Perhaps no cruise line is as happy to see the return of cruising from the United States as one that had yet to make its debut: Virgin Voyages.
Today, the cruise line marks its first passenger trip from the U.S., sailing with Scarlet Lady from Miami. While a four-night cruise to The Bahamas is fairly commonplace in cruising, this voyage represents much more.
Scarlet Lady was originally set to debut early in 2020, roughly 19 months ago. However, that schedule coincided with the start of the global health crisis that delayed not just Virgin Voyages’ debut, but also put the entire industry on hold.
Now the cruise line is finally making its American launch (called the “MerMaiden” voyage), and bringing a fresh outlook to cruising.
A New Take on Cruising
There’s no doubt that the debut of Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady is something completely new for the industry. The changes made on the ship are different from anything else in cruising. As CEO Tom McAlpin said, the aim is to “deliver a sophisticated, yet relaxed, adult-only experience — free of formality” for its passengers.
The cruise line appears focused on attracting younger adults with a number of unique features.
For instance, the cruise line is adults-only, which is a major change from other lines. It has no buffet or big dining halls. Instead, it features more than 20 spots to eat that are all included with your fare (so no specialty restaurants).
Other changes include gratuities, wi-fi, and “basic beverages” all included in the fare. While some lines have lumped in these extras before, it’s often at a higher price than a basic fare without them included — giving passengers a decision to make. Virgin is electing to simply include them for everyone in the base price of the cruise.
As well, features on the cruise include a tattoo parlor, more of a focus on health and wellness, and entertainment that’s more risque, such as “Never Sleep Alone” — a “late-night cabaret that puts you at the helm of your sexual destiny.”
Even the Scarlet Lady looks like nothing else sailing, with the grey hull and unique design looking more like a spaceship than a traditional cruise ship.
“For more than 50 years, Virgin companies have been bringing innovation to industries,” Sir Richard Brandon, the Founder of Virgin Group said. “Virgin Voyages is very much charting our own path, offering a fresh perspective on cruise travel with a mix of the familiar and a healthy dose of Virgin satisfaction.”
Details on Sailings
While sailing from Miami, Scarlet Lady will offer 4/5-night cruises to Mexico and the Caribbean. This includes “Riviera Maya” sailings to Cozumel, “Mayan Sol” trips to Costa Maya, and “Fire & Sunset Soirees” to Nassau.
Each trip will also feature a stop at the Beach Club at Bimini. This is Virgin’s private area in The Bahamas, complete with pool, beach, cabanas, sunset bonfires, morning yoga, and more.
As for health and safety, Virgin Voyages requires full vaccination for both passengers (dubbed “Sailors” by the cruise line) and crew. In addition, all guests are tested prior to boarding. It is also sailing with reduced capacity at first to promote social distancing. Masks are recommended when around the ship, but Virgin says they are required for testing, in the terminal, and on shuttles.
While it is too late to join Scarlet Lady on her “MerMaiden” voyage, you can still experience the new way for cruising yourself on an upcoming trip. Cruise prices start at $650 per person. You can learn more at VirginVoyages.com.