Virgin Voyages announces protocol for cruise guests, will sail with 'significantly' reduced capacity

Virgin Voyages has outlined the health and safety measures its cruise passengers can expect when its first ship, the Scarlet Lady, finally sets sail on its maiden voyage in October.

The ship, which will host an “adults-only” experience for guests ages 18-and-up, was originally scheduled for its inaugural sailing on April 1, before the coronavirus pandemic pushed it back to August, and then Oct. 16.

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“We’re focused on being ready to get back on the open ocean with some exciting innovations focused on protecting the well-being of both our Sailors and our incredible Crew,” CEO Tom McAlpin wrote in May, upon announcing the Oct. 16 sailing.

This week, Virgin Voyages finally announced its “ambitious goals for redefining health measures at sea,” which include, but are not limited to: pre-boarding health screenings, coupled with thermal camera technology to “monitor our Crew and Sailors’ temperatures” in terminals; the fogging of “every single piece of luggage and delivery” that is loaded onto the ship; the fogging of all cabins; new cleaning protocol and cleanliness standards incorporating “latest hygiene initiatives”; the frequent disinfection of high touch areas; HVAC systems designed to bring “100 percent fresh air” into all cabins; an air filtration system that has been shown “to kill 99.9 [percent] of viruses”; and keeping additional ventilators, oxygen tanks and PPE onboard.

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Guests will also be encouraged to follow best practices concerning social distancing, which Virgin Voyages is aiding by “significantly reducing our overall ship capacity for our start-up sailing period.” Passengers will also be encouraged to leverage the “already-digital onboard experience” to limit contact with staff by paying, chatting, ordering food or securing space in “virtual queues” for any onboard experiences.

“For masks, we follow the same guidance as is recommended on land — so if people are advised to wear masks there, we will do so at sea, as well,” Virgin Voyages wrote.

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New protocols will also extend to the shore excursions at destinations. In addition, Virgin Voyages is setting up a “post-voyage notification process” for customers to report any symptoms experienced after the trip.

“We’ll be updating these as the science and technology evolves, and we’ll continue to keep you posted as we evolve right along with it,” Virgin Voyages added.

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Virgin Voyages is said to be the first cruise line to publicly outline its new coronavirus protocols and restrictions for guests ahead of its return to the sea, according to AdWeek.

The Scarlet Lady, which has yet to offer a commercial sailing, is scheduled for an inaugural sailing from Miami to the Dominican Republic and Bimini on Oct. 16.