Not again! Startup line Virgin Voyages pushes back debut by 2 more months

Mar 4, 2021

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You’ll now have to wait until at least July for a getaway on what was supposed to be the hottest new cruise ship of 2020.

Start-up cruise line Virgin Voyages on Tuesday pushed back the official debut of its first vessel, Scarlet Lady, by two more months, to 1 July, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Richard Branson-backed cruise company already had delayed the vessel’s maiden voyage four times, and its official arrival is now 16 months behind schedule. Scarlet Lady initially was scheduled to sail its first “sneak-a-peek” voyages with paying passengers out of Miami in March of 2020.

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All of Scarlet Lady’s delays have been blamed on the new coronavirus, which has shut down most cruising around the world for the past 12 months.

In addition to delaying Scarlet Lady’s debut four times over the past year, Virgin Voyages has pushed back the unveiling of its second vessel, Valiant Lady, by six months, to 14 Novemberr.

The new Virgin Voyages ship Scarlet Lady. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Voyages)

Currently under construction at a shipyard in Italy, Valiant Lady will be similar in size and layout to Scarlet Lady. It originally had been scheduled to begin sailing in Europe in May before moving to the Caribbean in November. It’s now scheduled to skip the European deployment and head straight to the Caribbean after its construction is completed.

Virgin Voyages has been offering customers with bookings on cancelled sailings a choice of a full refund or a credit for a future cruise. Those who choose the credit have been getting 200% of the amount they paid to apply to a future sailing. Those who choose a refund have been getting a 25% credit toward a future cruise in addition to all their money back.

Such refunds and credit terms, notably, are more generous than what we’ve seen over the past year from other cruise lines.

Virgin Voyages is among a growing number of cruise lines cancelling all or most sailings until June or July. Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have cancelled all sailings until early June. Windstar Cruises plans to restart operations on four of its ships in mid- to late-June, with two ships returning to operations in July. Crystal Cruises has cancelled all ocean ship departures into July.

The debut of Virgin Voyages was one of the most anticipated cruise industry events of 2020. The line has been promising to shake things up in the cruise world with the arrival of Scarlet Lady. Able to carry 2,770 passengers at double occupancy and 17 decks high, the vessel is designed to cater to a hipster crowd with everything from a tattoo parlour and drag queen brunches to a colourful karaoke lounge. To ensure a proper party vibe, it’s also a kid-free travel zone, with a minimum age to sail of 18.

Related: The key number that will tell us when cruising will resume 

Virgin Voyages is going after travellers who might think themselves too cool to cruise. To that end, Scarlet Lady has no buffets, no dress codes and no big Broadway-style theatre shows. For entertainment, expect interactive dance parties, DJ sets and “microplays” instead, plus late-night games of dodgeball. Oh, and the suites have a rock-star theme, of course.

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Featured image of courtesy of Virgin Voyages 

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