Richard Branson, the iconic, eccentric entrepreneur at the helm of the Virgin Group, seems to do pretty much whatever he wants. If he wants to give his employees unlimited vacation or a full year of paternity leave, he’ll do it. Heck, he’ll even give the greenlight to putting the Sex Pistols on credit cards because … why not?
At a press event on Tuesday in Miami, the man who has already helped launch successful airlines on multiple continents and is even venturing into space travel offered details about his latest travel operation. “It’s no secret that I’ve dreamed of starting a cruise line for a very long time,” Branson said.
But before Branson spoke to the press, he had to make an appropriately Bransonesque entrance at the event, held at Miami’s Perez Art Museum. “With characteristic flair, Branson arrived at the event in a helicopter that took off in a cloud of bright red smoke,” the industry publication Cruise Critic reported. “When he landed, Branson emerged wearing red shorts, a white shirt and a red captain’s hat while waving a Virgin Cruises flag.”
This week’s event was actually the second time Branson has introduced the forthcoming launch of Virgin Cruises. Last December, the Virgin Group said it would soon be “making waves” in the cruise industry with the new line. “We plan to shake up the cruise industry and deliver a holiday that customers will absolutely love,” Branson said at the time. “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.”
On Tuesday, Branson and Virgin Cruises President Tom McAlpin offered more details about the operation. The plan calls for three newly built Virgin Cruises ships to be deployed by around 2020, with the first based in Miami and Fort Lauderdale for weeklong itineraries exploring the Caribbean.
Many of the specifics haven’t been announced—and apparently, quite a few haven’t been decided upon. Branson is asking interested travelers to visit VirginCruises.com to offer input on anything and everything they want in a cruise line.