Published on Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Virgin announces new cruises for Scarlet Lady after Cuba ban

Virgin Voyages has announced it will offer a five-night sailing to the Riviera Maya in Mexico on its first ship the Scarlet Lady, which will launch next spring, after the US government scuppered its plan to stop in the Cuban capital of Havana.

The Trump administration last week announced an immediate ban on all US-registered cruise lines from visiting Cuba.

Instead, Scarlet Lady will now sail to Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, which, Virgin says, offers some of the world's best diving. Passengers will also be able to explore ecological and archaeological sites including Mayan ruins, Tulum, and the Bohemian sanctuary.

Virgin has also changed its four-night sailings to become 'Fire and Sunset Soirees' including a sunset departure from Key West in Florida and a midnight departure from Bimini in the Bahamas Cruises will include late-night beach bonfire parties.

In response to customer demand for longer voyages, Virgin has introduced seven-night sailings over Christmas and New Year 2020, with new 'Holidaze and Nights' and 'New Year's Ahoy' voyages, including stops in Puerot Plata in the Dominican Republic and late-night departures from both Bimini, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Virgin Voyages also revealed it has appointed a woman as the master of its first cruise ship, Scarlet Lady. Wendy Williams will be the first Canadian woman to captain a ship for a major cruise line.

"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," said Virgin Voyages president and CEO Tom McAlpin.

Last year, Virgin Voyages announced its Scarlet Squad programme, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry, where women represent less than 3% of the workforce.

The programme aims to recruit, support and mentor female shipboard talent, and to grow opportunities for leadership roles in marine, technical and hotel management positions on board.

In addition to Captain Williams, Virgin has recruited a dozen other female officers, including Jill Anderson as hotel director, Christin Wenge as safety officer and Lindsay Kerber as environmental officer, as well as female engineers and female second and third officers.

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