July 20, 2018
(7:00 a.m. EDT) -- In keeping with Virgin Group's "red" theme, the first ship for Sir Richard Branson's new cruise line, Virgin Voyages, will be called Scarlet Lady.
With the drop of a giant piece of red fabric, the name was officially revealed by the line during a press conference July 20 at the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy, drawing from the name of one of the first planes to fly under Virgin Atlantic.
The vessel, which will sail its inaugural season of Caribbean itineraries from Miami in 2020, was also floated out, and the steel was cut for a second ship, slated for launch in 2021. (A third ship is planned for release in 2022; all three will be adults-only vessels.)
Also revealed were details about several of the public spaces on Scarlet Lady, as well as social initiatives the line will undertake to promote passenger well-being, environmental well-being and employee well-being.
The line has introduced its "Vitamin Sea" concept, which focuses on passenger wellness, relaxation and fun. A series of public spaces, including a fitness center, spa, salon, bar and nightclub will be positioned so that passengers can easily move between them to detox by working out or having a spa treatment and then, subsequently, "retox" with a drink or two and a night of dancing.
The spaces will include:
The Crow's Nest: A sundeck with 360-degree views for sunrise and sunset yoga.
The Runway: A red running track that wraps around the ship.
The Athletic Club: The ship's outdoor fitness center, featuring a training zone with a boxing ring, strength and gymnastics equipment like you’d find in the New York sports clubs of the 1920’s, oversized gaming for outdoor adult play, cabanas for relaxation, and a sporty bar for socializing post-workout.
The B-Complex: An indoor fitness center, offering free classes in strength, spin, yoga and cardio -- featuring Technogym ARTIS equipment -- all with dramatic ocean views.
Well-being Pool: The complex's place to go for a dip.
Gym and Tonic Bar: A watering hole boasting cold-pressed juices.
MyBeast: An artistic adult playground and fitness apparatus designed by Equilibria, will add a Venice Beach-like atmosphere to the Well-being Pool.
Redemption: The ship's spa, designed to evoke an underwater cave atmosphere in keeping with the line's "mermaid and merman" theme; features a hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, cold plunge pools, quartz beds and spa treatments. At night, it will host DJ-spun music and dancing.
Dry Dock Salon: A standalone blow-dry bar.
Stubble & Groom: Barber shop, featuring a pedicure spa.
Mani-Pedi Spa: A separate space for fingers and toes to be pampered.
The Manor: The ship's nightclub.
Test Kitchen: Offers enticing late-night nibbles.
The Vitamin Sea initiative also aims to highlight the impact of the ocean's health on the rest of the planet. From the outset, Virgin will ban all single-use plastics -- including straws, bottled water, other beverage bottles, condiment packets, shopping bags, food packaging, stirrers, and take-away coffee and tea cups -- and emphasize the use of sustainable materials.
"Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in," Branson said in a statement. "Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change."
Additionally, Virgin Voyages' "Scarlet Squad" program will recruit, support and mentor women and create opportunities for them to move into operational roles typically held by men.
"Across the maritime industry, we can do better in onboard recruiting and leadership representation for women," said Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin in a statement. "I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an onboard environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential."
"If there’s a female captain and a male captain, and they’re equally qualified, we’ll go with the female," Branson said during an interview with Cruise Critic.
More info on these initiatives will be released later this year.
In terms of competition, Branson and McAlpin said they aren't too concerned.
"We’ll have five or six years where our cruise ships will be unique, and then everyone will copy us, but by then we’ll have reinvented ourselves again," Branson said.
A luncheon held following the event saw Branson dancing on his table to liven things up -- perhaps offering a sneak peek at what the cruise line's vibe will be like.
Branson elaborated: "If you feel 25 but your body is 70, you’re welcome, but if you don’t want to have a good time, don’t come along. We’ll make sure all the tables onboard are strong enough to dance on!”
--By Ashley Kosciolek, Editor