The much-anticipated Virgin Voyages debut cruise has been pushed back due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Sir Richard Branson's company has said its $500m, 110,000-gt Scarlet Lady will not now leave Miami on 1 April as previously planned.

The scrubber-fitted vessel, which will host adults-only cruises, will now debut on 7 August, following some industry-aimed “showcase” sailings scheduled from mid-July.

“The current global health crisis is understandably making many people rethink upcoming travel plans,” the line said in a statement.

“While timing isn’t right to launch our first ship right now, we look forward to welcoming everyone on Scarlet Lady later this year.”

Virgin Voyages said the decision was in no way tied to any cases of coronavirus among crew.

Promotional events scrapped

The company has also stated that it is “working with relevant parties to research new technologies that will help to expedite health screenings and make people feel safe”.

The vessel was delivered from Fincantieri in Italy last month, arriving in Miami on 7 March.

But the line then cancelled previously scheduled promotional events in both New York City and Miami during the course of the transit.

Guests can choose from either a full refund, along with a 25% credit toward a future voyage, or a 200% credit for a future booking.

The 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady is the first of four planned ships for Virgin Voyages.

The second, Valiant Lady, will be delivered in 2021, with ships three and four following in 2022 and 2023.

The US has advised its citizens not to travel on cruiseships and one owner after another has shut up shop for varying periods.

The coronavirus has clobbered the cruise sector as as Branson was aiming to take on the the titans of the business with a brand aimed at younger customer, though not the under 18s that make the mass market lines so family-friendly.

It has also touted its cruises as environmentally friendly, with a carbon-neutral strategy and a ban on single-use plastics.

And Virgin Voyages has touted its gender diversity, with as the master of the Scarlet Lady is a woman, Wendy Williams, who has hired a raft of other females to take on senior ­management roles on the ship.

Eric Martin contributed to this story.