It came as no surprise to those attending a recent party at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa to celebrate the first ship from Virgin Voyages that the ebullient Richard Branson would be characteristically zany – but few expected the 68-year-old tycoon to dance on tables and bounce between place settings at a lunch to celebrate his new cruise ship. The revelry came after he named his first Virgin Voyages’ ship ‘Scarlet Lady’ – the same title bestowed on his first aircraft in the Virgin Atlantic fleet. The drydock in the shipyard was flooded to signify the first time the hull touches sea water. The day also saw the first steel cut for the company’s second ship, which is yet to be named.
Speaking at the event Branson said, “Virgin Voyages will be cool, fun and every little detail of it will be thought through to perfection. As the Virgin brand, we know what to do.” He then admitted that he had never been on a cruise ship and the reason why he’s created Virgin Voyages is to have cruise ships we want to travel on. He added, “We can tap into a market of many millions of people who would never dream of going on a cruise ship.”
Passengers – or ‘sailors’, as Branson prefers to call them - on the adults-only ships will be offered complimentary filtered still and sparkling water at all bars and restaurants, as well as at water stations throughout the ship. This is in line with Branson’s quest that all single-use plastics will be eliminated from the fleet, with a ban on items including straws, water bottles, shopping bags, food packaging and takeaway coffee cups. He points out, “Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in.”
During the event some of the quirky onboard activities were also revealed. The Crow’s Nest, with a 360-degree view, is a secluded sundeck for sunrise and sunset yoga. Next to it is the Virgin red running track called The Runway. These link up with the Athletic Club, featuring an outdoor training zone with a boxing ring; strength and gym equipment similar to a New York sports club of the 1920s; plus oversized gaming for outdoor adult play; cabanas for relaxation; and a sporty bar. The B-Complex features strength, spin, yoga and cardio in its Build, Burn, Bike and Balance rooms, all with ocean views.
Other facilities revealed on the day include a Well-Being Pool and Gym and Tonic bar for fresh cold-pressed juices; ‘MyBeast’ - an artistic adult playground with fitness apparatus; plus ‘Redemption’ – the ship’s spa which is inspired by an underwater cave with hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, cold plunge pools, quartz beds and rejuvenating treatments. At night, ‘sailors’ will be able to attend evening spa parties where a DJ will transform the thermal suite into a ‘mermaid hideaway extravaganza’. One thing’s for sure, aboard Virgin Voyages’ ships; nothing will be close to the norm when it comes to the staid pursuit of cruising.
Scarlet Lady, which will sport the brand’s mermaid image, will set sail from Miami in 2020, followed by her sister ship a year later. A third ship is planned for 2022. Each ship will carry more than 2,700 passengers and 1,500 crew on itineraries in the Caribbean. Demand is certain to be high so for advance information get in touch with our knowledgeable team on 0800 484 0370.
- 17th October 2018
Edinburgh-born Gary Buchanan has been a travel writer for over 30 years. He has been a specialist cruise writer for 25 years contributing to leading British publications including national newspapers and consumer magazines. He is the author of five books about cruising and spends over seven months every year at sea sailing the world’s oceans.