‘We’ve tried to divide everything up into smaller spaces,’ Saverimuttu continued.
Frank Weber, Virgin Voyages’ SVP hotel operations, alluded to the intimate The Manor, designed by Roman & Williams, as ‘another world.' The entrance is illuminated by countless lights and mirrors.
A nightclub venue, The Manor can be altered to serve as a jazz or cocktail lounge with chandeliers that lower when needed. ‘The space can be adapted for shows and dinner shows,’ Weber explained. 'Everything has a purpose, getting the most out of the space so it feels right and authentic.’
The same can be said of theatre venue The Red Room: ‘Ours is the first transforming theatre in the cruise industry,’ Saverimuttu said. ‘Designed by WORKac, it can be flat floor, proscenium arch or alley format.’
Speaking from the venue in its auditorium setting, Weber added, ‘We have full flexibility in completely different formats; we can have exercise classes in here or a DJ.’
Shows developed in-house
Acts are developed in-house, with talent discovered at festivals such as the well-known Edinburgh Festival. ‘We’re hoping to have our shows licensed on land rather than the other way around,’ Weber said. ‘We want them to be of that calibre where they have the ability to stand up on their own in New York.’
Bringing the outside inside
In several public areas, windows have wooden trim where passengers can sit, creating ‘an inside-outside feel,' according to Saverimuttu. In addition, Virgin has tried to bring in 'hidden cues’ that enable passengers to navigate their way around more easily. These include numbered ‘ribs’ along the ship’s interior so passengers can ‘count’ their way from the front to the back of the vessel.
Colourful embellishments can also be found to assist with wayfinding: the centre of the ship corresponds with red, for instance, while different colours correspond to each deck.
A bar in each restaurant
Every restaurant features a bar, so passengers can visit each speciality venue without needing to dine there or taste 'wines not really available in restaurants ashore,' according to Daniel Vargo, manager of Scarlet Lady's Italian restaurant, Extra Virgin.
In Gunbae, meaning ‘cheers!’ in Korean, an open grill at each table for passengers to cook their own meal has been specially engineered in-house. Each table has a custom designed exhaust system with a powerful vortex that draws in smoke from the food. ‘It’s a very active, noisy kind of restaurant, a lot of energy in there,’ Weber said.
Food Hall 'pandemic-safe from the beginning'
As for food hall The Galley, meals presented in airtight containers — which pre-COVID-19 were targeted for the grab and go lifestyle — mean the venue has been ‘pandemic-safe from the beginning,’ as Weber put it. Within the food hall, transparent screens separate passengers from those serving the food, minimising risks that buffets may present.
All food is made to order, including that within The Galley, which Weber said has ‘reduced a tremendous amount of waste.’