‘I would have liked to have done this when I was 30 years old, or even 40 or 50, but it took a few years more than I expected but now thanks to many people including Bain Capital, we have a cruise ship where every single little detail is incredible,’ he told a press gathering onboard.
‘Scarlet Lady is different and the whole concept is inspired by market research feedback based on what people don’t like about other cruise ships, plus what we wanted to do ourselves,’ Branson remarked.
Company ceo Tom McAlpin added, ‘We have created a modern yacht-inspired ship featuring musicians, foodies and design spaces delivered by those who have never worked on a cruise concept before.’
No hidden extras
McAlpin explained, ‘the idea is to create a cruise experience that is free of hidden extras so in the ticket price we include free basic WiFi which is now a basic human right, tips because we should take care of the crew, still and sparkling water free of charge and access to 20 eateries in the ticket price.’
Nirmal Saverimuttu, chief experience officer said, 'we have created a boutique hotel experience at sea heralded as something different with 20 plus eateries and wellness spaces throughout.'
No buffet, no main dining room
There is no traditional buffet, no 'main dining room as such' Saverimuttu explained. The food offering ranges from vegetarian, Mexican, Test Kitchen part cooking school, part restaurant, Extra Virgin Italian with handmade pizzas, Artisan Pizzas sourced from Mister 01 in Miami, The Dock House Mediterranean eatery, Gunbae, a Korean BBQ dining, and The Galley a food hall-style area featuring a diverse range of vendor station with common seating area including noodles, burgers, all day breakfast, tacos, sandwiches and salad bar.
Branson praised Dee Cooper, svp of design at Virgin Voyages who has worked at various Virgin Group company’s transforming each saying, ‘we are very lucky to have her’.
Talking about the ship’s interiors Cooper remarked, ‘we have a modern contemporary style and choice reflecting what we all like on land so when I am in London, one day I want to a three course meal and the next a burger and then next an authentic curry in Brick Lane. We have created an amazing variety of spaces where some you need to dress up and others you can be relaxed and scruffy.’
‘Above all’, Dee added, ‘we have created a yacht like experience throughout the ship with brass, decking, comfortable seating and a relaxed atmosphere.’
No kids, no kidding
On Scarlet Lady there are no kids, will this be the same for the other new ships coming later? ‘We had to convince Richard that adults-only was the way to go as he has young grandchildren but I think it is the right way to go at this time,’ noted McAlpin.
With the first tattoo shop at sea Squid Ink, will Branson be getting a tattoo? ‘I am soon going to be 70 years old so I guess there is nothing to lose in getting a tattoo on my skin at this age but just need to decide what to get without upsetting my kids too much!’