Scarlet Girl: Inside Virgin Voyage’s new cruise ship


(CNN) — While you step into the Scarlet Girl cruise ship, you realize instantly you are on Richard Branson’s ship.

There is a file retailer on the left promoting restricted version Intercourse Pistols and Girl Gaga on vinyl. The crew has cooler outfits than you. And there’s pink, pink, pink in every single place — lest you overlook it is a Virgin-branded endeavor.

Then there’s Branson himself, again from area and becoming a member of his government group in New York Metropolis to point out off Virgin Voyages first ship earlier than it begins crusing from Miami on October 6.

Without kids splashing about, the ship's pool area aims for well-being and tranquility.

With out children splashing about, the ship’s pool space goals for well-being and tranquility.

Channon Hodge/CNN

The 1,408-cabin ship is hip, alternating luxurious with an off-the-cuff vibe that beckons visitors to return as they’re in the event that they occur to be very cool varieties of individuals. The adults-only ship has luxurious gold fixtures and bannisters, ultrachic, boutique-sized eating places and double chaise loungers completely in every single place that appear destined for visitors who need to canoodle the day away.

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 on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Girl Showcase in New York Metropolis.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

The whole lot on the cruise ship screams, “This isn’t a cruise ship!” And that is as a result of Branson stated he hated the concept of ever being on one.

“Earlier than I began Virgin Atlantic, I did not fancy flying on different individuals’s airways as a result of they have been stuffy, not enjoyable,” Branson advised CNN Journey from one of many ship’s Rockstar suites. “That is the proper time to enter enterprise and [ask] might we create the type of cruise firm that myself, my household and pals would like to go on?”

Floating nightclub

The ship's

The ship’s “Purple Room” is an immersive theater.

Channon Hodge/CNN

That apparently means having guitars and turntables at hand within the two premium “Large” suites, peekaboo showers in lots of the cabins so that you by no means must lose sight of your family members and Richard’s Rooftop — a non-public bar and cocktail space for visitors (or “sailors” as they’re known as) who’ve sprung additional for suites.

To create all this, Virgin Voyages pulled collectively a group of designers who’re extra accustomed to engaged on land, reminiscent of Roman and Williams, who’re identified for New York’s Ace Hotel.

Amongst different issues, they designed the Manor, a nightclub you enter it by means of a large tunnel drenched in stars. The Purple Room area, an immersive theater, has a stage that strikes round so audiences can work together and a vivid neon signal on the wall that claims, “If you wish to dance, dance! If you cannot see one thing, transfer! If you need a drink, seize a drink!”

The Scarlet Lady's

The Scarlet Girl’s “well-being pool.”

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

There isn’t any large eating corridor or buffet, no neon amusement rides and no cruise director right here. As a substitute, ship actions and “happenings” are run by workers who’re specialists at what they do; exercise with actual health gurus, play video games with actual avid gamers and dine with avowed foodies.

The Virgin group did, nevertheless, embody some main cruise trade veterans reminiscent of Frank Weber, senior vp of lodge operations. Weber could not assist however dance by means of the hallways whereas touring the ship for press. He’d had new concepts pent up for almost three a long time whereas working at firms reminiscent of Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

“Each time I wished to vary one thing, you needed to leap by means of hoops as a result of your loyalty prospects say, ‘Oh, I can not imagine you modified this!’ ” Weber tells CNN Journey. “That is my child, and I’ve put a whole lot of effort and work and fervour in.”

Scarlet Girl supplied Weber and the group a chance to do every part from scratch and that is totally obvious when consuming and consuming. For one, Weber thought drink packages have been “the satan,” so visitors can buy prepaid bar tabs; a $300 tab comes with a $50 bonus.

‘Not your grandma’s cruise’

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

The Further Virgin restaurant depends on a snug, trattoria-style Italian ambiance.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

You aren’t getting set occasions for dinner, and you will not be caught at giant tables with visitors you do not know (except you ask to be.)

The ship has greater than 20 eateries, together with a vivid, open meals corridor. You too can dine at one of many six specialty eating places any time you need; simply add your self to the wait checklist, and an app tells you when your desk is prepared.

Have an Inconceivable burger whereas sipping an quaint topped with salty-sweet popcorn at Razzle Dazzle, dwelling of the drag brunch. Play Korean consuming video games at Gunbae whereas grilling your meals proper in entrance of you. Or go high-end and order a seafood tower at The Wake.

It is all a part of your package deal, and there aren’t any upcharges to your eating selections. Suggestions are included. Weber factors out that on a standard cruise ship, all of the meals typically comes from one central galley, however that is one in all many ways in which cruising has misplaced its means. However Scarlet Girl goes for authenticity.

“Every restaurant has their very own kitchen,” says Weber. “Every restaurant has their very own government chef, which is costlier than doing it in different methods, however you enhance the standard.”

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

The ship’s Pink Agave Mexican restaurant and serves all kinds of mezcals.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Virgin executives admit this sort of made-to-order particular person consideration goes opposite to regular cruise trade pondering the place meals are mass produced so a ship’s 1000’s of visitors can all eat on time.

“It is harder on the workers …” Branson begins to say.

“However that is what makes us so totally different,” finishes Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages who sits beside Branson. “These are the varieties of issues that say — this isn’t your grandma’s cruise.”

However grandmas and grandpas are an enormous and constant chunk of the cruise market. Adults of their 60s are the most important passenger group, in accordance with the Cruise Strains Worldwide Affiliation, and so they’re much more highly effective when bringing alongside the grandkids. To continue to grow, the trade wants these grandkids to show into prospects once they develop up. The trade worries that is not been happening quite enough and Covid-19 simply made issues worse.

Tattoos at sea

Suits feature private sun loungers and an outdoor terrace couch.

Fits characteristic non-public solar loungers and an outside terrace sofa.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages appears to be doing all it could to attraction to that youthful, discerning crowd.

Like many new cruise ships, they’ve made Scarlet Girl environmentally pleasant. The engine converts warmth waste into electrical energy, and so they shun single-use plastics. Many components come from sustainable or native Florida sources. The espresso is from Intelligentsia, an organization that depends on “direct commerce” over “honest commerce,” that means it ensures farmers a minimal value for crops.

Leisure is “select your personal journey” and paying homage to some sizzling new factor you could not snag tickets to in New York or London. There is a participatory evening present known as “By no means Sleep Alone” run by a intercourse therapist, a collection of performs that pop up all through the ship known as Phantom Folktales and in 2022 a brand new manufacturing, “One other Rose” by Randy Weiner, who created “The Donkey Present” and “Sleep No Extra.”

There’s the same old on line casino and buying, however Weber stated the tattoo parlor was booked up in the course of the ship’s UK run (should have been easy crusing.)

McAlpin says he would find it irresistible if Scarlet Girl confirmed a bigger market that there’s a “new technique to cruise” however says Virgin Voyages just isn’t essentially targeted on wooing youthful crowds. They are going after people who find themselves loads like Richard Branson.

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

The Web on the Athletic Membership is a suspended, comfy netting with a view of the ocean beneath.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

“We’re actually specializing in the young-at-heart, individuals who need to come have a very good time,” says McAlpin. “They do not need all that formality however nonetheless need luxurious … and luxurious your means.”

Scarlet Girl begins formally crusing on October 6 with journeys by means of the Caribbean, stopping at Virgin’s non-public seashore membership in Bimini (within the Bahamas).

Cabins vary from $725 to $5,875 and have been nonetheless promoting as of September 18. Virgin Voyages plans on launching the second of its 4 deliberate ships, Valiant Girl, in 2022, which can sail all through the Mediterranean.

High picture credit score: Virgin Voyages

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