What if we could design a cruise ship like a superyacht? This is the story of Virgin Voyages

Richard Branson in Greece onboard Virgin Voyages
Tania Steere
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 24 May 2024


“No kids”

“Champagne at the shake of your phone”

“No buffets”

“Korean BBQ”

“Tom Dixon”

“A suspended running track”

“Yoga at sea”

“St Tropez”


“Private beach club”

“Free WiFi”

“No single-use plastics”

“No unexplained charges”

“Tips are covered”


“Night clubs”

“Rockstar suites”

“The best (and happiest) crew in the world”

These are some of the words that we wrote down on a huge piece of paper when we decided it was time to launch a cruise line. I got a group of brilliant people around me and penned the question: what puts you off going on a cruise, and what can we do differently?

Richard branson with DJ decks onboard Virgin Voyages
Virgin Voyages

I’ve wanted to launch a cruise line since I was 27-years-old. At first, I wanted to create a cruise line for under 30-year-olds, but I didn’t have the money. Then it became a cruise-line for under 50-year-olds, but I still didn’t have the money. When we finally had the money to bring Virgin Voyages to life, we ditched the age limits and just said, ‘no kids.’

The reason I had been so adamant about a launching cruise line was because the industry was just so ripe for disruption. Cruising should be great. You get to sail the seas, wake up in a new destination every day, party hard, and relax even harder. So why had cruising fallen so fast out of fashion? There was so much we could do differently, which became even more obvious after we put pen to paper!

Richard Branson serving ice cream
Virgin Voyages

And so, we designed a ship in the style of a superyacht with the help of Tom Dixon and a Creative Collective of other designers. We built in secret karaoke rooms and six-course experimental dining concepts (liquid nitrogen included). We put a running track on the top deck and a pizza spot that stays open until 2 am so you can get the best of both worlds. We built itineraries where you can hop straight from the ship to the port without queuing for taxi-boats. We partnered with clean energy start-up Climeon, an industry-first, to create ocean-friendly ships. And we said ‘sorry, no kids’ so we had more space for restaurants, bars, cycling studios and spas. Glamour. Adventure. The golden days of cruising were back!

Now we have three ships sailing all around the world with a fourth ship, Brilliant Lady, set to join them next year!

We have the best Crew in the world, representing almost half the countries on Earth, and a long list of accolades from Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, Cruise Critic – the list goes on.

Whenever these awards roll in, or I speak to someone on-board who has come back for the 3rd, 4th, or 5th time – it makes me so happy that we stuck to our guns and did things differently. It took a long time, and it was a big risk, but it was all worth it in the end.

Join me (and Boy George!) on board this summer for the Virgin Celebration Voyages to see what all the fuss is about!