The launch of Virgin Voyages’ fourth ship, which was to enter service in December 2023, has been delayed indefinitely, the cruise line quietly announced in a September 7, 2023 press statement promoting a raft of new itineraries.
Supply chain and staffing issues, and construction delays prompted the postponement of the new vessel and the cancellation of several sailings.
Brilliant Lady Cruises Cancelled Into 2024
Brilliant Lady, the fourth ship in the Virgin Voyages fleet, will not debut in December as planned, marking another ship launch delay in the cruise line’s short history. The ship is under construction at a Fincantieri shipyard in Genoa, Italy, and was floated out of its construction bay on November 25, 2022, marking the start of its interior design.
Due to ongoing staffing challenges, and supply chain and construction issues, Virgin Voyages has cancelled the ship’s cruise schedule through April 2024, and no firm launch date has been disclosed.
The cruise line, saying it is susceptible to global issues, is still evaluating possible new launch dates.
“We launched Virgin Voyages in the UK two years ago and have since taken the industry by storm, but even the strongest businesses face unforeseen challenges every now and then,” said Shane Riley, Vice President of UK/International Sales at Virgin Voyages.
“We are sorry that our Sailors who were excited about Brilliant Lady will have to wait a little bit longer, but we know they’ll love the itineraries as much as we do. We’re also looking forward to sailing out of Portsmouth again on Resilient Lady and welcoming Sailors on-board to explore the world in true Virgin style,” Riley added.
Virgin Voyages has cancelled Brilliant Lady’s two inaugural sailings, a 5-night cruise roundtrip from Miami on December 24, and a 7-night cruise roundtrip from San Juan on December 30.
The ship was to homeport in San Juan through April 2024, but the line has now cancelled sailings with departure dates of January 6, March 23 and 30, and April 6, 13, and 20.
The April 20 sailing was a transatlantic voyage from the Caribbean to Lisbon, Portugal, as the ship was slated to reposition to Europe for the summer season.
Cruise Line Offers Series of Replacement Voyages
Virgin Voyages has scheduled replacement voyages aboard Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady, offering booked cruisers a choice of similar sailings with departure dates that match, or closely match Brilliant Lady’s original cruises.
For example, guests booked on Brilliant Lady’s December 30, 2023 departure, the 7-night cruise from San Juan, can instead choose either Scarlet Lady’s 6-night New Year’s Ahoy cruise departing December 27 from Miami, or Valiant Lady’s 8-night New Year’s Ahoy sailing, departing December 30, also from Miami.
Replacement sailings are offered for every canceled cruise, including the transatlantic voyage, as Scarlet Lady will sail from Miami on April 21 on a 14-night crossing to Barcelona.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether guests already booked on Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady replacement cruises would be affected. Also, Virgin Voyages has not confirmed what its refund policy will be for any guests who wish to cancel and not rebook on an alternate ship. It is anticipated, though, that full refunds will be provided.
Earlier Ships Also Faced Launch Delays
Virgin Voyages, an adults-only line founded by Richard Branson, currently has three ships at sea: Scarlet Lady, which launched in October 2021; Valiant Lady, which entered service in March 2022; and Resilient Lady, which debuted in May 2023.
Scarlet Lady and Resilient Lady also faced construction, staffing, and other challenges, and were delayed. Scarlet Lady’s delay was Covid-related, since her debut was originally planned for 2020, before the outbreak shut down the industry.
Resilient Lady originally was scheduled to debut in August 2022, but was postponed due to supply chain obstacles and a level of uncertainty for international travelers based on Covid levels at the time.
All of the Virgin Voyages ships are identical, at 110,000-gross tons and with 1,400 cabins accommodating 2,770 guests. The ships focus on entertainment, and broke new ground with a series of specialty restaurants that replace the industry’s main dining room tradition.