Virgin Voyages has pulled a two-night showcase for new ship Scarlet Lady in New York amid growing coronavirus health concerns.

The vessel will instead sail direct to its homeport of Miami following a trade and media showcase in Dover and Liverpool.

People travelling across the Atlantic on the vessel’s delivery voyage received a letter from chief executive Tom McAlpin confirming the “change of course”.

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The ship had been scheduled to stage a weekend of events in New York City from March 7.

But McAlpin said the switch was not an easy decision to make, adding: “We sincerely apologise.

“In the light of growing media focus on global health concerns, we do not feel that it is the right time to showcase our brand in New York. As a result we have postponed our media and showcase events in New York.

“As a brand, we have been working toward our New York moment for five years so to miss New York is heartbreaking.”

He confirmed that there are no health concerns on board the ship.

“Everyone on board has been screened and we are continuously monitoring our crew and sailors (passengers).

“Having been at sea for more than two weeks, we believe Scarlet Lady is one of the safest places to be right now.”

A spokesperson for the line said: “Virgin Voyages has made the decision to postpone our upcoming events in New York City and will sail back to New York at a later date for a proper launch celebration.

“We believe delaying the launch celebration is the right thing to do given public sentiment and focus at this time.

“We have absolutely no health concerns or issues on board and there are no issues with our passengers or crew.

“With no other events scheduled in New York at this time, we will instead sail the ship to her new home in Miami.

“The 850 passengers currently on the ship are friends and family of our crew and were invited to join a complimentary test sailing with us.

“We are working with those who need assistance for travel home from Florida.”