When you step into the Scarlet Lady cruise ship, you know immediately you’re on Richard Branson’s ship.
There’s a record store on the left selling limited edition Sex Pistols and Lady Gaga on vinyl. The crew has cooler outfits than you. And there is red, red, red everywhere — lest you forget this is a Virgin-branded endeavor. Then there is Branson himself, back from space and joining his executive team in New York City to show off Virgin Voyages first ship before it starts sailing from Miami on October 6. It finished a short run in the United Kingdom, where strict vaccine and testing requirements kept major Covid-19 problems at bay.
The 1,408-cabin ship is hip, alternating luxury with a casual vibe that beckons guests to come as they are if they happen to be very cool kinds of people. The adults-only ship has luxurious gold fixtures and bannisters, ultrachic, boutique-sized restaurants and double chaise loungers absolutely everywhere that seem destined for guests who want to canoodle the day away.
Everything on the cruise ship screams, “This is not a cruise ship!” And that’s because Branson said he hated the idea of ever being on one. So why get into an industry that was already serving 29.7 million happy customers in 2019 before the pandemic? “Before I started Virgin Atlantic, I didn’t fancy flying on other people’s airlines because they were stuffy, not fun,” Branson told CNN Travel from one of the ship’s Rockstar suites. “That’s the perfect time to go into business and [ask] could we create the kind of cruise company that myself, my family and friends would love to go on?”