Virgin Voyages reworks itineraries without Cuba, appoints woman captain

If the captain's hat fits ... Canadian Wendy Williams, pictured here with Richard Branson, will serve as the master of Scarlet Lady PHOTO: Virgin Voyages

Wendy Williams will take the helm of Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady as the first Canadian woman to command a major cruise ship, and the company rolled out new itineraries replacing those that featured Cuba.

During a visit to Toronto, Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President and CEO Tom McAlpin announced the news.

Additional women officers

The company has also recruited nearly a dozen other women officers, including Jill Anderson as hotel director, Christin Wenge as safety officer, Lindsay Kerber as environmental officer, among other female engineers as well as second and third officers.

Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Squad program is dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry, where women represent less than 3% of the workforce, Branson said on his blog, adding: ‘It’s great to see Captain Wendy leading the way.’

Williams has more than 28 years of seafaring experience, including more than 15 years working on the bridge of mega cruise ships. She hails from Sept-Îles, Québec, and now resides on her hobby farm on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Scarlet Lady will be her first command as captain.

New Key West ‘Fire and Sunset Soirées’

In addition, now that Cuba is off-limits, Virgin Voyages shared a new lineup of itineraries for its inaugural 2020 season, with additional five-night ‘Mayan Sol’ sailings to Costa Maya, new five-night ‘Riviera Maya’ voyages (Cozumel and The Beach Club at Bimini) and new four-night ‘Fire and Sunset Soirées’ to Key West (and Bimini). The latter feature a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini.

Plus, seven-night cruises

New seven-night Christmas and New Year’s sailings visit San Juan (Puerto Rico), along with Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic) and Bimini. Late-night sail-aways are planned from San Juan and Bimini.

All these voyages are round-trip PortMiami.

For more about women in cruise industry deck and technical roles, see Seatrade Cruise Review’s March cover story, ‘Women wear the stripes,’ and download the companion piece, ‘Women seafarer snapshots

Posted 12 June 2019

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade Informa Markets. Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade Informa Markets.

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Anne Kalosh

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Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor, Seatrade Cruise Review Anne Kalosh covers global stories, reporting both breaking and in-depth news on cruising's significant people, places, ships and trends. A sought-after expert on cruising, she has moderated conferences around the world, including the high-profile State of the Industry panel at Seatrade Cruise Global. She created and led the acclaimed itinerary-planning case study for Seatrade's cruise master classes held at Cambridge and Oxford universities. She is the cruise columnist for, and her freelance stories have appeared in a wide range of publications, from The New York Times to The Miami Herald.

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