Virgin Voyages has announced it has signed a contract for three cruise ships. All the vessels will use so-called "clean electricity" on board.

Virgin Voyages aims to woo first-timer cruisers and the more experienced passengers who are looking for something a little different.

The company has announced that it has signed a ship building contract for three vessels with the Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri.

Construction of the first cruise ship starts early next year with steel cutting. The vessel’s keel will then be laid during the fourth quarter of 2017 in Genoa, Italy.

It is expected to be completed by 2020 and will be showcased at PortMiami, Florida. Once finished, it will be able to take 2,700 guests and 1,150 crew.

Its first itinerary will focus on the Caribbean, where passengers can explore ports that, according to Virgin Voyages will “deliver unique and very social experiences”.

Virgin has also partnered with the the Swedish clean energy provider, Climeon, to use so-called clean electricity on all of its three ships.

Virgin said the resulting environmental impact will be an estimated 5,400 tons of CO2 savings annually per ship, an amount that would take 180,000 trees 30 years to absorb.

“The Climeon heat power system is an environmental break through and working with Virgin is of major importance for us,” said the founder and CEO of Climeon, 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,” he added.

Speaking at the launch, Sir Richard said Virgin Voyages is committed to changing cruising for good.

“Thousands of future sailors and travel professionals let us know they want us to deliver the most irresistible vacation at sea and that even our name should leave them dizzy with anticipation and challenge our crew to deliver something exhilarating,” he said.

“I’m excited to reveal we are now Virgin Voyages and while we have lots of exciting work ahead to build our vessels, we can’t wait to welcome you aboard the ship of things to come,” added Sir Richard.

Virgin Voyages, backed by lead investors Bain Capital Private Equity and Virgin Group, expect the financing valued at over $2 billion to be finalised shortly.

The lead lending partners will be Cassa depositi e prestiti (Cdp) and UniCredit, and the loan will benefit from support from Italian export credit agency SACE and interest make up provided through SIMEST, both subsidiaries of Cdp.