Kinda as a surprise as she was not on a regular cruise, the ship visited the port of IJmuiden in The Netherlands where she arrived at the 18th of april in 2018. This picture and the rest on the page were made during her departure at the 24th of april. She had visited the port for the recording of an episode of the TV-show The Bachelorette.
Formed on the 4th of december in 2014, Virgin Cruises placed an order for three 110.000-ton cruiseships to be operational from 2020 onwards. Virgin Cruises originated of course from the Virgin Group of companies, that was already involved in travel and leisure from the mid 1980's onwards. With an airline, several railwaycompanies, space-travel, something called a hyperloop, hotels and a travelbureau they were certainly not new to the leisure industry and a cruiseline was just the little thing they missed. Of course the Virgin Group itself originated from the recordshop Virgin, established in 1970 by Richard Branson and Nik Powell. That name at the time was chosen because they were virgins in the business. Now, they are not anymore though. The recordshop grew with a small recordlabel in 1972 that kinda launched itself big time with launching a little record named Tubular Bells by a chap called Mike Oldfield.
So the Group was understanding how to make money and mostly they did so by doing things a little differently from the standard. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't and also that is part of the deal. So when the cruiseline was formed, they did also want to do things differently. The standard cruiseship white wasn't going to be implemented for the ships outside, the ships would become a light grey instead to spice things up. Also the ships interiours would also not be designed by people who normally do that, there about later more.
Construction and general statistics
Valiant Lady would be the second ship of the line, following the virgin Scarlet Lady. The name of Scarlet Lady had been chosen because that also was the name of the first airliner within the Virgin fleet. On the 20th of july of 2018, the first steel for the second ship was cut at the Fincantieri wharf in Sestri-Ponente, Italy and her coinceremony was held at the 8th of february of 2019, the same day when Scarlet Lady touched the water for the very first time. Her name was revealed at the 19th of november in 2019 as Valiant Lady but sadly just after that day, the world started to feel the force of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, grinding everything to a halt throughout the spring of 2020 and onwards. The originally planned floatout in march of 2020 was delayed because Fincantieri had been closed down due to the total lockdown in Italy and the ship was only able to be floated out on the following 20th of may. She could finally be delivered to her company at the 1st of july in 2021.
Valiant Lady measures 108.192 tons and has a lenght of 277,20 meters, is 38 meters wide and her draft measures 8,05 meters. She has 17 decks in total, of which 13 can be used by her total number of 2770 passengers and 1160 crew. Her maximum speed is said to be 22 knots, although servicespeed will mostly be around 20 knots provided by a diesel-electric genset system with four Wärtsilä-designed engines. This power drives two ABB Azipod units driven by a 16 megawatt electric motor. The ship flies the flag of The Bahamas, homeported in Nassau.
As said in one of the IJmuiden newspapers, 'you can see that this company also operates a few spaceships'.
As said, the ship wasn't designed just as any other cruiseship, both inside and out. The silver-grey tone to her hull and superstructure are something totally unseen aboard any other cruiseships. Of course the huge Virgin branding and red upperparts and lifeboat-covers are quite distinct. Like all other Virgin sisters, she also has the mermaid on her bow, created by Hillary Wilson. For her design, she created a human-like female that represents the balance between strenght and vulnerability. Sadly due to the bad camera I was using at the time I was unable to get a closer look at her. The bow had a straight stem, just like we have seen aboard cruiseships built in these recent years like the ones from AIDA Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and several smaller expedition-style cruiseships and at the back, the rounded superstructure overhangs the smallish aft-decks. With that, you can also spot one of the main problems that is called by several passengers and that is the lack of open sundeckspace apart from the thus quite crowded topdeck. Where in the middle is the huge red funnelcasing. That said, 86% of her outside cabins do have a private balcony where you are able to use a virgin branded hammock and there are almost no inside cabins, great for post COVID-cruising as 93% of all 1408 cabins do have an outside view. The cabins themselves are quite spacious and during the day the bed can be changed into a couch by the cabinstewards, just meaning that there are no seperate bed and couch at the same time. So just taking a nap in the middle of the day can be a little tricky as there will be no bed in your cabin at the time.
Again great for post-COVID, the ship offers no traditional buffet and main restaurants, but aboard you can choose from a great range of twenty different specialityrestaurants instead. And although the company seem to charge higher upmarket prices then other cruiselines, all dining, gratuities, internet-access and fitness-classes are included in the fare. Logically, this inclusivity does not include additional drinkingpackages or shop-purchases, nor a visit to the tattoo-parlour, a gimmick that of course also has to be aboard a ship of this line.
For entertainment, the ship has several bars, a multi-deck theater, of course a quite expansive fitness and Spa deck and a (rather small) topdeck pool. There is no huge waterpark with slides aboard, no rollercoaster of go-cart track and no ice-skating rink or out-of-the-hull lifting restaurants and that makes the ship, although modern and youthfull, clearly of another class and catering to another demographic then the large American owned lines like Royal Caribbean, NCL or Carnival. The demographic she targets is more-over the people in their late twenties up to early 40's who grew up with the music that Virgin Records provided them with. Outgoing, interested in new things, modern, but also traditional at the same time not needing all of those amusement-park style cruiseships that are out there nowadays. And with that, they really cater for a group of passengers that seemed to have been overlooked for a long time.
And then I almost forgot the most important thing of our time, environmentalfriendlyness. She is a diesel-electric ship, so no LNG or windpower. But the ship is provided with a hybrid scrubber system to remove sulphurdioxide from the exhaust as well as a selective catalyc reductionsystem that can lower nitrogen-oxide emissions. Next to those, the ship is able to provide her own energy partially by a 1 megawatt production system that uses waste-heat from the diesel-engines.
At the 18th of march in 2022, Valiant Lady set sail for her first shakedown cruise from Portsmouth, England towards the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. Afterwards, she settled in for a series of cruises out of Portsmouth to Spain, the Canary Island and Portugal and thus one small stirr towards IJmuiden, The Netherlands where she was docked for almost a week in april to serve as the recordingstudio for an episode of The Bachelorette. It was kinda surprising that they chose the port of Portsmouth instead of Southampton, that has always been the bigger cruiseshipport in the south of England and of course Valiant Lady became the biggest cruiseship that had ever used Portsmouth as a homeport although for a short periode of time. From may 2022 onwards, she repositioned to Barcelona, Spain for a series of Mediterranean cruises and in october she will move over to Florida to sail the Caribbean from Miami.