Richard Branson, Virgin Voyages
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Branson’s secret weapon to attract young cruisers

If the reaction to Richard Branson’s announcement of an order for his first three Virgin Cruises ships is anything to go by, rival cruise lines had better watch out.

Now the media maestro – who can conjure a headline out of the most minor announcement, let alone a $2 billion cruise investment – has revealed more about what cruisers can expect.

Virgin Cruises will be trying to attract a fresh new audience – one that industry giants like Carnival Corporation currently aren’t reaching.

And that segment is the 95-million-strong millennial generation – those born between 1980 and 2000. This is a vast difference from the demographic of the current cruiser, who – according to Cruise Lines International Association – is a married 49-year-old with an income of $114,000.

“We know how to create something which will, hopefully, bring millions of people who don’t currently go on cruise ships, who would never dream of going on cruise ships, to give it a try,” Branson told Bloomberg.

But this far out from the launch, the man pioneering space travel wasn’t saying what his secret is.

Virgin will offer seven-day cruises in the Caribbean with the possibility of extending itineraries to the Mediterranean, but Branson Seatrade Cruise News that Cuba would also be a great destination option, considering the age of the passengers.

“I love Cuba,” he says. “I would love to see our ships go there.”

Now it’s just a matter of whether the powers that be will make it legal for a US-based cruise ship to sail the surrounding waters.

Meanwhile, his ship order has already created a debate among the cruise cognoscenti, with many questioning whether his new vessels could really be called “boutique”.

“It seems funny when a 2800-passenger ship is referred to as a ‘boutique’ ship,” a veteran senior cruising executive said.

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