Scarlet Lady: Inside Virgin Voyage’s new cruise ship


(CNN) — When you stage into the Scarlet Lady cruise ship, you know promptly you happen to be on Richard Branson’s ship.

You will find a report retail store on the still left advertising restricted edition Sex Pistols and Woman Gaga on vinyl. The crew has cooler outfits than you. And there is purple, crimson, red everywhere you go — lest you ignore this is a Virgin-branded endeavor.

Then there is Branson himself, back from space and signing up for his govt team in New York Metropolis to display off Virgin Voyages to start with ship just before it commences sailing from Miami on October 6.

With out young children splashing about, the ship’s pool place aims for perfectly-getting and tranquility.

Channon Hodge/CNN

The 1,408-cabin ship is hip, alternating luxury with a relaxed vibe that beckons guests to arrive as they are if they transpire to be really great forms of persons. The adults-only ship has magnificent gold fixtures and bannisters, ultrachic, boutique-sized dining places and double chaise loungers totally everywhere that feel destined for guests who want to canoodle the day absent.

Richard Branson, Paris Hilton and Tom McAlpin at the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Showcase in New York City.

Richard Branson, Paris Hilton and Tom McAlpin at the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Girl Showcase in New York City.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Everything on the cruise ship screams, “This is not a cruise ship!” And that’s due to the fact Branson reported he hated the thought of ever remaining on just one.

“Ahead of I started Virgin Atlantic, I did not extravagant flying on other people’s airways because they were being stuffy, not enjoyment,” Branson told CNN Travel from a single of the ship’s Rockstar suites. “That is the perfect time to go into organization and [ask] could we develop the kind of cruise organization that myself, my family and buddies would adore to go on?”

Floating nightclub

The ship's "Red Room" is an immersive theater.

The ship’s “Pink Home” is an immersive theater.

Channon Hodge/CNN

That apparently implies obtaining guitars and turntables at hand in the two high quality “Massive” suites, peekaboo showers in quite a few of the cabins so you in no way have to shed sight of your liked types and Richard’s Rooftop — a personal bar and cocktail area for company (or “sailors” as they are termed) who’ve sprung extra for suites.

To produce all this, Virgin Voyages pulled collectively a crew of designers who are extra accustomed to performing on land, these as Roman and Williams, who are regarded for New York’s Ace Lodge.

Between other items, they developed the Manor, a nightclub you enter it by way of a substantial tunnel drenched in stars. The Crimson Home room, an immersive theater, has a phase that moves close to so audiences can interact and a dazzling neon signal on the wall that says, “If you want to dance, dance! If you won’t be able to see anything, transfer! If you want a drink, get a drink!”

The Scarlet Lady's "well-being pool."

The Scarlet Lady’s “well-currently being pool.”

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

There is no large eating hall or buffet, no neon amusement rides and no cruise director in this article. In its place, ship actions and “happenings” are operate by personnel who are specialists at what they do work out with true exercise gurus, engage in video games with authentic avid gamers and dine with avowed foodies.

The Virgin group did, on the other hand, incorporate some major cruise sector veterans such as Frank Weber, senior vice president of resort operations. Weber couldn’t support but dance by means of the hallways while touring the ship for push. He’d experienced new concepts pent up for practically a few many years though working at corporations these kinds of as Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

“Just about every time I wished to change some thing, you had to leap as a result of hoops due to the fact your loyalty buyers say, ‘Oh, I are unable to consider you altered this!’ ” Weber tells CNN Journey. “This is my toddler, and I’ve put a lot of hard work and work and enthusiasm in.”

Scarlet Woman supplied Weber and the workforce an opportunity to do every little thing from scratch and that’s entirely apparent when consuming and consuming. For 1, Weber believed drink offers ended up “the devil,” so attendees can purchase prepaid bar tabs a $300 tab arrives with a $50 bonus.

‘Not your grandma’s cruise’

The Extra Virgin restaurant relies on a comfortable, trattoria-style Italian atmosphere.

The Excess Virgin restaurant relies on a comfortable, trattoria-style Italian ambiance.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

You don’t get set instances for meal, and you won’t be stuck at big tables with friends you you should not know (unless you talk to to be.)

The ship has far more than 20 eateries, which include a bright, open foodstuff hall. You can also dine at 1 of the 6 specialty places to eat any time you want just add on your own to the wait list, and an application tells you when your table is ready.

Have an Extremely hard burger whilst sipping an previous fashioned topped with salty-sweet popcorn at Razzle Dazzle, household of the drag brunch. Engage in Korean drinking video games at Gunbae even though grilling your meals suitable in entrance of you. Or go high-stop and get a seafood tower at The Wake.

It can be all portion of your deal, and there are no upcharges for your dining decisions. Suggestions are provided. Weber factors out that on a conventional cruise ship, all the foods usually will come from just one central galley, but which is just one of numerous approaches that cruising has dropped its way. But Scarlet Woman goes for authenticity.

“Just about every restaurant has their possess kitchen,” claims Weber. “Each cafe has their possess govt chef, which is extra pricey than doing it in other approaches, but you improve the high quality.”

The ship's Pink Agave Mexican restaurant and serves a wide variety of mezcals.

The ship’s Pink Agave Mexican restaurant and serves a vast variety of mezcals.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Virgin executives acknowledge this sort of built-to-purchase unique consideration goes contrary to regular cruise business pondering where by foods are mass developed so a ship’s hundreds of attendees can all try to eat on time.

“It can be more durable on the staff …” Branson starts off to say.

“But that is what would make us so distinctive,” finishes Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages who sits beside Branson. “These are the varieties of factors that say — this is not your grandma’s cruise.”

But grandmas and grandpas are a enormous and faithful chunk of the cruise market. Grownups in their 60s are the greatest passenger group, in accordance to the Cruise Lines International Affiliation, and they’re even much more impressive when bringing alongside the grandkids. To retain escalating, the business requires these grandkids to change into consumers when they grow up. The sector problems which is not been happening fairly more than enough and Covid-19 just made items even worse.

Tattoos at sea

Suits feature private sun loungers and an outdoor terrace couch.

Fits aspect personal solar loungers and an outdoor terrace couch.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages appears to be carrying out all it can to charm to that youthful, discerning crowd.

Like quite a few new cruise ships, they have built Scarlet Lady environmentally helpful. The motor converts warmth waste into electrical power, and they shun single-use plastics. Lots of components arrive from sustainable or neighborhood Florida resources. The coffee is from Intelligentsia, a organization that depends on “immediate trade” above “honest trade,” this means it guarantees farmers a bare minimum value for crops.

Entertainment is “pick your have experience” and reminiscent of some hot new thing you couldn’t snag tickets to in New York or London. There is certainly a participatory night demonstrate called “In no way Snooze On your own” run by a sex therapist, a sequence of performs that pop up all over the ship known as Phantom Folktales and in 2022 a new generation, “Another Rose” by Randy Weiner, who developed “The Donkey Present” and “Slumber No Far more.”

There is the usual casino and shopping, but Weber claimed the tattoo parlor was booked up for the duration of the ship’s British isles operate (will have to have been easy sailing.)

McAlpin states he would really like it if Scarlet Girl showed a much larger marketplace that there is a “new way to cruise” but suggests Virgin Voyages is not always centered on wooing more youthful crowds. They are going immediately after people who are a great deal like Richard Branson.

The Net at the Athletic Club is a suspended, comfortable netting with a view of the ocean below.

The Net at the Athletic Club is a suspended, at ease netting with a see of the ocean underneath.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

“We’re really focusing on the youthful-at-heart, people who want to occur have a excellent time,” suggests McAlpin. “They really don’t want all that formality but nonetheless want luxurious … and luxury your way.”

Scarlet Girl starts off formally sailing on Oct 6 with visits via the Caribbean, stopping at Virgin’s non-public beach front club in Bimini (in the Bahamas).

Cabins range from $725 to $5,875 and were being still selling as of September 18. Virgin Voyages options on launching the next of its 4 prepared ships, Valiant Girl, in 2022, which will sail throughout the Mediterranean.

Major image credit: Virgin Voyages



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