Inside The Scarlet Lady—Virgin Voyages’ Stylish Luxury Cruise Ship
Step aboard Richard Branson’s first adults-only, rock star-inspired cruise ship.
For the cruising-curious, it has seemingly never been a better time to set sail. The CDC recently lifted its cruise ship risk advisory, pent-up demand for travel is spiking, and Virgin Voyages–an adults-only cruise line from billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson–is enticing would-be “Sailors” with up to 40 percent off if you book by April 30.
While Branson’s astronomically-priced Virgin Galactic private space flights are aimed at the ultra-wealthy, earthbound travelers can save big on a luxury cruise aboard the 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady, which seeks to lure a younger, cooler crowd than the typical cruising set.
Leaving from Miami and stopping in the Bahamas, it has nine restaurants, six bars, two nightclubs, a food court, an elevated running track, gym, spa, pool, hot tubs, casino, video arcade, vinyl record shop, and even an onboard tattoo parlor, along with stylish cabins featuring sweeping ocean views and terraces adorned with hand-woven hammocks. And if you prefer to book a longer cruise in Europe, Virgin’s second ship, the newly-launched Valiant Lady, has a seven-night itinerary with stops in France, Italy and Spain.
Here, Dee Cooper, Virgin Voyages’ SVP of Design and Customer Experience, breaks down what makes the Scarlet Lady special by annotating 11 photos of the ship’s luxe interior.
“The Roundabout welcomes our Sailors on-board, introducing them to our lady ship. When the Sailors enter on Deck 7, they are immediately be greeted by the choice and variety onboard. A DJ is spinning beats at Virgin Vinyl, a craft beer bar lets you grab a cold one and walk around the decks, and there’s even an ice cream bar.
“The heart of this space is an amazing compass light that changes throughout the day and always points the direction of true north. The Roundabout is all about first impressions and ensuring our Sailors are ready to enjoy their holiday. It has a wide open feel and windows on both sides that show the true width or beam of the ship.”
“The cabin was created to be our Sailors’ retreat. Over 93 percent of our cabins offer sea views and the chance to hang out and watch the waves. Inspired by Virgin Group’s signature lighting across the airlines, we knew how important lighting was to create the best ambience. Our cabins feature five different lighting settings to reflect the different moods of the day. The lighting evolves from relaxing during the daytime to “Let’s Get It On” if you really want a moody evening.
“When welcoming you into the cabin for the first time, the curtains dramatically open, the music turns on and the lights awake. More importantly, the curtains close every time you leave as it helps to cool the space and uses less energy, thus improving the ship’s sustainability. We also included touches of red across the cabin with a nod to nautical tradition with the stripes in the throw pillows. The wood beam and slatted walls all bring a warm modern feel.”
“When designing the suites across the ships, we wanted them to reflect our Virgin brand heritage–rock ‘n roll, Richard Branson, the record industry, modern glamor–and our inspiration was rock stars hanging out on luxury superyachts in the port of Monte Carlo. We asked another British eccentric–Tom Dixon and the Design Research team–to create these suites for us. (Tom even likes to play in a rock band himself.)
“The suites are finished in dark purples, brass and light terrasso, creating a decadent feel. The Massive Suite even has four electric guitars ranging from Les Pauls to Fender Strats and amps, so they can channel their inner rock star. We envisioned Sailors grabbing a drink from their fully stocked private bar, jumping on the bed and jamming out while looking out across the ocean and enjoying their incredible holiday at sea.”
“For Virgin Voyages, it’s all about the sea views. The beds are the hero of the suite, positioned at an angle to maximize the ocean view. The RockStar bathroom sits behind, and the angled configuration allows us to create an ultra large walk-in shower. It even has a peek-a-boo window so the Sailors can look out at the ocean beyond and watch the waves roll past.
“We chose beautiful carrera marble as the single brilliant finish for the bathroom, which we still love in modernist design today. The white of the marble is complemented with dichroic glass, which reflects the amazing changing of the lights as you watch the sun glistening on the ocean.”
“We had great fun creating Razzle Dazzle, an eatery with a vegetable-forward menu. The design is based on the graffiti ships of the first World War, when black-and-white striped patterns confused the enemy in knowing what direction the boat was traveling. Our architects, Concrete Amsterdam, used these crazy patterns as the backdrop for this premium restaurant.
“Hidden in the back corner is our Red Bar, one of the few spaces on the ship that is red. It’s a secret hangout for a great cocktail or dinner in a casual atmosphere. We knew that sometimes Sailors want to eat quickly and go watch a show or go dancing, and this restaurant makes sure we can quickly provide a great meal. Insider’s tip: You can always ask for the secret menu, too, which adds some special treats for meat eaters.”
“This outdoor lounge is for the exclusive use of our RockStar Sailors. Created with Tom Dixon, this area is positioned at the top and front of the ship. It gives Sailors an amazing view–especially at sunset–as the Scarlet Lady cuts through the waves.
“The design plays off the uber yacht style with its futuristic white daybeds complemented with an amazing dichroic glass that refracts the light into rainbows of colors. There’s everything you need here from a central bow shaped bar to shaded trampoline-like loungers and hot tubs. It’s a perfect space for Rockstar Sailors to enjoy a Leonardo and Kate Winslet moment at the bow of the ship.”
“The Dock House bar was inspired by tales of sailing across the seven seas and island-hopping adventurers. This quintessential travelers-inspired space was created with Roman and Williams from New York who excel in creating interiors. The sailing-inspired backdrop of canvas, rope, woods and blues is complemented with beautiful brass and cymbal lights. It’s definitely a spot reminiscent of the most incredible seaside bars and cafes in Zanzibar and Ibiza.”
“Sip is the definition of high-heeled glamor for our Sailors, where they can enjoy nothing but the best glasses of Champagne. Featuring a brass and carrera marble bar and luxurious lounge seating in shades of deep blues and delicate pinks paired with amazing porthole windows. It’s where our Sailors get dressed up to meet their friends before a show in the Red Room or a night out to go dancing in the Manor.”
“VV challenged itself to have the best nightclub at sea. Like many great nightclubs, such as Studio 54, the Manor was built around the concept of a theater. Designed by Roman and Williams–the team behind the Boom Boom Room at The Standard at the High Line in New York–the Manor has the ability of letting you watch or to be watched – whatever you prefer.
“The mirrored entrance sets the tone and welcomes you into the club where you’re instantly transformed into the most glamorous version of yourself. We even decided to include bathrooms within this space as half the fun of the nightclub is talking to fellow clubgoers in the bathroom. It has three bars across two floors and stage, giving us the ability to use this space for cabaret-type shows before a DJ can take over and the dancing can continue into the night.”
“Pink Agave offers a modern Mexican culinary experience. Inspired by the Mexican architect Luis Barragan, the azzure blues and rose pinks create a stunning interior to this space with everything from blue terrazzo tables and Tom Dixon seating. The bar serves practically every type of tequila and mezcal choice, and the Tom Dixon Design research team collaborated with us to create an amazing, contemporary restaurant.”
“All of our restaurants allow you to dine, as you would on land, with a full choice of a la carte menu, except for this one. VV likes to make a rule and then break a rule. We broke our own rule with Test Kitchen and created an amazing Michelin-inspired tasting menu where our guests are treated to a set menu. When Test Kitchen was designed with Concrete Amsterdam, we wanted a food-centric space and agreed the best table in any restaurant is the chef’s table.
“With that in mind, we created two huge high horseshoe food counters that allow you to sit beside chefs as they prepare the meal. The cool mint colors and white backdrops all come together in a modern laboratory-inspired environment. The servers even wear white lab coats. It’s a wonderful experience in which you can either choose to sit together with friends or join a more convivial table as the menu and chef guides you through a gastronomic feast.”