Sir Richard Branson’s new and unusual cruise ship, the Scarlet Lady, is presently heading across the Atlantic to Miami, where it will commence actual sailings with passengers in late March.
After that, Branson’s second of four eventual new ships, to be named the Valiant Lady, will be launched in 2021.
Journalists have now been permitted aboard the Scarlet Lady to witness the ways in which it has been deliberately designed to appeal to young people in their thirties or so. (Frommer's photo feature on the ship will be published soon.)
Up to now, that group failed to go on standard cruise ships in adequate numbers. For them, the Scarlet Lady has been designed to offer constant partying, one after another throughout the day and of course at night as well. DJs in good numbers are on the staff of the ship.
The Scarlet Lady’s initial itineraries have also been designed to appeal to persons who have hitherto avoided the longer cruise ship sailings.
From Miami, on sailings into the Caribbean, the ship will only operate four-night and five-night sailings suitable for those younger passengers who enjoy only limited amounts of time off.
The older cruiser, who is able to sail for seven nights or longer, is deliberately bypassed.
Such features as a tattoo parlor, an amenity that is surely for young people only, are found on the Scarlet Lady and certainly on no other ship. There are no dress codes, and cruisers wear whatever they wish. Nor are there set dining hours. Branson’s cruisers are able to eat wherever and whenever they want and to make use of no fewer than 20 different restaurants or snack bars—all at no extra charge.
One of those restaurants is for vegans only. And another emphasizes vegetarian dishes, even though not strictly vegan.
On the balconies of the many outward-facing staterooms, you will find hammocks hanging for youthful snoozes. Other hammocks are spotted on numerous open decks, again for naps throughout the day.
Free Wi-Fi is available in all staterooms and even on open decks so that youthful cruisers can consult their email and their smartphones brought with them onto those open decks.
Entertainment is of course geared for the younger passengers, and multiple swimming pools are found throughout the ship.
A number of staterooms are designed for single occupancy, and children are, of course, not accepted aboard.
The minimum age for passengers aboard the Scarlet Lady: 18.
All in all, the ship is designed for the persons who until now have generally avoided cruises as an activity.
A year from now, when Virgin Voyages’ second ship joins the fleet, that vessel will sail on seven-night itineraries from Barcelona.
But it is highly likely that the four-night, five-night patterns from Miami will have proven so popular that this tentative pattern will be changed.
The entire cruise industry is watching and wondering.