WATCH: Virgin Voyages Is Launching Mini UK Cruises This Summer
Virgin Voyages, a new travel company focused on cruises, is offering vaccinated UK residents the chance to sail around the southern coast of England this summer on its ship called Scarlet Lady.
Initial plans had been to launch in April 2020 in the US but this fell through due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scarlet Lady was then meant to make its delayed launch in July but this was cancelled as the timeline to resume cruising in US waters remains unclear, reported USA Today.
Some reports have also said Virgin Voyages has delayed its official debut five times.
The ship is scheduled to return to the US for cruises departing from Miami in September. Virgin Voyages' second ship, the Valiant Lady, is still scheduled to sail from Miami in November, the publication said.
Meanwhile in the UK, the Scarlet Lady will set sail from Portsmouth with a limited series of voyages. Described as a “staycation-at-sea” the ‘Summer of Soiree Series' will include two, three and four-night itineraries.
“After more than a year of waiting and a major emphasis on a safe return, we’re ecstatic to announce these new sailings and bring sailors onboard to experience what it’s like to set sail the Virgin Way,” said Tom McAlpin, CEO and president.
The Scarlet Lady includes lavish dining experiences, spa treatments, fitness classes, and entertainment, Virgin said in a statement.
“Virgin Voyages has been looking forward to sailing, and we’re so excited to announce our plans to sail from the UK,” said Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, parent of the cruise company.
Only residents of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be allowed on board and all those aged above 18 will need to prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19. Additional testing and protocols will be confirmed closer to sailing.
“We’re committed to a healthy and safe start at sea and would never set sail without the proper precautions and considerations in place. This includes capacity limitations for this initial phased restart,” the company said.
Tickets will officially be up for sale on 13 April.
Virgin joins a host of companies offering voyages in the UK to those who have been vaccinated. Royal Caribbean (RCL) has opened up bookings for its recently announced summer cruises aboard Anthem of the Seas, beginning with a 7 July sailing.
Last month, P&O Cruises said it will also be offering journeys to Britons around the UK coast this summer.
UK maritime minister Robert Courts has said domestic cruises in Britain could restart from 17 May. That's the earliest that international travel and indoor door hospitality venues such as restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars will see restrictions lifted, as per the government's roadmap to ease restrictions.
Courts told MPs that the government was working to get UK-wide domestic cruising up and running. He said the move would help the cruise sector restore confidence and demonstrate the robustness of their new COVID protocols for passengers and crew.
More than 31 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while more than 5 million have got both jabs.
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