How Virgin can really shake up the cruise industry
So all we knew, for 18 months, was that Virgin Cruises was collecting feedback, and this feedback was coming at them from people they didn't know, rather than the usual run of industry consultants.
Last month, McAlpin hosted a press event at the Faena Hotel in Miami Beach, where new details would be provided to a travel media eager for specifics.
In his typically over-the-top manner, Branson made his appearance onstage dressed as a somewhat loopy cabana boy, serving dancers some cocktails. When that was over, the more serious non-news was announced.
Fincantieri, the Italian shipyard, would be cutting steel for the first of three 2,700-passenger ships in February. The first would be delivered in 2020, with the next two arriving in subsequent years. But we already knew this. So what was the purpose of the press conference?
Ah, but then things took a turn as Branson took on the Goliaths in Miami Beach. "The name 'cruise' is pretty awful, so I don't like that," he proclaimed from under his wide-brimmed summer hat and shades. He then announced that Virgin would shake up the cruise industry, and it would start by removing the word "cruise" from its moniker, renaming the company Virgin Voyages. It now falls to Virgin to delineate the differences between a cruise and a voyage.