Branson goes 20,000 leagues under the sea

necker_nymph_sub.top.jpgBy Blake Ellis, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Virgin unveiled the latest addition to Richard Branson's luxury fleet on Friday: an underwater plane that will fly riders into the depths of the Caribbean Sea.

Guests on Necker Island, a retreat in the British Virgin Islands, will be able to dive underwater in a submarine dubbed the Necker Nymph for $25,000 a week. But that's only after shelling out around $300,000 for a one-week stay on Necker, the private island owned by billionaire and Virgin Group chairman Richard Branson.

Beginning on Feb. 20, two riders and a pilot will be able to take the plunge from land or from a boat. The underwater plane uses the downward pressure on its wings to fly through the water for up to two hours at a time, while an open cockpit will give riders a 360-degree view.

The Necker Nymph's typical speed is 2 to 5 nautical miles per hour and it can dive more than 100 feet, said Karen Hawkes, a spokeswoman for Hawkes Ocean Technologies, the company that designed the Nymph.

A statement released Friday by Virgin Limited Edition, the luxury arm of Virgin Hotels, described the Nymph's launch like a plane's takeoff. "Gliding on the water's surface like an aeroplane on a runway, one of the three pilots will operate the joystick to smoothly dive down."

Vacationers will be able to fly the Necker Nymph while chartering the Necker Belle, Branson's 105-foot yacht, or the submarine can be launched from shore. Necker Belle is rented out to guests for $88,000 a week, bringing the full Necker Island experience to more than $400,000 per week.

Riders must follow SCUBA procedures and be trained or accompanied by a certified pilot before entering the underwater plane. SCUBA tanks are mounted in the submarine and passengers must wear masks while underwater, said Hawkes.

The Necker Nymph claims "near-zero" environmental impact because its "positive buoyancy prevents the sub from landing on a reef, and its low light and noise emissions ensure the fragile ocean ecosystems remain undisturbed," Virgin said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,804.71 -238.19 -1.40%
Nasdaq 4,422.09 -71.30 -1.59%
S&P 500 1,946.16 -26.13 -1.32%
Treasuries 2.40 -0.10 -4.19%
Data as of 10:20pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.82 -0.23 -1.35%
Ford Motor Co 14.59 -0.20 -1.34%
Facebook Inc 76.55 -2.49 -3.15%
Apple Inc 99.18 -1.57 -1.56%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.03 -0.18 -0.72%
Data as of 4:03pm ET

Sections

In the last five years, pumpkin sales have risen 34% as people demand pumpkin in everything from beer to beef jerky. More

Facebook's chief product officer issued an apology to Sister Roma and the drag community on Wednesday for its flawed 'real name' policy. More

New York City launches a comprehensive site for all things related to its digital tech scene, Digital.NYC. More

For these seniors, the best retirement is not to retire. From a 102-year-old Wal-Mart worker to an activist park ranger, these workers have stayed on the job well into their golden years. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.