If anyone can make a mode of transportation cool, it’s Richard Branson.
The billionaire entrepreneur — who is the brains behind Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holidays, and Virgin Trains — is now ready to tackle one more aspect of the travel industry: cruises.
In May, Branson unveiled his plans for Virgin Voyages, a fleet of three cruise ships worth $2.5 billion that will be ready to set sail in 2020. These ships will be targeting a younger crowd that may have never set foot on a cruise ship before. And now, Branson is sharing even more information about just how these voyages plan to change the industry, from designs, to amenities, right down to who is driving the ship.
Designs include lush outdoor spaces that are meant to mirror seaside communities from Ibiza to the Hamptons, luxurious room accommodations, and plenty of outdoor and indoor areas meant for group fitness classes, spas, and wellness activities.
And, to further appeal to a new cruising crowd, Virgin Voyages and Branson himself are making a sincere promise to keep their ships as environmentally friendly as possible. That move will include banning the use of single-use plastics in the form of straws, shopping bags, food packaging, bottled water, and condiment packets, according to World of Cruising.
“We believe that in order to fulfill our purpose of creating an Epic Sea Change for All, we must make commitment that is bigger than just eliminating straws,” McAlpin said at a press event. At the event, Branson added, “Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in. Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change.”
Virgin Voyages is also hoping to hire more women in traditionally male-led roles.
“Across the maritime industry, we can do better in onboard recruiting and leadership representation for women,” McAlpin noted. “I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an onboard environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Current employees have already been gushing about how great it is to work for the company. "We’re a Richard Branson company, so we’re all about the people. Just yesterday, we had a 100th-crew-member celebration. We gathered everyone in the café, and had 100 written out in strawberry-frosted doughnuts and a big balloon to match," business systems analyst Alison Wright told Entrepreneur.
"If I try to make a plan for my day, it never goes exactly that way — no day resembles the next. There’s definitely a sense of support from the company, a real caring about our well-being," design manager Farah Cadet added. "It’s not just about how many hours you put in or how much work you get done. It’s about an overall approach to wellness and productivity. If you’re at your best, you can do your best."
If that sounds like your dream work environment, good news: they're hiring. While the jobs at sea aren't listed yet, Virgin Voyages is accepting resumes for those who want to "be on deck for consideration once [they] get sailing." Openings on land include an art director, concierge services manager, product and interior design project manager, and machinery inspector.
The first ship is expected to set sail from Miami through the Caribbean (another area that Branson absolutely adores), and odds are this endeavor will be a mega Branson-worthy success too.