Start-up cruise line Virgin Voyages delays launch due to coronavirus

Mar 12, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Virgin Voyages is joining Princess Cruises and Viking in suspending operations due to the new coronavirus.

The Richard Branson-backed start-up cruise line on Thursday announced it would push back the maiden voyage of its first ship, Scarlet Lady, to Aug. 7.

Scarlet Lady had been scheduled to sail its first “sneak-a-peek” voyage with paying passengers out of Miami on March 26, just two weeks from today.

All sailings scheduled through early August have been canceled.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

“The current global health crisis is understandably making many people rethink upcoming travel plans,” the line said in a statement. “While timing isn’t right to launch our first ship right now, we look forward to welcoming everyone on Scarlet Lady later this year.”

Virgin noted there had been no health concerns on the vessel. The ship was completed at a shipyard in Italy several weeks ago and has been working its way to Miami.

Related: As coronavirus spreads, more ports turns away cruise ships

Virgin said pre-inaugural events to showcase the ship that had been scheduled for this month now will take place in July.

Virgin said passengers on one of the canceled sailings can choose between a full refund or a credit for a future cruise. If they choose the credit, they will get 200% of the amount they paid to apply to a future sailing. Passengers also can get up to $500 in onboard credit if they rebook a sailing before June 30.

Those who choose a refund will get a 25% credit toward a future cruise in addition to all their money back.

Related: The extreme measures cruise lines are taking as coronavirus spreads 

“We know many of you are very excited to sail on Scarlet Lady, and we can tell you after spending time on board, she has captured all of our hearts,” Richard Branson said in a joint statement with Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin. “But at this time, much of our attention is focused, rightly, on the current global health crisis.”

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates

Branson and McAlpin apologized to those who were willing to go ahead with the line’s first sailings in the coming weeks.

“For those who would have sailed regardless of the global headlines, we appreciate this will be disappointing news,” they said in the statement. “We are so grateful for your belief in us, and we hope you will join us when the time is right.”

Virgin had been promising to shake things up in the cruise world this spring 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 parlor to drag-queen brunches and a colorful karaoke lounge. To ensure a proper party vibe, it’s also a kid-free travel zone, with a minimum age to sail of 18.

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

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more travel tips!

Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:

Feature image by Nicky Kelvin / The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.