Virgin Voyages to require all crew, passengers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 on all cruises
Virgin Voyages, Richard Branson's adult-only cruise line, will require all passengers and crew to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before boarding, the company announced Tuesday. Virgin Voyages is one of the first oceangoing cruise lines to commit to fully vaccinated cruises on all of its ships going forward.
"We're really encouraged by the latest rollout plans in the May time frame from the new administration, and we know the future is about vaccinations," Tom McAlpin, Virgin Voyages' president and CEO, said in a statement shared with USA TODAY.
The cruise line has had a slow start thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, which squashed Virgin's plans to launch last April. Now, after multiple delays, its first ship, Scarlet Lady, is scheduled to debut in July.
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"Our goal is to ensure that we're providing the safest travel experience, which means vaccinations for both our crew and passengers," McAlpin said. "This a step toward the safe return to sailing and is the right decision for Virgin Voyages. We're really encouraged by the latest rollout plans in the May time frame from the new administration, and we know the future is about vaccinations."
Right now, the cruise line hasn't sorted details on what kind of proof the company will require from passengers and crew members to board.
Virgin is still in the planning stage in terms of vaccine regulations onboard, but as for what type of vaccine they will require, the company "wouldn’t discriminate against vaccines at this stage," Michelle Estevam, director of communications for Virgin Voyages, told USA TODAY.
While Virgin Voyages is among the first to commit to all sailings being fully vaccinated, Royal Caribbean announced this month that it would offer its own "fully vaccinated" cruise ship, Odyssey of the Seas, departing from Israel. But there hasn't been a commitment from Royal Caribbean to require vaccination on its other ships yet.
Crystal has also announced a vaccine requirement.
Costa, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian:Aim to require crew to get COVID-19 vaccines before boarding cruise ships