We knew it was going to happen eventually. SOME large cruise line based out of the U.S. was going make a line in the sand. Virgin Voyages, Richard Branson’s adult-only cruise line, is the one to do it.
Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of Virgin Voyages, recently announced that when Virgin Voyages starts cruising, it will require that everyone on the ship is vaccinated against COVID.
“Our goal is to ensure that we’re providing the safest travel experience which means vaccinations for both our crew and passengers,” McAlpin said in a statement.
Prior to this announcement, one cruise line out of the U.K. announced in January that they would require all crew and passengers to be vaccinated. In February, two relatively small U.S.-based cruise companies (both under the same umbrella) made a similar announcement. And a few weeks ago, Crystal Cruise, a luxury cruise line with small- and medium-sized ships, said the same thing. However, Virgin Voyages is the first U.S.-based cruise line with large ships to make such an announcement.
“This is a step towards the safe return to sailing and is the right decision for Virgin Voyages,” said McAlpin. “We’re really encouraged by the latest rollout plans in the May time frame from the new administration, and we know the future is about vaccinations. We’re an adult-only cruise line, which allows for us to offer a highly controlled, safe environment for everyone on board. Our business makes us uniquely set up to do this with testing and vaccine travel requirements. There’s a huge pent-up demand for travel and Virgin Voyages will be ready to welcome you aboard soon.”
It’s an interesting situation since Virgin Voyages has yet to actually make a voyage ;-). The cruise arm of the Virgin conglomerate was supposed to have its maiden sailing, on the Scarlet Lady, in Spring 2020. That, of course, was put on hold and she’s currently scheduled to begin sailing this July. Right behind Scarlet Lady are Valiant Lady (tentatively scheduled to enter service in November, 2021) and Resilient Lady (currently scheduled to begin cruising in July, 2022).
Only a couple of other large cruise companies have made any sort of announcements about what their requirements will be in terms of vaccinations once U.S.-based cruises begin again:
- Norwegian Cruise Line & Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Crew members will need to have been vaccinated. They’re still “exploring all options” in regards to vaccines for passengers.
- Royal Caribbean: Crew members will be expected to have received the vaccine before sailing returns. Their Odyssey of the Seas will sail out of Israel as a “fully vaccinated” cruise (all passengers will also need to have gotten their shots) but no announcements have been made for same for U.S. cruises.
The other larger players, such as Carnival, Holland America, etc., have not made any announcements about the subject, as of this writing.
Feature Photo:Virgin Voyages
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary