Scarlet Woman: Inside Virgin Voyage’s new cruise ship

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(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 may be crimson, crimson, crimson in every single place — lest you overlook it is a Virgin-branded endeavor.

Then there may be Branson himself, again from house and becoming a member of his govt crew 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 off-the-cuff vibe that beckons friends 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 friends 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 Woman Showcase in New York Metropolis.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Every 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 folks’s airways as a result of they have been stuffy, not enjoyable,” Branson informed 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 mates 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 friends (or “sailors” as they’re referred to as) who’ve sprung additional for suites.

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

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

The Scarlet Lady's

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

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

There is not 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 employees who’re consultants at what they do; exercise with actual health gurus, play video games with actual players and dine with avowed foodies.

The Virgin crew did, nonetheless, embrace some main cruise business veterans resembling Frank Weber, senior vice chairman of resort 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 resembling Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.

“Each time I needed to vary one thing, you needed to bounce by means of hoops as a result of your loyalty clients say, ‘Oh, I am unable to imagine you modified this!’ ” Weber tells CNN Journey. “That is my child, and I’ve put plenty of effort and work and fervour in.”

Scarlet Woman provided Weber and the crew a possibility to do every thing from scratch and that is absolutely obvious when consuming and ingesting. For one, Weber thought drink packages have been “the satan,” so friends can purchase pay as you go 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 do not get set instances for dinner, and you will not be caught at giant tables with friends you do not know (until you ask to be.)

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

Have an Not possible burger whereas sipping an quaint topped with salty-sweet popcorn at Razzle Dazzle, house 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 bundle, and there are not any upcharges in your eating selections. Ideas are included. Weber factors out that on a conventional cruise ship, all of the meals usually comes from one central galley, however that is certainly one of many ways in which cruising has misplaced its means. 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 hundreds of friends can all eat on time.

“It is more durable on the employees …” 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 most important passenger group, based on the Cruise Strains 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 once they develop up. The business worries that is not been taking place fairly sufficient and Covid-19 simply made issues worse.

Tattoos at sea

Suits feature private sun loungers and an outdoor terrace couch.

Fits function personal solar loungers and an outside terrace sofa.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages appears to be doing all it may possibly to enchantment 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 elements 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 worth for crops.

Leisure is “select your individual journey” and paying homage to some sizzling new factor you could not snag tickets to in New York or London. There is a participatory night time present referred to as “By no means Sleep Alone” run by a intercourse therapist, a sequence of performs that pop up all through the ship referred to 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 standard on line casino and procuring, however Weber stated the tattoo parlor was booked up in the course of the ship’s UK run (will need to have been clean crusing.)

McAlpin says he would find it irresistible if Scarlet Woman confirmed a bigger market that there’s a “new strategy to cruise” however says Virgin Voyages is just not essentially centered on wooing youthful crowds. They are going after people who find themselves lots 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, snug netting with a view of the ocean under.

Courtesy Virgin Voyages

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

Scarlet Woman begins formally crusing on October 6 with journeys by means of the Caribbean, stopping at Virgin’s personal 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 Woman, in 2022, which can sail all through the Mediterranean.

High picture credit score: Virgin Voyages

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