Introduction of Virgin Voyages Cruise Line
4/9/2019 3:40:19 PM Link 0 comments | Add comment
On February 13th the newest entry in the cruise business, Virgin Voyages flew a select group of travel agencies to New York City for the introduction of their trend setting cruise line's first ship (one of 4 planned), the Scarlet Lady. As in everything Virgin, we were guests in the trendy Moxy Hotel in Manhattan.
The following day the event (a high tea in the fitting British tradition) was held on the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center Observatory with commanding 360 degree views of the city. The choice of February 14th (Valentine's Day) was significant as red is the theme color for the line and consequently the ship's name, Scarlet Lady. The elevator ride from the ground level to the Observatory took 47 seconds with the history of New York projected on the walls from it's beginning to current day. It was very impressive.
We were met with champagne and tables set with a variety of petits fours surrounding the center stage. A one hour very humorous and totally casual presentation was given by Richard Branson (Founder) Tom McAlpin (President and CEO) and Stacy Shaw (Vice President). Several short videos were shown with renderings of the ship on monitors strategically placed around the room. Much of the conversation involved the innovative design of the ship and the efforts to reduce her footprint when operational. Her unique hull design and sleek exterior will make her stand out anywhere.
Virgin's goal is basically to take traditional cruising and turn it upside down. Its 2750 all adult guests will be called Sailors (instead of guests) and will not be hassled with such traditional things like gratuities, dining reservations (20 different free dining venues), unlimited wifi, all basic drinks including soda, bottled and sparkling water to name a few. Geonbae is a Korean barbecue where diners can cook their own meals over flameless grills. Razzle Dazzle focuses on vegetarian and vegan fare as well as a juice bar. There are no set dining times.
It appears the cruise line is directly targeting the young at heart. Those who just want to have an unstructed and unreserved good time. The dress is casual. Featured on the ship is a tatoo parlor and drag show brunch. Spa and fitness are an important part of the ship and features the largest sun bed at sea as well as very unique pools. Fitness classes are included in the fare.
The standard cabins (86% balconies) feature "sea beds" that serve as couches for entertaining during the day and beds at night. The balconies also feature hammocks. The top four Rock Suites even feature guitars and turntables.
The first sailings in 2020 will begin with four to five day cruises featuring Cuba and Costa Maya and Virgin's private island Bimini in the Bahamas where she will be able to dock.
To finish off the introduction of Virgin Voyages, we were invited to a massive party at the Playstation Theater on Broadway. The event featured DJ Mark Ronson, a moveable dance floor, countless bars, a huge variety of hors d'oeurves, and of course, Richard Branson. After showering the crowd with a bottle of champagne, he took to the dance floor with the professional dancers. The show also included acrobats and gymnasts. The music never stopped and neither did the party. We were exhausted.
In reflecting on the whole event, two things were obvious. One, Richard Branson is a radical who loves to be different and have fun. Two, Richard's commitment to both the planet and the travel agent community is quite evident.