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Inside Richard Branson’s WEEK long birthday bash!

Like so many people celebrating milestones during the height of the pandemic, Sir Richard Branson was forced to put his 70th birthday party on hold two years ago. 

But the British billionaire made up for lost time when he finally marked the milestone with a bumper birthday bash on the high seas last week. 

Sir Richard, now 72, was surprised with a five-night Caribbean cruise onboard one of his luxury adults-only Virgin Voyages ships, taking in Miami, Mexico and Bimini in the Bahamas.

Friends including Spanx founder Sarah Blakely and glamorous Dutch model-actress Nicolette van Dam toasted his birthday at a string of events including a white party and a ‘Richard Through the Decades’ soiree. 

Musician son Sam, 37, performed a song called Sympathy For The Legend – inspired by the Rolling Stones hit – and proud daughter Holly, 40, was by her father’s side as the group sung a chorus of Happy Birthday in the ship’s two-storey club. 

‘The first big surprise was seeing everyone dressed as different moments from throughout my life,’ Sir Richard wrote in a blog post shared exclusively with FEMAIL. 

Party time! Sir Richard Branson made up for lost time and celebrated his 70th birthday with a belated week-long cruise on one of his Virgin Voyages ships. Pictured, the British entrepreneur with children Holly, 40, and Sam, 37, in a two-storey club on the ship

Party time! Sir Richard Branson made up for lost time and celebrated his 70th birthday with a belated week-long cruise on one of his Virgin Voyages ships. Pictured, the British entrepreneur with children Holly, 40, and Sam, 37, in a two-storey club on the ship

Dress to impress! Dutch model-actress Nicolette van Dam and boyfriend Bas Smit pose with the birthday boy at his Richard Through the Decades party celebrating his 70th. The entrepreneur admitted it was a 'surprise' to board the ship and see everyone dressed as him

Dress to impress! Dutch model-actress Nicolette van Dam and boyfriend Bas Smit pose with the birthday boy at his Richard Through the Decades party celebrating his 70th. The entrepreneur admitted it was a ‘surprise’ to board the ship and see everyone dressed as him

Booze cruise! Mother-of-three Holly Branson, pictured left pouring drinks into a party-goer's mouth, said she had drunk far more than she had done in a while and pulled 'two all-nighters'

Booze cruise! Mother-of-three Holly Branson, pictured left pouring drinks into a party-goer’s mouth, said she had drunk far more than she had done in a while and pulled ‘two all-nighters’

Glorious sunset: The guests had access to the beautiful Scarlet Lady, which can accommodate 2,770 passengers in 1,400 cabins. Pictured, one of the pools at sunset

Glorious sunset: The guests had access to the beautiful Scarlet Lady, which can accommodate 2,770 passengers in 1,400 cabins. Pictured, one of the pools at sunset

‘A birthday to remember’: What Sir Richard had to say about his birthday bash

It was wonderful being together for my 70th birthday onboard Virgin Voyages surrounded by friends and family (okay, to be honest it was my 72nd birthday, my 70th birthday having been delayed because of COVID by two years!)

It was five days full of surprises that brought our family and friends – and I believe everyone on the cruise – so much joy. I had no idea of anything that had been planned in advance.

The first big surprise was seeing everyone dressed as different moments from throughout my life. It was a little bizarre but also hilarious seeing the creativity and fun that my friends and family had put into their costumes, from people inside mini-hot air balloons to ripped clothes from many near-death foolish escapades, to recreating my Student Magazine days in the Sixties. Thank you to everyone for their inventiveness, it really did put a smile on my face.

We also did some brilliant shore excursions. Holly, Sam and I went exploring the most incredible cave system in Rio Secreto in Mexico that stretches for miles along the coast. It was truly spectacular, full of stalagmites and stalactites. They were re-discovered in 2006 when the landowner chased an iguana into a hole and stumbled across these stunning caves. At one point we were asked to switch off our torches on our heads and it was so dark – I have never seen or experienced anything like it.

The ship then made its way to Bimini, where Virgin Voyages has the most incredible beach club. We spent some time relaxing before meeting with a group of inspirational entrepreneurs and Bimini business owners at a surprise event organised by Virgin Voyages and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. I love hearing new ideas and seeing what entrepreneurs are up to in different parts of the world – I find it so energising.

Virgin Voyages also teamed up with Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s non-profit foundation, to create the ‘Sea Change Fund’ to support mangrove forest restoration projects in the Caribbean. Mangrove forests support coastal resilience against natural disasters and play a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change while supporting biodiversity by providing essential habitat for birds, fish and other animals. I’m thrilled that this project has begun and I hope it can act as a blueprint for other parts of the world.

I had such a truly wonderful mix of spending time with friends and family who we haven’t got together in one place for years (if ever!), making the most of being onboard our fantastic new cruise ship, and getting to take part in some activities close to my heart supporting entrepreneurs and conserving the environment.

Thank you to everyone for making my birthday such a surprising and joyful celebration.

The blog post also features on the Virgin website here

‘It was a little bizarre but also hilarious seeing the creativity and fun that my friends and family had put into their costumes, from people inside mini-hot air balloons to ripped clothes from many near-death foolish escapades, to recreating my Student Magazine days in the Sixties.’ 

The journey onboard the 2,770-passenger The Scarlet Lady started at the ship’s home port of Miami. The ship set sail for Mexico where Sir Richard explored a cave system with his children. 

‘It was truly spectacular, full of stalagmites and stalactites,’ Sir Richard said of the excursion. 

‘They were re-discovered in 2006 when the landowner chased an iguana into a hole and stumbled across these stunning caves. At one point we were asked to switch off our torches on our heads and it was so dark – I have never seen or experienced anything like it.’

Daddy's girl: Sir Richard was able to spend time with his daughter Holly, pictured together, and son Sam during the five-night cruise in the Caribbean

Daddy’s girl: Sir Richard was able to spend time with his daughter Holly, pictured together, and son Sam during the five-night cruise in the Caribbean

Party people: Holly Branson and her husband, centre, pose for photos with some of their friends at the entrance to The Manor, the two-storey entertainment space on the Scarlet Lady

Party people: Holly Branson and her husband, centre, pose for photos with some of their friends at the entrance to The Manor, the two-storey entertainment space on the Scarlet Lady

Poker face: Entrepreneur Bas Smit shared this snap from a card game with Sir Richard Branson in the Casino. The Virgin mogul was joined by family and friends on the private cruise

Poker face: Entrepreneur Bas Smit shared this snap from a card game with Sir Richard Branson in the Casino. The Virgin mogul was joined by family and friends on the private cruise

Happy birthday to you! Sir Richard, who turned 72 last week, was presented with a cake which had 70 crossed out in a nod to the delayed celebrations

Happy birthday to you! Sir Richard, who turned 72 last week, was presented with a cake which had 70 crossed out in a nod to the delayed celebrations

Fun times on the high seas! Dutch model and TV presenter Nicolette van Dam, left, poses for a photo with Sam Branson and his wife Isabella, right, during one of the parties

Fun times on the high seas! Dutch model and TV presenter Nicolette van Dam, left, poses for a photo with Sam Branson and his wife Isabella, right, during one of the parties

Night of a thousand Richards! One of the parties was themed around Sir Richard Branson's many looks over the years

Night of a thousand Richards! One of the parties was themed around Sir Richard Branson’s many looks over the years

Nailed it! Nicolette van Dam and her entrepreneur partner nailed the theme with their looks

Nailed it! Nicolette van Dam and her entrepreneur partner nailed the theme with their looks

The ship then made its way to Bimini, in the Bahamas, where Virgin Voyages has a private beach club. 

Sir Richard continued: ‘We spent some time relaxing before meeting with a group of inspirational entrepreneurs and Bimini business owners at a surprise event organised by Virgin Voyages and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship. 

‘I love hearing new ideas and seeing what entrepreneurs are up to in different parts of the world – I find it so energising.’

The entrepreneur also found time to play cards with friends in the ship’s casino and the group partied the night away in The Manor, a two-storey club with a stage, three bars and Art Deco inspired design. 

Look familiar? Two party-goers opted to channel Richard Branson in drag when he lost a bet in 2013

Sir Richard Branson in drag

Look familiar? Two party-goers opted to channel Richard Branson in drag when he lost a bet in 2013 (right)

Dining out! Holly Branson and her husband, centre, with some of their friends during one of the stops

Dining out! Holly Branson and her husband, centre, with some of their friends during one of the stops

Sharing a selection of photographs, Holly wrote: ‘Such a perfect, perfect week celebrating Dad’s birthday with @virginvoyages and some of our closest friends and family!

‘Non-stop laughing, dancing, swimming, and drinking more than we have in a long time! I even had two all-nighters!

‘That’s what happens when you get on an adults-only ship, although our own kids put up a pretty impressive fight to try and join us on-board! 

‘Thank you to @virginvoyages for putting on a trip we’ll never forget, and thank you to everyone who came and made it so memorable.’

Sir Richard added: ‘I had such a truly wonderful mix of spending time with friends and family who we haven’t got together in one place for years (if ever!), making the most of being onboard our fantastic new cruise ship, and getting to take part in some activities close to my heart supporting entrepreneurs and conserving the environment.’ 

Sir Richard met inspirational entrepreneurs and Bimini business owners at a surprise event organised by Virgin Voyages and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, pictured

Sir Richard met inspirational entrepreneurs and Bimini business owners at a surprise event organised by Virgin Voyages and the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship, pictured

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