Virgin Voyages plans to make waves in Miami.
Company founder and London billionaire Richard Branson revealed plans Wednesday for a proposed new terminal at PortMiami that would be the base for his two upcoming cruise ships, the Scarlet Lady and another yet-to-be-named ship.
Branson made the announcement at The Standard in Miami Beach with Virgin Voyages president and chief executive officer Tom McAlpin, Miami-Dade mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, Miami-Dade commissioner Rebeca Sosa and other local officials.
“Miami is an incredible city and one of my favorite places to work and play,” said Branson whose Virgin Voyages is based in Plantation. “From our headquarters for Hotels, Voyages and now Trains USA, South Florida has quickly become another home for Virgin brands in the leisure travel sector.”
The new 100,000-square-foot terminal would be located on the northwest side of the Miami port. If approved by the county, the building would begin construction in 2019 and be completed by November 2021. Cost of the terminal is estimated at $150 million, according to the cruise line.
The terminal would be designed by Miami architecture and design firm Arquitectonica, which is also known for other South Florida projects including AmericanAirlines Arena and the redevelopment of the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The new PortMiami facility would carry a South Florida vibe with a palm tree theme. The rooftop’s design would be made to look like a palm tree grove with gaps that would allow natural daylight to filter into the building. At night, Virgin’s red logo would shine bright.
“It’s gratifying to see Virgin Voyages expand its presence in Miami-Dade County,” Gimenez said. “By constructing a new cruise terminal at PortMiami, Virgin Voyages is signaling its confidence in our thriving community, which is not only the Cruise Capital of the World but also the Gateway to the Americas. We are honored that Virgin Voyages has chosen PortMiami as its home starting in 2020.”
Virgin’s Scarlet Lady, which is for passengers 18 and older, would set sail from the Miami terminal for the Caribbean in 2021. A second ship, also under construction, would debut in Miami for the 2021-2022 season. Bookings begin Valentine’s Day 2019.
The news comes on the heels of a new partnership between Brightline and Branson’s Virgin Group.
Brightline will become known as Virgin Trains USA this month and then carry the Virgin Trains USA branding on its trains, stations, website and signage in 2019.
By Johnny Diaz, Sun Sentinel
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