Bran­son says 2020 Mi­ami sail for Vir­gin Cruises


Dressed in red shorts and a cap­tain’s hat, Richard Bran­son on Tues­day an­nounced that Vir­gin Cruises will sail its first ship out of PortMi­ami in 2020.

The Bri­tish mag­nate ar­rived for the press con­fer­ence on a black he­li­copter that took off from the port, flew over Bis­cayne Bay through a cloud of red smoke, and landed on the grounds in front of Perez Art Mu­seum Mi­ami.

Once in­side the mu­seum, Bran­son, wear­ing his cruise-ap­pro­pri­ate at­tire, said the com­pany would aim to pro­vide cus­tomers an “in­ti­mate” and “Vir­gin-like” ex­pe­ri­ence.

Tom McAlpin, pres­i­dent and CEO of Vir­gin Cruises, said the com­pany had signed a let­ter of in­tent with the Ital­ian ship­build­ing com­pany Fin­cantieri. He said Fin­cantieri will build three mid-size ves­sels to be de­liv­ered in 2020, 2021 and 2022, with 1,430 cab­ins to ac­com­mo­date more than 2,800 guests.

Vir­gin Cruises plans to of­fer a range of seven-day Caribbean cruises sail­ing out on Sun­days. The com­pany hopes to at­tract a younger de­mo­graphic than those who typ­i­cally cruise, as well as ap­peal­ing to pas­sen­gers who have not cruised be­fore.

When asked if Vir­gin Cruises would con­sider go­ing to Cuba if it be­came le­gal, Bran­son said he would.

“I think it’s a fan­tas­tic coun­try,” he said. “I know some peo­ple in Mi­ami dis­agree and some peo­ple agree with the open­ing up of Cuba, but I’d love our cruise ship go to Cuba.”

The bil­lion­aire’s ven­tures in­clude Vir­gin At­lantic air­line and a space­ship tourism com­pany, Vir­gin Galac­tic.


Richard Bran­son, founder of the Vir­gin Group, left, ges­tures as he talks to re­porters as Vir­gin Cruises CEO Tom McAlpin, right, looks on dur­ing a news con­fer­ence, Tues­day, June 23, at Perez Art Mu­seum in Mi­ami, where it was an­nounced that Vir­gin Cruises will set sail from PortMi­ami in 2020.

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