Richard Branson's Bright, Bold New Cruise Line: Virgin Voyages

Ship lovers and cruise world aficionados are keenly watching each new reveal of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Voyages debut as the company's first ship, recently named Scarlet Lady, moves closer to its spring 2020 launch date in Miami

Photo: facebook.com/virginvoyages

Currently being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy, the adults-only, 2,700-passenger Scarlet Lady is expected to heighten the buzz about what a cruise can be. From its initial announcement — see Virgin Voyages: Sneak a Fun Peek at Richard Branson's New Cruise Line — Branson's brainstorm-at-sea has steered its plans toward a fun, youthful, active vibe with barrier-breaking edginess: sea travel for those who would not readily consider themselves traditional cruisers. Yet, celebrating sea life is central to Virgin Voyages’ DNA, as it aims to promote “the Modern Romance of Sailing.” Says energetic billionaire Branson: “It’s for the young at heart.” Here, the three latest newsy announcements.

Photo: facebook.com/virginvoyages

Female empowerment

As a nod to its sister company Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Voyages' execs looked to the airline's early fleet of planes for ship-naming inspiration. Scarlet Lady won the title and its moniker is purposefully inspirational. The ship will feature an iconic mermaid image described as “a strong spirit guide.” Plans are afloat to promote a Scarlet Squad employee-development program, which will support, mentor and train women in key positions within the company, especially in jobs involving marine, hotel and technical management — departments that have largely been men's cruise industry domain. Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin explains: "Across the maritime industry, we can do better in onboard recruiting and leadership representation for women. I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an onboard environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential."

Photo: facebook.com/virginvoyages

Vitamin sea + ship-shape moves

Health and well-being are top onboard goals. “We are all so busy with life, work and family that vacations are critical for us to be able to rebuild our energy, so that we can live our best lives,” says McAlpin. The B-Complex will harbor Build, Burn, Bike and Balance areas with state-of-the-art exercise and gymnastics equipment overlooking the seascape. Complimentary group fitness classes will be aplenty, as well as sunrise and sunset yoga. Get stronger via boxing bags, as well as the running and skating track. Cold-pressed juices at the Gym and Tonic bar will healthfully quench thirsts. Another interesting moniker has been fastened to the spa, called Redemption, which will indulge with a menu of massages — plus a hydrotherapy pool, mud room, cold plunge pools, on-trend salt room and quartz beds. Expect evening spa parties to be enlivened with DJ music and delectable libations. Pampering packages for men are formulated at the Stubble & Groom barbershop, as well as unisex manicures and pedicures at the Dry Dock salon.

Photo: facebook.com/virginvoyages

Environment conscious

On Virgin Voyages, single-use plastics for passengers will be banned: beverage bottles, coffee cups, condiment packets, food packaging, shopping bags, stirrers and straws. Green alternatives will be implemented — recyclable and reusable. Complimentary filtered still and sparkling water will be available at all bars and restaurants. Wastewater will be recycled and turned into energy whenever possible. “Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world,” says Branson. “Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change.” Adds McAlpin, “We believe that in order to fulfill our purpose of creating an ‘Epic Sea Change for All,’ we must make a commitment that is bigger than just eliminating straws. We must make a commitment to building ships and experiences that do everything possible to look after the well-being of our precious oceans. We are delighted with what we’ve achieved so far and will continue to push ourselves to look for innovative ways to do things that will make a difference.”

Photo: facebook.com/virginvoyages

The first of three planned Virgin Voyages ships, Scarlet Lady (strictly for those 18 years and older) will sail seven-day Caribbean itineraries from the port of Miami. The second and third (as yet unnamed) vessels will make their splashes in 2021 and 2022. You can follow Scarlet Lady’s progress via @VirginVoyages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Laura Manske, Contributor

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