MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Port Miami is about to get a bit more crowded.
Choppering in to a news conference Tuesday at the Perez Art Museum, British business magnate Richard Branson loves making an entrance.
Branson, this time, is hoping to make waves, planting his flag in Miami as the location for his first Virgin Cruise Line ship.
“It’s no secret that I’ve dreamed of building a cruise line for a very, very long time,” Branson said.
The ships are not built yet, in fact, they’re not even designed or expected to be completed for another five years. But Branson says there’s a vision.
“We’re trying to create a magical experience to attract people who have never been on a cruise ship to want to come on a cruise ship,” he told CBS4’s Ted Scouten.
Tom McAlpin is President of Virgin Cruises. He said that Virgin plans to buck the trend of “the bigger the better.” The three planned ships will be mid-sized, 110,000 tons with 1,430 cabins. They will be able to hold 2,800 guests with a crew of 1,150.
“We’re going to be constructing smaller, more boutique vessels,” explained McAlpin. “We have deliberately chosen a size of ship that allows us to offer an excellent variety of experiences for our guests, but in a more intimate environment.”
The plan is to go after a more chic crowd.
Anne Kalosh is a writer for Seatrade magazine. She figures Virgin Cruises will likely follow the lead of Branson’s other holdings–like Virgin America Airways. She thinks it will create a new niche in cruising.
“This is pulling back a little bit and probably will deliver a higher quality experience a more premium level type of experience,” said Kalosh.
As for choosing Port Miami as home port for the first ship, the company said it was an obvious choice.
“Miami is without a doubt the best fit for Virgin Brand,” said McAlpin. “It’s a vibrant, red hot, sassy, sexy and obviously international city with so much going on.”
The first ship cruises into Port Miami in 2020, the next two years after that the other ships will be available. No word yet where they will be based.
Virgin Cruises is looking for customer input. If you’d like to give some ideas, go to their website at www.virgincruises.com.