Richard Branson's Virgin Voyages Is Making Waves in the Travel Industry — Here's What He Has to Say About It

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Tom Wren SWNS/Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Richard Branson’s cruise line, Virgin Voyages, is breathing fresh air into the travel industry, with a unique experience that will attract even the biggest cruise skeptics. Virgin Voyages is redefining the cruise experience with an upscale feel that combines the intimate moments and sophisticated design found at a boutique hotel with the luxe amenities you’d expect from a high-end ship. Ahead of its first U.S. sailing this October, Travel + Leisure sat down with Richard Branson and Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of Virgin Voyages, to discuss the inspiration behind the cruise line, what guests can expect, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

© Tom Wren SWNS/Courtesy of Virgin Voyages Virgin Voyages is finally setting sail on its MerMaiden Voyage next month, and we got to take a look inside the cruise line’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, and speak to Richard Branson and Tom McAlpin, president and CEO, about what sets this company apart.

Related: More cruise news

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

For Branson, the inspiration to create a cruise line came from thinking about the kind of journey he and his family and friends would like to go on. Then, he gathered a team — including cruise veterans and people outside the industry — and got to work designing the Virgin Voyages ships. Branson says they “started working out all the things that were wrong about the cruise industry and made sure [they] addressed those issues, making [the] ship the best sailing the seas.” 

Full COVID-19 coverage on our News App
Iphone|Android users, Open you Camera and Scan this QR

“In every single little detail, I think they’ve got it right.” In fact, Branson says the early passenger reviews have shown just that — even his daughter, who “was skeptical about cruise ships,” had a blast on board with her husband and friends. “I’m looking forward to going on my first-ever cruise next month,” Branson adds. (This will be another exciting first after his trip to space aboard Virgin Galactic this summer.)

© Provided by Travel + Leisure @ginajoyphoto/Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

McAlpin points out that cruising is a typically strong industry: “The fundamentals of the cruise industry are strong: very high guest satisfaction, high repeat rate, great value for money.” But they knew they could enter this industry and do things differently, from the adults-only experience to the name, Virgin Voyages, to the luxe look of the ship. From its superyacht-inspired exterior to its incredible interiors designed by internationally renowned designers, artists, and architects (who had never worked on cruise ships before), Virgin Voyages doesn’t look like your standard vessel — and that’s exactly why it’s exciting. And it’s not just design that sets the Scarlet Lady apart — more than 20 restaurants, including six specialty eateries, are all included, and they rival great establishments you’d want to visit on land (with none of the formalities, like assigned tables, dining times, or massive buffets, typically found on other ships). 

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

McAlpin continues, also noting the “immersive, fun, energetic” entertainment on board, as well as the great crew, all packaged in a more inclusive way, with gratuities, basic beverages, food, and more included for guests on board.

Plus, the beautiful, new Virgin Voyages Beach Club in Bimini will offer even more experiences on land. “Think about this as Ibiza meets Tulum,” says McAlpin. Of course, this isn’t the only stop on a Scarlet Lady sailing; this fall, cruises will depart from Miami and take guests to ports in the U.S., Bahamas, and Mexico. Branson also hopes they’ll be able to stop in Cuba in the future (as they had originally planned before the 2019 travel restrictions were announced). 

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

So, who is the Virgin Voyages experience perfect for? “Young at heart people who want to have a good time,” says Branson. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re 72 or 22.” And when you’re ready, they’re prepared with a number of COVID-19 health protocols. 

Virgin Voyages’ debut was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic, but that extra time has helped them prepare. “We’ve taken the last 18 months to really look at how we can create the safest possible way to travel,” says McAlpin. Branson adds, “If you go onto a ship, you know everybody’s vaccinated, you know everybody’s been tested before they got onto it.” Virgin Voyages has set a number of COVID-related health measures in place, from vaccination requirements for passengers and crew to air purification technology and advanced cleaning techniques to create a safe, controlled environment.  

Virgin Voyages’ first U.S. sailing will hit the seas on Oct. 6, and cruises can be booked on the Virgin Voyages website.

Elizabeth Rhodes is an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her adventures on Instagram @elizabetheverywhere

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Soccer-Tuchel loses Lukaku and Werner to injury against Malmo

© Reuters/MATTHEW CHILDS Champions League – Group H – Chelsea v Malmo FF By Clare Lovell LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel had warned that his big names might ... Read more »

According to Health Officials, This Is When You Should Get the COVID-19 Booster Shot

© Getty / Spencer Platt According to Health Officials, This Is When You Should Get the COVID-19 Booster Shot On Oct. 20, nearly a month after Pfizer booster shots were ... Read more »

Msia still discussing with Saudi Arabia on vaccines for Umrah

© Provided by New Straits Times PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is still discussing with the Saudi Arabian government on the types of vaccine allowed for those wanting to perform the Umrah pilgrimage ... Read more »

FDA backs mixing COVID vaccines, approves Moderna and J&J booster shots

The FDA has approved the booster shots for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. AP Photo/Steven Senne, File The FDA expanded the reach of COVID-19 booster shots Wednesday, ... Read more »

De Blasio's new vax mandate for all city workers is a mistake and an injustice

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Oct. 20, 2021, that all New York City municipal employees will be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office Mayor Bill ... Read more »

Worker killed after being sucked into wood chipper at Michigan home

A 48-year-old man was killed after he was sucked into a wood chipper while working at a Michigan home on Tuesday morning, a report said. Investigators believed the horrific scene ... Read more »

Meghan Markle pushes paid parental leave in letter to Schumer, Pelosi

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have two children, Archie and Lilibet Diana. Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo Meghan Markle called on Congress to pass a federal paid parental leave ... Read more »

British troops shoot Isis jihadis in Mali — first killings by regular UK forces since 2014

British troops have shot dead jihadists, believed to be Isis fighters, after coming under attack while on a UN mission in Mali — a country facing a fierce insurgency and ... Read more »

Epsilon signs long-term manufacturing deal for Cannim's Jamaican cannabis products

Epsilon has signed another major deal as its world-leading GMP manufacturing facility in Southport continues to attract the attention of medicinal cannabis powerhouses. © Stockhead Australia Epsilon Cannim Global cannabis ... Read more »

Covid 'Plan C' that would BAN households mixing 'are being discussed'

© Provided by Daily Mail Ministers are threatening to reimpose Covid restrictions under a potential ‘Plan C’ which would see mixing between households banned as well as mandatory facemasks, orders ... Read more »

6 Great New French Hotels Outside Paris

© Courtesy of Château d’Estoublon 6 Great New French Hotels Outside Paris Courtesy of Château d’Estoublon A Provençal castle—exclusively yours for $29,100 a night. Paris has seen an influx of ... Read more »

Kim Kardashian's Best Birthday Outfits Through the Years

© Wes Eddy/mjt/AdMedia/Newscom/MEGA KimK Click here to read the full article. Happy birthday, Kim Kardashian! Ahead of the star’s 40th birthday on Oct. 21, we’re looking back at her best ... Read more »

Vic has 2232 virus cases, hits 1000 deaths

More than 1000 Victorians have died from the COVID-19 pandemic, with the grim milestone coinciding with Melbourne’s last day under its sixth lockdown. © James Ross/AAP PHOTOS Victoria has recorded ... Read more »

Royal Caribbean Just Announced an Around-the-world Cruise to 65 Countries — and It Stops in 150 Destinations

© Provided by Travel + Leisure Courtesy of Royal Caribbean Royal Caribbean is raising the bar on round-the-world trips with the launch of its new Ultimate World Cruise, exploring all ... Read more »

Light Up Your Home in Any Color With the NOOK Smart Light

© Courtesy of NOOK Casa It seems that nowadays every space we tend to enter is powered by smart LED lights — and for good reason. Not only are smart ... Read more »

20 Best Bourbon Cocktail Recipes That Everyone Will Love (Promise)

When you picture bourbon and whiskey, what comes to mind? Bonfires and campgrounds, buffalo plaid, a cozy knit blanket, and maybe some softly falling snow, right? But bourbon is delicious ... Read more »

BBC slammed for failing LGBT+ people – especially trans lives – in damning open letter

The BBC has been accused of key failures in its coverage of LGBT+ issues – particularly towards the trans community – in a letter signed by more than 800 people. ... Read more »

This 5-Star Coffee Maker Is the Best Part of My Morning—and It's 24% Off Right Now

© Provided by EatingWell Amazon I’m the kind of person who *must* start the day with coffee. In an emergency, I can sometimes wait an hour for a cup, or ... Read more »

Fragrance Brand Dossier Makes Candles Now — Plus Other Scented Candle Dupes That Won't Break the Bank

© Dossier Scented candles — we love them, we can’t get enough of them, but, boy, can they get pricey. Popular luxury candles are great to splurge on once in ... Read more »

Is the Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack DLC worth it?

© Provided by Windows Central Best answer: Yes, the Forza Horizon 5 Welcome Pack DLC is worth it as an affordable boost to your game start. This simple DLC provides ... Read more »

Warnings of ‘debt crisis' as millions fall into arrears during pandemic

Experts are warning of a “debt crisis” for millions of families in the UK after research revealed the number of households on low incomes in arrears has tripled since the ... Read more »

Share vaccines with developing world or face ‘countless' Covid deaths, charities warn

“Countless” people in developing countries will die unnecessarily from Covid-19 due to the rich world’s failure to deliver on vaccine promises and Britain’s decision to block an initiative to enable ... Read more »

3.8m low-income households estimated to be in arrears with household bills

Some 3.8 million households on low incomes are estimated to be in arrears with household bills, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). © PA Archive Household bills Around 950,000 ... Read more »

How New Superman Slogan Finally Lets Him Be a Man of Tomorrow

© DC Comics ‘Superman: Son of Kal-El’ by Tom Taylor and John Timms. Since 1939, DC’s Superman has been called “the Man of Tomorrow.” The nickname debuted in New York ... Read more »

PayPal Shows Ambition to Be a ‘Super App' With Pinterest Pursuit

© Bloomberg Pinterest Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings Figures (Bloomberg) — PayPal Holdings Inc.’s pursuit of Pinterest Inc. would be a giant leap away from its longtime image as a mere ... Read more »

Analysis: What lies beneath? Hidden debt fears feed China's property woes

© Reuters/ALY SONG FILE PHOTO: Headquarters of China Evergrande Group in Shenzhen By Samuel Shen, Marc Jones and Clare Jim SHANGHAI/LONDON (Reuters) – Numbers don’t lie, you just need to ... Read more »

US and EU ambassadors: Enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea

1 / 2Koreas TensionsThis photo provided by the North Korean government shows a ballistic missile launched from a submarine Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in North Korea. North Korea announced Wednesday, ... Read more »

Asian stocks mixed after Wall Street rises for 5th day

APTOPIX Japan Financial Markets (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved) Asian stocks rose Wednesday after Wall Street advanced for a fifth day on strong corporate earnings. Shanghai Tokyo ... Read more »

Board rules racism a public health crisis in New York City

New York City Board of Health declared, “To build a healthier New York City, we must confront racism as a public health crisis.” The New York City Board of Health ... Read more »

Pulau Mampat-Seberang Batu Hampar road in Rembau collapses after 3-hour heavy downpour

© Provided by New Straits Times REMBAU: Part of Jalan Pulau Mampat-Seberang Batu Hampar has collapsed following three hours of continuous heavy rain and an overflowing river. This has caused ... Read more »

FBI finds unidentified human remains and items belonging to Brian Laundrie at Florida park

ORLANDO, Fla. — Authorities on Wednesday said they found partial, unidentified human remains along with a backpack and notebook belonging to Brian Laundrie at a Florida park near where his ... Read more »

City-County Health Department splits; what's next?

City-County Health Department splits; what’s next? Read more »

Grants Pass man arrested for alleged 'catfishing' proposition, threats

Oct. 20—A man faces felony charges accusing him of offering money online to a woman for sex acts in Grants Pass, then when the woman refused, posing as a member ... Read more »

The Love Trap viewers slam new dating show over list of issues but ‘love seeing contestants fall through the floor'

CHANNEL 4 viewers took to social media to complain after new dating show The Love Trap failed to meet their standards. Fans were left disappointed by the programme, which aired ... Read more »

Bengal: Civic polls likely from December, TMC starts preparations

© Provided by The Indian Express Following the conclusion of the four Assembly by-polls in the state, whose results will be declared on November 2, the West Bengal State Election ... Read more »

Plans announced for post-Brexit festival of creativity

TV historian David Olusoga has teamed up with the makers of Pokémon Go to create an immersive 3D experience in south London. © BBC DavidOlusoga0910.jpg It will be part of ... Read more »

Best luxury Christmas advent calendars including Hotel Chocolat, Barbie and Lego named in Which? test

HOTEL Chocolat, Master of Malt and Playmobil are the best luxury Christmas advent calendars this year, according to a test by Which? Christmas is more than two months away but ... Read more »

Alan Carr to host Royal Variety 2021 with Rod Stewart and Ed Sheeran on line-up

Alan Carr has been announced as the host of this year’s Royal Variety Performance. The 45-year-old comic said it was a “dream come true” to be entrusted to compere the ... Read more »

Wealthy buyers snap up luxury villas in the Caribbean and Mexico

This five-bedroom villa at the tropical Baker’s Bay Golf and Ocean Club in the Bahamas is asking $32.2 million. Baker’s Bay Last year, the pandemic proved to resort developers that ... Read more »

On The Money — Democrats eye tough choices as deadline looms

Happy Wednesday and welcome to On The Money, your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line. Subscribe here: © Greg Nash The U.S. Capitol ... Read more »