Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages president and CEO Tom McAlpin announced the appointment of Captain Wendy Williams as Master of Scarlet Lady as well as a brand-new line-up of itineraries for their premier 2020 season at a press conference held this week in Toronto, Canada.
“Captain Wendy’s extensive maritime background makes her an excellent choice to lead the Scarlet Lady, but it is her spirit and drive to approach life at sea differently that make her the perfect fit to join the Virgin Voyages family,” said McAlpin.
When Williams takes the helm of Scarlet Lady in spring 2020, she will be the first Canadian woman to captain a ship for a major cruise brand. Originally from Sept-Îles, Quebec, she has more than 28 years of experience working on ships at sea. 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. While she has spent more than 15 years working on the bridge of mega cruise ships, her role with Virgin Voyages will be her first promotion to Master of a cruise ship. Her on-land hours are spent at a hobby farm on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
“I have saltwater in my veins and nothing brings me more joy than being at sea,” said Williams. “It’s a dream come true to be working with Virgin Voyages, a company that is focused on creating an incredible experience not only for our Sailors [guests] but for our crew as well; while also taking action to minimize our footprint on our oceans.”
Williams appointment aligns with Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Squad program, an initiative dedicated to bridging the gender gap in leadership roles across the maritime industry, where women represent less than three per cent 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 across the board.
In addition to Williams, Virgin Voyages has already recruited nearly a dozen female officers to serve on Scarlet Lady. They include Jill Anderson as hotel director, Christin Wenge as safety officer, Lindsay Kerber as environmental officer, among other talented female engineers as well as second and third officers.
In response to the U.S. government’s new restrictions on travel to Cuba from the United States, Virgin Voyages has developed new itineraries for Scarlet Lady. These include:
- Five-night Riviera Maya sailings to Cozumel/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico;
- four-night Fire and Sunset Soirées (including a sunset departure from Key West and a midnight departure from Bimini;
- and seven-night sailings for the 2020 festive holiday season (Holidaze and Nights; New Year’s Ahoy), featuring stops in Puerta Plata, Dominican Republic and late-night sail aways in both Bimini, Bahamas and San Juan, Puerto Rico.