It’s a week since Richard Branson danced on a table top in Genoa. He was at the Fincantieri shipyard in the Italian city to celebrate new milestones for Virgin Voyages, including revealing the name of its first ship – Scarlet Lady – and cutting the first piece of steel for a second ship. Exciting times indeed for Virgin Voyages and the man himself, who first had the idea to create his own cruise line at 27 but never quite got round to it. He’s a busy guy, after all. But Branson is doing it now and he is doing it in style, launching Virgin Voyages in a blaze of scarlet glory, nautical pin up girls and all. He’s promised to make waves in cruising but could Richard Branson be about to set the benchmark against which others will be compared in years to come with his fledgling fleet?
Here’s how the evidence is stacking up…
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
It’s 18+ only
Virgin Voyages ships will be sleek, sophisticated and sans the unpredictability of kids. That’s right, all three ships in the fleet with be adult-only and you’ll need to be at least 18 to make it on board. Branson wants to make sure that all your attention is on the voyage at hand – or on the glass of wine in it – so stress-free sailings lay ahead.
It’s anything but boring
There can be no denying it; those who have never given it a go still reckon cruising is for the ‘newlyweds and nearly deads’. You know they’re wrong, we know they’re wrong, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages is using some cheeky puns to assure everyone that the Virgin cruise line is set to be anything but boring. From ‘Making ship happen’ to ‘Shiptease’ reveals, Virgin Voyages are cutting it close to the cuff and getting people talking about the cruising we know and love.
It’s smashing the stereotypes
The ‘Scarlet Squad’ are set to take over the seas. Jobs with Virgin Voyages will be up for grabs early in 2019 and the Scarlet Squad programme will aim to support female shipboard talent and encourage more women in leadership roles in marine, technical and hotel management. Echoing talk of intentions to get more female engineers in the engine control rooms and up on the bridge, Branson said “If there is a male captain and a female captain, and they are equally qualified, we’ll hire the female”.
It’s going to be unique
It’s safe to say that Scarlet Lady, the first ship in the Virgin Voyages fleet, isn’t going to be like anything we’ve seen before at sea. In keeping with the trend for recruiting designers with no experience of designing for sea but endless experiences in creating jaw-dropping spaces on dry land, Virgin Voyages have enlisted the likes of Tom Dixon Design Studio of London, Roman Williams of New York and Concrete Amsterdam to get things look shipshape on board. First renderings revealed a stylish private outdoor lounge, Richard’s Roof Deck, plus The Dock, designed for sun-bathing in the day and stargazing with a little something to sip on at night. The ship will feature two main restaurants; Pink Agave, serving delicious cuisine in upscale surroundings, and Test Kitchen, the menus for which are a closely-guarded secret but a cool industrial vibe suggests we can expect cutting-edge cuisine.
It’ll deliver a dose of Vitamin Sea
Wellbeing is a buzzword for 2018 and Virgin Voyages will take inspiration from the oceans for its ‘Vitamin Sea’ wellbeing programme. Working on an ethos that employs elements of both detox and retox, your Virgin voyage will encourage self-care while – in their own intriguing words ‘feeding our mischievous curiosities’. There’ll be an outdoor athletic club with boxing rings, plus the B-Complex, where you’ll find The Burn, Build, Balance and Bike rooms. And when you’re cooling off post-exercise with a well-earned dip in the Wellbeing Pool, you’ll be relieved to discover that the Gym & Tonic Bar is ready to serve up more gin than juice.
It’s going to be cheaper than you think…
Prices for Virgin Voyages sailings haven’t yet been revealed but Branson has given a hint as to what we can expect from both the feel of the ship and the fare: “Everything is going to be sort of five star, but fun. And not five star prices.”
Stay tuned to find out more about Virgin Voyages.