After conquering commercial travel both on land and in the skies, UK businessman Sir Richard Branson has at last set his sights on the seas – with the announcement that new brand, Virgin Cruises, will be debuting three new cruise ships by 2020 in a bid to compete for a share of the global cruise market.
Virgin Cruises confirmed recently that it has commissioned Italian shipbuilder, Fincantieri, to build three new ships – the first of which will make its maiden sailing in 2020. This will later be joined in 2021 and 2022 by two sister vessels, each weighing 110,000 tons and capable of carrying 2,860 passengers.
In a move unique to the cruise industry, Virgin Cruises has asked passengers for their input on the design, features and activities aboard the new ships via social media. Tom McAlpin, Virgin Cruises President, said the ships would be designed and built “around the needs and desires of the customer”, and actively encouraged people to visit www.virgincruises.com to leave their feedback and suggestions.
The cruise line announced the expansion at a news conference in Miami on Tuesday 23 June – with both Branson and McAlpin in attendance. Not ones to shy from extra publicity, Virgin arranged for the duo to arrive by helicopter through a cloud of red smoke, with the CEO aptly dressed in a captain’s attire.
Speaking at the press conference, Branson enthused: “This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travellers around the globe. We now have the right partners in place to build a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike, and we look forward to being in Miami and delivering an experience for people who want a new way to cruise.”
Each of Virgin Cruises new ships are expected to homeport in Miami upon their delivery, offering short and long haul cruises to the Caribbean and Mexico. Be sure to check back with the Cruise1st Australia blog as we report on further Virgin Cruises developments as they unfold.
Image sourced via Flickr Creative Commons and Cruise Hive. Credit: D@LY3D and Virgin Cruises.