Virgin Voyages launches month-long trip

Virgin Voyages is targeting a new type of traveler: remote workers.

In March, the Miami-based cruise line owned by Sir Richard Branson introduced a month-long cruise called the “Scarlet Summer Season Pass.” It’s essentially four week-long cruises packaged together to appeal to remote workers who want to spend a month at sea in southern Europe.

“People have really adopted the flexible working style, and it resonates with travelers,” Virgin Voyages’ CEO Nirmal Saverimuttu told CNBC Travel. “We got a lot of people who said it feels like an incredible value.”  

The Scarlet Summer Season Pass covers two people and costs $9,990. The rate includes a room, meals, group fitness classes and Wi-Fi, plus laundry services, daily coffee and tea credits and access to workspaces. 

Booking the “Season Pass” is 30% cheaper than booking four week-long cruises back to back, according to Virgin’s website. Travelers can also swap out travel companions for different legs of the cruise, said Saverimuttu, as long as they are 18 or older, in line with Virgin Voyages’ adults-only policy.

Within 24 hours of announcing the Season Pass, more than 2,000 people registered interest in it, said Saverimuttu. When bookings opened, spots on the month-long cruise — which stops at places like Cannes, Rome and Ibiza — sold out in 48 hours, a company representative told CNBC Travel.

That prompted Virgin Voyages to open additional spots for remote workers on a second cruise ship this summer.

The “Season Pass” cruises will sail on Virgin’s Scarlet Lady and Resilient Lady ships, each of which can accommodate around 2,700 guests. Cruises are scheduled to sail from June to September this year.

‘One of Richard’s ideas’

The popularity of Virgin’s Season Pass cruise stems from the broader shift to remote work since the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are in the midst of a massive transformation in how, what, and where we do our jobs,” KPMG’s chief economist, Diane Swonk, told CNBC Travel. “There is no putting the work-from-home genie back in the bottle. Firms who try too aggressively to do so, lose a lot of their access to top talent and the diversity of their workforce.”

Virgin Voyages’ cruise ship Scarlet Lady in Liverpool, England.

Anthony Devlin | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

Saverimuttu said most of the digital workers who have booked the cruise are in their mid-50s and are employed in full-time remote roles. 

He said the idea for the program came directly from Branson himself, after he learned passengers were taking extended trips while working remotely on the company’s ships.

He attributed the program’s quickly growing popularity to Branson’s “magic touch” for understanding today’s consumers.

“The response has really been phenomenal. It’s really surprised us,” he said. “But you know, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised because it was one of Richard’s ideas.”


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