A birthday to remember
It was wonderful being onboard Virgin Voyages surrounded by family and friends... Okay, to be honest it was my 72nd birthday. My 70th birthday was delayed because of COVID-19 by two years!
It was five days full of surprises that bought our family and friends - and I believe everyone on the cruise - so much joy. What made it even more fun was that I had no idea about anything that had been planned in advance. Thank you to everyone for your inventiveness, it really did put a smile on everyone’s faces.
The first big surprise was seeing everyone dressed as different moments from throughout my life. It was a little bizarre but also hilarious seeing the creativity and fun people had put into their costumes, from people inside mini-hot air balloons to ripped clothes from many near-death escapades, to recreating my Student Magazine days in the Sixties. Thank you to everyone for their inventiveness, it really did put a smile on my face.
We also did some brilliant shore excursions. I went diving with Holly and Sam in the caves in Rio Secreto in Mexico. I’ve been fortunate to do some extraordinary dives in my life – but this was truly spectacular. They were re-discovered in 2004 when the landowner chased an iguana into a hole and stumbled across these stunning caves. At one point we were asked to switch off our torches on our heads and it was so dark – I have never seen or experienced anything like it.
The ship then made its way to Bimini, where Virgin Voyages has the most incredible beach club. We spent some time relaxing before meeting with a group of inspirational entrepreneurs and Bimini business owners at a surprise event organised by Virgin Voyages and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. I love hearing new ideas and seeing what entrepreneurs are up to in different parts of the world – I find it so energising.
Virgin Voyages also teamed up with Virgin Unite, the independent foundation of the Virgin Group, to create the ‘Sea Change Fund’ to support mangrove forest restoration projects in the Caribbean. Mangrove forests help protect coastal communities against natural disasters and play a vital role in reducing the effects of climate change. They also support biodiversity by providing essential habitat for birds, fish and other animals. I’m thrilled that this work has begun and look forward to seeing it take shape with the help of partners in the region.
I had such a truly wonderful mix of spending time with friends and family who we haven’t got together in one place for years (if ever!), making the most of being onboard our fantastic new ship, and taking part in activities close to my heart - supporting entrepreneurs and conserving the environment.
Thank you everyone for making my birthday such a surprising and joyful celebration.