After months of speculation, it’s all systems go for Virgin Cruises. Richard Branson has done planes and he’s done trains. Now the serial entrepreneur is ready to complete the full set from Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s memorable sixties song.
Branson finally fulfils his Trains And Boats And Planes ambitions (OK it should be Ships, but it’s too late for a rewrite) and he promises to change cruising for ever.
He has $1.7 billion finance in place to fund the building of two ships, which will be based in Miami or Fort Lauderdale, but a start date for operations has not yet been announced “for competitive reasons” according to a Virgin statement.
Branson said this week: “We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love. 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."
He has secured financial backing from alternative investment firm Bain Capital, whose managing director, Stephen Pagliuca, added: “There is a unique opportunity here to help build the next great cruise line serving travellers from around the world. Virgin Cruises will help reshape consumers' expectations of what a cruise experience can be.”
Branson has brought in Tom McAlpin as Virgin Cruises president. He was part of the management team that founded Disney Cruise Line in 1996 and has also been CEO of the ultra luxury The World, Residences At Sea.
McAlpin said: 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.”