Scarlett Lady

Virgin Voyages’ first cruise ship currently being built in Italy will be named Scarlet Lady.

Richard Branson whirred in by speedboat to the Fincantieri shipyard where the flagship vessel is under construction to make the announcement. 

Multi-billionaire Branson has pledged to take on the industry’s big boys and redefine the cruise experience when Virgin Voyages makes its debut in 2020.

Exact details on prices and destinations are thin on the ground but the company is expected to launch its first cruise around the Caribbean from Florida’s PortMiami in 2020.

Branson said: “It’s so exciting to see the progress being made – we’re nearly halfway through building our first ship.”

He said the name was a fitting throwback to one of the first planes in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet.

“When Virgin Atlantic first came on to the scene they were much like Virgin Voyages – a small player in a massive industry filled with tradition and routine. 

“But I imagined that we could do things differently, that we could deliver a product that put the customer at the forefront of the experience. It was wonderful to hear CEO Tom McAlpin’s vision of how Virgin Voyages will build ships and do everything possible to protect the precious ocean.”

Branson has revealed his passengers will be known as ‘sailors’ to reflect his bid to change perceptions of the cruise experience.

He has also pledged to revolutionise the role of women in the industry.

He said: “Globally, women represent less than three per cent of the entire maritime industry and in recent years only seven female captains have been appointed to command cruise ships. The Scarlet Squad Programme will aim to recruit, train and mentor new female leaders.”

Virgin Voyages’ first cruise will carry 2,700 ‘sailors’ served by 1,150 crew.