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What:Richard Branson’s Virgin Group has confirmed the formation of Virgin Cruises, which will have headquarters in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. The company will debut with two ships, though no operating date has been announced.
Why It Matters:As expected, Virgin is promising a very different product than what’s available in the cruise market today, and if Branson and his team can deliver, travel agents are likely to see interest from a new generation of cruisers. At the same time, adding another cruise brand to the seas — especially to the Caribbean — might soften pricing. With industry veteran Tom McAlpin acting as CEO, complemented by Branson’s unique vision, the company is sure to be the cruise brand to watch in the coming years.
Fast Facts:- Virgin Group has partnered with private investment firm Bain Capital for the new venture.
- Two ships are planned for now, but given that it takes at least three years to build and launch a new ship, it is likely they the vessels won’t be in operation until 2018.
- Although the company has not indicated the size of the newbuilds, there have been rumors that they will carry between 1,200 and 1,500 passengers.
What They Are Saying:“We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love,” said Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. “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.”
“Cruise guests deserve something better and different than what is being offered today, and Virgin Cruises is committed to creating breathtaking experiences for them,” said Virgin Group CEO Tom McAlpin. “Opportunities like this do not come often, so I am very excited to lead this business and introduce the Virgin brand to the cruise industry, as it has always put customers at the heart of what it does.”