Virgin Voyages announces plans to start sailing in October

Virgin Voyages has said that it has rescheduled its launch date to October 16, 2020, following the global health crisis and updated CDC policies.

Virgin Voyages, the new cruise line that Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group had planned to launch in mid-July and enter into service for August 2020, said that it is again delaying its inaugural sailing season due to the continuing impact of the coronavirus on the travel and tourism industry.

‘We’ve made the difficult decision to cancel our sailings through October 15, 2020. We’ve been working hard to find a way to set sail by August, but that hasn’t turned out to be possible,’ said Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of Virgin Voyages in a statement. ‘We appreciate how many of you were excited to sail with us, so we understand how disappointing this news is. But we trust you’ll understand our decision given the evolving global health challenge we’re all up against.’

‘As of right now, our first sailing is planned for October 16th, 2020. We’re focused on being ready to get back on the open ocean with some exciting innovations focused on protecting the well-being of both our Sailors and our incredible Crew – which we’ll update you on soon,’ McAlpin added.

In October, Virgin Voyages will start operating with a ‘soft opening’ period. Sailors impacted by the cancelled voyages will be provided with compensation: They may opt for 200 percent in Future Voyage Credit, which can be applied to another sailing, rather than a refund; receive up to USD500 in on-board credit if re-booked before June 30, 2020; and, if a sailor would rather have a refund, they will receive 100 percent of the fare they paid, plus 25 percent in Future Voyage Credit on the value paid to use for a future booking.

Virgin Voyages is also planning to launch its new Smooth Sailing program for 2020. Final payment dates will be moved to 60 days before departure date rather than the previous 120 days. Guests can also cancel their cruise up to 48 hours before their ship sets sail and get a 100 percent voyage credit.

The official naming ceremony and maiden voyage of Scarlet Lady will take place in early 2021. Other cruise lines such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and NCL are planning a phased-in return from August.