Virgin tests ship interiors for a new potential venture

Virgin Group has held presentations with a number of design groups as it considers the launch of a ferry or cruise travel service, Design Week can exclusively reveal.

Four groups are understood to have made presentations to the company within the past week. It is thought that Virgin’s holiday division is looking for ideas on the interior style and how this might differentiate the business from other operators in the market. Currently, Virgin has no seafaring holiday offer.

The company has previously consulted Norwegian shipping design specialists Yran & Storbraaten to garner proposals on the fit-out and passenger experience on board the ships, with the group drawing up design schemes for cruise ships 18 months ago. The recent presentations are thought to have included retail design specialists.

Ashley Stockwell, group brand marketing director at Virgin, confirms that the company has examined various holiday initiatives, including ‘cruises or ferry-based’ services. He describes the earlier cruise designs as speculative and plays down the suggestion that the project is currently underway, saying that design work is not being developed at the present time.

‘Some cruise ship ideas were presented, but were not taken forward. We look at different holiday initiatives all the time,’ says Stockwell.

In May, EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou launched EasyCruise, offering budget Mediterranean trips, with cruises to Barbados and the Caribbean set to launch this winter.

The EasyCruise liners are branded in the group’s requisite bright orange colour, offering holidays for as little as £25 per day in a sector typified by exclusivity and luxury.

Although it is not clear where in the market Virgin might pitch a cruise or ferry service, a key consideration will be how the interior environments could differentiate the offer from other operators.

Virgin’s travel businesses operate across flights, trains, resorts and hotels. The group also offers holiday packages to the US and Caribbean.

Current Virgin Travel Brands

Virgin Atlantic: transatlantic carrier

Virgin Express: European airline

Virgin Holidays: hotel and holiday accommodation

Virgin Trains: UK network of rail services

Potential Virgin Travel services

• Plans for ferry cruises have been pitched to design groups

• Virgin Galactic is selling tickets for future space flights

• A Virgin lunar hotel has been suggested as an idea

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