Virgin Voyages recently announced the appointment of their first captain who will direct their new ship, the Scarlet Lady. Her name is Captain Wendy Williams and she will become the first Canadian woman to be captain of a ship for a major cruise line. Capt. Williams hails from the coastal city of Sept-Îles, Quebec on the northeastern coast of Canada and has more than 28 years of experience working on ships at sea.
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Her extensive background includes more than a decade as a deckhand in commercial fishing off the western coast of Canada as well as working as a ferryboat captain. Although she has spent more than 15 years working on the bridge of mega cruise ships, her role with Virgin Voyages will be her first as master of a cruise ship.
Just last year, Virgin Voyages announced its Scarlet Squad program, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry, where women represent less than 3 percent of the workforce. The program aims to recruit, support and mentor female shipboard talent, and to grow opportunities for leadership roles in marine, technical and hotel management positions on board.
While Virgin Voyages is still in the early stages of selecting the crew for Scarlet Lady, the company has already recruited Capt. Williams as well as nearly a dozen other female officers, including Jill Anderson as hotel director, Christin Wenge as safety officer, and Lindsay Kerber as environmental officer, among other female engineers as well as second and third officers. Virgin Voyages’ intention is to create an onboard environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.
In other Virgin Voyages news, itinerary changes have been announced in response to the U.S. government’s new restrictions on travel to Cuba for Americans.
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The company has also developed a lineup of new itineraries, not including Cuban ports but featuring destinations that its sailors expressed interest in exploring on a Virgin cruise. Continuing the company’s mission to provide its sailors with epic day and nighttime experiences, the all new itineraries will feature multiple late-night sailaways, including a midnight departure on all new sailings.
Instead of Cuba, Virgin Voyages will now offer five-night Riviera Maya sailings to Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. Cozumel and Playa del Carmen offer opportunities for sailors to experience some of the world’s best diving, since the area is home to 26 coral species. Sailors also will have the opportunity to explore ecological and archeological treasures, including Mayan ruins, or even opt to explore neighboring Tulum, the elevated Bohemian sanctuary with picturesque beaches and diverse nightlife.
For those looking for a quick getaway, Virgin Voyages’ four-night sailings will now become Fire and Sunset Soirées, including a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini. Sailors will experience the cultural and boating paradise of Key West, paired with a day in Bimini, Bahamas at Virgin Voyages’ new Beach Club, topped off by an exclusive late-night beach bonfire soiree. This celebration under the stars is exclusive to these sailings, and the artistic fire installations draw inspiration from the fireball sculptures on Branson’s Necker Island and the communal nature of a traditional beachside bonfire.
In response to guests’ demand for longer voyages aboard Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages has developed special seven-night sailings for the 2020 holiday season. Those looking to get a jump start on their holiday planning can opt for the all-new “Holidaze and Nights” and “New Year’s Ahoy” voyages, which fall over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, respectively, and feature stops in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and late-night sailaways in both Bimini, Bahamas and San Juan, Puerto Rico. All voyages will feature a stop in Bimini, Bahamas, home to The Beach Club, a private club for Virgin Voyages sailors while Scarlet Lady is on the island.