Sir Richard Branson raises Virgin Cruises flag in Miami

Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, recently announced Virgin Cruises has selected PortMiami as the homeport for its first cruise ship that will set sail in 2020. He also revealed Virgin Cruises has signed a binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri for three new mid-size ships.

Emerging through a cloud of iconic Virgin red smoke, Richard flew across Miami's Biscayne Bay via helicopter landing at Museum Park. Joined by Virgin Cruises' president and CEO Tom McAlpin, the two raised a Virgin Cruises flag to mark the cruise line's official arrival in Miami.

Richard commented, "This is a very exciting day for Virgin and travellers around the globe. We now have the right partners in place to build a world-class cruise line that will redefine the cruising experience for good. The Virgin Cruises approach will appeal to cruisers and non-cruisers alike, and we look forward to being in Miami and delivering an experience for people who want a new way to cruise."

Virgin Cruises' three new mid-size ships, of about 110,000 gross tonnes each, are slated for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship will feature 1,430 guest cabins to host more than 2,800 guests. There will also be 1,150 crew members on board to deliver the famed Virgin customer service. Embarking from PortMiami, Virgin Cruises plans to offer a range of seven-day Caribbean itineraries, with a Sunday sail date.

Virgin Cruises' binding LOI with Fincantieri is the first part of a two-step process with both companies committed to signing a contract in Q4 of 2015. The PortMiami agreement will be presented to the Miami-Dade County Board of county commissioners for their consideration and approval on 30th June 2015.

Tom McAlpin explained, "Virgin is a customer built brand that listens carefully to what customers want and then works hard to deliver for them. We are committed to making waves in the cruise industry, and partnering with Fincantieri and PortMiami sets Virgin Cruises up to do just that.

"Today's announcement brings together important ingredients in our future success - Miami's vibrant culture paired with the excellent port infrastructure and port team; and Fincantieri's expertise in prototyping, their creativity and understanding of our vision."

Virgin expects the experts at Fincantieri to bring these ideas to life. Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri stated, "I am honoured our company is the selected partner for Virgin Cruises for such an important development in the cruise industry. I'm convinced this choice will contribute to the expansion of the cruising audience, especially considering the market segment still has wide growth margins. I am sure that together, our teams will create cutting edge ships that deliver a memorable guest experience."

County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, county mayor of Miami-Dade noted, "With the largest cruise port in the world, Miami is an exciting city that offers companies and brands an excellent environment for business. We are delighted to be selected by Virgin Cruises as their home port and I can't wait to see their beautiful ships become part of Miami's spectacular skyline."

Customers are invited to join the journey by visiting www.virgincruises.com to share their ideas on what the new cruise line can do to deliver an incredible experience at sea.

For more information on Fincantieri, visit their website.


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