Billionaire Richard Branson finally unveiled his first cruise ship for the Virgin Voyages line, entering the travel and leisure market at an awkward time.
Naming her the Scarlet Lady, Branson's ship is a modern design, adults-only cruise line that is set to premier in April with trips around the Caribbean. "The Scarlet Lady is truly special and we've worked with some of the world's more sought-after designers, artists and architects to craft an extraordinary experience," Branson remarked at the ship's debut in the Port of Dover in England.
In addition to being an adults-only trip, the Scarlet Lady offers a lot of amenities targeted at millennial travels from vegetarian eateries, a tattoo and body piercing parlor called Squid Ink, various themed cocktail bars and night clubs, and a few spots that Branson himself called "grammable," referring to the social media platform Instagram
The Scarlet Lady features 78 luxury suites, including 15 mega suites that are further classified as Massive, Fab, Posh and Gorgeous Suites. Luxury suites cost a whooping $19,000 per cabin, where as cheaper cabins start around $1,600 for three to four day tours.
The ship also caters to issues that are at the core of millennials interest: the environment and social justice. Millennials have been known to speak with their wallet, and the Scarlet Lady is offering a cruise line that touts sustainability as its core objective.
The ship was designed to be as hydrodynamic as possible to not waste energy resources. Branson has also banned single-use plastics aboard the ship. The ship is committed to preserving the ocean and eventually bring its carbon emissions to net zero.
The Scarlet Lady is apart of 'Scarlet Squad,' a program that is aimed at recruiting, supporting and mentoring female shipboard talent, and growing opportunities for women to access leadership roles onboard, including marine, technical and hotel management.
Branson is set to launch his Valiant Lady for Mediterranean tours in May 2021 and his yet to be named ship in 2022.
The Cruise Market
The Scarlet Lady's debut comes at a time when travelers are weary to book a cruise vacation. Just last week, passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, operated by Carnival
Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of State said that U.S. citizens should "reconsider" traveling on cruise ships to or within Asia. Cruise-line stocks have also plummeted further Monday as fears of a global pandemic continue to weigh on travel and leisure stocks.
Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings
Although the Scarlet Lady will not set sail until Spring, Virgin Voyages is almost guaranteed to be impacted by the spreading virus encouraging more people to stay home.