Tom McAlpin of Virgin Voyages Talks Scarlet Lady, Ship Eats & More

One of the newest cruise lines to join the industry, with a ship design unlike any other, Virgin Voyages was scheduled to sail from Miami for the first time just days before the pandemic took hold. Their first ship, Scarlet Lady, has now been joined by a sister ship, Valiant Lady, and both are gearing up to begin operation in 2021. The ships look spectacular and with a focus on food and fun, but also wellness and enrichment, it’s no wonder why cruisers can’t wait to get on board! 

Porthole Cruise Editor-in-Chief Bill Panoff was joined by Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin to discuss their plans for a restart, what we can expect from the maiden voyage and what the new cruise line is going to mean to the industry for years to come! 

Interview with Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin

One of the most important questions we had revolved around the debut of Scarlet Lady. Virgin Voyages is know for going above and beyond so we had to ask about what kind of a party they had planned for 2021. Tom didn’t give us the details just yet, but he let us know that in true Virgin fashion, things would be done their way. 


“You know this is Virgin, you know we do things big, we know how to throw parties. So clearly we are not just launching a ship, we are launching a whole new brand so we will do it the Virgin way it will be spectacular, trust me,” he said. 

The last Virgin Voyages party we attended was the debut of the new cabin designs in South Florida and that featured rollerskating dancers, disco balls and plenty of great music so we’re excited to see how the cruise line unveils their ship after months of patient waiting! 

Eating Well on Scarlet Lady 

Eating well is a staple of any cruise vacation, but Virgin Voyages made it a point to zig while the rest of the industry zagged. Rather than stock the ship with up-charge specialty restaurants which is common for cruise lines these days, the more than 20 eateries on board Scarlet Lady are included in the fare. While that’s great for cruisers, it’s the variety that really catches our eye. Guests have options like premium steak and seafood, Korean BBQ, high-end Mexican, Mediterranean, a noodle bar, burgers, pastries and even a 24-hour American diner. Doesn’t that make your stomach rumble? 

Another feature on board the new ship is the integration of Virgin Voyages mobile app which offers guests the ability to have bites of all kinds delivered no matter where they are on the ship. 


“We have a feature called Ship Eats where you can go on your app and order food to various different places around the ship. It’s a different way to experience cruising and we let you do things your way,” he said. “We have all these different great eateries you can make reservations online, you can have a virtual queue so you don’t have to wait in line somewhere.”

No lines? Sign us up! 

The First Tattoo Studio at Sea 

One of the most exciting features on board Virgin Voyages new ship is a tattoo studio (yes, you read that correctly) called Squid Ink that is fully functional and can give guests something amazing to take back home with them!

Back in 2018 when Squid Ink was first announced, McAlpin said “tattooing is a time-honored seafaring tradition, and we’re continuing that legacy with rock and roll style by bringing some of the best ink artists to sea. Our sailors are looking to make lifelong memories, and we think there’s no better way to commemorate their first voyage with us than with a souvenir they’ll never lose track of.”

Of course we had to ask what kind of a tattoo he’d be getting on board the new ship and his answer revealed a very special announcement! 


Watch the full video of our interview with Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin below for more details about what cruisers can expect from Valiant Lady debuting later in 2021 and why Virgin Voyages is perfect for first-time cruisers!