When Richard Branson announced that he’d be launching a new cruise line, all eyes were on the billionaire to see what he would do to shake up the industry. “In my twenties, I was already thinking about starting a cruise line, despite never having been on a cruise. What I had seen and heard about cruises at the time sounded dull and formulaic, so I figured I’d start my own,” he says. And to set Virgin Voyages apart from others, the magnate has chosen to create a ship that he says will “turn heads the moment [it] pulls into port with [its] distinct yacht-like design.”
The first vessel to sail the open waters will be Scarlet Lady (named after one of the first Virgin Atlantic planes), which is slated to debut in Miami in 2020 with voyages to the Caribbean and select itineraries to include Cuba. To create a dynamic experience, the company enlisted an array of designers to outfit public spaces, including Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio and Roman and Williams. The 2,770-passenger, adults-only ship will have more than 20 eateries, a handful of spa outlets and grooming salons, an eclectic mix of entertainment venues, and several fitness centers that will offer complimentary classes.
Today, Virgin unveiled its 78 retro-futuristic suites designed by Dixon. Appropriately titled the RockStar Suites, these accommodations—which come with the kind of names you’d expect from Sir Richard, among them Posh, Massive, and Gorgeous—include details like gold-plated record players, vinyls, and guitars that pay homage to Branson and Virgin Group’s musical history. Suite guests will enjoy VIP perks like access to a personal coordinator, private transportation, a wardrobe team to aid with packing and unpacking, and exclusive entry into Richard’s Rooftop, a members-only lounge on the ship’s top deck.
There will be eight different configurations to choose from, starting at 352 square feet. All will feature a balcony for guests to enjoy the sea breeze, while some will have the added bonus of an outdoor shower—a rare amenity on a passenger cruise ship indeed. For those who want to really party like a rock star, the Massive Suite is generously sized at 2,147 square feet, can fit up to six guests, and comes with a music room that doubles as an extra bedroom. It also has a spacious living room with a bar and an expansive terrace furnished with a dining table, hot tub, loungers, hammocks, and a catamaran net for stargazing.
With Branson being an eco-minded traveler and having many sustainability practices in place at his private hideaway, Necker Island, it’s only fitting that the entrepreneur continues to prioritize environmentalism with Virgin Voyages. As a first step, all single-use plastic will be banned aboard his vessels. “[We’re] committed to operating one of the cleanest fleets at sea … and are very focused on securing a healthy future for our oceans.” Rock on.