Virgin Group, which has already put its unique spin on air travel and health clubs, wants to enter the cruise ship game. Richard Branson’s Virgin Cruises will attempt to “shake up a staid industry dominated by three big companies that all offer a similar flavor of family-friendly entertainment on the high seas,” according to the New York Times‘s DealBook.
Virgin Cruises will use backing from private equity firm Bain Capital to construct two cruise ships. Evan Lovell, a partner at Virgin Management Limited, says the ships will be “more informal, fun, sexy, hip and cool” than those operated by Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line.
The company will not offer the Las-Vegas-on-the-seas experience that is common on cruises. “The whole point of being on a cruise ship is to be connected to the ocean, to be connected to the sun and the wind,” Mr. Lovell said. The company is after sophistication, citing downtown Manhattan and SoHo as inspirations for parts of the ships’ proposed interiors. It’s clear Virgin is aiming for something that isn’t available on the market right now.
“We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love,” Mr. Branson said in a statement. “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.”
There’s no word on when construction on the new ships will begin, but as that can take several years, the company does not expect to begin voyages until near the end of the decade.