With Sir Richard Branson this week announcing ‘Virgin Voyages’ as the new identity for the company’s cruise line, Cruise News took the opportunity to interview Tom McAlpin, president and chief executive officer of Virgin Voyages.
Why are you launching a cruise line?
We believe there is a large, underserved market and strong growth prospects for a cruise line that delivers a Virgin kind of experience for the customer segments we are focused on.
Why the Caribbean as a destination?
The Caribbean is an incredibly beautiful part of the world with so many gorgeous places to visit. Richard has made his home there because of the quality of life you can have. No matter where you go, the beaches and experiences can be breath taking. That said we also believe that in creating an irresistible holiday, it’s not just where you go but what you can do when you get there.
Why did you choose Miami as the cruise homeport?
Miami is a city that matches the Virgin brand in energy and excitement so it’s a natural choice for Virgin Voyages. We are very happy to have PortMiami as our home port for the 1st ship. The combination of easy access to the airport, the excellent Port infrastructure and supportive port team will help us deliver an excellent arrival and departure experience.
Will UK customers be able to book packages say: Virgin Trains East Coast – York to London, fly Virgin Atlantic, then cruise?
Our goal is to offer a brilliant experience all round. This includes getting to the ship, while you are on board and going back home again. We will work with our sister companies to see how we can help people travel with Virgin as much as possible on their voyage.
Many new ships have launch new technologies, example bionic bar – Royal Caribbean, what new experiences will your cruises offer?
Watch this space. We will start to unveil more and more about the experience and programming from next year and the year after. We are committed to making this an unpredictable holiday. Virgin Voyages is the ship of things to come.
What social experiences can travellers expect from Virgin?
The Virgin brand is a very social one. On Virgin Atlantic you can meet at the bar at 36000 feet. At Virgin Hotels, you can meet for The Social Hour between 7-8pm. We love bringing people together so they can create amazing memories. Our ships will also deliver on this idea that is at the heart of our brand.
What loyalty programme will you offer, if any?
Our focus is on building an excellent experience and designing an irresistible ship for new sailors and those who have sailed before. As we are so new this is something we will look at in the future. After all loyalty is so much more than earning points and caring a card in your wallet.
Will you offer preview cruises from Europe?
It’s too early for us to share details on preview cruises. But we will certainly consider it if there are a lot of requests from customers.