The highly anticipated cruise brand from Richard Branson, Virgin Voyages, will offer travelers more than 20 food choices onboard its first ship, Scarlet Lady, with no surcharges for dining at the specialty restaurants onboard.
The adults-only cruise line said this week that all restaurant food will be included in the cruise fare when it debuts in 2020. It is also breaking with traditional ocean cruise options by offering no buffet or main dining rooms, no assigned seating or dress codes, and dining hours that will extend well into the night and early morning.
“There’s a Virgin twist on everything you’ll see aboard the Scarlet Lady, which means there will be no stuffy formalities, boring buffets and no main dining rooms. Sailors are not going to want to leave our ship after they experience how we’ve designed our restaurants and tasted the dishes we are going to be serving up in 2020,” said Sir Richard Branson.
Here’s what’s in store for culinary options:
Appropriately named for its views of the ship’s wake, the eatery will offer steak and seafood. Virgin is calling it “the most glamorous restaurant on the ship, with a dramatic grand staircase entryway.”
Built as a nod to WWI warships, which had to use patterns of black and white paint to camouflage themselves, Razzle Dazzle will offer “vibrant and creative twists on vegetarian fare and a juice bar” — including a “nice” menu with vegan and vegetarian dishes and healthy smoothies, and a “naughty” menu that includes meat add-ons and boozy shots. Expect more than just food from Razzle Dazzle, too. “Razzle Dazzle will not simply brunch but rather Drag Brunch,” Virgin said, “where sailors are treated to a performance by the Scarlet Lady’s resident drag performer and friends.”
The Test Kitchen
Inspired by Auguste Escoffier’s famous “Ma Cuisine” cookbook, The Test Kitchen will be part cooking school and part restaurant. Guests will get to discover just how their meal is being made before dining in “this laboratory-like eatery.”
This Korean BBQ restaurant will be a rowdy affair. Each meal will begin with a complimentary round of soju (a Korean national drink) for the table and guests will be encouraged to take part in Korean drinking games. Geonbae will feature specially engineered flameless grills built into each table and diners will be be able to cook their perfect BBQ.
An elevated Mexican restaurant that will take on the vibe of the streets of Mexico City will offer specialties including: tlayudas, memelas, sopes, tortas, esquites, and tamales.
The ship’s trattoria will serve food rooted in Italian culinary traditions, starting with a shared antipasti and followed by pasta-centric dishes. The restaurant will feature pasta handmade fresh onboard daily.
A beach club-inspired space at the aft of the ship, Dock will offer guests Mediterranean small plates throughout the day.
The ship’s food hall, Galley, will offer eight different shops and food carts including a dedicated bakery and pastry shop, a panini shop, a burger grill, a taco shack, a sushi bar with bento boxes, a noodle bar, a soup-and-salad stand, and an American diner.
The Pizza Place
The ship’s pizzeria will offer a classic menu and bespoke options for guests wanting to customize their pizza.
The ship’s top deck will be an exclusive outdoor lounge and private club reserved for suite guests. Designed by Tom Dixon’s Design Research Studio it will have a futuristic look with circular loungers, giant umbrellas and dichroic rainbow-effect glass. We suggest you wear white.
With the announcement of an on board tattoo studio, Squid Ink, Scarlet Lady’s sailors will be able to recreate a signature seafaring image involving plenty of body ink. Tattoo artist Lou Rubino Jr has handpicked two resident tattooists for the studio as well as a line-up of guest artists. Virgin Voyages celebrated the announcement last month by giving away 100 free nautical-inspired micro tattoos at Soho Ink in Manhattan.
The company recently announced that the Scarlet Lady will call on Cuba during its inaugural season, while homeporting in Miami in 2020. Virgin said the decision is based on customer and travel partner research that it conducted in both North America and the United Kingdom.
“Virgin Atlantic has been visiting Cuba for 13 years, and I cannot wait to see our iconic Scarlet Lady gleaming in the Havana Harbor,” said Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson. “Havana is the perfect place for our sailors to go and experience a city that exudes an irresistible energy and passion.”
According to the line, the inaugural season of sailings will include an overnight stay in Cuba, with stops at Cuban ports that will allow guests to visit Old Havana, take part in people-to-people exchanges, spend nights in salsa clubs, and more. All itineraries will include OFAC-compliant shore excursions that will be revealed later in 2019.
“We have a long-standing relationship with Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group and are pleased to announce this new partnership with Virgin Voyages,” said Manuel Marrero Cruz, Minister of Tourism for Cuba. “The Cuban people look forward to welcoming Virgin Voyages’ first ship, its crew and passengers to our shores in 2020”.
Bookings will open next year.