Virgin Voyages, the cruise line founded by British mogul Richard Branson, is betting big on a new experience the line is offering onboard its Scarlet Lady.
The line has announced a partnership with World Poker Tour (WPT) that creates a permanent poker game venue on the ship.
Cruise Line Partners With International Poker Brand
In an industry first, Virgin Voyages’ 2,770-guest Scarlet Lady has introduced a new venue, the WPT at Sea Poker Room, an exclusive space where eight custom poker tables are staffed with professional dealers.
The venue offers free training tables for beginner poker players, cash games, and WPT Prize Package tournaments, with buy-ins starting at $80 and rising to $320. If those stakes are too high, the venue also offers a WPT at Sea Virgin Quickie Tournament for $60, while cash games require a minimum $100 buy-in.
The $320 buy-in tourney — the WPT at Sea marquee event — will be held during each sailing. The big prize package is valued at $5,000 and can be used on any future voyage or WPT event. Cruisers who participate in any poker game will find it is a cashless experience, as all transactions are process via a wearable device.
“As a new brand with an innovative spirit, we’ve been fortunate to introduce many industry firsts, including our partnership with the World Poker Tour and WPT at Sea,” said Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin.
He added, ”Our adult-only, premium experience offers an incredible backdrop, not only for a great vacation, but also as an oasis for the WPT in a way never seen before.”
WPT offers televised, online, and mobile gaming, plus land-based tournaments. It broadcasts its television show, which is based on a series of high-stakes poker tournaments, in some 150 countries. In the US, the show airs on the Bally Sports channel.
WPT CEO Adam Pliska said, “Scarlet Lady provides the perfect residence for WPT at Sea, which will bring the WPT poker experience to the high seas.”
Exclusive Poker Room Expands Casino Offerings
The poker room venue onboard Scarlet Lady is a separate space from the ship’s casino, which offers a multitude of games such as craps, roulette, electronic Texas Hold’em, single-deck blackjack, three-card poker, and baccarat.
Casinos provide substantial revenue to cruise lines; Princess Cruises, for instance, is constructing the largest casino in its fleet aboard the 4,300-guest Sun Princess, which is being built at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, and is due to enter service in 2024. Once completed, the casino will offer more than 200 slot and video poker games.
In addition to Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages operates Valiant Lady, also cruising the eastern and western Caribbean from PortMiami. The line’s third ship, Resilient Lady, was scheduled to debut in Athens in August 2022 but was delayed due to supply chain issues and crew shortages.
The ship is slated to begin sailing in May 2023. A fourth ship, Brilliant Lady, is expected to enter service in late 2023, and will homeport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. All of the Virgin sister ships accommodate 2,770 guests.
The Virgin Voyages brand offers an adult-only experience, with the minimum guest age set at 18. The ships are known for their nightlife, cabaret, and supper club venues, live music events, and dance parties.
With two ships in the offing, Virgin Voyages appears to be looking for funding. The cruise line is in the early stages of seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from new and existing investors. The indications that Virgin Voyages is talking about raising investment funding follow an infusion of $550 million from investors just seven months ago.