Today's construction milestones began with the flooding of the ship’s drydock, in preparation for the connection of two hull sections, and the first time Scarlet Lady tastes sea water. There was also a steel-cutting ceremony for Virgin Voyages’ second ship, due for delivery in 2021. And the line's innovative 'Vitamin Sea' wellness program was revealed.
Scarlet Lady is in homage to sister company Virgin Atlantic; the name appeared on one of the earliest planes to fly for the airline. Now the Scarlet Lady name will be paired with the brand’s iconic mermaid image on the Virgin Voyages flagship.
The vessel is due to enter service in 2020.
The ship’s namesake has also inspired plans to launch the ‘Scarlet Squad’ program aimed at recruiting, supporting and mentoring female shipboard talent, and growing opportunities to access leadership roles in on-board areas such as marine, technical and hotel management, that statistically show low numbers of female leadership. Virgin Voyages plans to release more details on the program in the company’s sustainability and social impact report later this year.
'Across the maritime industry, we can do better in on-board recruiting and leadership representation for women,' McAlpin said. 'I want all future crew to know that Virgin Voyages will create an on-board environment that is fair, inclusive and where everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential.'
This initiative includes banning plastic items such as straws, bottled water, other beverage bottles, condiment packets, shopping bags, food packaging, stirrers and take-away coffee and tea cups. Instead, Virgin Voyages will emphasize the use of recyclable and reusable materials across the ship.
Sailors (passengers) will have access to free filtered still and sparkling water at all bars and restaurants, as well as specially designed Natura filtered water stations throughout the ship.
'Nothing makes me prouder than seeing companies like Virgin Voyages striving to make a positive impact on the world we live in,' Branson said. 'Business is a force for good and can and must be the catalyst for global change.'
'We believe that in order to fulfill our purpose of creating an "Epic Sea Change for All," we must make a commitment that is bigger than just eliminating straws,' McAlpin added. 'We must make a commitment to building ships and experiences that do everything possible to look after the well-being of our precious oceans. We are delighted with what we’ve achieved so far and will continue to push ourselves to look for innovative ways to do things that will make a difference.'
For a look at today's festivities, follow @SeatradeInsider. Seatrade's Italy correspondent Luca Peruzzi is on the scene