New luxury Virgin Voyages cruise ship launched by Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson launched the first ship in his new fleet of luxury Virgin Voyages cruises today.

The Scarlet Lady is the first of four luxury ships to be launched as part of the new high-end fleet which the tycoon hopes will make a splash in the ocean travel market.

Sir Richard wants his new high seas venture to bring the “experience of a boutique hotel” to the ocean waves.

The billionaire 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.”

After being built in Italy, the Scarlet Lady sailed across the channel to Dover, and will shortly sail to Liverpool.

From there it will across the Atlantic ocean with just 18 people on board before making its maiden voyage around the Caribbean in April.

Eventually the cruiser will be joined by its sister the Valiant Lady which will sail on seven-night adventures around the Mediterranean when it is launched next year.

Fireworks welcomed the new cruise ship to the Kent port on Friday and festivities are planned throughout the weekend to mark the glitzy launch of the fleet.

Virgin Voyages says the ship features “dazzling contemporary design” and will “reinvigorate the cruise industry in the same way Virgin Atlantic did for aviation”.

As well as their classy interiors, the new line of ships will slash their pollution rates by relying on a new type of technology that uses heat from the ship’s engines to create power on board.

And the company have vowed to work towards a “net zero future” for the cruise industry.

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