Scarlet Woman: Inside Virgin Voyage’s new cruise ship


(CNN) — Once you step into the Scarlet Woman cruise ship, you already know instantly you are on Richard Branson’s ship.

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

Then there’s Branson himself, again from area and becoming a member of his govt staff 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 youngsters 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 informal vibe that beckons visitors to come back as they’re in the event that they occur to be very cool sorts 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 wish 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 Woman Showcase in New York Metropolis.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Every little thing 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 had been stuffy, not enjoyable,” Branson instructed 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 buddies would like to go on?”

Floating nightclub

The ship's theater is called The Manor, named for Richard Branson's first recording studio.

The ship’s theater is known as The Manor, named for Richard Branson’s first recording studio.

Channon Hodge/CNN

That apparently means having guitars and turntables at hand within the two premium “Huge” 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 personal bar and cocktail space for visitors (or “sailors” as they’re known as) who’ve sprung further for suites.

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

Amongst different issues, they designed the Manor, a theater that turns right into a nightclub. You enter it by means of an enormous tunnel drenched in stars. The area 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’d like a drink, seize a drink!”

The Scarlet Lady's

The Scarlet Woman’s “well-being pool.”

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

There is not any huge eating corridor or buffet, no neon amusement rides and no cruise director right here. As an alternative, 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 players and dine with avowed foodies.

The Virgin staff did, nevertheless, embody some main cruise business veterans equivalent to 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 practically three many years whereas working at firms equivalent to Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

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

Scarlet Woman supplied Weber and the staff a chance to do every little thing from scratch and that is totally obvious when consuming and ingesting. For one, Weber thought drink packages had 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 Additional Virgin restaurant depends on a snug, trattoria-style Italian environment.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

You do not get set instances 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 can too 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 Unimaginable burger whereas sipping an quaint topped with salty-sweet popcorn at Razzle Dazzle, dwelling of the drag brunch. Play Korean ingesting 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 are not any upcharges on your eating decisions. Ideas are included. Weber factors out that on a conventional cruise ship, all of the meals typically comes from one central galley, however that is one among many ways in which cruising has misplaced its manner. However Scarlet Woman goes for authenticity.

“Every restaurant has their very own kitchen,” says Weber. “Every restaurant has their very own govt chef, which is dearer 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 business 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 sorts of issues that say — this isn’t your grandma’s cruise.”

However grandmas and grandpas are an enormous and dependable chunk of the cruise market. Adults of their 60s are the biggest passenger group, in accordance with the Cruise Traces Worldwide Affiliation, and so they’re much more highly effective when bringing alongside the grandkids. To continue to grow, the business wants these grandkids to show into clients after they develop up. The business 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 out of doors terrace sofa.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

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

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

Leisure is “select your individual journey” and harking back 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 sequence of performs that pop up all through the ship known as Phantom Folktales and new productions by Randy Weiner, who created “The Donkey Present” and “Sleep No Extra.”

There’s the standard on line casino and purchasing, however Weber stated the tattoo parlor was booked up through the ship’s UK run (will need to have been clean crusing.)

McAlpin says he would like it if Scarlet Woman confirmed a bigger market that there’s a “new strategy to cruise” however says Virgin Voyages shouldn’t be essentially centered on wooing youthful crowds. They are going after people who find themselves rather a lot like Richard Branson.

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

The Internet on the Athletic Membership is a suspended, snug netting with a view of the ocean under.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

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

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

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

High picture credit score: Virgin Voyages

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