Sir Richard Branson will launch his new luxury cruise line in Dover on Friday as he seeks to make a splash in a new market.
Virgin Voyages launches with the unveiling of the Scarlet Lady – the first of four “Lady ships” in the new fleet.
The high-end new endeavour aims to bring the experience of a boutique hotel to the sea.
Sir Richard, Virgin Group founder, said: “I have dreamed of starting my own cruise line since I was in my 20s and I’m thrilled that moment has arrived.
“The Scarlet Lady is truly special and we’ve worked with some of the world’s most sought-after designers, artists and architects to craft an extraordinary experience.
“The benefit of our five decades in business in so many industries is that we can offer a voyage like no other.”
The Genoa-built Scarlet Lady set sail from Italy earlier this month and will soon be whisking travellers away to exotic destinations including Costa Maya in Mexico, Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, Key West and The Bahamas.
The ship will later be joined by sister liner Valiant Lady which features seven-night Mediterranean itineraries out of Barcelona, Spain when she debuts in May 2021.
Arriving at Port of Dover early on Thursday morning, the Scarlet Lady’s visit will be celebrated with fireworks and festivities over the weekend.
Firework celebrations for @VirginVoyages Scarlet Lady's inaugural port of call @Port_of_Dover will be held on Friday 21st February @ 10.00pm and Sunday 23rd February @ 6.30pm, please come down to the seafront to witness what promises to be two spectacular displays! pic.twitter.com/uv5LNl1zMM— Port of Dover (@Port_of_Dover) February 17, 2020
Virgin Voyages says the ship features “dazzling contemporary design” and will “reinvigorate the cruise industry in the same way Virgin Atlantic did for aviation”.
The new cruise line touts its use of Climeon, a technology that utilises heat generated from the ship’s engines to create electricity, thereby decreasing the demand for fuel.
Virgin Voyages says it is working towards a “net zero future” for the cruise industry.