(5 p.m. EST) -- Emerging from a Virgin-branded electric Moke vehicle, Richard Branson made a surprise entrance February 13 at the official opening ceremony for the new home of the Virgin Voyages splashy new cruise terminal in Miami, named Terminal V.
Guests cleared the way in front of the stage as the Virgin Voyages founder and cruise line CEO Tom McAlpin hopped out to join others on-stage, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Brief speeches included statements about the line's commitments to sustainability, the upcoming availability of shoreside power throughout the port and the return to cruising.
Designed by Miami architectural firm, Arquitectonica, the 132,000 square foot, LEED Gold certified, three-story terminal sits near Miami downtown perpendicular to the long stretch of existing cruise terminals. The terminal is currently being used by Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages' first cruise ship, and will be joined by Valiant Lady when that ship comes over from Europe in fall 2022.
The design recalls the days when farmers planted palm tree groves to shade the beaches. The curved support pillars of the roof suggest the twisting trunks of palm trees; more than 1,000 palm trees shade the grounds. Due to its prime cruise port position, the striking glass building allows plenty of light and offers views of the Bay of Biscayne, downtown Miami, and Edgewater.
Approaching the main entrance to Terminal V, cruisers are welcomed by a Virgin logo and an "Ahoy Sailor" greeting across the doors. Once inside the main door, the opposite wall appears to have lines of cascading streamers that are changing colors. The artwork throughout the terminal includes changing LED screens and local artwork by the nonprofit organization Art in Public Places.
An escalator and stairs lead to the second-floor security and registration area, which offers access to a large patio area. Once beyond registration, guests proceed to an area that is meant to introduce them to the first step of their vacation. The scarlet color of the seating options against the white walls of the terminal mimic the Virgin Voyages color theme.
An obvious difference in this waiting area is the lack of the typical office chairs lined up row upon row. In their place, scarlet red-cushioned seating welcomes guests to relax. Double sun loungers, also scarlet red, further promote a cruise vacation frame of mind.
The VIP and Rock Star guests enter via a private entrance and pass through expedited screening. They have access to a dedicated area with a variety of seating options, food and beverage area, and access to an outdoor terrace.
Terminal V successfully accomplishes a pleasant transition from street to ship in a space that hints at the onboard ambience and visual experience onboard Scarlet Lady, the winner of Cruise Critic Editors' Pick for "Best New Cruise Ship for 2021".