The first adult-only cruises will commence from Miami in 2020
Sir Richard Branson is a visionary. From revolutionary space flights to investing in companies that grow meats in labs, Branson’s always ahead of the curve. He’s now ready with his next billion-dollar business venture: Cruise ships.
Last week, Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin unveiled details of its new cruise ships at a keel laying ceremony in Genoa, Italy. Three new ships are being built at a cost of $2.55 billion. The fleet is dubbed as Lady Ships, a play on the British salutation of “Your Ladyship” and a reference to the brand’s British heritage.
The first cruise ship will be ready by 2020 and the inaugural route is expected to be a seven-day itinerary from Miami to the Caribbean islands. This is an adults-only cruise where children aren’t welcome. The target audience isn’t the yuppie “spring break crowd” though. It’s targeted instead towards young professionals.
McAlpin calls it an “Adult by Design” theme. In a press release, he said, “Designed to feel more intimate and connected to the sea, 86 per cent of all cabins will feature a sea terrace and 93 per cent an ocean view. Virgin Voyages is creating a sophisticated ship and a transformational experience that offers our sailors a place where rejuvenating day-life meets exciting nightlife and everything in between.”
There are ten designers working on this ship including Roman and Williams (Ace hotel and Le Coucou) as well as PearsonLloyd (Lufthansa Business Class and Virgin Atlantic Upper Class). The 110,000-ton mid-sized cruise ship will accommodate 2,700 passengers and 1,150 crew. To help reduce the environmental impact, Virgin Voyages have signed an agreement with Scanship to use technology to effectively tackle waste, reduce ocean discharge and convert waste into energy.
In an interview with CNTraveler, Branson said that he first struck upon the idea of getting into the cruise ship business when he was 26 and envisioned a cruise ship meant only for those who were 30 and under. While that upper age limit isn’t a factor anymore, you do have to be 18 years and above to book a cruise. While the policy might seem exclusionary and discriminatory for those with children, Branson added “We’re going to start without kids, which will make me a very unpopular granddad. It sends a message. I think there are a lot of people who find that kids running around a cruise ship gets in the way of their holiday. But then I’m sure we’ll become kids-friendly with a ship down the line.”
You can go ahead and pre-book a seat on the 2020 cruise with a completely refundable deposit of $500. The second and third cruise ship will be pressed into service in 2021 and 2022 respectively.