Entrepreneur and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson never really cared for cruises — which is why he plans to pour more than $2 billion into upending what cruises have traditionally been all about.
The latest example of that in a series of mini-releases leading up to Virgin Voyages’s first trips in April 2020 was revealed Thursday at a launch event in New York City.
In conjunction with opening bookings for sale, Virgin Voyages announced that its first cruise ship, the adults-only Scarlet Lady, will feature stops at The Beach Club, a Virgin Voyages private experience in Bimini, Bahamas. The destination allows travelers the chance to enjoy the island flavor and culture of Bimini and its turquoise blue waters or entertainment from a rotating cast of DJs set to be kicked off by Grammy-winning DJ Mark Ronson.
“I’ve dreamed of starting my own cruise line since I was in my 20’s, and now the launch is finally getting close,” Branson said in a statement. “We have taken the time to think about every detail and craft an experience that brings the Virgin brand to life and disrupts the travel industry.”
To complete the Virgin experience consumers may have come to expect from other Branson-owned entities, the Scarlet Lady is leaning heavily on entertainment at sea. Aside from heavily produced musical performances, test kitchens and tattoo parlors, interactive immersive experiences are expected to play a prominent role, including a yet to be announced show from the producer of New York City’s famed immersive show “Sleep No More.”
The hope is that that different take on luxury will set the cruise company apart from giants Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line, according to Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin, who previously held positions with both Disney Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
“At Virgin Voyages we are going beyond just great design, to defy and redefine luxury to be rebellious luxe,” McAlpin said. Whether Virgin Voyages would also differentiate itself in terms of pricing, however, is yet to be determined. Pricing for bookings on the Scarlet Lady was not revealed.
The 2,700-passenger Scarlet Lady is expected to set sail from Miami in April 2020 with destinations including Havana, Cuba, Costa Maya, Mexico and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It will be joined by three other ships that are set to join the Virgin Voyages fleet in the following years.
Tune into Yahoo Finance Live at 11:30 a.m. ET for our interview with Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin.