Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages has joined a growing list of cruise lines to announce summer sailings around the UK coastline.
The adult-only brand, which was an early victim of COVID-19, will offer a series of three and four-night UK Summer Soiree Series cruises on Scarlet Lady from Portsmouth starting on August 6th and running until August 23rd. The holidays, which require Covid vaccinations, go on sale on April 13th.
The Virgin Group founder expanded his travel empire with the launch of his first cruise ship, the 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady, which was unveiled in Dover last February. At the time he said it was the realisation of a dream and he aimed to redefine and reinvigorate the cruise industry with Virgin Voyages in the same way Virgin Atlantic Upper Class did for aviation.
Scarlet Lady then sailed to the US for its scheduled christening in Miami and maiden season cruising out of the US to the Caribbean, but all the plans had to be cancelled with the onset of the pandemic. The ship has been created to resemble a boutique hotel with a yacht-style nautical theme and unconventional features including rock star suites complete with electric guitars, vinyl record players and a table to dance on. The vessel also has a tattoo parlour and boxing ring, and passengers are referred to as sailors.
The UK sailings will provide the first opportunity for people to sail on the ship and Richard Branson said:
“Virgin Voyages has been looking forward to sailing, and we’re so excited to announce our plans to sail from the UK.”
Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin added:
“After more than a year of waiting and a major emphasis on a safe return, we’re ecstatic to announce these new sailings and bring sailors onboard to experience what it’s like to set sail the Virgin way. We look at our UK summer voyages as a homecoming to pay homage to our British roots, and what an excellent way to kick-off our sailing season.”
Afterwards Scarlet Lady will sail back to its homeport in Miami when it is hoped that restrictions on cruising will have been lifted in the US.
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of Virgin Cruises