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Virgin Voyages, the new adult-only cruise line from Sir Richard Branson, will finally make its debut with a series of cruises in British waters this summer, The Telegraph can reveal.

Six sailings will be on offer in August aboard Scarlet Lady – the cruise coming more than a year since the £500 million, 2,770-passenger ship was due to take her maiden voyage, which was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The three- and four-night itineraries, which will all depart from Portsmouth, are only available to UK residents who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

There won’t be any ports of call but instead each cruise along England’s southern coast will be a “staycation-at-sea”, according to the operator. Cabins can be booked from Tuesday, April 13. Sir Richard, the founder of Virgin Group, said he was “so excited” to be able to offer UK sailings, and that the “team has curated such a fantastic experience” for passengers.

Virgin Voyages’ chief executive and president, Tom McAlpin, said that the line was “ecstatic to announce these new sailings”.

“We look at our UK summer voyages as a homecoming to pay homage to our British roots, and what an excellent way to kick-off our sailing season,” he added.

As well only permitting vaccinated passengers to board, capacity will be limited on the ship, with additional testing and health protocols confirmed closer to departure dates, the line said.

Virgin Voyages joins a dozen other cruise operators, including Cunard, Viking, Princess and P&O Cruises, who have scrapped plans to sail overseas and will instead spend the summer months in British waters.

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What happened yesterday?

Here’s a recap of the main headlines: 

  • New passports may not be issued until June
  • US rules out Covid passports
  • One third of Scottish island tourism businesses ‘unlikely to survive an extension to travel ban’
  • Legoland Windsor prepares for reopening
  • Malta plans to ease restrictions amid successful vaccine drive 
  • International passenger traffic down 89 per cent in February
  • Travel restrictions have cut £148 billion from the UK economy

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