Virgin Voyages to feature Key West instead of Havana

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 captain of the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages' first ship.

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.

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So close yet so far: Disappointment on the Norwegian Sun

Image result for Norwegian sun

Lori Osgood’s clients were eager to visit Cuba for the first time this week when they were to cruise into Havana aboard the Norwegian Sun. The group had been planning their family cruise since last November.

It was not to be.

The Trump administration’s new regulations implemented on Tuesday forced cruise lines to¬†immediately remove Cuba from all itineraries.

“They were excited to soak in all that Havana had to offer — the sights, sounds, people and culture,” said Osgood, a Cruise Planners travel advisor in Jacksonville, Fla. “They are disappointed that they missed their chance.”

Instead of Havana, the Norwegian Sun’s passengers headed to Nassau, Bahamas. Norwegian informed passengers with an announcement on the ship.

“I sell a fair amount of Cuba and am saddened that many of my clients who were planning to travel there will not have the opportunity to do so, at least not in the foreseeable future,” she said.

As for cruise travellers already booked for Cuba, she will spend “a few extra hours to make sure our clients who were supposed to go to Cuba are well taken care of.”

Cuba Travel Ban Could Ignite Secondhand Ship Market

Cuban Flags

The secondhand cruise ship market could pick up steam following recent Cuba restrictions.

With nautical and infrastructure restrictions in Havana, cruise lines calling on the Cuban city have been using older, medium-sized vessels that may not have fit into their traditional fleets.

Industry sources said they expect some pick-up in the secondhand market with Cuba now off limits, as the now less-competitive tonnage could find new owners, or become ships in new ventures.

Among the players, Carnival Corporation sold multiple ships in 2018 but has not announced any transfers or sales thus far in 2019.

Last year, it was announced that the Pacific Eden was sold to Cruise & Maritime Voyages while the Pacific Jewel was sent to Indian start-up Jalesh Cruises.

Holland America Line sold the Prinsendam, which will become the Amera this summer for Phoenix Reisen.

P&O Cruises UK also announced the Oriana will leave the fleet in 2019, joining the Piano Land startup in China.

Royal Caribbean Cruises has not announced any significant fleet changes in some time, nor has Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

In December, on an earnings call, Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold Donald said that if a ship is earning and relevant, that is most key.