Perhaps no cruise line has been as unlucky with timing as Virgin Voyages. The adults-only cruise line that’s known for doing things differently from other mass-market brands (and being the pride and joy of Richard Branson) was originally set to debut in spring 2020.
That was, until the worldwide pandemic hit. As a result, the cruise line halted its launch until 2021.
Now that it has started sailing, however, it’s had to face the most challenging market in cruise history that’s created more hurdles to smooth sailing.
There’s the ongoing challenge of COVID, but also issues ranging from high energy prices to inflation to even getting visas for crew. (Several cruise lines have had an issue finding crew for ships due to a backlog of visas for foreign workers, leading to limited service in some instances.)
Now those issues have seemingly added up to the point where Virgin says it will delay the launch of its newest ship for months.
Resilient Lady — the third ship in the Virgin Voyages fleet — was set to make its debut in August 2022. Her schedule had her sailing from Athens to Greek islands from August until October, at which point the ship would be repositioned to sail from San Juan to sail the Caribbean.
Virgin Voyages has instead decided to delay the launch until May 2023. According to a statement on its website, the cruise line cited “a number of global challenges that affect travel and particularly the cruise industry, including supply chain issues, crewing challenges and regional uncertainty.”
As for passengers booked on the canceled trips, they are looking at receiving generous compensation, and the cruise has informed them of the change more than two months before the ship was scheduled to sail on passenger cruises.
Passengers have the option of keeping their money with Virgin, which is offering a “Future Voyage Credit” worth 200% of what they paid for the canceled trip. On top of that, if part of the credit is used for a 2022 sailing, then they will receive a free voyage (with the exception of taxes and fees) in addition to the 200% credit.
As well, passengers on canceled trips also have the option of getting a full refund in cash, and then a credit of 25% of the fare paid.
What’s more is that Virgin is also taking the step of offering reimbursement of up to $500 per person for penalties for hotel, airfare, and other charges that are incurred due to the cancellation of the cruises.
For now, the first cruise shown aboard Resilient Lady on Virgin Voyages’ website departs May 14, 2023 from Athens on a 7-night trip around the Greek Islands.
Hopefully it will be a smoother time for the entire industry by then.