Portsmouth set to welcome giant luxury Virgin Voyages cruise ship Scarlet Lady to port potentially bringing in millions to economy and creating new jobs
PORTSMOUTH is set to welcome a giant luxury cruise ship to the port this summer that could potentially bring in millions to the local economy and create ‘lots’ of new jobs.
Virgin Voyages has announced Scarlet Lady’s first ever commercial passenger sailing will take place from Portsmouth in August. She will be the largest ship ever to berth in Portsmouth.
At 277 metres and with space for 3,000 passengers, she will be the largest ship at Portsmouth International Port - serving as a vote of confidence to the city as it hosts the newest kid on the cruise block.
Scarlet Lady is set to deliver a luxurious trip including experimental dining options and festival-curated entertainment.
The no-expense spared ship will also have styling from renowned designer Tom Dixon to ensure she dazzles in and out of Portsmouth.
For three weeks from August 6, Scarlet Lady will be operating at reduced capacity to make at least six sailings of either three or four nights around England.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘It is very good news, she’ll be the biggest ship (at the port).
‘People will start and end their cruises here which means people will be getting on and off so when people disembark from their cruise they will visit the city.
‘It means potentially lots of jobs with it possibly worth £1m to the city each time there is a cruise turnaround here, which is what they say Southampton earns each time.
‘It is interesting why they chose Portsmouth and not Southampton. We are working hard to make the city an attractive location. There is lots to do in the city and we have great transport links.
‘We are in talks with lots of other cruise firms too so hopefully there will be more.’
Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port’s director, said: ‘This is fantastic news for the city and the wider travel industry, with Virgin Voyages committing to launching a series of domestic cruises exclusively from Portsmouth for the UK market.
‘Recognised for their pioneering spirit we are privileged to support Virgin Voyages as they embark on their first ever commercial sailing. We are in no doubt eyes of the world will be on Scarlet Lady’s debut, but there is no better harbour than this one, famous for its legendary maritime journeys.
‘It will be a spectacle like no other as the distinctive Scarlet Lady sails through the spectacular harbour entrance, we can be sure sailors and crew will experience a warm Portsmouth reception.
‘It is a huge opportunity for the city to be Scarlet Lady’s home port for the summer and we are thrilled to work with global brand Virgin Voyages on their showcase sailings.
‘The future won’t wait, and we are confident that following the government’s announcement domestic cruising can take place there is an appetite to explore once more.’
Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin, said: ‘Virgin Voyages has been looking forward to sailing, and we’re so excited to announce our plans to sail from the UK.
‘Our team has curated such a fantastic experience for our sailors and know this is a holiday they will love.’
Tom McAlpin, CEO and president of Virgin Voyage, said: ‘After more than a year of waiting and a major emphasis on a safe return, we’re ecstatic to announce these new sailings and bring sailors onboard to experience what it’s like to set sail the Virgin Way.
‘We look at our UK summer voyages as a homecoming to pay homage to our British roots, and what an excellent way to kick-off our sailing season before heading back to PortMiami.’
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Mr Sellers insisted the port was ready to deal with increasing safety demands thrown up by the pandemic.
‘We have the highest standards for health protocols, which have been vigorously tested as we operated sailings throughout the pandemic,’ he said.
Strict measures will be in place for passengers in advance who are travelling to the port, this will be coordinated with public and port health teams.
Along with a thermal imaging scanner to check the temperature of staff and customers, the terminal has also been reconfigured into a one-way flow system with reduced capacity and space for social distancing.
Face coverings are mandatory for anyone travelling through the terminal, and cleaning practices have been enhanced through investments in the latest technologies.
Scarlet Lady’s arrival has been made possible by recent investment to extend the current cruise berth, completed in July last year. This has delivered opportunities to welcome a range of ships, helping to support the city bounce back after the impact of the pandemic.
Known as 'The Summer Soirée Series' bookings will officially be on sale on Tuesday, April 13. Visit VirginVoyages.com for additional details.