Travel agents and advisors logged on in record numbers to a special Virgin Voyages online Q&A with company founder Sir Richard Branson.
The chat began at 9am Sydney time, meaning an extra early start for those in Perth, but that didn’t put them off.
Speaking to the agents, Sir Richard left viewers in no doubt just how good he thinks the Virgin Voyages company is.
“I’ve spent over 50 years building businesses that I can be proud of and learning every time we build the new business from our previous businesses.
“We got a blank sheet of paper out a few years ago and said can we make a cruise company really fun? Can we make it the kind of company that is more like Abramovich’s ship but affordable for a lot of people?
“With the best entertainment, the best food, the kind of cruise company that people who would never dream of going on a cruise would want to go on.”
“Our wonderful team, I think have created arguably maybe the best virgin company ever,” Branson said.
“It’s got all the learnings from all the other virgin companies over the decades. And it’s fantastic.”
“I’m going to be enormously proud to be in Sydney welcoming it.”
He said there had been rumours of some sort of publicity stunt as the ship arrived in Sydney, but he hoped if true, they weren’t as extreme as previous stunts such as having him dangling off the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But, whatever it is, he will do it.
“You’ve got thousands of people who work enormously hard to create these wonderful ventures, like Virgin Australia, or Virgin Voyages. And, they throw themselves wholeheartedly into it day and night.
“And the least I can be as the icing on the cake, and to try to get the company on the map,” Branson said.
“We’ve had a lot of fun over the years putting new new ventures on the map. And, with this one we’ve got 72 different nationalities of staff working on the ship. They are wonderful.
“They’ve got tremendous life and spirit and we’ve done some somewhat of an experiment coming to Australia.
“There was a big debate, are there enough Australians to warrant sending a cruise ship all the way down to Australia?
“Or, should we be sending it to the Mediterranean or doing another ship in the Caribbean?
“It’s a fun place Australians will love, love this product. And, you know, we’ve got to get out there and try it, try it for one season, and then we can pull it off, we’ll come back, we’ll come back every year.
“So I suppose one of the reasons that I’m doing this call will is just to try to make sure that we get up first mates as we call your rather than boring travel agents, or sorry, the boring name the travel agents. To try to make sure that people can expect to have a great time. And, you know, what we can do is guarantee that anybody that goes on a virgin voyages, will absolutely love it,” Branson said.
Resilient Lady arrived in Australian waters this morning and will arrive in Sydney Harbour on Monday.
Will Sir Richard be dangling from the Harbour Bridge when it does? Only time will tell.
(So too will Travel Weekly which will be on the water covering the ships arrival live on Monday.)