Sir Richard Branson has added yet another venture to his ever-growing business portfolio, with the launch of his very own line of Virgin-branded cruise ships. The 66-year-old billionaire – who is a keen sailor himself – revealed that his new cruising brand will be called Virgin Voyages.
Three ships are currently being built, with production costs coming it at close to $2 billion (£1.63 billion). The first sailing is planned out of Miami in 2020, sailing 7-night cruises to the Caribbean. The promise that destinations will include ports offering “unique and very sociable experiences” hints at the possibility Cuba might be on the list.
The vessels are being built by the Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri with a capacity of at least 2,700 passengers, considered mid-size by the cruise industry. Branson said Virgin Voyages will be the first major cruise line to adopt a new clean energy technology called Climeon Ocean that transforms waste heat from ship engines into electricity for onboard use.
Long-time cruise expert, Tom McAlpin, has been put in charge as CEO and President of the new Virgin Voyages brand. He was part of the management team that created Disney Cruise Line.
Virgin Voyages showcases strong backing and commitment by world class partners—Bain Capital Private Equity, Virgin Group and Fincantieri as well as financial powerhouses like Cassa depositi e prestiti, UniCredit, SACE and SIMEST.