Since May of this year, our sister site CruiseCritic has been reporting on rumors that billionaire Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, wants to expand his oeuvre into the cruise business. Early reports indicated that a Virgin cruise line would likely launch around 2019 in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, but we haven’t heard any specifics in a while.
Today, things got a little more official.
In a press release, Branson officially launched Virgin Cruises and appointed its CEO, Tom McAlpin (former president of Disney Cruise Line). Virgin Cruises will be based in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area with a fleet of two brand-new cruise ships. The line’s lead investment partner will be the private investment firm Bain Capital, which means that very big money will likely be pumped into this very big project.
Branson says, “We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love. They’ll be sailing on the latest ships offering great quality, a real sense of fun, and many exciting activities all delivered with the famed Virgin service.”
That famed Virgin service is certainly a selling point for the nascent cruise line, especially as cruise lines continue to seek ways to differentiate themselves from the competition via high-tech gadgets, over-the-top dining programs, larger ship builds, and so forth. Virgin’s iconic branding has long attracted a young, modern traveler, and we imagine a Virgin cruise experience will fit right in—sexy, fun, a little audacious, and well-lit.
If all goes well, Virgin Cruises would be the first new cruise line since Disney Cruises launched back in 1996.
Readers, are you fans of the Virgin brand? Would you take a Virgin Cruise?
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(Photo: Sir Richard Branson via Prometheus72/Shutterstock)