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

March 12, 2020
4 min read
Start-up cruise line Virgin Voyages delays launch due to coronavirus
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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.

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"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.

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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.

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Additional resources for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak:

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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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Intro Offer
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    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.

    740-850
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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023