Richard Branson launches adult-only cruise line

Billionaire,Richard Branson sits in the control area of his ship, The Scarlet Lady (Photo: Readdesctor)

Richard Branson’s Virgin brand launched an adults-only cruise ship arm that opens in April. Even as the fast-growing sector suffers its most serious setback in years from the coronavirus outbreak.

Photographs released showed some of the vessel’s luxurious features, including marble-clad bathrooms, spacious suites, grand spiral staircases, elegant cocktail bars and an outdoor running track.

The Scarlet Lady

Scarlet Lady, unveiled in Dover, England, on Friday is the first of four new vessels that will form the Virgin Voyages fleet. It aims to bring “the luxe experience of a boutique hotel to the sea,” the billionaire said in a statement.

Newly-released photos show the vessel's slick interiors, with this spiral staircase being one of the many standout features
The ship offers a luxurious hotel experience at sea

The ship was built in Genoa, Italy. It will ply routes that include stops in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Key West and the Bahamas, where passengers will be able to use their own beach club.

The interiors of the adult-only ship were, masterminded by a team of top designers including Tom Dixon
The interior of the ship was designed by Tom Dixon and Roman and Williams

Virgin’s fleet will aim to capitalize on a boom in cruising among younger people.

Ships will boast interiors by Tom Dixon and Roman and Williams and offer gym programs, yoga, 20 restaurants featuring Michelin-standard food and entertainment including drag acts and sets by star DJs including Mark Ronson.

Complete with discos, slick restaurants and luxurious lounge areas, Virgin Voyages promises to shake up the cruising industry with its new fleet of liners

A second ship will be based in Barcelona and offer Mediterranean cruises starting next year.

A view of the open-air running track on the Scarlet Lady, with prime sea views
A view of the open-air running track on the Scarlet Lady, with prime sea views. Track is just one of the activities offered by the ship

While the Scarlet Lady will be based in Miami for voyages in the Caribbean, thousands of miles from the Asian epicenter of the virus, it’s not clear what impact the epidemic will have on wider demand.

The ordeal of 3,700 people held on board a vessel in Japan as disease spread among passengers has made headlines around the world, while Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. have issued profit warnings.

Among major operators, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is least exposed to Asian markets, followed by Royal Caribbean and Carnival, according to a note from Berenberg analysts.

There’s as yet no evidence that media coverage of the vessel quarantined in Yokohama or another turned away by five countries is affecting bookings globally, rather than just in virus-hit Asia, they said.