Virgin Voyages Glitch Sends Passengers Into Panic

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Guests sailing aboard Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady had a sudden scare when emergency alerts calling for guests to muster with their life jackets were broadcast via the ship’s television screens and the onboard app. While the incident turned out to be a false alarm, it raised anxiety for many onboard in light of other recent real emergencies.

Alert Sounds on Transatlantic Cruise

Valiant Lady departed Barcelona on Sunday, October 29, 2023 and was nearly finished with her transatlantic cruise to bring her to Miami when guests aboard were startled by emergency alerts.

“Act Now!” bold messages on shipboard televisions and the onboard app read. “Go to your cabin and collect your life jacket, warm clothing, and essential medication, and proceed to your muster station. If your cabin is inaccessible go directly to your muster station.”

The notification was accompanied by a list of muster station locations around the ship. Guests seeing the notification on the app also saw a notice labeled “Message From the Bridge” that read:

“An incident has been reported, we will be providing updates over the public address system, please listen carefully for important safety information.”

Confusion ensued and left guests understandably shaken at wondering what the emergency situation was, given the otherwise calm and normal day at sea.

Of an interesting note is that at the time of the alert, the ship was approaching the infamous “Bermuda Triangle” – a mysterious region long associated with legends of missing ships, sea monsters, pirates, and other fantastical hazards.

Actually a Training Drill

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before follow-up announcements were made explaining the situation as an inadvertent notification of a crew drill.

“We would like to let you know that the message you received about proceeding to your muster stations with the lifejackets was triggered due to a training exercise and it is not a real scenario,” an app follow-up message read about 15 minutes after the initial alert. “We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your understanding.”

Many guests onboard weren’t phased by the false alert, as the ship’s horn did not sound in the universal alert pattern – seven short blasts followed by one long blast. If travelers weren’t actively watching a screen at the time, they did not notice the accidental alert.

Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov / Shutterstock

Following the incident-that-wasn’t-a-real-incident, onboard televisions and the app needed tech work to resume proper functioning several hours later.

Fortunately, as the alert was false and there was no real emergency incident, there has been no impact to Valiant Lady‘s itinerary. The ship has already ports of call in Spain and Madeira as it was leaving Europe, and will arrive in Miami as scheduled on Sunday, November 12.

Valiant Lady is the second of Virgin Voyages’ distinctive “ladyships” and first set sail in 2022. The 110,000-gross-ton vessel can welcome 2,700 guests per voyage for the adults-only cruise line. The ship will now remain in the Caribbean, offering various itineraries through at least October 2024.

Real Emergency on Everyone’s Mind

While the incident aboard Valiant Lady wasn’t an incident at all and had no overall impact other than a few moments of anxiety and confusion onboard, the event follows closely after Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery experienced a very real emergency in recent days.

Spirit of Discovery was sailing near Spain when the ship encountered weather so rough, with nearby ports closed, that nearly 100 passengers were injured in the tumultuous seas, some requiring medical treatment ashore.

The ship’s unfortunate foray into poor weather was a result of very rare circumstances, though the vessel did remain structurally and navigationally safe at all times – even though onboard conditions may have been less than ideal with severe and unpredictable motion.

The ship has since returned to her homeport of Portsmouth, UK, and has already departed on her next voyage, a 30-night roundtrip “Island Hopping in the Caribbean” journey with stops in the Azores, Antigua, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Trinidad, Barbados, and other amazing destinations.

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