Above: Richard Branson
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Is Richard Branson about to disrupt the Caribbean cruise industry?
The global mogul and British Virgin Islands resident announced plans last week to form “Virgin Cruises,” a new cruise line that will be headquartered in South Florida.
“We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love,” Branson said in a statement. “They’ll be sailing on the latest ships offering a great quality, a real sense of fun and many exciting activities all delivered with the famed Virgin service.”
The company has tapped former Disney Cruise Line president and CEO of the World, Residences at Sea Tom McAlpin, to lead the new brand.
In the short term, it will be designing and building two new cruise ships. The company did not announce a planned launch date.
“Cruise guests deserve something better and different to what is being offered today, and Virgin Cruises is committed to creating breathtaking experiences for them and a new generation of guests,” McAlpin said. “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.”
The brand is the product of a partnership with investment firm Bain Capital.
“From our earliest conversations with the Virgin team, we recognized there is a unique opportunity here to help build the next great cruise line serving travelers from around the world,” said Stephen Pagliuca, managing director at Bain.
If Branson’s previous travel brands are any indication, Virgin could one day become a major player in the industry.