The debut of Virgin Voyages’ third cruise ship, Resilient Lady, has been delayed by almost a year as the cruise line contends with crew shortages, supply chain issues, and demand impacted by the war in Ukraine and global inflation.
Resilient Lady, a sister ship to Scarlet Lady and Valiant Lady, was meant to be delivered in August this year, but will instead enter service in May next year, according to a statement from the cruise line.
In the statement, Virgin Voyages listed a host of factors that had influenced the decision, chief among which was the supply chain delays that have impacted almost every business sector since the global economy began to reopen following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite making tremendous strides alongside the cruise industry as a whole, the brand is not immune to the global challenges the world is facing,” Virgin Voyages said. “This includes supply chain obstacles, a level of regional uncertainty for international travelers in countries in East Europe, crewing challenges based on government regulations and restrictive [COVID-19] entry requirements back into the U.S.”
Virgin Voyages is part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and debuted in late 2021 with a single ship, Scarlet Lady. It added a second ship, Valient Lady, in March of this year, and now sails in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
Resilient Lady was scheduled to join Valiant Lady in the Mediterranean in August with sailings out of Athens, but will instead only be joining the fleet in May, 2023.
As a result, her scheduled Dubai cruise next year, from the UAE to Australia, is likely to be impacted, although Virgin Voyages has not confirmed this.
All three ships are sister vessels that can carry 2,770 passengers at double occupancy.
As a result of the delay, all Resilient Lady voyages scheduled between mid-August and early May 2023 have been canceled.
Virgin Voyages said passengers booked on the canceled sailings could choose between a full cash refund plus a future cruise credit of 25% of what they had paid, or a bigger future cruise credit in the amount of 200% of what they had paid.
Passengers who choose the 200% credit option and rebook in 2022 will also be offered a second, complimentary voyage (excluding taxes and fees).
While the oblique reference to disruption caused by the war in Ukraine might suggest a dent in demand, Virgin Voyages president Tom McAlpin has said he is optimistic about the future for the cruise line.
“We’ve accomplished so much this past year, and the future for us is exciting,” he said. “The momentum that we’re seeing with Scarlet and Valiant Lady is incredible.”
“The travel industry is recovering well, and this month, we’ve seen record bookings, a significant increase in onboard spend, and we’re currently seeking to close out our next round of funding, which sets us up for continued growth,” he added.
Virgin Voyages’ fourth cruise ship, Brilliant Lady, has thus far been unaffected, and is still scheduled to debut soon after the arrival of Resilient Lady.
Supply chain and crew shortages impact cruise industry
Virgin Voyages is the third major cruise line to delay the launch of a new ship due to supply chain delays. Disney Cruise Line’s new Disney Wish has been pushed back by a few weeks from June 9th to July 14th, 2022.
Seabourn has also announced a delay to the unveiling of a new ship, the 264-passenger Seabourn Venture, but only by two weeks. The ship will now debut on July 27th. It’s the third delay for Seabourn Venture, which originally was scheduled to begin sailing in 2021.
Several smaller lines have also delayed new ship launches. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection delayed the unveiling of its first cruising superyacht, the 298-passenger Evrima, from May to August (the sixth delay for the ship over the past two years).
Atlas Ocean Voyages, meanwhile, pushed back the debut of a new vessel from July to October.