By Webb Wright | Reporter

December 14, 2021 | 4 min read

Sir Richard Branson and Ryan Reynolds are teaming up again. This time the two publicity-loving entrepreneurs have linked Virgin Voyages and Aviation American Gin. The announcement comes at a time of renewed growth for the cruise industry, which had been hit hard by the pandemic.

Sir Richard Branson and Ryan Reynolds – kindred spirits in terms of their charisma, ambition and tendency to find themselves at the center of the media’s attention – are launching a partnership between Branson’s Virgin Voyages and Reynolds’s Aviation American Gin, colloquially known simply as Aviation Gin. The collaboration, announced via a new ad breaking today, arrives during a period of revitalization for the cruise industry, which has been hobbled by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This isn’t the first time that Branson and Reynolds have teamed up. Earlier this year, the charismatic entrepreneurial duo brought their partnership to the skies with an announcement that Virgin Atlantic (Branson’s airline) would begin serving Aviation Gin. Now they’re gearing up to strike out on a new frontier: the high seas.

“I can’t seem to escape Ryan. He keeps following me around,” Branson said in a statement. “Thankfully I really enjoy Aviation Gin so I was excited to bring this product to Virgin Voyages after their partnership with Virgin Atlantic.”

Sir Richard isn’t the only one who can’t seem to escape the face of Ryan Reynolds. The Deadpool star has become an increasingly common face in the world of advertising over the past couple of years, building a reputation as a quirky social commentator who always somehow manages to remain one step ahead of the zeitgeist. (His recent celebration of the return of the McRib is an illustrative example. And in addition to the news of his newest collaboration with Branson, he’s also been making a splash with his recent Peloton ad.)

And if there’s anything that the cruise industry could use right now, it’s a bit of levity. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on most travel-related industries, and luxury cruises have been no exception. Highly-publicized outbreak incidents onboard cruise ships (such as the one that took place on the Diamond Princess), coupled with global travel restrictions, have financially crippled some of the world’s leading ocean cruise operating companies. Carnival Cruises, for example – the world’s largest cruise company – reported a loss of approximately $4.4bn in a single quarter of 2020.

But the tides of fortune are finally beginning to shift for the cruise industry: after a long period of loss, leading cruise operators have been reporting a resurgence of customers in recent months, leading some to speculate that the industry could be entering a new phase of recovery.

The collaboration between Virgin Voyages and Aviation Gin is, by all appearances, seeking to capitalize off of this new period of growth. At the same time, Branson and Reynolds appear to be doing their best to remind people, wary after almost two years of dismal pandemic headlines, that cruises can be a fun, safe and carefree experience. Even more than that, they can be an opportunity for parents – many of them weary after long stretches of lockdown – to enjoy some much-needed kid-free time. This, in particular, is a perk that Branson and Reynolds lean into heavily in their new ad.

Branson tells a disbelieving Reynolds (a father of three) that his cruises are, in fact, off-limits to anyone under the age of 18. Reynolds slips into a daydreaming reverie as he fantasizes about the prospects of being on a cruise ship without his daughters. He then asks Branson: “Does the no-kids deal extend after the cruise..?”

Virgin Voyages, a subsidiary of Branson’s Virgin Group, is a state-of-the-art cruise company that has designed four ships in collaboration with Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilding company. Scarlet Lady, the company’s first ship, is described by the company as a “boutique hotel at sea.” Aviation Gin is manufactured in small batches from its distillery in Portland, Oregon. It was sold to Diageo last year for $610m.

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