Another major cruise line says you’ll need a COVID-19 vaccine to sail

Mar 16, 2021

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Add Virgin Voyages to the list of cruise lines that will require all passengers and crew to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The new Richard Branson-backed cruise company, which has yet to officially debut, announced the new policy on Tuesday and said it would apply to all departures once the line starts up sailings later this year.

Virgin Voyages’ first official sailings are currently scheduled for July, after being pushed back multiple times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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“Our goal is to ensure that we’re providing the safest travel experience, which means vaccinations for both our crew and passengers,” Virgin Voyages president and CEO Tom McAlpin said Tuesday in a statement to The Points Guy. “The is a step toward the safe return to sailing and is the right decision for Virgin Voyages.”

In the statement, McAlpin also said that the company was “really encouraged” by the latest rollout plans for the COVID-19 vaccine announced by President Biden.

“We know the future is about vaccinations,” McAlpin said. “We’re an adult-only cruise line, which allows for us to offer a highly controlled, safe environment for everyone on board. Our business makes us uniquely set up to do this with testing and vaccine travel requirements.”

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The new Virgin Voyages ship Scarlet Lady. (Photo courtesy of Virgin Voyages)

McAlpin said there was huge pent-up demand for travel, and “Virgin Voyages will be ready to welcome you aboard soon.”

Virgin Voyages is joining luxury line Crystal Cruises and British-focused Saga Cruises in announcing a vaccine requirement for passengers. Two very small U.S.-based cruise operators — river line American Queen Steamboat Company and sister brand Victory Cruise Lines — also have announced a vaccine requirement.

In addition, Royal Caribbean recently said that all adults sailing on soon-to-launch Mediterranean voyages out of Israel would be required to show proof of a vaccine. The trips only will be open to local residents of the country.

Virgin Voyages’ first ship, Scarlet Lady, was initially scheduled to begin voyages out of Miami in early 2020. But its maiden voyage has been delayed four times due to the pandemic. Its official arrival is now 16 months behind schedule. 

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: The key number that will tell us when cruising will resume 

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. Oh, and the suites have a rock-star theme, of course.

A second Virgin Voyages vessel, Valiant Lady, is scheduled to debut in November.

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Featured image of courtesy of Virgin Voyages 

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