Virgin Voyages Updates Protocols and Removes Vaccine Mandate

Virgin Voyages updates its protocols to align with other cruise lines operating from the U.S. and allowing unvaccinated guests to sail.

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Following the example set by a majority of cruise lines in the past weeks, Virgin Voyages has made various updates to its health and safety protocols. The cruise line will no longer require guests to be fully vaccinated, with only unvaccinated guests needing to provide a negative test result. 

Virgin Voyages became the first cruise line to remove pre-cruise testing in July 2022 but seemed to have waited to see how other cruise lines fared with removing the mandatory vaccination status. The new protocols will come into effect later this month. 

Virgin Voyages Opens Up Cruises to Everyone

Virgin Voyages, a relatively new cruise line owned by Richard Branson, brings its protocols in line with most of the cruise industry. Starting September 18 on Valiant Lady and September 21 onboard Scarlet Lady, guests will no longer be required to provide proof of vaccination to board either vessel. 

In a statement on its website, the cruise line said the following: “​​In accordance with our industry standards and with consideration and guidance by the CDC, we are adjusting our protocols.  As of 09/18/22 on Valiant Lady and 09/21/22 on Scarlet Lady, we’re opening up our voyages to everyone, including unvaccinated Sailors.”

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Photo Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock

Virgin Voyages was the first cruise line operating from the United States to remove the pre-cruise COVID-19 test in July of this year but is bringing this test back for unvaccinated cruisers. 

If guests have not been fully vaccinated, they must bring a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before sailing. If they cannot get tested in time, guests can also test at the terminal for a fee of $30 on the day of embarkation. Guests are still asked to test before sailing at all times, whether vaccinated or not.

Crew members onboard will still be fully vaccinated and tested regularly. 

What If You Test Positive Before Sailing Onboard?

Virgin Voyages will allow booked guests to change their voyage date if a guest does test positive or was exposed within ten days of departure. Guests can also opt for a full future voyage credit to use toward a booking later.

If guests test positive at the terminal, the same applies; guests can rebook or get a future voyage credit. Guests that test positive while onboard will get a pro-rated amount based on the number of days they’ve missed.

Scarlet Lady Cruise Ship in Miami
Photo Courtesy: Virgin Voyages

For example, if someone tests positive on day two of a four-night voyage and there is a need to quarantine for the last two days — they would receive a 50% future cruise credit based on the voyage fare paid. 

Once positive guests debark the ship, and there is a need to quarantine shoreside, Virgin Voyages will cover the cost of the quarantine hotel and any changes to travel arrangements.

Where are the Virgin Voyages Ships Now?

The 110,000 gross tons Scarlet Lady, the first ship for Virgin Voyages, is currently offering four- and five-night itineraries from Miami, Florida. The vessel operates cruises to the eastern Caribbean, sailing to Puerto Plata and Bimini, and the western Caribbean, sailing to Cozumel and Bimini.

Sistership Valiant Lady, which started operations earlier this year, is currently sailing seven-night voyages from Barcelona, Spain. She will be repositioning to Miami, Florida, beginning October 16, with the first voyage from Miami scheduled for October 30. 

This 6-night Valiant Miami Mermaiden voyage will sail to Roatan, Honduras, Costa Maya, Mexico, and Bimini in the Bahamas. 

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