Five star restaurants. Celebrity DJ residencies. Tom Dixon-designed lounges. Rock star suites. It’s the anti-cruise cruise that’s aiming to rock the boat of sea travel. Sir Richard Branson—founder of the Virgin Group best known for his rebellious entrepreneurial spirit—has unveiled , the company’s first-ever cruise line that abandons the tired and dowdy tropes of countless mom and dad vacations, offering a bespoke and ultra-luxe experience on four- to five-day trips. Starting in 2020, “sailors” can board the first ship, The Scarlet Lady, that will cruise through the Caribbean.
Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin says, “At Virgin Voyages, we are going beyond just great design, to defy and redefine luxury to be rebellious luxe.” Gone are the days of overstuffed buffets, forced formal wear, or Broadway shows. Instead, vacationers will dine at restaurants designed by Michelin-starred chefs, party at the ship’s futuristic clubs, and rock out to music from the resident DJs. Virgin is calling construction of the Scarlet Lady “Adult-by-Design,” which will optimize views of the sea, and include interiors by world-class designers such as Roman and Williams, Tom Dixon, and Concrete Amsterdam. “We wanted to tap the designers and architects who created spaces that we loved on the ground,” says Dee Cooper, senior vice president of design for Virgin Voyages.
Tom Dixon was enlisted to design the exclusive outdoor lounge, while Roman and Williams created The Manor, a nightclub inspired by the firm's work for The Standard Highline. “Virgin Voyages opted to use multiple interior designers, in order to focus on the strengths of each firm and show diversity throughout the ship, using the principle of the 'modern romance of sailing' as the guiding star to a cohesive vision," says Cooper.
Atop the ship, Concrete Amsterdam helped conceive the "largest daybed at sea"—a red and white striped circular lounge for sunbathing by day or stargazing at night. And while the general vibe may be adult by design, Virgin Voyages is young at heart. "It doesn't matter what age you are, I want you to get up on the table and dance!" Richard Branson tells ED. (He's already planning on sturdier tables).