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Virgin Cruises Is Launching In Miami, And You’re Invited To Help Design Its 3 New Ships

June 23, 2015 — British business magnate Richard Branson is launching Virgin Cruises in Miami, and the first of his three new ships will set sail from PortMiami in 2020.

Virgin Cruises CEO Tom McAlpin announced Tuesday that the company plans to build three mid-sized ships that can host more than 2,800 passengers each. The first ship will take guests on seven-day Caribbean cruises starting in early 2020, and the other two will begin making trips in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

McAlpin acknowledged that these smaller, boutique ships would sail against the current trend of mega-ships. The hope is to create a more intimate environment.

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“Virgin is not about being the biggest,” he said. “It’s about being the best for our customers.”

Like Virgin Group’s low-fare, high-quality airlines, Virgin Cruises wants to offer customers a value proposition they can’t resist. During the press conference, Branson said Virgin Cruises’ market research found that cruise virgins, so to speak, showed interest in the company’s idea. 

“Eighty-five percent of people who’d never been on a cruise ship said they’d seriously consider it if it were a Virgin cruise ship,” he said.

McAlpin said there’s excessive demand for Caribbean travel, but there’s also been interest in Mediterranean cruises, and no itinerary is out of the question. Virgin Cruises may even consider travel to Cuba, once that's an option.

Virgin Cruises has chosen Italian shipbuilders Fincantieri (whose craftsmanship McAlpin is familiar with from his time as president of Disney Cruise Line) to design and build the ships, but the company is also looking for customers’ feedback.

“How can we design your ideal ship?” McAlpin asked.

Miami-Dade County commissioners will vote on the agreement between PortMiami and Virgin Cruises at the next commission meeting on June 30.

To learn more or submit feedback, visit VirginCruises.com.