Richard Branson launches Virgin Voyages cruise line

Business

MIAMI, FL (AP) – The first new cruise line in more than a decade launched in the U.S. Wednesday (10/6). Virgin Voyages is billionaire Richard Branson’s foray into the cruise industry.

The Scarlet Lady set sail for its inaugural U.S. cruise from Miami. Bob Marston from Arkansas and his girlfriend Donna are on the four-night trip to the Bahamas. “It’s a maiden voyage, and it’s Richard Branson. So, you know, we wanted to be here,” Bob said.

The launch was delayed a year and a half because of the pandemic. Passengers, or sailors as they’re called on the ship, must be fully vaccinated and were required to get an on-site rapid COVID test before boarding. For now, the ship is capped at half capacity and masks must be worn indoors. “So, the combination of all that is this, you know, very controlled environment, and that allows us to create what I think is the safest possible way to travel,” says Tom McAlpin, President and CEO of Virgin Voyages.

As you might expect from a man who launched himself into space earlier this year, Richard Branson has no reservations about competing in a multi-billion-dollar industry. “It reminds me of when I started Virgin Atlantic and people said you’ll never succeed against BA, or Pan Am, or TWA in those days. But we only had one plane to fill, initially. And Virgin Atlantic is still going, 37 years later,” he says.


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Branson wants to be a disrupter in the cruise industry. The line is adults only. The cabin beds are the only ones at sea that can be transformed into loungers during the day. There are also hammocks on all balconies, champagne on demand via an app, the only tattoo parlor on a ship, and 20 bars and restaurants.

“Sounds like a strange thing to say, but I’ve never fancied going on a cruise. And so, I asked myself, you know, why did I not fancy going on a cruise? And I thought maybe with the wonderful people we’ve got at Virgin we can create the kind of cruise line that myself, my family, my friends, you know, would love to go on.”

All group fitness classes, Wi-Fi, gratuities, meals, and soft drinks are included in the cost of a Virgin Voyages cruise.

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