Richard Branson An­nounces New Ven­ture: “Vir­gin Cruises”

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL -

I s 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 trav­ellers 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.

Vir­gin’s Richard Branson.

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