Travel news latest: Virgin Voyages to launch in the UK – but only for fully vaccinated Britons

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[6] – 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.

As well only permitting vaccinated passengers to board[7], 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.

Scroll down for the latest travel updates.

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Cruise: Carnival reports booking levels higher than 2019

The cruise giant says that bookings were up 90 per cent during the first three months of 2021 compared to the final quarter of last year.

Encouragingly, it also reported that 2022 bookings were exceeding 2019 numbers.

President and chief executive Arnold Donald said that booking numbers showed “significant pent-up demand and long-term potential for cruising”.


Virgin Voyages ‘ecstatic’ to announce UK summer sailings

A little more detail on the news that Virgin Voyages will finally launch with a series of UK cruises.

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.


Hong Kong residents encouraged to holiday at home with $500 vouchers

On Twitter, Telegraph travel expert Lee Cobaj is sharing details of Hong Kong’s new scheme to encourage holidays at home:


Complaints against Covid-19 test supplier after quarantined travellers left waiting days for kits

East Yorkshire-based Latus Health has been accused of providing an “appalling” service, with customers claiming they received their £175 coronavirus tests late – potentially delaying their exit from quarantine.

The healthcare firm, which is on the Government’s official list of test suppliers, said there had been “some delays” with Royal Mail and that it pays for a 24-hour next day delivery service.

However, some 70 people have joined a Facebook group to complain about the firm, which is listed as a test provider on the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) website.

People returning to the UK from non-red list countries are required to quarantine for 10 days at home and take two Covid-19 tests – one on day two and another on day eight – before they can leave, depending on a negative result.

Read more on our coronavirus live blog[14].


Barbados flights fully booked until mid-August, says private jet company

Here’s an insight into the privileged world of private jets, which have seen a rise in popularity during the pandemic:

Darren Ashley, Diamonte Jets head of UK charter, told the Telegraph:

We have hundreds of flights and holidays already booked and aircraft on hold for May 17. The most popular destinations are Spain, Portugal, Greece and Turkey. London to Palma Mallorca is the most requested in recent weeks at an average cost of £9,200 for six passengers one way or £16,000 return (£2667 per person).

We’ve also seen an unprecedented rise in the number of requests for longer haul travel destinations by private jet, mainly the Caribbean. The cost is £89,000 for a return flight from the UK to Barbados on a 14 passenger Global 6000. These flights are fully booked until mid-August.

Barbados breaks via private jet are in demand this summer

Which countries will be green, amber and red in the new holiday traffic light system?

A holiday ‘traffic light system’ will hopefully make foreign holidays possible again. Here’s how it could work[17].


New Zealand suspends entry for travellers from India 

New Zealand has temporarily suspended entry for all travellers from India, including its own citizens, for about two weeks following a high number of positive cases arriving from the South Asian country.

The move comes after New Zealand recorded 23 new positive coronavirus cases at its border on Thursday, of which 17 were from India.

India is battling a second wave with daily infections this week passing the peak of the first wave seen last September


Scrap costly tests for those returning from ‘green list’ countries, Boris Johnson told

Costly tests for holidaymakers returning from “green list” countries[21] must be abandoned, Tory MPs have told Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister’s global travel taskforce is due to announce on Friday that travellers from “safe” countries will have to take a gold standard PCR test on or before the second day of their return – a move that would add £480 to the cost of a holiday for a family of four.

This is said to be the preferred option, with holidaymakers allowed to use the cheaper rapid lateral flow tests[22] only to confirm their Covid status before they leave their destination to return home.

Read the full story[23].


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

Now, on with today’s travel news.


  1. ^ When can I go on holiday? (
  2. ^ ​Mapped: The countries accepting vaccine passports this summer (
  3. ^ Which countries could be ‘green’? (
  4. ^ How far can I travel in the UK right now? (
  5. ^ Sign up to the Telegraph Travel newsletter (
  6. ^ Scarlet Lady (
  7. ^ only permitting vaccinated passengers to board (
  8. ^ 9:51AM (
  9. ^ 9:38AM (
  10. ^ 9:23AM (
  11. ^ (
  12. ^ April 8, 2021 (
  13. ^ 9:13AM (
  14. ^ Read more on our coronavirus live blog (
  15. ^ 9:02AM (
  16. ^ 8:48AM (
  17. ^ Here’s how it could work (
  18. ^ Travel Traffic Lights (
  19. ^ 8:39AM (
  20. ^ 8:35AM (
  21. ^ “green list” countries (
  22. ^ rapid lateral flow tests (
  23. ^ Read the full story (
  24. ^ 8:14AM (

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