by Matt Alderman | November 15, 2016
Richard Branson's Virgin Group has re-launched its nascent cruise line, Virgin Cruises, under a new name and brand identity. Now known as Virgin Voyages, the Miami-based cruise line originally was announced in 2014, but has yet to hit the open seas. It will finally do so in 2020, according to Branson, whose company has signed a shipbuilding contract for three cruise ships with Italian master shipbuilder Fincantieri.

"Thousands of future sailors and travel professionals shared their thoughts with us and tasked us with delivering the most irresistible vacation at sea and that our name alone should leave them dizzy with anticipation," Branson said in a statement. "I'm excited to reveal we are now Virgin Voyages, and while we have lots of work ahead to build our three ships, we can't wait to welcome you aboard the ship of things to come."

Backed by Bain Capital Private Equity, Virgin Voyages will launch its first ship in 2020 with more than 2,700 guests and 1,150 crewmembers. The ship will offer a range of Caribbean itineraries to ports with "unique and very social" experiences, according to Virgin, whose ships will be the first to adopt Climeon Ocean, a clean-energy system that converts thermal energy into usable electricity.

"The Climeon heat power system is an environmental breakthrough, and working with Virgin is of major importance to us," said Climeon Founder and CEO Thomas Öström. "We are excited that Sir Richard Branson and Virgin, with their focus on sustainability, have decided to become a pioneer of this technology. Transforming hot water to electricity will be a major source of energy production going forward."

Virgin Voyages is the newest major cruise line to debut since the formation of Disney Cruise Line in 1996.