- Tycoon mulls UK debut
- ‘Everything will be five-star – but not five-star prices’
- ‘What’s the godmother of a ship?’
Sir Richard Branson wants to show off his new cruise ship Scarlet Lady in Southampton, he revealed in Genoa.
Speaking at the shipyard where the Virgin Voyages vessel is being built, he played down hopes that it would ever be based in the UK – while forcefully denouncing Brexit.
Sir Richard said: ‘I think most people in the UK would rather go somewhere warm, whether it’s Italy, Spain, the Med or the Caribbean.
“Obviously, with the collapsing pound and Brexit, it makes it more difficult for people to afford to do that but hopefully Britain one day will climb out of the mess that it’s in at the moment.”
Asked if the ship might be showcased in the UK during its 2020 debut, Sir Richard joked he might send it up the Thames.
He added: ‘I want to show her off, we’re all rather proud of this ship. Maybe Southampton or something, but we’d love to show her off to everybody before we move across to the Caribbean.’
When I asked what would set Virgin Voyages apart from other cruise lines, Sir Richard said: ‘It will be cool, fun and every little detail on it will be thought through to perfection. As the Virgin brand, we know what to do.’
I then asked if the 68-year-old tycoon with a myriad of businesses whether he would be personally involved in the cruise line.
He answered: ‘Very much so. I’ve never been on a cruise ship and the reason why we’ve created this is to have a cruise ship we want to travel on.
‘You’re not going to get massive buffets where people stand in long queues to get their food. Everything’s going to be five-star but fun, really great quality – and not at five-star prices, either.
‘We can tap into a market of millions and millions and millions of people who would never dream of going on a cruise ship. That would be good for the cruise industry as a whole.’
On the question of a godmother to christen the ship, Sir Richard showed how new he is to the cruise industry by asking: ‘I’m being thick – what’s the godmother of a ship?’
Sir Richard spoke after revealing the name of his first ship, turning a valve to flood the dry dock it is in, pushing the button to cut the first steel on his second ship – and dancing on the table during a celebratory lunch.
Three Virgin Voyages ships, all adults only, are currently on order and are due to sail from Miami on Caribbean cruises.
Read my Daily Mirror story on Scarlet Lady here
See my video of Branson dancing on the table (Mail Online story) here
Confused about steel cutting, float-outs – or godmothers? Read my Telegraph online story about building cruise ships here
Dave Monk (Shipmonk) has been nominated for his blog in two cruise awards. To learn more – and for a chance to vote – please click here