Virgin Voyages Changes Inaugural Itineraries in Response to New Cuba Restrictions

by Lynn Elmhirst
Virgin Voyages Changes Inaugural Itineraries in Response to New Cuba Restrictions

Scarlet Lady will feature 20-plus eateries with no surcharges, 78 suites with eight different styles, access to a personal assistant, and more. Photo: Virgin Voyages.

Virgin Voyages has officially altered the inaugural sailings of its first ship, Scarlet Lady, to avoid Cuba calls after last week’s announcement that cruises will no longer be able to sail to the island.

The Virgin team made the announcement at a press conference in Toronto this week, announcing the changes along with news that Scarlet Lady will feature the first Canadian woman to Master a major cruise line's ship.

Referring to the recent US government move to reinstate American travel restrictions to Cuba, Sir Richard Branson made a big 'thumbs down' signal and asked the audience to join in. 

Several of Virgin Voyages' planned itineraries included calls in Cuba, and although CEO Tom McAlpin expressed confidence that the restrictions would again be reversed, in the meantime, the cruise line is announcing itinerary changes for its inaugural 2020 sailing season.  

The new itineraries include a 5-night Riviera Maya itinerary that includes Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, with diving, eco and archeological adventures as well as nearby nightlife hotspot Tulum; as well as a 4-night 'Fire and Sunset Soirees' with a sunset departure from Key West, and a midnight departure from Bimini following an exclusive late-night beach bonfire party.

In addition, in response to demand for longer sailings, Virgin Voyages has announced new 7-night sailings for the 2020 holiday season.  'Holidaze and Nights' and 'New Year's Ahoy' cruises feature the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, as well as the cruise line's exclusive Beach Club in Bimini, as do all Virgin Voyages Caribbean itineraries.

Scarlet Lady will be the first of four ships that Virgin builds with Fincantieri shipbuilders, with one debuting for each of four consecutive years, starting in 2020. In the run-up to its 2020 debut, it has also announced that it is eliminating non-commissionable fares—all of Virgin’s fares, starting with the cruise fare to add-ons like flights, hotel stays, insurance, shore excursions, spa packages, onboard credits, basic beverage packages, fitness classes, and taxes and fees, will be commissionable at 10 percent for its advisors.

Scarlet Lady will feature 20-plus eateries with no surcharges, 78 suites with eight different styles, access to a personal assistant that Virgin has dubbed a “Rockstar Coordinator,” the first ever tattoo studio at sea, and more.

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