Thursday, June 25, 2015

Virgin Cruises Enters Miami

His ships are yet to be built, but Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, doesn't do anything in a small way and his entry into the cruise market was done in a typically splashy manner. Emerging through a cloud of iconic Virgin red smoke, Richard flew across Miami's Biscayne Bay via helicopter landing at Museum Park. Pictured here in Virgin red shorts and cap, he was joined by Virgin Cruises' President and CEO Tom McAlpin, to raise a Virgin Cruises flag to mark the cruise line's official arrival in Miami. The occasion was to announce that Virgin Cruises has selected PortMiami as the home port for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020. He also revealed Virgin Cruises has signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri for three new mid-size ships.

"This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travelers around the globe," said Richard. "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."

Virgin Cruises' three new mid-size ships, of about 110,000 gross tons each, are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. There also will be 1,150 crew on board to deliver the famed Virgin customer service. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of 7-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.

Virgin Cruises' binding LOI with Fincantieri is the first part of a two-step process with both companies committed to signing a contract in Q4 of 2015. The PortMiami agreement will be presented to the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners for their consideration and approval on June 30, 2015.

"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." Customers are invited to join the journey by visiting to share their ideas on what the new cruise line can do to deliver an incredible experience at sea.

As we reported last year in Cruising "Like A Virgin" Takes On A New Meaning, Virgin Group announced the formation of Virgin Cruises in a venture with Bain Capital, one of the world's leading private investment firms, in December 2014. Virgin Cruises plans to offer its guests an outstanding experience matched with the famed Virgin service.

Image Courtesy of Virgin Group

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