By Staff Writer
Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin have announced that Virgin Voyages is officially open for business, with the company’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, now open for bookings for her inaugural season.
In signature Virgin style, Virgin Voyages is planning on shaking up the industry, with the cruise line calling its voyages “A 24/7 festival at sea where tranquility meets curiosity with no kids, no buffets, and no limits.” Its passengers will enjoy free food at the 20+ eateries onboard, free group fitness classes, free WiFi and free basic beverages like soda, teas, and drip coffee, as well as still and sparkling water.
Virgin Group’s clever marketing and branding appears in every aspect of the cruise experience, from coining passengers ‘sailors’, to the cruise line’s wellness ethos and program, called ‘Vitamin Sea’.
“I’ve dreamed of starting my own cruise line since I was in my 20s, and now the launch is finally getting close,” said Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Voyages. “We have taken the time to think about every detail and craft an experience that brings the Virgin brand to life and disrupts the travel industry.”
“At Virgin Voyages we are going beyond just great design, to defy and redefine luxury to be rebellious luxe,” said Tom McAlpin, President and CEO of Virgin Voyages. “This new luxury is about knowing you are taken care of, that you’re never being nickel and dimed, and what you want, even some of the things you didn’t know you wanted, are already taken care of for you.”
The Beach Club at Bimini
Virgin Voyages has also revealed that all voyages will feature a day at The Beach Club at Bimini in the Bahamas, an island experience the company boasts will rival the best beach clubs in Ibiza and Saint-Tropez. Virgin Voyages has named seven-time Grammy-Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson as founding DJ, and he will be among the first talent to grace the turntables at The Beach Club at Bimini, with four performances scheduled for 2020.
The beach club overlooks the ocean and cascades down to the sea with an expansive lagoon-style pool as the central anchor of the club. The club will feature creative social spaces with hammock groves and six bars, with beach-side and poolside cabanas available for rent. The Beach Club at Bimini will also feature active areas for watersports and beach play, and passengers staying in RockStar Suites will have a dedicated bar, complimentary food service, an outdoor terrace lounge, sun loungers and beach cabanas at the beach club.
Guests will get to enjoy yoga and meditation in the morning, before a higher energy club experience comes into play during the day with a DJ-led pool and flotilla parties. At dusk, a beach bonfire and acoustic musical performance will close out the evening.
The tropical island of Bimini is known to have been a favourite destination of author Ernest Hemingway, who described it as “like the end of the world.” This intimate seven-mile island offers extraordinary sea experiences such as boating, snorkelling, and even wreck diving, with the SS Sapona just a few miles off the coast of the southern part of the island.
Unsurprisingly, music will be at the heart of the Virgin Voyages experience beyond the beach club and back on ship, with passengers having access to a festival-like lineup of all-new completely original ‘Events & Gigs’ developed by some of the world’s most-talked about producers, directors and artists in the expansion of the company’s Creative Collective. Names include Jenny Gersten, Randy Weiner, Sam Pinkleton, Ani Taj, PigPen Theatre Co, The 7 Fingers, Roslyn Hart and Alfredo Guenzani and the Spark Cooperative.
Tony Award winning creative producer, Jenny Gersten, will serve as an artistic and production liaison between the core in-house Virgin Voyages Entertainment team and other members of the Collective. Virgin Voyages has also scrapped the idea of a traditional cruise director on board the ship, and instead will have a dynamic group of individuals dedicated to organising exciting ‘Happenings’ on board. These will include interactive dance parties and off-the wall participatory acts that push the boundaries of traditional stage performances and invite passengers to participate.
Virgin Voyages’ is touting its entertainment offering as one that goes beyond Broadway with first run experiences that have never been seen before on land or at sea, such as The Red Room – the first transformational multi-form theatre at sea that can transform into four different configurations.
Scarlet Lady will feature six original shows that include a soon to be announced production by award-winning producer Randy Weiner.
A boutique-style, mid-sized ship designed to reflect a yacht’s sleek luxury, Scarlet Lady will set sail from Port Miami for her 2020 inaugural season from April 1 through October 21, 2020 on four and five-night voyages to Havana, Cuba; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and Costa Maya, Mexico. Scarlet Lady will host more than 2,770 sailors and 1,160 crew from around the world in 2020.
Virgin Voyages is giving people the chance to celebrate Sir Richard Branson’s 70th birthday with the mogul himself and celebrity friends on a four-night Havana After Dark voyage departing July 15, 2020. ‘Sailors’ willing to test their luck can also enter for a chance to win a cabin for two now through March 31, 2019 by visiting RichardsBirthday.VirginVoyages.com.