Virgin Voyages pushes back debut by 4 more months; second ship delayed

Dec 9, 2020

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

Start-up cruise line Virgin Voyages on Wednesday pushed back the official debut of its first vessel, Scarlet Lady, by four more months, to May 9, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Richard Branson-backed cruise company already had delayed the vessel’s maiden voyage three times, and its official arrival is now 14 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 this year.

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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 since March.

In addition to pushing back Scarlet Lady’s debut by four months, Virgin Voyages on Wednesday pushed back the unveiling of its second vessel, Valiant Lady, by six months, to Nov. 14.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

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 now will skip the European deployment and head straight to the Caribbean after its construction is completed.

Virgin Voyages has been offering customers with bookings on canceled 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 in recent months from other cruise lines.

Related: Why you shouldn’t take a voucher for a canceled cruise 

“The decision to reschedule the upcoming sail dates serves as a testament to the brand’s commitment of prioritizing the health and well-being of its (passengers) and crew, whose safety is always first and foremost,” Virgin Voyages said in a statement sent to The Points Guy. “Virgin Voyages is strongly encouraged by the positive developments surrounding vaccines in the U.S. and abroad, but also recognizes the current significant challenges in combating the spread of the virus
on land.”

Virgin Voyages is among a growing number of cruise lines canceling all or at least some sailings until April or May. Princess Cruises, Holland America, Viking, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises have canceled all sailings until April. Windstar Cruises, Silversea and several other lines have canceled some sailings as far out as June or 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 parlor and drag queen brunches to 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.

Related: First Royal Caribbean ship to return to service is having a COVID scare

Virgin Voyages is going after travelers who might think themselves too cool to cruise. To that end, Scarlet Lady 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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Featured image of courtesy of Virgin Voyages 

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