Virgin Voyages Continues to Break Cruising Rules With Its First Captain, Wendy Williams

by  Wendy Helfenbaum | Aug 17, 2019
Captain Wendy Williams
Captain Wendy Williams / Photo courtesy of Virgin Voyages

From an at-sea tattoo parlor to a complete lack of buffets, Virgin Voyages is looking to break the norms of cruising, and its first captain is no exception. Wendy Williams — one of just a few women to pilot major cruise ships — will helm Scarlet Lady, the first Virgin Voyages ship, which sails from Miami to the Caribbean beginning in April 2020.

Beyond the much-hyped tattoo parlor, a cruise with Virgin also means included perks like wifi, gratuities, soda, and juice: things that often cost extra on other lines. Entertainment will come courtesy of PigPen Theater Co. and 7 Fingers Creation Collective, companies that are known in the theater world for pushing boundaries. And, on Virgin’s private beach club in the Bahamas, The Beach Club at Bimini, "sailors" (the line's name for its passengers) will spot Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Mark Ronson spinning tunes as the line's first DJ-in-residence. 

Williams, for her part, is looking forward to Virgin Voyages shaking up the industry. Born in the Canadian coastal town of Sept-Îles, Quebec, Williams developed an early passion for the sea, and for seeing the world. 

“I grew up traveling. My parents took me everywhere. Being in the cruise industry, I’ve continued seeing many countries, and I enjoy each place and what it has to offer,” she says. “I love the West Coast of North America, from the Alaskan panhandle down to Mexico and further. I love Southeast Asia, mostly because of the food and its amazing history. I love Italy and France, especially the countryside, the stone buildings and the great food. It’s always about the food!”

After more than 20 years of ship life, Williams knows what makes a cruise unforgettable for passengers, and says guests should take advantage of everything a vessel — and its crew — have to offer. 

“People sometimes stress themselves out trying to do it all. Sometimes you might just want to go to the spa and enjoy the sun. Another day, it might be trekking in the jungle or hiking a mountain. Just relax, leave your cares at home and enjoy. If you want to join me, I'll most likely be at the sunrise yoga outside... unless I'm docking the ship.”  

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