Virgin Voyages launches Scarlet Lady in 2020

Passengers will be known as sailors rather than guests on board the Scarlet Lady.
Passengers will be known as sailors rather than guests on board the Scarlet Lady.

Hello, sailor

The most anticipated launch of 2020 will be the Scarlet Lady, the debut vessel of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Voyages. Never one to hide his light, Sir Richard says he is reinventing cruising with Rock Star suites, adult-only passengers, tattoo parlours and over-the-top entertainment.

Passengers will be known as sailors rather than guests on board the Scarlet Lady which will sail the Caribbean. Sir Richard has promised her sister ship will visit Sydney in 2023. The ships are designed by teams who have never worked on cruise vessels before, so they have a fresh eye.

Virgin Australia Holidays will offer packages that include return flights to Miami from the east coast and Cruise Guru has a fly-cruise-stay package on the 10-night Fire & Sunsets itinerary, departing Miami on 1 July 2020, from $5299 per person.

More jump aboard!

Some 32 million passengers will set sail aboard 278 cruise liners in 2020, up two million on this year. The industry created 1.1 million jobs and $150 billion in spending, says the latest Cruise Lines International Association report.

Nineteen new ships will go down the slipway to meet increasing demand. And $22 billion is being spent to help cruise ships meet a 40 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030.

Brisbane rules

Next year will see the opening of the $158-million cruise-passenger facility in Brisbane which will open up Queensland to the largest ocean-going cruise vessels in the world.

Last financial year, 520 cruise ships visited Queensland, a year-on-year increase of 11 per cent. Within its first five years, the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal is expected to handle over 1100 vessel calls and about 1.8 million passengers.

The port has over 180 bookings confirmed for the 2020/21 cruising season, with deployments from P&O's Pacific Explorer and Pacific Encounter, a new ship to the fleet in 2021, and Carnival's Spirit will also homeport in Brisbane.

Most luxurious ship

When Regent Seven Seas Explorer was launched three years ago, she was labelled the "most luxurious ship ever built". Now the line is launching a second similar vessel: the Regent Seven Seas Splendor. The new ship will carry 750 guests in all-suite, all-balcony comfort, boasting one of the highest space ratios in cruise.

The first voyage, beginning on 7 February 2020, will take guests on a 14-night transatlantic journey from Barcelona to Miami.

So what's on board? The Regent Suite is over 400 square metres and has two bedrooms, three walk-in closets, living and dining rooms, and an in-suite spa with sauna, steam room and jetted tub. The suite also includes butler service and a personal car and guide on shore excursions.

Splendor has eight high-end restaurants, a culinary arts school, a theatre and a spa.

River deep, mountain high

The world's largest river ship, the Victoria Sabrina, will have seven decks, weigh in at 17,000 tonnes and measure 150 metres in length. That's about 50 metres longer than the average European river vessel.

She will carry 690 passengers, have four elevators and three restaurants, and she is driven by DC electric propulsion. The Victoria Sabrina will be Victoria Cruises' most luxurious vessel when she's launched in May 2020 on the Yangtze River. According to the American-owned line, she is able to sail thanks to increased water levels from the massive Three Gorges dam project.

Executive Suite guests enjoy "white glove" service, exclusive happy hour, complimentary wi-fi and access to private ship areas, including the Top of the Yangtze à la carte restaurant.

Celebrity chef Walter Staib will provide food aimed at the American palate, while there will be two Chinese restaurants on board. She will sail three-night Chongqing to Yichang and four-night Yichang to Chongqing itineraries from April.