Customer and travel partner research in North America and the UK led to Cuba being chosen as the first destination to be served by Virgin Voyages.

The start-up line’s first ship Scarlet Lady will feature Cuba as one of its destinations from Miami during its inaugural season in 2020.

Both research groups consistently ranked the Caribbean island as one of the most desired and interesting destinations to visit on a cruise.

Specific sailing dates covering Cuba will be released when the line opens up bookings for sale next year.

The adults-only cruise brand will include an overnight stay in Havana.

Shore experiences compliant with US Treasury Department sanctions restrictions on Cuba are in development. Details are due to be made available later this year.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson said: “Virgin Atlantic has been visiting Cuba for 13 years, and I cannot wait to see our iconic Scarlet Lady gleaming in the Havana Harbour.

“Havana is the perfect place for our sailors [passengers] to go and experience a city that exudes an irresistible energy and passion.”

Virgin Voyages president and CEO Tom McAlpin added: “We are thrilled to share the news about our partnership with Cuba and can’t wait to take our sailors to Havana, which is without doubt, one of the Caribbean’s most authentic and enriching destinations.

“This fantastic place offers the chance for our sailors to create their own unique stories as they uncover cultural treasures, meet the locals and just soak up the atmosphere.”

Cuba’s tourism minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Group and are pleased to announce this new partnership with Virgin Voyages.

“The Cuban people look forward to welcoming Virgin Voyages’ first ship, its crew and passengers to our shores in 2020”.

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Virgin Voyages first cruise ship to be adult-only [Nov 17]