Portsmouth waved goodbye to Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady in spectacular fashion, lighting the Spinnaker Tower red as she headed across the Atlantic to New York.
The ship has spent three months in the city, winning the hearts of local residents who enjoyed the familiar sight of the newest kid on the cruise block sailing in and out of the harbour.
Over 8,000 passengers enjoyed the Summer Soiree Series, which saw Virgin Voyages launch their world’s first commercial sailing from Portsmouth.
A pop-up terminal was created to host passengers, known in Virgin parlance as ‘sailors’, keeping strict Covid-19 health protocols in place after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) cruise restrictions in America curtailed plans for stateside launch, sailors instead enjoyed a season sailing in domestic UK waters.
Mike Sellers, Portsmouth International Port director, said: “Seeing Scarlet Lady in the port has been the result of years of hard work, from securing investment to extend our cruise berth to accommodate larger ships, to building confidence with the Virgin Voyages’ team that we could look after their world first sailing.
“Everyone at the port stepped up, during the most challenging time, to make sure this was a success and I’m so proud of their hard work and professionalism.
“It has also been impressive to see the Virgin team in operation too, some spending months in the city to make sure everything went smoothly, becoming very fond of Portsmouth in the process.
“We want to become the port of choice for luxury, boutique cruises, and with plans for a terminal extension underway we’re on our way there.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Virgin’s new build Valiant Lady in the city next year, and welcoming back the team. In the meantime, the hard work continues as we continue to build our position as a major player in the cruise industry.”
Breaking Travel News interview earlier spoke to Tom McAlpin, chief executive of Virgin Voyages, about the troubled birth of the line, and its bright future.
Take a look at what he had to say here.