One of the most highly-anticipated new cruise ships of 2020 has sailed into Dover. We step aboard Virgin Voyages’ inaugural cruise ship Scarlet Lady for an exclusive first look.

What’s the overall feel?

The interiors, the work of renowned designers and architects such as Tom Dixon and Roman and Williams, have been designed to reflect that of a contemporary and fashionable boutique hotel, rather than that of a traditional cruise liner. The design team was committed to giving a feeling of relaxed formality, whereby passengers have the choice to dress up or dress down depending on what they prefer. While reflecting the look and feel of a hotel, Richard Branson and his team still wanted to create “a yacht-like feel” and passengers will find cruise ship design references throughout, along with “touches of red” (a subtle reminder of the Virgin brand).

Scarlet Lady: lobby
The ship’s grand and contemporary lobby

There is also a focus on wellbeing throughout the ship, with a host of ‘Vitamin Sea’ offerings such as B-Complex gym programmes ‘to balance, build, burn and bike’, as well as The Perch, designed for outdoor yoga.

Is Mark Ronson leading the entertainment line-up?

He is indeed. The award-winning artist and producer will be curating the brand’s onboard music entertainment this year in his role as Virgin’s “Minister of Music”. Ronson will also be giving performances at the Beach Club at Bimini, Virgin Voyages’ exclusive 4.5-acre beach club in the Bahamas. Along with Ronson, DJ and record producer Diplo has also been called on to play a set at Bimini in 2020, along with other leading artists such as DJ MK and Sophie Tukker.

Scarlet Lady: Bar
One of Scarlet Lady’s many bars

Is it true Scarlet Lady has a tattoo parlour?

Yes, the rumours are quite true. Scarlet Lady will have the first onboard tattoo parlour, aptly called Squid Ink. The cruise line has teamed up with ink industry favourites World Famous Tattoo Ink to ensure tattoos are of the highest standard (and no guests wake up with any regrettable, ill-advised ink after a heavy night of partying onboard).

Where is Scarlet Lady sailing to?

The ship will sail from Miami to the Caribbean all year round. For autumn/winter sailings, departing between 1 April 2020 and March 2021, some of the exciting itineraries include a five-night sailing to Puerto Plata in the Dominic Republican.

Scarlet Lady: running track
Passengers can keep fit on the top-deck running track

For guests looking for a quick getaway, there is also a four-night Fire and Sunset Soirees journey departing from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini. Guests can look forward to a day exploring Key West, famed for its diving, snorkelling and boating, as well as a day of rejuvenation in Bimini, Bahamas, followed by an exclusive late-night beach bonfire soiree at the island’s private beach club.

Sailings will dock at the hedonistic Beach Club at Bimini

Will guests have access to their own exclusive beach club?

They certainly will. Scarlet Lady guests will have access to the idyllic Beach Club at Bimini Bahamas retreat during their voyage, enjoying relaxing days soaking up the sun or partaking in yoga and meditation, before heading to the DJ-led pool for an afternoon of partying set to rival the best beach clubs in Ibiza and Saint-Tropez.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Scarlet Lady is filled with glittering aesthetics

What LGBTQ+ events will there be?

Virgin Voyages is launching an LGBTQ+ cruise onboard Scarlet Lady in partnership with Atlantis Events. The leading events company, famed for its LGBTQ+ soirees, will be chartering the ship during its inaugural season, venturing to the sun-soaked shores of Key West, Cozumel and Costa Maya on an exclusive seven-night sailing departing from Miami on 31 May 2020.

Scarlet Lady restaurant
The ship is filled with sultry drinking and dining holes

Can my kids come aboard?

I’m afraid not. The new cruise line is adults-only as the Virgin team was committed to creating sophisticated, adult experiences onboard following the slogan: No Kids, No Kidding.

What are the cabins like?

All of the cabins on board are stylish and spacious, featuring generous-sized beds and en suite bathrooms. Reminiscent of the brand’s Upper-class cabins on Virgin Atlantic, beds transform from sofas in the daytime to beds at night. Lovely touches include Virgin-branded toiletries and a dedicated makeup towel in the bathroom. Ninety-three per cent of suites have an ocean view.

Scarlet Lady: Cabins
One of the ship’s many ocean-view suites

And the RockStar Suites?

There are a total of 78 RockStar suites, all of which have been designed by Tom Dixon’s British Design Research Studio and have been inspired by rock ‘n’ roll style icons such as Grace Jones.

Only 15 of these been classified as Mega RockStar suites, aptly named the Massive Suites, Fab Suites, Posh Suites and Gorgeous Suites. Offering the ultimate VIP experience, the Mega RockStar suites will have a dedicated hair and makeup crew available for guests residing in them upon request.

Scarlet Lady: rock star suite
The famous RockStar suites

Mega RockStar suite guests will also be able to indulge unlimited complimentary alcoholic and speciality beverages in all bars and eateries onboard, plus a free personalised bottomless in-room bar. What’s more, they will receive complimentary laundry service, plus the option to curate bespoke activities in any port-of-call, including private tours and culinary experiences.

Scarlet Lady: spa
The ship’s chic wellness area

Will I be well-fed?

You certainly will. There are 20+ eateries onboard Scarlet Lady, so guests will never go hungry or thirsty. It was Virgin’s aim to create a “foodie paradise” and the cruise line has therefore worked with top Michelin chefs from around the world. Scarlet Lady has done away with set seating and assigned dining times (typical of many traditional cruise liners) and instead all food is made to order. There are even late night food options available, including a 24 hour burger and breakfast bar for guests who want to party late into the night.

Standout restaurants include Razzle Dazzle, which champions vegetarian cuisine, and Test Kitchen, which offers experiential creations and concepts by world-class chefs like the Michelin Starred Brad Farmerie and Sohui Kim.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady restaurant
World-class dining is available on board

Any other onboard surprises?

Scarlet Lady will feature a host of exciting experiences for guests, such as Voyage Vinyl, the ship’s record shop at sea, and the Red Room, a transformative space for live music and entertainment comprising a traditional Proscenium stage and dance floor, along with featured gigs and drag artist shows.

All dining experiences, group workout classes, basic beverages, gratuities and wifi will also be included in the base cruise fare, regardless of room category.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
The ship’s very own hair salon

Will Virgin Voyages be launching any more ships?

Yes, it is. The company announced the launch of its second ship, Valiant Lady, set to make her debut in May 2021. Homeporting in Barcelona, the new ship will sail on a host of seven-night itineraries across the Mediterranean.

Visit virginvoyages.com for more information and bookings.