Aye Aye Captain Virgin Voyages announces female captain for Scarlet Lady

CANADIAN CAPTAIN WENDY WILLIAMS TO LEAD FIRST VIRGIN VOYAGES SHIP

●        Sir Richard Branson’s new cruise line appoints first Canadian woman to captain a ship for a major cruise brand

●        Company replaces Cuba sailings with new Riviera Maya voyages and new four-night Fire and Sunset Soirées voyages to Key West with enhanced Beach Club programming in Bimini

●        New seven-night holiday sailings featuring Puerto Rico now available for booking

Sir Richard Branson and Capt Wendy
Richard Branson with Captain Wendy Williams Image: Virgin Voyages 

TORONTO- June 11, 2019 – Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin announced the appointment of Captain Wendy Williams as Master of Scarlet Lady. When Captain Williams takes the helm of Scarlet Lady in spring 2020, she will become the first Canadian woman to be captain of a ship for a major cruise brand. The company also announced a brand-new lineup of itineraries for their premier 2020 season.

“Captain Wendy’s extensive maritime background makes her an excellent choice to lead the Scarlet Lady, but it is her spirit and drive to approach life at sea differently that make her the perfect fit to join the Virgin Voyages family,” said Tom McAlpin, president and chief executive officer for Virgin Voyages.

Originally from the coastal city of Sept-Îles, Quebec on the Northeastern coast of Canada, Captain Williams now resides on her hobby farm on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Captain Williams has more than 28 years of experience working on ships at sea. Her extensive background includes more than a decade as a deckhand in commercial fishing off the western coast of Canada as well as working as a ferryboat captain. Although she has spent more than 15 years working on the bridge of mega cruise ships, her role with Virgin Voyages will be her first promotion to Master of a cruise ship.

Tom McAlpin, Captain Wendy and Sir Richard Branson.jpg

“I have salt water in my veins and nothing brings me more joy than being at sea,” said Captain Wendy Williams. “It’s a dream come true to be working with Virgin Voyages, a company that is focused on creating an incredible experience not only for our Sailors but for our Crew as well; while also taking action to minimize our footprint on our oceans.”

CaptainWendy_Office_Edit8.jpgJust last year, Virgin Voyages announced its Scarlet Squad program, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry, where women represent less than three percent of the workforce. The program aims to recruit, support and mentor female shipboard talent, and to grow opportunities for leadership roles in marine, technical and hotel management positions on board.

While Virgin Voyages is still in the early stages of the crew for Scarlet Lady, the company has already recruited Captain Williams as well as nearly a dozen other female officers, including Jill Anderson as hotel director, Christin Wenge as safety officer, Lindsay Kerber as environmental officer, among other incredibly talented female engineers as well as second and third officers.

Virgin Voyages’ intention is to create an onboard environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.

New Voyage Offerings

In response to the U.S. government’s new restrictions on travel to Cuba from the United States, Virgin Voyages has also developed an exciting lineup of new itineraries featuring destinations that its Sailors expressed interest in exploring while on a voyage aboard Scarlet Lady.

960ab1d1-2dc2-49f1-92be-684025a48317.jpgContinuing the company’s mission to provide its Sailors with epic day and nighttime experiences, the all new itineraries will feature multiple late-night sail aways, including a midnight departure on all new sailings.

Virgin Voyages will now offer five-night Riviera Maya sailings to Cozumel/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Cozumel and Playa del Carmen offer opportunities for Sailors to experience some of the world’s best diving, as the area is home to 26 coral species. Sailors will also have the opportunity to explore ecological and archeological treasures, including Mayan ruins, or even opt to explore neighboring Tulum, the elevated Bohemian sanctuary with picturesque beaches and diverse nightlife.

For those who just want a quick getaway, Virgin Voyages’ four-night sailings will now become Fire and Sunset Soirées including a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini. Sailors will experience the cultural and boating paradise of Key West, paired with a day of rejuvenation in Bimini, Bahamas that’s topped off by an exclusive late-night beach bonfire soiree. This celebration under the stars is exclusive to these sailings, and the artistic fire installations draw inspiration from the fireball sculptures on Branson’s Necker Island and the alluring communal nature of a traditional beachside bonfire.

dd2772f2-09f1-4f30-af23-871512eda256.jpgIn response to Sailor demand for longer voyages aboard Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages has developed special seven-night sailings for the 2020 festive holiday season. Those looking to get a jump start on their holiday planning can opt for the all-new Holidaze and Nights and New Year’s Ahoy voyages, which fall over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays respectively, and feature stops in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and late-night sail aways in both Bimini, Bahamas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

All voyages will feature a stop in Bimini, Bahamas, home to The Beach Club, a private club for Virgin Voyages Sailors while Scarlet Lady is on the island.

For more information on Scarlet Lady, future Sailors and First Mates (travel partners) are invited to check out Virgin Voyages by visiting www.virginvoyages.com

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog

SPECTRUM OF THE SEAS CELEBRATES INAUGURAL SEASON IN CHINA

First Quantum Ultra Class Ship is Royal Caribbean’s Third New Ship to Homeport in Shanghai

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Spectrum of the Sea arrives in Hong Kong Image: Royal Caribbean

June 4, 2019 – Spectrum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, made its highly anticipated debut in China yesterday. The first Quantum Ultra Class ship sailed into Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Shanghai after completing a 46-night Global Odyssey that spanned 17 cities. In honour of Spectrum arriving to her new home, the cruise line held a grand naming ceremony with Chinese celebrities and Royal Caribbean brand ambassadors, Xiaoming Huang and Angelababy, in attendance. Honoured with the lifetime role of Godparents, the popular couple were on hand to name the ship and bestow a blessing of safekeeping over all those who sail on her.

            Spectrum’s historic milestone is on the heels of Royal Caribbean’s 10th anniversary in China. Building on years of success with Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, the arrival of the largest and most expensive cruise ship in Asia will continue to raise the bar and lead the Chinese cruise industry into a new era.

“Royal Caribbean has always been known for innovating and pushing the boundaries and Spectrum of the Seas is a great example of this,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Spectrum brings to life the best of Royal Caribbean along with specifically designed and curated experiences for our Chinese consumers.”

Custom built for the Chinese market, Spectrum of the Seas features bold and unexpected experiences, including the cruise line’s first private enclave for suite guests, new stateroom categories, innovative dining concepts, and stunning features and experiences – many of which have never before been seen at sea.

Transformational Spaces

Spectrum features a two-level, 2,809-square-foot Ultimate Family Suite, accommodating up to 11 guests. The three-bedroom suite features a master bedroom and a bathroom that extends over the side of the ship for unparalleled ocean views, along with two additional suites for grandparents and other family members. Kids have their own kid-friendly space on the upper level, complete with an in-suite slide that will transport them to the living area below. Everyone in the family can enjoy time together in the recreation room, featuring surround-sound equipment for a night of karaoke, movies or video games. 

Glowing on the aft of the ship is Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline experience, where guests can strap in, don a virtual reality (VR) headset and be transported to another time and planet with three new games: Jump Rally, Sugar Leap and Bass Bouncer. The out-of-this-world experience is for guests of all ages and can be enjoyed without headsets, for those who prefer to look out over the ocean as they leap toward the sky.

Exclusive Suite Club

The Suite Club on decks 13 through 16 offers Royal Caribbean’s first exclusive suites-only area, which features 36 Golden Suites and 106 Silver Suites. The Golden Suites and Silver Suites have exclusive access, elevator, as well as a private restaurant and lounge. In addition to a range of amenities, Gold Suite guests may access The Balcony, a private outdoor space with the best views of the sea; and The Boutique, which can be reserved for private shopping, intimate parties and wine tastings. Travellers in suites are also provided with a dedicated team of Royal Concierges who provide excellent value-added services, including concierge services, Royal embarkation, enhanced food and beverage experiences and exclusive room service.

Diverse Dining Options

Onboard Royal Caribbean’s newest ship are 33 dining options to meet the diverse preferences of its guests. The lineup includes innovative dining concepts such as: Sichuan Red, a brand-new restaurant debuting on Spectrum that features authentic cuisine from the Sichuan province of China; a traditional tea room and café parlour known as Leaf and Bean, where guests can enjoy a range of authentic Chinese teas, classic coffee drinks as well as freshly baked Chinese and Western desserts and pastries; Teppanyaki, offering authentic oriental flavours cooked in Japan’s traditional teppanyaki style; Splashaway Café, near the kids’ pool area; and the Noodle Bar, which serves up freshly made noodles and live chef demonstrations.

Introduced on the Quantum Ultra Class, the main dining room has been combined into one awe-inspiring, three-level dining room with 1,844 seats. The complimentary venue also serves a variety of Chinese and Western a la carte options that rotate every day of an itinerary. For holiday-makers looking for a more casual dining venue, the Windjammer Marketplace on Spectrum has been designed to be 20% larger than those on Quantum Class ships. The laidback option offers a wide selection of Chinese and Western dishes.

Multidimensional Entertainment Experiences

Three new production shows developed in-house by Royal Caribbean – The Silk RoadThe Effectors and Showgirl! Past. Present. Future. are taking the stage. Each full-scale production features unrivalled talent, immersive technology and unparalleled special effects to create spectacular entertainment experiences.  The entertainment doesn’t end on stage. Spectrum offers guests a thrilling lineup of activities including Battle for Planet Z, an epic glow-in-the-dark laser tag adventure for the whole family; Star Moment, a lively and energetic karaoke venue where family and friends can sing like stars;Expedition Two70, where guests can test their adventuring skills in four fully immersive augmented reality (AR) games; SeaPlex, the multipurpose indoor sports and entertainment complex that offers activities from various parts of the world including various indoor ball games as well as fencing and archery – activities never before seen at sea in the Asia market.

Cutting-edge Technology

Spectrum of the Seas features a bold lineup of new digital experiences, from digital room keys and automated stateroom controls, to immersive AR games. The Royal Caribbean mobile app is also available for the first time for guests in China and supports both Mandarin and English language. Designed to seamlessly deliver unprecedented holiday experiences at sea, technology is prevalent throughout the ship, substantially increasing guest convenience and efficiency while offering new experiences that entertain and amaze.

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Image: Royal Caribbean

Itineraries

From Shanghai, 4 roundtrip itineraries:

  • 7-day “Best Of Japan” (Kobe, Yokohama)
  • 5-day “Kagoshima and Okinawa” (Kagoshima, Naha)
  • 4-day “Best Of Okinawa” (to Naha)
  • 4-day “Best Of Kagoshima” (to Kagoshima)

From Hong Kong, 3 roundtrip itineraries:

  • 7-day “Japan and Philippines” (Naha, Salomague Island, Luzon Island/Subic Bay)
  • 5-day “Best Of Vietnam” (Da Nang, Nha Trang)
  • 4-day “Best Of Chan May” (to Da Nang, Vietnam)

You can find out more about Spectrum of the Seas and her 2019/2020 itineraries here:

http://www.royalcaribbean.co.uk/our-ships/spectrum-of-the-seas/itineraries/

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog

VIRGIN VOYAGES EXPANDS EPIC ENTERTAINMENT LINEUP

London – 21 May 2019,17:25 GMT– Today, Virgin Voyages announces a series of exciting updates for its irresistible 2020 sailings. 

Expanded Partnership with Mark Ronson

With a heritage deeply rooted in music, Virgin Voyages announced an expanded partnership with Academy, Grammy and Golden Globe-winning artist and producer Mark Ronson. Ronson will join the company’s Creative Collective, a group of world-class tastemakers, artists and designers who are collaborating with Virgin Voyages to bring epic Sailor experiences to sea. In his role as the company’s “Minister of Music,” Ronson will be creating a series of pre-voyage and onboard playlists for Sailors, as well as curating the vinyl record selection in the RockStar Suites and the ship’s vinyl and music shop – Voyage Vinyl. What’s more, Ronson will be working with Virgin Voyages’ music teams, defining the brand’s sound at sea as well as at The Beach Club in Bimini, Bahamas– a private and luxurious beach club that is exclusively for Virgin Voyages Sailors while Scarlet Lady is on island.

As a part of Virgin Voyages’ On Deck residency program, Ronson has committed to four performances at The Beach Club at Bimini in 2020. Ronson’s July 9 poolside performance can only be experienced by those who book the July 5, 2020Mayan Sol sailing featuring stops in Costa Maya, Mexico and Bimini, Bahamas. 

 

“I’m thrilled to be part of the Virgin Voyages’ Creative Collective, helping lead the charge in music. Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin brand were legendary game-changers in the music industry and it’s a thrill to join them as they bring that same spirit to sea travel,” Ronson said.

 

“We see music as an essential element to a holiday, not just for parties but also as the soundtrack to laughter, relaxation and much more,” said Tom McAlpin, president and CEO for Virgin Voyages. “It’s an honour to have an outstanding artist like Mark Ronson helping us develop our Sailor experience, alongside an exciting lineup of DJ’s joining our On Deck residency program.” 

Diplo Joins On Deck Residency Program

Continuing the expansion of its On Deck residency program, Virgin Voyages also announced that legendary DJ and record producer, Diplo, will perform at the Beach Club in 2020. 

 

Virgin Voyages will carefully curate the mood at The Beach Club so that Sailors have opportunities to experience moments of relaxation and serenity as well as high-energy excitement. Mornings at the private club will begin with yoga and meditation, with the energy gradually amplified as the day progresses, reaching a crescendo of action in the afternoon where DJ-led pool and floatilla parties will be the centre of the club. The day will cascade into night with a calming fire ritual where Sailors will enjoy acoustic tunes over an open bonfire.

Scarlet Night- A Party to Remember 

Scarlet Night is another occasion set to prove a highlight for Sailors, as Virgin Voyages reveals details of one its signature onboard parties, which will take Sailors on a journey around Scarlet Lady. Conceived, designed and produced by the  award-winning producer behind Sleep No More, Queen of the Night, and The Donkey Show, Randy Weiner, Scarlet Night is a glamorous occasion of awe and mystique that pushes the boundaries of entertainment. Groundbreaking music will set the mood, as Sailors dance the night away at this out of this world experience, complete with art installations and performances throughout the ship as the night progresses. There will also be an after party created by Brooklyn, New York’s House of Yes, recently named the number two Best Thing To Do in the World by Time Out, and known for their theatre-infused nightclub where a fabulous outfit  is a must and guests expect the unexpected, including circus spectacles, immersive cinema, cabaret performances  and beyond. 

Scarlet Night comes to London

Londoners will experience a taste of Scarlet Night on Tuesday 21 May, as the event comes from sea to land for one night only. The event will bring to life the energy of Scarlet Night with extraordinary music and performances along with a featured guest performance from Mark Ronson. The special event is set to be attended by VIPs, celebrities and more the likes of whom include Geri Horner and Holly Branson, among others. 

 

Ladyship Touring UK Waters

There’s good news for budding travel advisors, whom the company affectionately refers to as First Mates – the Scarlet Lady, glamorously designed cabins and boasting over 20+ eateries, will be stopping in Dover and Liverpool in late February opening its doors to First Mates, media and VIPs, hosting a number of exclusive events before making her way across the pond to her new home of Miami. The news was announced by Geri Horner at the Scarlet Night London press conference today. 

 

Future sailors and travel partners are invited to check out Virgin Voyages by visiting www.virginvoyages.com.

All images courtesy of Virgin Voyages

THE COUNTDOWN IS ON: 182 DAYS LEFT UNTIL THE CHRISTENING OF MSC GRANDIOSA IN HAMBURG

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First of the enriched Meraviglia-Plus ships to come into service

Inaugural season to be spent in the stunning Western Mediterranean

New flagship to feature two brand new Cirque du Soleil at Sea Shows

With exactly six months before the christening of MSC Grandiosa on 9th November in the Port of Hamburg, MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and market leader in Europe, South America, South Africa and the Gulf, today revealed they would be welcoming back international TV star Michelle Hunziker to host the glamorous official naming ceremony of the Company’s newest and largest ship to date. Hunziker, internationally known as a TV presenter, actress and singer, also hosted the christening of MSC Seaview in Genoa in 2018. Growing up in Italy and of Swiss descent, Hunziker speaks five languages and embodies the international spirit and Mediterranean soul of MSC Cruises.

MSC Grandiosa will become the largest ship in the MSC Cruises fleet and the first of the Meraviglia-Plus class of ships. Enriched with more cabins, more public space and innovative new features, the highlights include:

·         The iconic Mediterranean Promenade will be the heart of the ship. Under the 98.5-metre-long LED sky, guests can enjoy a varied entertainment programme as well as being able to indulge in shopping and world class food and drink. 

·         MSC Grandiosa takes the onboard shopping experience to a new level with the indoor promenade offering mall-style boutiques, where guests will find their favourite brands of clothing, jewellery, technology and more, all at unbeatable prices. 

·         The speciality restaurants located in the promenade include the new restaurant concept L’Atelier Bistrot, a French-inspired bar with lounge area, which also offers a stage and dance floor as well as a seated terrace.

·         The entertainment highlight will be two brand new shows from Cirque du Soleil at Sea. The shows are created by world-leader in live entertainment, Cirque du Soleil as part of a unique long-term partnership with MSC Cruises. 

·         MSC Grandiosa will feature the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant, ZOE. This artificial intelligence guest service will answer guest questions in the comfort of their cabin alongside a ground-breaking feature of connected cruise experience, MSC for Me.

·         Designed as a ship for all seasonsMSC Grandiosa will spend winter in the MediteranneanWith less visitors and the perfect winter sun weather, this is the ideal time of year to discover some of the top destinations throughout Italy, France and Spain without the crowds.

Michelle Hunziker commented, “I am delighted to be part of the christening ceremony of MSC Grandiosa in Hamburg. Since the christening of MSC Seaview last year, I feel a part of the MSC family. I am particularly pleased that the christening is taking place in Germany. I have met great people here and celebrated many professional successes. For me, Germany means a piece of home and Hamburg has such a wonderful maritime heritage, it will be an honour to become a part of it. I am also looking forward to discovering everything that this new and stunning ship has to offer.”

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A section of MSC Grandiosa’s hull seen at the shipyard © Andrew McAlpine

MSC Grandiosa is the third ship of the innovative Meraviglia generation and the first of the Meraviglia-Plus class. She will become the fifth new next-generation ship MSC Cruises has launched in just two and a half years as part of MSC Cruises’ investment plan of €13.6 billion spanning more than 10 years.  MSC Grandiosa will be followed by a further 12 ships through to 2027 with her sister ship, MSC Virtuosa launching next October 2020.

Meraviglia generation ships have been designed to meet every need of today’s cruise guest. The extraordinary design, wide array of facilities and entertainment make these ships ideal for the whole family. Designed for all seasons, they are able to call at most of the world’s international cruise ports.

Last year I was fortunate to get a glimpse of MSC Grandiosa under construction at in Saint Nazaire when I visited the shipyard to see MSC Bellissima float out.

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MSC Grandiosa seen under construction at Chantiers de l’atlantique in St.Nazaire

 

MSC Cruises have also announced that following her christening in Hamburg MSC Grandiosa will visit Southampton on 13th November, afterwhich she will sail on her maiden cruise to the Mediterranean with calls at Lisbon, Barcelona, Marseille and finally Genoa.

As always thank you for taking the time to read my blog

To find out more booking information www.msccruises.co.uk