WITH an on-board tattoo parlour, drag brunch and an app to order champagne with the shake of your phone, Richard Branson’s new cruise line Virgin Voyages is finally under way.
His first ship, Scarlet Lady, is aimed at millennial holidaymakers, with a boutique hotel design and itineraries to the Caribbean.
Sir Richard said: “I’ve always dreamed of having a cruise line. I’ll be on board in July for my 70th birthday and I’ll get a tattoo!”
LISA MINOT – a veteran cruiser – and JACOB LEWIS – a millennial cruise virgin – spent a night on board as Scarlet Lady visited Dover before sailing to her new home port of Miami.
Jacob: I’m used to staying in tiny hotel rooms. On city breaks it’s a massive moneysaver, as I spend most of my time outside exploring.
So compared to a city centre hotel, the rooms on board Scarlet Lady feel positively roomy.
The rainshower is a dream, and techy touches like mood lighting as the sun sets and video streaming on the TV was a nice surprise.
In a nod to green credentials, there are plastic free smellies and the electronics switch off when you’ve left the room even if you forget.
Lisa: What’s really unique about Virgin Voyages’ cabins are not the Rock Star Suites – as impressive as they are – but even the humblest inside cabin gets a new take on the one piece of furniture that takes up the most room – the bed.
The signature Seabed transforms from a double to an L-shaped sofa, for more room to relax by day.
The hammock on the balcony cabins is a nice touch – 86 per cent of cabins have outside space.
It is light, airy but a bit lacking in places to put all your holiday stuff. Pack light!
Jacob: The restaurants feature a smorgasbord of hip styles and tastes, with every food fad and insta-friendly interior design trend ticked off.
Like the best bits of a cosmopolitan city break all squeezed on to one ship, very on-trend culinary culture makes an appearance, from Korean BBQ at Gunbae to upscale Mexican at Pink Agave.
As an out and proud flexitarian, Razzle-Dazzle spoke to my soul.
A vegetarian restaurant that lets you sneak meat into your meal or spike your smoothie with booze. Feel smug with none of the sacrifice – perfect.
Lisa: Despite promising ‘no boring buffet’ The Galley is obviously a very cleverly disguised one – albeit with a raft of new features from trendy food trucks to colourful pop-ups.
What does differentiate it from its rivals is the sheer number of restaurants – a whopping 20 – and the fact they are ALL included in the price.
While other cruise lines have introduced more variety this often comes with an extra charge.
Highlight for me was the Test Kitchen – cookery school by day and restaurant by night with a kooky, laboratory theme and some out there dishes.
Jacob: Spin classes are all the rage, with people dropping £2,000 and on Peleton workout bikes for the privilege of joining one from their home.
Voyages are in on the action, with a spin class room overlooking the ocean.
There’s also outdoor yoga on the top deck, where guests can get zen in the Caribbean sunrise.
We can’t talk wellness without mentioning the free wifi, as we all know, your average millennial will get social media-scurvy after a week without likes.
Lisa: While other cruise lines continue to outdo themselves with ever-more outrageous design features – floating decks, rollercoasters and glass-walkways, Virgin keeps it’s focus very much on the modern-day obsession with wellness.
From outdoor yoga at The Perch, a gargantuan gym to a spa that puts most 6* cruise lines to shame, they’ve definitely pulled off the places to pamper and preen.
Where other ships have to leave space for pesky kids, the Scarlet Lady indulges its adults-only crowd perfectly.
SCARLET LADY BY NUMBERS
Food available: 24/7
Tattoo price from: £90
Passenger decks: 13
Maiden Voyage: April 1, 2020
Jacob: My parents generation may have been happy to bellow out their favourite hits at…
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