in cruising! True to Virgin’s reputation as an innovator, their choice of a design team challenges cliches.
Diversity of styles
By hiring three interior design architecture firms, Virgin plans to draw on each firm’s strength and offer guests a diversity of styles in different shipboard spaces. Acclaimed international design firms Roman and Williams, Dixon’s Design Research Studio, and Concrete Amsterdam form Virgin’s creative dream team.
“We chose these three design firms because of work they had done that we loved,” said Dee Cooper, Senior Vice President of Design for Virgin Voyages. “They are all great at clever design and creating spaces we knew would resonate with sailors.”Although highly experienced in creating evocative and acclaimed public spaces, the three design firms are “virgins” in the sense of never having designed for the cruise industry previously.
Tom McAlpin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Voyages, stated, “At the core of our Epic Sea Change For All is ensuring that the spaces on our ships are well-styled, distinct and reflective of the dynamic experience we want to bring to our sailors,” said McAlpin. “Our design partners together with our internal design team have dreamed up eye-catching, intimate and alluring spaces that we can’t wait to see come to life.”
At the rollout of drawings and plans for some of the public spaces, we were struck by two examples of Virgin’s innovative approach.
First, the athletics club area high in the aft of the ship is a huge space. They described indoor and outdoor gyms, a running track floating above the athletic club, and “the world’s largest sun bed at sea.” Plans include basketball, boxing, cabanas for relaxing and plenty of opportunities for cruisers (in the gay way) to watch the runners and athletes!
From the images Virgin shared last night, it looks as if they will succeed in their goal of providing “transformational experiences sailors will not only love, but appreciate.” We’ll keep LGBTQ cruise fans posted as Virgin continues to shed the veils of mystery surrounding their first ship.
Virgin Voyages currently has three ships on order due for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Their first vessel will be ‘Adult by Design’, catering to travelers 18 and older.
Our Take: While it’s too early to make an overall judgement, we’re impressed by the intent, and their aims are notable. We think Virgin Cruises could be a great change agent.
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