Skift Take

Virgin Cruises seeks to attract cruisers and newbies to its maiden offering in Miami. So does everyone else. We trust Sir Richard and his design team has something different on deck.

Richard Branson says his Virgin Cruises “will redefine the cruising experience for good” as the line announced it would operate three ships based in Miami for Caribbean itineraries starting in 2020.

The line, though, has so far been short on details on what that metamorphosis of the cruise experience would entail and it is asking potential customers — including cruisers and heretofore noncruisiers — to share their wish lists on the Virgin Cruises website.

Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, which signed a letter of intent, would build the ships, which are geared to accommodate up to 2,800 guests and 1,150 crew, on their seven-day Caribbean itineraries.

Virgin has a knack for tweaks to set its travel offerings apart from the pack but so far that vision has not been articulated in any depth with the new cruise product.

Colleen McDaniel, managing editor of Cruise Critic, has ideas on how Virgin Cruises could depart from the pack.

“Virgin is positioning itself in that midsize market, which is a bit of a departure from the trend toward megaships,” McDaniel says. “While megaships are still wildly popular, we have seen some Cruise Critic members call for new ships that are slightly smaller — mid-sized.

“Innovation is such a big part of the cruising business, and we’re seeing new and wonderful innovations all the time. Richard Branson had innovated for years in the travel and entertainment spaces, so we’re certain he’ll bring something new to the industry, and passengers will benefit.”

McDaniel is optimistic about the invitation to the public to provide ideas on the Virgin Cruises ships’ evolution.

“In an industry where much of the consumer feedback comes from current and past passengers, this is an opportunity for the line to take the ideas into account as the ships are being conceptualized and built,” McDaniel says “People will literally be able to shape the ships.”

“Branson and Virgin have name brand recognition and loyal customers. He’s really hoping it’s enough to turn the ‘cruise curious’ into cruise passengers. ”

Meanwhile there were no updates today on the pending case in U.S. federal court by former Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch, who claims that Virgin Cruises’ business model was his original work.


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Tags: virgin cruises

Photo credit: Richard Branson hams it up with not-your-average cruisers in Miami to announce Virgin Cruises' first three ships. Virgin Cruises

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