Virgin Voyages’ cruise ship Scarlet Lady has finally departed the UK on her maiden voyage, after a 15-month delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scarlet Lady departed Portsmouth, UK on Saturday for the first of six scheduled Summer Staycation cruises.
It is the first revenue-generating voyage for Virgin Voyages, which took delivery of Scarlet Lady last year just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the global cruise industry.
The 3-day voyage is a cruise to nowhere, as are the rest of the Summer Staycation cruises, but the ship itself is a destination in and of itself.
Highlights include more than 20 eateries from Michelin-starred chefs, a Redemption Spa inspired by an underwater cave and The Perch hosting events such as complimentary group workout classes and yoga.
The ship will also have out of the box nightlife and entertainment options, and exotic eateries will include what Virgin is calling the world’s only Korean BBQ at sea and a secret Virgin Voyages Champagne button on the Virgin Voyages Sailor App that will deliver a bottle anywhere on board.
The cruises are available only to fully vaccinated UK residents over 18 and the majority of crew on board will also be fully vaccinated (100% of Virgin crew have received at least one vaccine dose).
Even after the long delay to her maiden voyage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were further delays at the last minute due to problems with Virgin Voyages’ testing partner at the cruise terminal.
Our pre-voyage testing at Portsmouth is taking longer than expected. We apologize to all Sailors for this delay. We're excited for you to experience everything Scarlet Lady has to offer. We'll be providing more info about making it up to you once everyone has boarded ⚓️
— Virgin Voyages ⚓️ (@VirginVoyages) August 6, 2021
Scarlet Lady ultimately departed several hours late.
In an interview with CNN, Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages, acknowledged that the cruise line hadn’t planned to sail its maiden voyage from the UK, but said it was a natural fit for the brand.
“The UK, it’s the birthplace of this brand, it’s our spiritual homeland, if you will,” he said. “We’re doing this to showcase what we have to offer to travel agents and to consumers.”
Scarlet Lady will cruise roundtrip from Portsmouth throughout August, before repositioning to Miami in September.
From Miami she is due to commence her Caribbean season of 4- and 5-night cruises, visiting destinations such as Cozumel, Key West, Amber Cove, Costa Maya and of course its private island in the Bahamas, Bimini.