When Virgin Voyages announced their Scarlet Squad program last year, the goal was to help bridge the gender gap between leadership roles across the cruise and travel industry. Today, the cruise line took another step in the direction of equality and fair representation for women when they announced Captain Wendy Williams, a native Canadian, would take the helm as captain when Scarlet Lady floats out in 2020.
Captain Wendy Williams
The announcement, made by Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and line President Tom McAlpin today in Toronto, marks a major milestone for women in the cruise industry. Captain Williams will be the first Canadian woman to command a ship for a major cruise brand.
After growing up in the province of Quebec, Captain Williams began her maritime career as a deckhand on commercial fishing boats as well as working as a ferryboat captain. She’s spent the last 15 years working on the bridge for Celebrity Cruises, but this will be her first opportunity as a cruise ship captain.
“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 Tom McAlpin, president and chief executive officer for Virgin Voyages.
Captain Wendy Williams isn’t the only female hire in a leadership position. Nearly a dozen other female officers have been hired as well, including Jill Anderson as hotel director, Christin Wenge as safety officer, Lindsay Kerber as environmental officer, and other experienced female engineers as well as second and third officers.
“I have salt water in my veins and nothing brings me more joy than being at sea,” said Captain 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 but for our Crew as well; while also taking action to minimize our footprint on our oceans.”
New Virgin Voyages Itineraries
Virgin Voyages made a splash earlier in 2018 when they announced Cuba would be a primary call for Scarlet Lady. However, recent news that Cuba is no longer an option for any cruise line obviously sent the company pivoting. The new itineraries still feature the contrast of day and night experiences for sailors to enjoy, but to new and exciting ports of call.
Five-night Riviera Maya sailings include stops to Cozumel/Playa Del Carmen, Mexico and four-night sailings departing from Key West feature Fire and Sunset Soirees at Bimini in the Bahamas. All of Virgin’s sailings stop at The Beach Club, a private club in the Bahamas exclusively for Virgin sailors.
Scarlet Lady will take on her first passengers in early 2020.