Virgin Voyages, the cruise line backed by UK billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, has pushed its long-anticipated debut back to May 2021, over a year after the Scarlet Lady had originally been scheduled to sail from Miami.
“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 Sailors and Crew, whose safety is always first and foremost,” the company said in a statement. “Virgin Voyages is strongly encouraged by the positive developments surrounding vaccines in the US and abroad, but also recognizes the current significant challenges in combating the spread of the virus on land.
The Scarlet Lady had originally been scheduled to sail on April 1, 2020, just a couple of weeks after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the shutdown of the global cruise industry.
Virgin Voyages CEO: Delay in launch of Scarlet Lady is heartbreaking
“It’s heartbreaking; this is our baby,” Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages, told USA TODAY . “Of course, we never really had the opportunity to launch this business, we were just getting ready to get to New York and launch … when COVID broke.”
The Scarlet Lady will now sail on May 9, 2021.
Virgin has also postponed the launch of the new cruise line’s second ship the Valiant Lady to November 14, 2021, with the ship to spend its debut season in the Caribbean and not the Meditteranean as originally planned.
Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth sailing postponed through June, 2021
Meanwhile Carnival Corporation’s UK line has extended its pause in operations deep into next year.
Voyages departing on board Queen Mary 2 up to and including May 28, 2021, and on board Queen Elizabeth up to and including June 4, 2021, are now cancelled. Departures on Queen Victoria remain unaffected and are scheduled to resume May 17, 2021.
Cunard President Simon Palethorpe said: “Our extension to the pause in operations is the result of the ongoing restrictions on cruising in the UK and around the world, and recognizes the significant lead times to return to service once those restrictions are lifted.