An adults-only superyacht-inspired ship, complete with a two-storey nightclub, and tattoo parlour is how Sir Richard Branson plans on taking over Australia’s cruising market.
The 73-year-old Virgin Group Founder made a literal splash during the press conference celebrating the Lady Resilient’s maiden voyage in Australia on Tuesday morning.
Following questions from journalists, Sir Richard joined a flashmob dancing around the pool deck before he cheekily pushed Virgin Voyages chief executive Nirmal Saverimuttu into the water.
He then took a dip himself.
The 1408-room cruiser docked in Sydney Harbour at about 1pm on Tuesday, and will travel to its home port of Melbourne on December 6.
The ship is equipped with 25 restaurants, a record shop, hair salon, a gym and spa, which features a mud room, salt room, steam room, and cold plunge pool.
Guests can choose between two pools – the Wellbeing pool, and the pool deck which is flocked by lounges to take in the 360-degree views.
“We think the market’s big enough but we’ll have to see. We’ve had a very full ship sailing down here and good books … where we’re unique is the adults-only aspect,” he said.
“I think there’s a lot of people who have children, who actually sometimes want a fun break, and there are a lot of people who don’t have children, and then there are a lot of people who are looking for partners in order to have children,” he joked, spruiking the ship’s on-board dating service.
Mr Saverimuttu said the company would “love to do more in Sydney” and said the company was having “discussions with everyone about that”.
Another unique feature for guests includes a champagne delivery service, where guests can shake their phone and get a glass of bubbly sent to them regardless of where they are on the ship, an idea Sir Richard was eager to claim as his own.
The arrival of the cruiser comes as calls for more berthing spots in Sydney, with the state government ruling out the Potts Point naval base of Garden Island as a potential option.
Sir Richard said as it stands it was “easier to go into space, then find space in Sydney at the moment,” he said.
“It’s be lovely to operate a ship out of both ports (Sydney and Melbourne).”
Sir Richard, who is a converted cruiser himself, and said he considered them “tired” and “very unappetising and unexciting,” urged people to “give it a try”.
Mr Saverimuttu said it was a common misconception that the market was dominated by “old people who want a very cheap vacation”.
“The result of Virgin Voyages is very different to that. The core age group is of people in their 40s and their 50s,” he said.
“We also have a lot of milestone birthdays … and the celebrations of honeymoons and wedding anniversaries.”