Virgin Cruises Plans Three Mid-Size Ships
PHOTO: Richard Branson, leader of the Virgin empire, takes a bow during the Virgin Cruises press conference in Miami. (courtesy Doug Parker/CruiseRadio.net).
Swooping in by helicopter with vows to “let’s make waves,” British billionaire Richard Branson finally revealed hotly anticipated details about his new cruise line, which is planning three mid-size ships for delivery starting in early 2020.
After his chopper landed on the lawn at the Perez Art Museum in downtown Miami, Branson went inside to reveal that Virgin Cruises signed a letter of intent to build the vessels at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard.
The new company also signed a five-year agreement, with options for five more, for a homeport at PortMiami. Virgin plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean cruises that depart on Sundays.
The first ship, as yet unnamed, is scheduled for delivery in early 2020 with two more to follow in 2021 and 2022. The 110,000-ton vessels will each accommodate 2,800 passengers on a double-occupancy basis.
In his trademark style, Branson wore a captain’s hat and shirt, complete with epaulets, and red shorts and sneakers.
He confessed that he’s always dreamed of starting a cruise line.
“I first started planning a cruise ship company when I was 27,” Branson told reporters at a packed press conference.
The line will target the under-65 traveler market and will feature a lively and fun ambience that has long been a Branson and Virgin trademark. “Eighty-five percent of people who have never been on a cruise ship said they would seriously consider it if it was a Virgin cruise ship,” Branson said.
While not revealing much more about the onboard product yet, Virgin is asking people to suggest what they’d like to see by filling out a form on the company’s new website. The company also has a new email address — ahoy@VirginCruises.com — as well as a Facebook page and Twitter account.
Branson broke in the Twitter account today.
“While megaships may be right for some companies, it’s not right for Virgin,” Virgin Cruises CEO Tom McAlpin said. “We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that.”
Doug Parker of CruiseRadio.net contributed to this report from Miami.
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