Sir Richard Branson made quite the entrance on June 23rd, lifting off PortMiami amidst a cloud of red smoke as he soared across Biscayne Bay via helicopter and landed at Museum Park for the Virgin Cruises press conference. Branson was joined by Virgin Cruises’ President and CEO Tom McAlpin, raising a Virgin Cruises Flag to mark the cruise line’s official arrival in the Magic City. Richard Branson announced that Virgin Cruises will be calling PortMiami their home port for Virgin Cruises. Virgin Cruises’ three new mid-size ships are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021, and 2022. All three ships will be built by the distinguished Italian shipbuilding company, Fincantieri.
“This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travelers around the globe,” said Branson. “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 cruise 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.” Branson jokingly added, “The Virgin will take you all the way… around the world.”
Each of the three Virgin Cruises’ mid-size ships will create a more boutique experience with 1,430 guest cabins, which will accommodate more than 2,800 guests. There will be 1,150 crew members on board to deliver the signature Virgin customer service. Virgin cruises will offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries sailing out of PortMiami on Sundays.
“Virgin is a customer built brand that listens carefully to what customers want and then works hard to deliver for them. We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that,” said Tom. Today’s announcement brings together important ingredients in our future success — Miami’s vibrant culture paired with the excellent Port infrastructure and Port team and Fincantieri’s expertise in prototyping, their creativity and understanding of our vision.”
In December 2014, Virgin Group announced the emergence of Virgin Cruises in a venture with Bain Capital, one of the world’s leading private investment firms. Ryan Cotton, a Managing Director of Bain Capital, and Virgin Cruises board member said, “As lead shareholder, Bain Capital is excited to contribute our deep experience in building and growing great consumer brand companies. We believe there is a large, undeserved market and strong growth prospects for a cruise line that delivers a superior experience for young-at-heart customers. We’re very pleaseed to be partnering with the other important shareholders who share the same long term vision, and together we will provide a strong and broad support base for Virgin Cruises.”
Fincantieri is expected to make ideas a reality for Virgin Cruises. Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, stated, “I am honored our company is the selected partner for Virgin Cruises for such an important development in the cruise industry. I’m convinced this choice will contribute to the expansion of the cruising audience, especially considering the market segment still has wide growth margins. I am sure that together, our teams will create cutting edge ships that deliver a memorable guest experience.”