Portsmouth welcomed the newest brand on the cruise block, Virgin Voyages, as Scarlet Lady became the largest commercial ship to sail into the harbour on Monday 21 June.
At 277m Scarlet Lady is the largest vessel ever handled by the port and marks the start of regular appearances from the ship as she prepares for the world’s first passenger sailings in August.
Spectators were given a tease of Virgin Voyages’s premium luxury style, complete with experimental dining options, festival-curated entertainment, and styling from renowned designer Tom Dixon, as she sashayed her way into Portsmouth.
Mike Sellers Portsmouth International Port’s director said: “We had an ambitious strategy to grow Portsmouth’s cruise offer and it was incredible to see Scarlet Lady sail through the harbour, a result of years of hard work to accommodate a ship this size.
“Completion of the port’s multi-million pound berth extension means we can now manage larger ships, evidenced by Scarlet Lady and demonstrates the capabilities now available at Portsmouth International Port
“It 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.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader of Portsmouth City Council said: “This is a huge opportunity for the fortunes of the city, with the potential to unlock opportunities across the travel and tourism industry.
“The city could benefit up to £1.5m per call, when at full capacity, which is a much-needed boost of optimism as we look to recover from the pandemic.
“We have taken a proactive approach to continue investing in the city’s port, with revenue providing essential services for residents.
“We appreciate 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.”
Strict covid-19 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.
To reduce the number of passengers in the main building, work is underway to create a dynamic and engaging bespoke temporary terminal for Scarlet Lady passengers.
From 6 August there will be a minimum of six sailings, varying between three to four-night stays. Operating with reduced capacity, with the limit set by government guidelines, Scarlet Lady will sail around the UK.
Known as ‘The Summer Soirée Series’ it will officially be up for sale on Tuesday, April 13, visit VirginVoyages.com for additional details.