Virgin Voyages will offer summer staycation sailings from the UK, all passengers must be fully vaccinated
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While Virgin Voyages has put its plans to launch international journeys on pause until later this year, it’s eyeing its England home for staycation journeys this summer.
On Thursday, the cruise line, which has yet to sail one journey with paying passengers, announced that it will operate a series of cruises out of England on journeys to nowhere. The three- and four-night cruises will depart from the English port town of Portsmouth beginning in August.
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During the month of August, Virgin Voyages plans to operate three three-night (Long Weekender) journeys and three four-night (Summer WeekDaze) journeys. Long Weekender journeys will sail from Fridays to Mondays on the following dates:
- 6-9 August
- 13-16 August
- 20-23 August
Summer WeekDaze sailings, meanwhile, will operate from Mondays to Fridays on the following three dates:
- 9-13 August
- 16-20 August
- 23-27 August
There will be no ports of call, but rather, the ship will sail along the southern coast of England for a “staycation-at-sea.”
Notably, Virgin Voyages is only opening bookings to residents of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and all passengers must be fully vaccinated in order to take part in these summer sailings. And, as is Virgin Voyages’ policy, only passengers who are 18 years or older will be permitted to sail.
“Additional testing and protocols will be confirmed closer to sailing, all in line with the most up-to-date recommendations from the UK government,” Virgin Voyages said in a statement. “We’re committed to a healthy and safe start at sea and would never set sail without the proper precautions and considerations in place. This includes capacity limitations for this initial phased restart.”
Tickets for the “Summer Soiorée Series” as its been dubbed will go on sale from 13 April.
Virgin is joining a slew of other cruise lines that have turned their sights to the U.K. for this summer season. At least a dozen other cruise lines, including P&O, Princess, Celebrity, MSC, Viking and Royal Caribbean, among others, have announced they will offer sailings from and around the U.K.
“Virgin Voyages has been looking forward to sailing, and we’re so excited to announce our plans to sail from the U.K.,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. “Our team has curated such a fantastic experience for our sailers and know this is a holiday they will love.”
After planning to launch operations in April 2020, Virgin Voyages has suffered the setbacks of the coronavirus pandemic. The cruise line’s first ship Scarlet Lady debuted to media in Dover, England in February and was set to offer a first “sneak-a-peak” voyage with paying passengers out of Miami in March 2020.
Since that date, the launch of Virgin Voyages has been pushed back time and time again. Just on Wednesday, the carrier had detailed plans that it had delayed regular sailings of Scarlet Lady by another 11 weeks, to 17 September.
Now, it’s clear that it intends to move those plans up to August in order to capitalise on the anticipated demand in the U.K. this summer. After the Summer Soirée series, Scarlet Lady will head back to U.S. waters. Virgin Voyages’ second vessel, Valiant Lady, has been delay a further six months and isn’t expected to be ready until 14 November.
Scarlet Lady can carry up to 2,270 passengers across its 17 decks. Virgin Voyages, since its inception, has been explicitly the cruise line for the anti-cruiser. Its sailings are only available to passengers who are 18 years or older and on board, you can expect to find some industry firsts — think a tattoo parlour, karaoke lounge, late-night games of dodgeball and more.
Featured photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy.
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