Vowing to “shake things up” in the cruise industry, British billionaire Richard Branson announced his newest venture, Virgin Cruises, would set sail from PortMiami in 2020.At a press conference in Miami, the Virgin Group founder said he had signed a binding letter of intent with Italy’s Fincantieri to build three 110,000-ton ships, to debut in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Each ship would carry 2,860 passengers, based on double occupancy, and 1,150 crewmembers.Branson arrived at the Miami press conference in his inimitable style – via helicopter, through a cloud of red smoke and wearing a red captain’s hat and red shorts.”We’ve been trying to get this off the ground for a really long time,” Branson told USA TODAY in an exclusive interview. “We’ve got the resources. We’ve got the financing. We’ve got the brand.”Branson announced formation of the cruise line in December 2014. Bain Capital is the financing partner.Branson said the ships would be Virgin’s trademark red. For ideas of what to offer onboard, he said the line is seeking public input at its website, virgincruises.com.Virgin Cruises President and CEO Tom McAplin, who previously helped form and helm Disney Cruise Line, told USA TODAY Virgin Cruises would be a premium product…. Read full this story
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