Scarlet Lady, a 60,000-tonne cruise liner, was unveiled by British billionaire Sir Richard Branson today. The cruise ship is aimed at drawing in a younger generation. It comes complete with a yoga deck and a tattoo studio.
Branson toasts to cruise success
The launch of the luxury 17-deck liner may be viewed as poor timing with the news of coronavirus infections on a recent ship cruise. Some ships found it difficult to find ports to dock at due to fears about the epidemic. However, Branson is unfazed by the outbreak, claiming that cruise holidays are a growth area.
Around the world, the cruise industry is booming with passenger numbers almost doubling in the past decade from 17.8 million in 2009 to a forecast 32 million this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.
The latest cruise industry report reveals there are now 55 cruise lines globally with a total of 278 ocean ships and another 19 scheduled to debut in 2020, including Scarlet Lady. The cruise industry is worth $150bn worldwide and sustains 1,177,000 jobs.
A long list of Virgin Brands
The Virgin brand has branched into many sectors offering a wide range of products and services, including travel, health clubs, TV, banking, and of course, airlines.
The almost endless list of Virgin brands includes Virgin books (publishing), Virgin Atlantic (Air travel), Virgin Care (health), Virgin Active (gyms), Virgin Mobile (communications), and Virgin Money (loans, mortgages and Investments).
This recent move into the cruise business was an idea that came a long time ago, according to Branson. He said since his youth, he has had the idea of starting his own cruise line.
He said: “I have dreamed of starting my own cruise line since I was in my twenties 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.”
Launch date comes at a bad time
With the fear of coronavirus gripping communities and countries, the launch could not have come at a worse time. Countries have intervend to protect their citizens and prevent them from being carriers of the disease into their country. Airline and cruise business look set to be financially hit by this pandemic.
The virus has hit cruise operators hard, several governments and corporations have placed travel restrictions on their citizens and employees. There have been several cancellations of trips, especially in the Far East and China, where the virus originated.