With Cuba cruises now off the table as part of the Trump administration’s latest policy changes, Virgin Voyages has announced that it will instead visit Key West and Riviera Maya during its 2020 inaugural season.
The fledgeling cruise company has just revealed the full line-up of itineraries for its premiere season.
Most notably, in response to the new U.S. government restrictions on Cuba travel, Virgin will instead offer what it is calling “Fire and Sunset Soirées” including a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini.
The trips allow participants to experience the cultural and boating paradise of Key West, paired with a day of rejuvenation in Bimini, Bahamas, that’s topped off by an exclusive late-night beach bonfire soiree. The celebration under the stars is exclusive to the Fire and Sunset Soiree sailings.
In addition, the 2020 season includes five-night Riviera Maya sailings that visit Cozumel/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. The trip features opportunities for travellers to experience some of the world’s best diving, as well as the chance to explore ecological and archaeological treasures, including Mayan ruins or neighbouring Tulum.
In response to demand for longer itineraries, Virgin Voyages has also developed special seven-night sailings for the 2020 holiday season. Options include the all-new Holidaze and Nights and New Year’s Ahoy voyages, which fall over the Christmas and New Year’s respectively, and feature stops in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and late-night sail aways in both Bimini, Bahamas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
New itineraries were just part of the updates announced by Virgin Voyages. The company also revealed that it has appointed Captain Wendy Williams as Master of Scarlet Lady, making her the first Canadian woman to captain a ship for a major cruise brand.
Tapping Williams for the lead role is a notable milestone in Virgin’s Scarlet Squad program, which was announced last year. The initiative is focused on bridging the gender gap in leadership across the maritime industry, where women make up less than three per cent of the workforce.
The Scarlet Squad program actively works to recruit, support and mentor female shipboard talent, while also growing opportunities for leadership roles in marine, technical and hotel management positions on board.
“Captain Wendy’s extensive maritime background makes her an excellent choice to lead the Scarlet Lady, but it is her spirit and drive to approach life at sea differently that make her the perfect fit to join the Virgin Voyages family,” Tom McAlpin, president and chief executive officer for Virgin Voyages, said in a statement.
Williams has more than 28 years of experience working on ships at sea. Her background includes more than a decade as a deckhand in commercial fishing as well as working as a ferryboat captain.
Although she has spent more than 15 years working on the bridge of mega cruise ships, her role with Virgin Voyages will be her first promotion to the master of a cruise ship.
With Cuba cruises from the U.S. no longer permitted, Virgin Voyages’ four-day “Havana After Dark” cruises will be replaced with a four-day cruise featuring Key West.
The new itinerary will be called “Fire and Sunset Soirees” and will include a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini.
All Virgin cruises will visit the line’s Bimini Beach Club but only the Key West itinerary will offer a “late-night beach bonfire soiree” in Bimini.
Virgin said the evening will feature artistic fire installations that draw their inspiration from the fireball sculptures on Necker Island, home to Virgin founder Richard Branson.
Virgin also detailed two seven-day holiday sailings. “Holidaze and Nights” and “New Year’s Ahoy” will call in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, and feature late-night sailaways in Bimini and San Juan.
Wendy Williams was named the captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages’ first ship.
Virgin also said it has appointed a captain for its first ship, the Scarlet Lady. It said that Wendy Williams will become the first Canadian woman to be captain of a ship for a major cruise brand. Virgin said the appointment is in keeping with its Scarlet Squad program, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry.