Richard Branson is sailing into new waters with the launch of his first cruise liner, making a bold pitch to younger travelers at an undeniably awkward time for the industry.
The Virgin founder launched the Scarlet Lady on Friday, hoping its modern design and the adults-only rule will prompt younger vacationers to take a fresh look at cruises.
The ship has docked at the Port of Dover in England and will enter operation in April, mainly offering trips around the Caribbean from a base in Miami.
“The Scarlet Lady is truly special and we’ve worked with some of the world’s most sought-after designers, artists and architects to craft an extraordinary experience,” Branson said as he presented the ship to the media on Friday.
The Scarlet Lady is the first of three planned ships from Virgin Voyages, the cruising arm of Branson’s empire, which he set up in late 2014. Two more are due for delivery in 2021 and 2022.
The vessel weighs 60,000 tons, according to the Virgin Voyages website.
According to the ship’s builder, Fincantieri, it stretches 278 meters long and 38 meters wide. With 1,430 cabins, it will carry more than 2,770 passengers and 1,160 crew.
Forbes, in its most recent annual list of the world’s billionaires, estimated Branson’s net worth at $4.1 billion.