Valiant Lady’s mermaid design was created by artist Hillary Wilson and is intended to celebrate the strong, beautiful, friendly and modern embodiment of a black American woman.
The mermaid aboard Valiant Lady sits at the bow, just like the one aboard the first ship the cruise line launched, Scarlet Lady.
The mermaids featured on the bow of the Virgin Voyages ships are a reflection of the cruise line’s values, which focus on female empowerment and inclusivity.
With diversity at the core of Virgin Voyages’ brand ideology, it was a natural move to want to honor and represent different races and nationalities by telling those stories through the mermaids, Virgin said.
“Virgin Voyages’ leading ladies, its mermaids, are an important symbol for the brand and meant to keep guests safe on their voyage,” the cruise line said in a statement.
Ship builders have been adorning their vessels with figureheads for centuries. The Vikings were among the first to do it, but with menacing looking monsters that they believed had apotropaic magic.
The practice became widespread in the 16th century and lasted until the 20th century when steel ocean liners became predominant. It was then that the physical figurehead at the bow transitioned into a painted emblem.
Figureheads were usually, but not always, female, and are intended to bring good luck to vessels.
Virgin Voyages says the inspiration for the Valiant Lady’s new mermaid embodies the spirit of the sea and “captures the energy of a woman moving confidently towards her dreams.”
Valiant Lady will debut in spring 2022, sailing from the UK to islands and cities in Europe, including late-night and overnight stays in Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Lisbon and Belgium.
Valiant Lady is a sister ship to Scarlet Lady. At 110,000-gross tons and carrying 2,700 passengers, she will offer several dozen dining options included in the cruise fare, a unique entertainment line-up and some of the most unusual accommodations at sea.