Virgin Voyages postpones maiden cruise coronavirus

Virgin Voyages has postponed the inaugural season of its
first ship, Scarlet Lady, in light of the coronavirus pandemic. 

After consulting with customers and travel partners, Virgin
Voyages has moved the maiden voyage from April 1 to Aug. 7. 

Virgin will now showcase the 2,700-passenger ship on July
15. It had originally planned to do a New York unveiling on March 8 and a Miami
showcase on March 19 but ended up canceling both events.

In typical Virgin fashion, the company wanted to have a
dramatic debut for its first ship with multiple celebrations.

“But at this time, much of our attention is focused,
rightly, on the current global health crisis,” Virgin Group founder Richard Branson
and Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin wrote to customers. “We understand that this
is affecting us all in different ways and making many people rethink upcoming
cruise plans.”

The maiden cruise was supposed to be a four-night voyage
from the Scarlet Lady’s homeport in Miami to Key West, The Beach Club at Bimini
and back to Miami. 

The decision comes as the travel industry reels over
President Trump’s announcement Wednesday night that travel to and from 26
European countries will be severely restricted. Princess Cruises on Thursday said
it would shut down global operations for 60 days. Viking has suspended river
and ocean cruise operations until May 1. 

Branson and McAlpin said that there are “absolutely no
health issues” on the ship. They said they have elevated protocols in place and
are researching new technologies to expedite health screenings. “Developments
are ongoing, and the hope is to identify this opportunity over the course of
the next month.” 

The ship was delivered in early February. Virgin Voyages has
three other ships on order with the Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy.

Those who were booked on a voyage have a range of options
from a full refund to a cruise credit to bonus offerings for future sailings.

Rather than a refund, they can receive a 200% credit. They
can also receive up to $500 in onboard spending credit if they rebook before
June 30. 

If they want a 100% refund for an impacted sailing, Virgin
Voyages will issue them the refund plus a 25% future voyage credit on the value

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