When Virgin Voyages first came to light, one of the missions that Richard Branson shared for his first cruise company was to change business for good, or “Creating an Epic Sea Change for All.” Ahead of World Oceans Day, Virgin shares its first Impact Report.
While it can be hard to create an environment onboard cruise ships that does good to the environment, Virgin Voyages seems to have been able to do just that.
Through a variety of initiatives, Virgin Voyages is creating an environment that is both nurturing the environment, as much as it is nurturing the people that crew and guests who sail onboard the ships every day.
Virgin’s Focus: Environmental, Social, and Governance
As little as twenty years ago, those who wanted to find fault within the cruise industry would have done so easily. However, since then, significant changes have taken place.
Not in the least through new cruise lines that dare step outside the ordinary. Something that Virgin Voyages has undoubtedly done in the last 12 months.
Tom McAlpin, CEO, Virgin Voyages: ‘2021 was a year of exciting milestones for us, and we’ve never been more proud of what we were able to accomplish; setting sail with our first ship, Scarlet Lady, for the very first time and capturing the hearts of Sailors and critics alike.’
‘This is our first impact report, and while we have more work to do, we’re proud of our progress and pleased to share our overall plans — to make Virgin Voyages the kind of place our people are proud to be a part of.’
With World Environment Day on June 5 and World Ocean Day on June 8 just around the corner, there is no better time than now to share what impact Virgin Voyages is having.
Virgin bases itself on an environmental, social, and governance strategy focused on five key areas: Sailors, Ocean, Communities, Partners, and Crew.
Authentic experiences delivered responsibly.
The thought and ideas behind Virgin Voyages are felt the moment you step onboard its ships. From hand-woven hammocks from Thailand to sunglasses made from recycled plastics, there is no denying Virgin is trying its best to provide a cruise with a difference.
Jill Stoneberg, Senior Director of Sustainability and Social Impact: ‘From ethically sourced F&B ingredients to reusable items and reef-safe sunscreens, our team has worked hard to integrate sustainable practices into the offering onboard.’
‘We’ve eliminated unnecessary single-use plastics, and the only tip we ask for is a tip for ocean conservation. Together these efforts not only minimize the impact we have on our oceans and communities, but we hope they also inspire others to make a difference.’
Socially, the company is also doing its part. With crew members from 95 different countries, the challenge lies in keeping everyone happy while working. And here, it seems that Virgin is achieving its goals. 87% of Crew reported that they feel like they can be themselves at work, a significant win and testament to the company’s “come as you are” ideals.
Fuel for Thought
However, it’s not all positive. Virgin Voyages claims to be one of the most efficient fleets at sea. It also believes that alternative fuel sources are not viable, saying that low- and zero-carbon fuel sources are not commercially attractive or available at the scale needed.
Something that Royal Caribbean, MSC, and Carnival Cruise Line have already proven to be untrue. If Virgin truly wants to make a difference, it would be stepping away from fossil fuels and working towards a future based on fuel cell and LNG technology.
After all, even the company’s owner believes that commercial thinking cannot stand in the way of progress, Richard Branson: ‘There is nothing more important in this world than our oceans, and we’re on a mission to protect them and set an example. Success needn’t compromise sustainability.’
Two Virgin Voyages ships are currently operational. Scarlet Lady is sailing from Miami on 4- and 5-night cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas. Valiant Lady is sailing 7-night cruises from Barcelona to the Mediterranean.
The third Virgin cruise ship, Resilient Lady, will begin operations from Athens in August, sailing around the Greek Isles and to Turkey.