Find out all about Scarlet Lady, the first ship from Virgin Voyages. Laura French heads on board to review its highlights
The first ship in Virgin Voyages’ growing fleet has capacity for 2,770 passengers across 1,330 cabins. Facilities include a small outdoor pool, spa, jogging track, gym, athletics club and tattoo studio, plus several shops stocking Virgin-branded goods.
Scarlet Lady will be operating a series of three and four-night domestic sailings along the UK south coast from Portsmouth in August, before relocating to sail four and five-night Caribbean itineraries round-trip from Miami from September. Second ship Valiant Lady will sail in the Mediterranean from November, while Resilient Lady will explore the Greek islands and Adriatic coast in 2022.
“Second ship Valiant Lady will sail in the Mediterranean from November”
Everything on this ship is designed to wow, but the best thing for me was the entertainment. Intensely creative performances ranged from an immersive acrobatics show to a trippy, light-flashing dance spectacle that turned into a party with the cast afterwards.
Beyond the shows, there was a whole team of entertainers on board to get guests pumped – among them DJs, a quirky pop-up band, a resident drag queen and party-starters leading carnival-style parades through the ship.
“There was a whole team of entertainers on board to get guests pumped”
Branson said he wanted to bring “the luxe experience of a boutique hotel to the sea,” and design teams Tom Dixon and Roman and Williams have done a good job of meeting the challenge. Highlights include The Manor nightclub, home to a glittering corridor of mirrors lit with hundreds of fairy lights, and the Razzle Dazzle restaurant, covered in black and white stripes and illuminated in signature Virgin red.
The line says it has taken luxury yachts as inspiration, and it shows in several design details as well as in the (oh-so-Virgin) fact guests are referred to as ‘Sailors’, not passengers.
Cabins are split into Sea Terrace, Sea View and Insider (no window) options, including several designed for solo travellers and some with bunk beds for groups of four. They’re cleverly designed, with sofas that turn into surprisingly comfortable beds to maximise space, though bathrooms are on the small side.
The 78 RockStar Suites really stand out, with minibars, record players and sizeable balconies. The two Massive Suites are especially impressive, sleeping up to four and complete with their own music room, plus a huge balcony that seems to have been made for partying.
“Bars include a champagne lounge and trendy cocktail spot”
Food is one of the key selling points. It’s all included, with eight à la carte restaurants – among them a Korean BBQ house where you grill your own meat at the table, and one designed like a lab, where the menu is a surprise – alongside a big selection of street-food-style stalls at The Galley market hall.
Bars include a champagne lounge and trendy cocktail spot, and brunch is embraced (lie-ins are encouraged). This is far from your typical cruise, but it’s an exciting concept for youthful clients looking to embrace all things ‘cool’ and live it up a little, Miami-style.
A three-night, domestic Long Weekender coastal voyage round-trip from Portsmouth starts at £499 for a Sea Terrace, departing August 6, 13 and 20. A four-night Fire & Sunset Soirees cruise from Miami costs from £1,220, departing September 7.