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Virgin Voyages replaces cruise calls on Key West following community outcry

Aug. 24, 2021
3 min read
Virgin Voyages replaces cruise calls on Key West following community outcry
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New cruise line Virgin Voyages has removed Key West port calls from its itineraries, citing its desire to respect locals' decision to ban ships carrying more than 1,300 passengers.

In late 2020, island residents voted to prevent large vessels from docking and to prioritize docking privileges for cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.

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(Photo by Stanley Chen Xi, landscape and architecture photographer/Getty Images)

In summer 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that overturned Key West's right to limit the size of ships that are allowed to call. Despite the bill, Virgin swapped Key West calls with visits to Nassau in the Bahamas, at least temporarily. The changes will be in effect on Scarlet Lady's four-night "Fire and Sunset Soiree" sailings in October.

"Part of our brand ethos is ... respecting the communities we visit and making a positive impact," the line said last week in a statement to travel agents. "We are actively working on a plan that suits the local Key West community, as well as our [passengers], and are hopeful that we'll [return to] Key West soon."

In Nassau, Virgin plans to offer activities such as snorkeling and diving, forest treks, fish fries and distillery tours, but it's not the only Bahamian port the line plans to explore. It recently developed a private beach club area for its passengers on the island of Bimini, offering water sports, Bahamian-inspired cuisine and nighttime bonfires.

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(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

The line, which makes no apologies for trying to separate itself from other players in the cruise industry, refers to its passengers as "sailors," eschews buffets, won't allow children on board and features several at-sea firsts, including an onboard tattoo parlor and a "shake for Champagne" feature that allows you to order bubbly from anywhere on the ship by simply shaking your phone.

On Aug. 18, the Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships tweeted a thank-you note to Virgin:

"Huge respect to [Virgin Voyages] today for doing the right thing and pulling out of Key West," the committee said on Twitter. "A lot of cruise lines say they respect the communities they visit. Virgin is the first to back it up with concrete action."

At least two other cruise lines -- Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line, both owned by Carnival Corp. -- are scheduled to call on Key West later this year. Carnival declined to comment for this article, but Holland America said it plans to keep Key West on its ships' schedules for now.

Featured image by The new Virgin Voyages ship Scarlet Lady. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Voyages)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees