Virgin Group founder Richard Branson is planning to shake up the cruise industry with his new brand: Virgin Voyages. Sailings officially went on sale on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14.
At a press event, high atop Manhattan at One World Observatory
, Branson said: "I first came up with the idea when I was 27. I didn't fancy traveling on any of the cruise ships I read about. 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."
The Scarlet Lady, slated to launch next year, is a boutique-style, mid-sized 2,770-passenger ship that will be adults only and buffet free. There will be more than 20 eateries onboard, including food trucks, restaurants with bars and a 24-hour diner. Plus, entertainment aboard the vessel will include interactive dance parties and participatory acts - not your typical Broadway-style shows.
Also announced at the press event was news that sailings will call on Bimini: a tiny Bahamian island where a beach club is being constructed by Resorts World Bimini. All of the Scarlet Lady's voyages will stop at Bimini for a day-long beach experience.
The Beach Club at Bimini will overlook the ocean and cascade down to the sea, with an expansive lagoon-style pool as the central anchor of the club. With music at the heart of the Virgin brand, Virgin Voyages will carefully curate the soundtrack for The Beach Club at Bimini, with seven-time Grammy-Award-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson named founding DJ.
Much of the entertainment aboard the Scarlet Lady will be held in the Red Room, which is said to be the first transformational multiform theater at sea. It will have four configurations: a traditional Proscenium stage, an alley stage, a dance flat-floor configuration and a reverse stage setup. Virgin said part of the idea was to create completely different experiences for each day of the cruise.
The Scarlet Lady's first voyage -- set sail from Port Miami for her 2020 inaugural season on four and five-night voyages to Havana, Cuba; Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and Costa Maya, Mexico -- will include Branson, who will host the cruise to mark his birthday. The cruise departs July 15, 2020. Branson turns 70 three days later.