Branson eyes Arab investment for Virgin cruise ships

Virgin Group boss is said to be in discussions with Abu Dhabi entities on the potential $1.7bn project
Branson eyes Arab investment for Virgin cruise ships
By Beatrice Thomas
Sun 02 Mar 2014 10:19 AM

British billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has flagged plans to launch a fleet of Virgin cruise ships with the help of Arab investment, it was reported.

Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, is said to be in discussions with Abu Dhabi entities on the potential $1.7bn project.

Branson is already involved with Abu Dhabi government-backed investment group Aabar on his space travel business Virgin Galactic.

“We are looking at a very different kind of cruise company. We’re trying to create the kind of cruise ship that would be attractive to the kind of people who would never consider a cruise at the moment,” Branson told local newspaper The National.

“When I was in my 20s I thought about a cruise ship for the under 20s, when I was 30 I thought about one for under 30s,” he was quoted as saying.

Branson is said to have hired New York-based investment bank Allen & Co to assist in the search for partners.

The National said he would seek to build the cruise fleet from scratch, starting with the construction of two new vessels to work the popular Caribbean and Mediterranean cruise markets.

A Virgin spokesman said if it obtained the required investment, the cruise line could start operating in 2019.

“We would offer more entertainment and leisure opportunities on board the ships, making them attractive to a younger market. We believe we can supply the Virgin ‘touch’ on cabins, leisure and dining facilities,” the spokesman told The National.

He added that the new cruise line would be based in Miami, the historic capital of the industry.

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