UK. Global cruise retail specialist Harding has revealed details of its innovative offer and design onboard Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady as she made her maiden voyage from Portsmouth today (6 August).

Harding said that the onboard experience across 550sq m of space marks a “radical step change” in its approach to cruise retailing. The company said it has used its market insights to target a new cruise customer “that is right and relevant for the Virgin Voyages brand”.

Dash of colour: Accessories (above) and fine jewellery (below) occupy prime space at the heart of the onboard offer on the ‘adult-by-design’ Virgin Voyages vessel

Harding has worked alongside Virgin Voyages for four years to deliver a range of ‘adult-by-design’ retail spaces. Harding said the spaces are unlike any brand solutions it has created before. These target a curious and ‘craver’ experience-led demographic, the result of guest surveys, focus groups, brand roadshows and partnership discussions, said Harding.

The tax and duty free offer features over 50 first-at-sea brands including Vivienne Westwood, Davines, Kat Maconie and MAC Cosmetics. Harding also exclusively reveals the Chanel Les Eaux collection onboard. A further highlight is a striking pop-up store from luxury brand Bvlgari, featuring collections including B.Zero1, Bvlgari Bvlgari, Serpenti, Divas’ Dream and Octo.

Virgin vinyl: Exclusive limited-edition records are available as part of an eclectic range; below, Virgin branded merchandise and (bottom) a wide selection of travel essentials

A strong focus on sustainability was also key, said the partners, which steered the creation of an “ecologically aware” retail experience. Harding and Virgin Voyages have committed to reduce single-use paper and plastic through the supply and distribution chain onboard, including bags. Only if a customer requires a bag will they be given one, and in these cases, Turtle bags or paper bags will be made available. Reusable shoppers are also available from B Corp certified Apolis, with the production of their bags providing a fair wage to workers in Bangladesh.

The Beauty Lounge, offering an array of skincare and makeup, including first-at-sea brands

Innovative materials, textures and colours combine to create theatrical and modern retail spaces, noted Harding. These include an onboard vinyl store and karaoke studio. An exclusive limited-edition red vinyl of The Sex Pistols LP is available from launch, with only 1,000 copies available and 30% of the sales going to Ocean Unite.

Ocean Unite works to unify and amplify key ocean messages and engage decision-makers through its network. The organisation aims to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030 through a network of support for marine areas and building ocean resilience.

Bvlgari burns bright: The pop-up concept offers an elegant luxury experience

Harding Managing Director James Prescott commented: “With operations in the US, UK and Europe, working with Virgin Voyages over the last four years and through the COVID pause on such an important journey for both our brands – and cruise retail as a whole – has been an incredible experience.

“Bolstered by Harding’s global presence, we’re looking forward to working closely with the Virgin Voyages team as we embark on Scarlet Lady’s maiden voyage and as we look to curate more innovative retail experiences. We are also looking forward to the launch of both Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady in the near future, where we are curating further enhancements relevant to Sailors.”

Virgin Voyages Senior Director of Hotel Partnership Management Sally Barford added: “Harding has been a fantastic partner and really helped us out the boundaries of the retail offering on cruise ships. We challenged the team to help us curate a bold and refreshingly different collection of brands that offer our sailors the flexibility and diversity of the high street at sea.”

Of the new Bvlgari pop-up concept, Barford added: “Virgin Voyages was built on the notion of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary and that extends to every touchpoint of the sailor experience including our onboard retail offerings. Bvlgari is an iconic brand whose glamour and elegance perfectly pairs with Scarlet Lady’s undeniable allure, offering sailors a high-end retail experience while exploring the world.”