Virgin Voyages is not waiting on the CDC's long-awaited decision regarding a cruise restart from the U.S.
Citing the uncertainty of cruising in the U.S., the industry's newest brand will move its first ship, the Scarlet Lady, to England, where it will offer six cruises from Portsmouth in August, scrapping its plans to launch service from Miami June 30.
Open only to vaccinated U.K. residents, the "staycation-at-sea series" will include three and four-day itineraries around England's southern coast. Virgin said in March that it would require all passengers and crew on its ship to be vaccinated when it resumes service.
"Virgin Voyages has been looking forward to sailing, and we're so excited to announce our plans to sail from the U.K.," said Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. "Our team has curated such a fantastic experience for our sailors" Virgin's unique term for passengers "and know this is a holiday they will love."
The series will include three-day weekend sailings and four-day midweek cruises.
Virgin plans to redeploy the ship back to Miami to launch Caribbean sailings on Sept. 22.
"We look at our U.K. summer voyages as a homecoming to pay homage to our British roots, and what an excellent way to kick off our sailing season before heading back to PortMiami," said Tom McAlpin, Virgin Voyages' CEO.
Virgin joins a growing list of cruise lines that will launch cruises from the U.K. this summer for residents, after the U.K. said it would allow the resumption of domestic cruises beginning in May. Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Viking, Princess Cruises and Cunard are all offering domestic cruises there, with varying restrictions in place.