Richard Branson recently announced that his new cruise line will be called Virgin Voyages and not Virgin Cruises, as he believes the word cruise is associated with “stuffy and dull” and is not something he himself would aspire to. However, he would go on a Voyage.
Other phrases thrown around by various Virgin executives at the recent launch in Miami included “transformational experience”, “irresistible vacation at sea” and that future passengers will be “dizzy with anticipation” at the prospect of a Virgin Voyage. All of this will be delivered on three ships with the first arriving in 2020 and sailing Caribbean itineraries from Miami. Steel will be cut in Italy in early 2017 and the process of bringing this cruise revolution to life will begin.
So, can Virgin actually deliver something totally new and refreshing or is this just the type of marketing and PR spins that those of us who have been in the industry a while have heard many times before? Who remembers the Scalextric track debacle on for P&O’s Ventura’s launch? Indeed only a couple of weeks ago P&O’s big reveal for their new ship, also due in 2020, stated they would bring “the outside in” with the introduction of a huge glass atrium. An interesting concept without question, but “connecting guests even closer to the sea” that remains to be seen.
Many will argue that if anyone can make significant changes to the way we cruise it might be Virgin Voyages but ultimately do customers want huge change? The ship itself is without doubt important for most cruisers and good food, a vibrant nightlife and a comfortable and well equipped cabin are a must on any Voyage (cruise) but it’s the destinations and cultural immersion that is always the key driver and requirement for the vast majority of passengers. There are only so many Caribbean islands that Virgin can visit and only so many excursions they can offer on those islands.
All of us will watch and wait for further Virgin Voyage announcements but just not yet with bated breath.