Virgin Voyages is Taking the Long Way Cruising from Australia to Greece
Virgin Voyages, the cruise brand started by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, reports it will be the latest cruise line to “take the long way,” to reposition its cruise ship Resilient Lady (108,000 gross tons) from Australia back to Europe. The repositioning had been planned to sail through Asia, India, the Middle East, and the Red Sea at the end of the line’s first Australia summer season, but now is heading to Africa.
“Like many other cruise brands, we have been watching the current conflict in the Middle East closely, connecting regularly with global security experts to consider the impacts to the repositioning voyages planned for Resilient Lady in 2024,” said a spokesperson for Virgin Voyages. “We remain concerned about potential escalations in this part of the world over the next 12 months and the risk that this presents for safe passage through the region. As a result, we have been left with no choice but to make changes to Resilient Lady's repositioning voyage.”
The cruise that had been planned to make stops including Bali, Singapore, India, Dubai, and the Mediterranean via the Red Sea, will instead become what the cruise line is calling a “once-in-a-lifetime sailing around the coast of Africa.” Other cruise lines including AIDA, MSC Cruises, and Silversea Cruises, decided to forego revenue trips deadheading their ships for the long voyage around Africa. Carnival Corporation reported it decided to reroute itineraries for 12 ships across seven brands, which were scheduled to transit the Red Sea through May 2024.
The Resilient Lady is finishing up her first-ever season in Australia having arrived in Sydney on December 4 and then continuing to Melbourne which became the base for its cruises to Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania. The cruise line scheduled a total of 17 cruises during the Australian summer and reports it will return for a second season starting in December 2024.
Departing Australia as originally scheduled on March 27, the cruise ship will now call in Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia, Cape Verde, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Morocco, Spain, and Malta, arriving as scheduled on May 9 in Piraeus, Greece. The trip is being offered in three segments with extended sea time to make up for the extra mileage. Virgin Voyages is offering booked passengers guaranteed spots at no additional cost or the option of canceling due to the changes.
“We know that based on our conversations with passengers and travel partners, they understand the complex geopolitical challenges that have arisen making this change necessary,” said the line’s spokesperson.
It comes as the latest in a series of changes as global events challenged the start-up of the cruise line. The company was forced to delay its first revenue cruise for more than a year due to the pandemic and delayed delivery of its later ships. Today, the company has three of its four ordered cruise ships, with the last one Brilliant Lady still delayed as the company considers its deployment.
“With the very likely continuation of this escalated regional conflict top-of-mind, and in an effort to minimize further disruptions to our passengers’ future vacation plans, Virgin Voyages is now conducting a full review of other geographically similar repositioning voyages and linked sailings,” the company reports.