Sir Richard Branson launches Scarlet Lady in Dover

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Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, was launched by Sir Richard Branson in Dover, the UK. Scarlet Lady travels from Dover to Liverpool before sailing to the USA for her maiden voyage around the Caribbean in April.

Scarlet Lady is the first of four ships in Virgin Voyages’ new ‘adult-by-design, luxury’ fleet. The ship welcomes 18-plus travellers and features interiors created by designers such as Roman and Williams, and Tom Dixon. Onboard entertainment, which takes inspiration from festivals, will include gigs, nightclubs, comedians, drag artists and a variety of unusual shows.

A suite on Scarlet Lady

Each ship has 1,330 cabins, and nine in 10 staterooms will feature a balcony with an ocean view. Scarlet Lady has more than 20 eateries, ranging from brunch bars to restaurants run by Michelin-starred chefs, and including vegetarian-forward cuisine. There is also a major focus on wellness with spas, gyms, yoga, wellness pools and even a mudroom on board. Traditional tourist excursions at local ports will be replaced with visits to exclusive beach clubs and off-the-beaten-track experiences catering to the curious traveller.

Pink Agave, a modern Mexican restaurant on board Scarlet Lady

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson arrived in Dover to speak to the press about the latest Virgin Voyages venture. “I have dreamed of starting my own cruise line since I was in my twenties and I’m thrilled that moment has arrived,” he said. “The Scarlet Lady is truly special and we’ve worked with some of the world’s most sought-after designers, artists and architects to craft an extraordinary experience. The benefit of our five decades in business in so many industries is that we can offer a voyage like no other.”

The Manor, a nightclub designed by Roman and Williams

Scarlet Lady arrived in the UK after her five-day inaugural voyage undergoing sea trials from Genoa in Italy, where she was built at the Fincantieri shipyard.

“We are so excited to be aboard Scarlet Lady’s first epic adventure, and for her to be officially unveiled here for the very first time at her inaugural port of call,” said Sonia Limbrick, head of cruise at the Port of Dover. “It’s amazing seeing her berthed here today, spreading some of Virgin Voyages’ fun and curiosity around Dover! Scarlet Lady brings something truly unique to the history of cruising here.”

“2019 heralded a new era for Port of Dover Cruise, as we officially unveiled the port’s biggest ever transformation and showcased our amazing partnerships with some of the world’s biggest cruise lines,” said Barbara Buczek, chief commercial officer at the Port of Dover. “Scarlet Lady’s inaugural call celebration shows why Dover is and continues to be a leading port – we are absolutely delighted to host her here for the weekend. Huge events like this shine the spotlight on the port’s exceptional location and facilities and show how important we are for the local economy.”

The Wake restaurant

From Dover, Scarlet Lady will head to Liverpool for two days before heading across the Atlantic for a star-studded reception in New York, and then on to Miami, Florida, from where she will make her inaugural passenger voyage around the Caribbean in April.

Routes on offer include a five-day sailing to Costa Maya in Mexico, Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, and a quick getaway to Key West and Bahamas. The ship will later be joined by sister liner Valiant Lady, which will offer seven-night Mediterranean itineraries out of Barcelona, Spain, when she debuts in May 2021.

Images: 72point/Virgin Voyages

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Marisa has been writing about transport design and the passenger experience since 2013 and is also a contributor to sister titles Aircraft Interiors International and Business Jet Interiors International. She has travelled the world extensively by car, plane, train and cruise liner.

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