When Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages company starts passenger shipping operations in October 2020, the new cruise brand will operate with reduced passenger capacity to help ease travellers’ concerns amid the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Specific numbers have not been shared, but in a press release Virgin announced it would be “managing overall ship occupancy so that appropriate physical distancing is possible across all public spaces.” According to a spokesperson, Virgin was working with advisers to make sure they did it "safely and with the sailor/crew wellbeing in mind.”
Virgin's maiden voyage (brand's inauguration) was originally planned for April 2020 but the cruise company was forced to pause operations after the CDC issued a "No Sail Order" (expires on July 31). Virgin's inaugural cruise was rescheduled for October 16 (5-day roundtrip itinerary from PortMiami Florida on MS Scarlet Lady).
The decision to reduce ship's capacity has come from what Virgin calls "Voyage Well Expert Advisory Group" - including businesses and public health and sanitization experts who advise Virgin about the best policies for crew and passengers' safety.
Virgin is promising “rapid and effective” testing prior embarkation, preboarding health checks, thermal cameras, and “ethical health tracking app” to notify whether a cruiser became sick 2 weeks after staying with Virgin.
A Virgin Voyages spokesperson said they were following guidelines that you commonly see on land, so they would also be required at sea. He also added they would "definitely have masks on board.”