Virgin Voyages launches new adults-only cruise ship

(CNN) – Virgin Voyages was looking to disrupt the cruise industry when it launched the Scarlet Lady, its first adults-only cruise ship, last year.

Now the Richard Branson Cruise Line is unveiling its next offering: Valiant Lady.

This 278-meter vessel can accommodate 2,770 passengers and has the usual cruise amenities like a swimming pool on its 17 decks, as well as somewhat less conventional offerings like a tattoo parlour.

This was stated by the President of Virgin Voyages Nirmal Saverimuttu. CNN Travel The cruise line is hoping Valiant Lady will be part of the summer cruise boom as pandemic-related restrictions ease.

“There is a lot of pent-up demand for travel,” he says, adding that the positive response to the Scarlet Lady gave Virgin confidence that the sister ship would be a success.

On the morning of March 11, the Valiant Lady sailed from Essex in the south east of England to London, where she docked at the London International Cruise Terminal for a launch celebration. She would later sail around the UK before heading to Barcelona. A stay in Australia is also planned.

chic design

The Pink Agave restaurant is on board the Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady.

Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady are pretty much identical, with their gleaming interiors, boutique hotel vibes, and plenty of restaurants. The only real difference lies in their respective routes.

Virgin Voyages wants their ships to be distinctly different from traditional ships. For Captain Marco Carciens, this was part of the attraction of joining a cruise line.

The Helming Valiant Lady is “a joy,” says the captain, who has been in the industry for over 25 years.

“I come from more traditionally designed ships, but Virgin Voyages is very different and actually quite different from exterior to interior,” Karsjens told CNN Travel. “I’m passionate about design, so the brand, bringing in people who had never done ship design before, was exciting and it worked out great.”

Aside from his headquarters on the ship’s bridge, which Karsjens calls “the best view in the house,” the captain says his favorite place on board is The Dock, an indoor and outdoor restaurant with sun loungers and sea views.

“I love the way this area blends in with the outside world and creates a superyacht feel,” he says.

Much has been said about the cruise line appealing to people who have never traveled before when Virgin Voyages first launched.

No need to dress up for dinner. There is the aforementioned tattoo parlour. There are pop-up entertainment activities. There are several restaurants here, not one big buffet restaurant.

However, Saverimuttu emphasizes that Virgin Voyages is as keen to attract veteran cruisers as it is newcomers. He adds that the cruise line is committed to serving people of all ages.

British cruise blogger Emma Le Theis, who runs the Emma Cruises blog, traveled on the Scarlet Lady last summer.

“Before my Virgin Voyages cruise, I heard a lot about how different the cruise line is. Virgin was targeting a new cruise market and it got me wondering if existing cruise lines would like this product,” she tells CNN Travel.

“Virgin definitely has some things that make them different from other cruise lines, like the included Wi-Fi and soft drinks, but I found the entertainment and ship to be pretty similar to what I’ve found on other cruise lines.”

Le Teace says that, as with all cruise companies, there were aspects she liked and aspects she didn’t like. In her blog reviewshe praised the fact that the crew were allowed to dress casually and the excellent food options, while noting that the small pool did not convince her.

Overall, Le Thays told CNN Travel that she was impressed with how Virgin listened to customer feedback.

She wasn’t sure about the convertible bed that converts to a sofa, but upon boarding, she was pleased to learn that the bed converts to a sofa only upon request. It was also “very comfortable”.

“I feel that Virgin has listened well to their customers’ feedback and I expect them to perform well in the future,” she says.

Looking to the future

The interiors of Virgin Voyages are reminiscent of a boutique hotel.

The interiors of Virgin Voyages are reminiscent of a boutique hotel.

Virgin Journeys / Sang An

Launching a cruise line in the midst of a pandemic is no small feat.

“It’s no secret that Omicron had a big impact on the travel industry in December, and in January, people were dropping short-term travel plans — and we saw that in our bookings as well,” Saverimuttu says.

But as Omicron weakens in Europe and the US, Saverimuttu is confident the turn has been turned. Bookings have increased, he said, indicating that travelers are confident they will cruise again.

Virgin Voyages says it will continue to enforce Covid safety protocol – everyone aboard the Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady must be vaccinated, and the cruise line says it is also screening guests before boarding.

Saverimuttu emphasizes that the cruise line had no major Covid-19 related illness problems on board. He said Virgin’s vaccination requirements would minimize the impact of any outbreak on board.

Looking to the future, Saverimuttu says Virgin Voyages is pleased to open up its travel schedule as Covid restrictions loosen – the Valiant Lady is set to sail from Australia later this year.

A third yet-to-be-launched Resilient Lady cruise ship will be launched later this year, with a fourth Virgin scheduled for 2023.

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