The newest, yet to debut, the cruise line has some plans in store for when sailing begins. Virgin Voyages' first ship, Scarlet Lady, was set to debut in April 2020, sadly her inaugural season has been postponed to October at the earliest. Of course, Virgins debut looks a bit different than they intended, but the new protocols will be as new to us as Virgin Voyages' new way of sea travel is.
We have heard it from every cruise line: Distancing passengers, temperature checks, and changes to the buffets. Granted, Virgin will distance passengers, but buffets will not need to be changed because they already ditched that concept well before COVID-19.
Virgin Voyages is taking some of the following steps to ensure safe travel, some ideas that other cruise lines have already dismissed:
"Work with medical testing developers, with an ambition to find a reliable, quick, and simple test, that will enable us to ensure only those who test negative for COVID-19 are allowed to board."
"Notify our Sailors and Crew 14 days after leaving the ship (through the use of ethical contact tracing and health tracking app) if you've come in contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus on land or at sea."
A few more plans Virgin has before they sail their first Ladyship:
-Following CDC guidelines and allowing plans to be fluid as processes and procedures change with the consistent change in global situations.
-Implementing pre-boarding health screenings for sailors and crew.
-Thermal camera installation in terminals.
-Updates to their booking and refund policies to adjust to the current and ever-changing market. This includes final payments now due 60 days in advance as opposed to 120. Additionally, allowing cancelations up to 48 hours prior to sailing for a 100% future cruise credit.
When you are onboard:
-Use of advanced cleaning methods such as fogging and the use of UV light. The ultraviolet light used will be that of hospital grade.
"Every single piece of luggage and delivery to the ship is fogged down, and all cabins will be fogged prior to Sailors stepping on board, or in the case that you change cabins during the voyage."
-Virgin will have sanitation areas at every venue onboard the ship, touchless faucets, and hospital grade EPA disinfectants from EcoLab. In addition to best practices from all guests and crew.
Virgin is making an oath of no recycled air anywhere on their LadyShips. Being a new ship, Scarlet Lady was built for this before the COVID-19 Pandemic.
-Working with AtomsAir Solutions, Virgin is installing air purification systems around the ship. This specific system has shown to kill 99.9% of viruses.
Socially Distant Onboard:
-Virgin is significantly reducing the capacity onboard its ships.
-Large group events are limited with the use of virtual reservation and ticketing systems. This will leave seats between guests open for spacing purposes.
-The onboard food delivery service will be contactless.
-All lines for onboard experiences will be virtual as well as contactless payments with "The Band."
-Masks' policies will follow the same policies you see on land.
-No changes will be made to their dining facilities as all are designed for small crowds. Virgin does not host buffets or large dining rooms but instead a "Foof Court" style area and small dining venues throughout the ship.
-Virgin will implement arrival times at embarkation and disembarkation terminals.
-At ports of call, Virgin will only sell excursions and offer services from those places meeting sanitation standards.
-Will undergo routine temperature checks as well as COVID-19 tests. Crew uniforms will undergo additional sanitation procedures.
- Gloves will be required for any crew in welcome, health, luggage, and waste disposal areas.
-Crew members that test positive or come in contact with someone positive for COVID-19 will be isolated, and additional medical help will be provided.
Additional Health Amenities:
-Crew and Sailors will have access to basic COVID-19 testing if displaying flu-like symptoms and additional health screenings, free of charge. The medical center is available 24/7 for all crew and sailors.
-Virgin has gone above and beyond with ventilators, PPE, and oxygen capacity onboard.
Once Home after Voyage:
-App development will allow for sailors and crew to provide information if they feel unwell up to 14 days following voyage.
-Close contact with all sailors and crew to for contact tracing in the off chance a sailor or crew member came in contact with anyone displaying symptoms.
Virgin is set to completely redefining the way we all look at cruising. With their health and safety protocols already in place and planned for when sailing begins, we can rest easy knowing Virgin has our best interest in heart.