Virgin Voyages Has New CEO and Financing, But Delays Newest Ship

Tom McAlpin, retiring CEO of Virgin Voyages (left) and Nirmal Saverimuttu, President and Chief Experience Officer of Virgin Voyages (right).
Tom McAlpin, retiring CEO of Virgin Voyages (left) and Nirmal Saverimuttu, President and Chief Experience Officer of Virgin Voyages (right).

Virgin Voyages made several announcements on 07SEP, including the news that CEO Tom McAlpin is stepping down, the acquisition of new financing, and delayed construction of its latest ship, Brilliant Lady.

CEO Transition

Founding Chief Executive Officer, Tom McAlpin, is retiring as CEO and transitioning to the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. According to Virgin, McAlpin will continue to support the brand and team at an executive and industry level. Nirmal Saverimuttu, who currently serves as President and Chief Experience Officer, has been appointed the new CEO.

“While I will miss the day-to-day, I believe it is the right time to step aside as CEO. Nirmal is a great friend and experienced leader who lives and breathes the Virgin Voyages culture. I know he will help take this amazing brand and Crew to new heights, and I look forward to continuing to support the leadership team as Chairman,” said McAlpin.

According to Virgin, Saverimuttu was a "founding leader" of Virgin Voyages and joined the business as Chief Commercial Officer in 2014 from the Virgin Group. In early 2021, he took on the expanded role of President and Chief Experience Officer.

“I want to send our deepest thanks on behalf of all our Crew and the Board to Tom for his leadership and passion for the business. We are so grateful for all he has done and are thrilled to continue to partner with him as our Chairman,” said Saverimuttu. “I am looking forward to working with the Ares team and our existing investors to deliver on our growth and expansion plans as we look ahead to our very bright future.”

Half a Billion in New Financing

The change in leadership comes as Virgin Voyages closes on a USD $550 million capital raise intended to accelerate its growth plans. The funding round was led by funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management, and also includes additional capital from existing investors including Virgin Group and Bain Capital. According to Virgin, the new funding raise will enable Virgin Voyages to strengthen its financial position while supporting the brand’s expansion into international markets.

"Unexpected Challenges" Delay Brilliant Lady

Also on 07SEP, Virgin Voyages announced a series of itinerary changes as well as the delay of upcoming ship Brilliant Lady.

According to the cruise line, it is facing "unexpected construction, supply chain and staffing challenges" that have delayed Brilliant Lady's debut. Virgin Voyages noted it is "evaluating new possible launch dates" for the vessel, and said guests with bookings that have been cancelled will receive "generous offers" along with exclusive rebooking perks and on-board credit once the new date is announced.

Virgin Voyages says it will offer anyone impacted by the new itineraries price- and promotion-protected options to rebook and receive USD $300 - $600 in Sailor Loot or a full refund.

Itinerary Changes

Virgin Voyages is introducing 19 new ports and 27 new itineraries available through APR 2025. The new offerings feature a return to the UK, new ports of call in Australia and new visits in the Caribbean.

With this new announcement, Virgin Voyages’ fleet will offer a total of 63 itineraries. Among the new options are its “Seachange Series,” repositioning voyages which are intended to offer more opportunities for travellers to extend their holidays.

Resilient Lady

After returning from its inaugural season in Australia, Resilient Lady will sail three itineraries from its homeport in Athens from MAY through JUL 2024.

On the agenda are the following itineraries: “Greek Island Glow” to the islands of Santorini and Mykonos; “Adriatic Sea and Greek Gems,” sailing along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast before stopping in Kotor and Corfu; and “Starry Nights in Greece & Croatia,” which offers a mix of the other two seven-night itineraries.

Virgin Voyages will also return to its British brand roots with a series of three- to six-night sailings aboard Resilient Lady. Kicking off in mid-AUG 2024 and running through SEP, highlights include “English Sights and European Delights,” which docks in Le Verdon (Bordeaux), La Coruña and Bilbao. The cities of Amsterdam and Bruges are also on the docket this fall.

Resilient Lady’s European schedule also includes two repositioning voyages from Portsmouth to Barcelona, adding Morocco to the brand’s roster of new destinations. On the heels of this voyage, Resilient closes its Med season with a Barcelona to Athens voyage, merging the brand’s “Irresistible Med” and “Greek Island Glow” itineraries and introducing Catania, Sicily as well.

Finally, Resilient Lady will set off on a 44-night repositioning from Athens to Australia in OCT 2024, making stops in destinations like Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore and Bali along the way. Once Down Under, Sailors have the option of 15 new itineraries and nine new ports including Broome, Albany, Adelaide, Newcastle, Mooloolaba, Port Douglas, Brisbane, Eden and Kangaroo Island.

Valiant Lady

To start its 2023 winter season, Valiant Lady will return from Barcelona on 29OCT 2023 and begin its signature itineraries from Miami such as the “Eastern Caribbean Antilles” and “Western Caribbean Charm.” From JAN through MAR 2024, the ship will operate out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, offering two southern Caribbean voyages originally scheduled for Brilliant Lady including “The Southeastern Caribbean Isles” and “Sunsets in the Lesser Antilles.”

With Scarlet Lady heading into dry dock next year, sister ship Valiant Lady will trade places starting in APR 2024. Departing from Miami, Valiant Lady will continue to offer Scarlet’s four- and five-night Caribbean rotations, along with a special six-night “Holidaze and Nights” voyage.

Scarlet Lady

Next summer between MAY and OCT 2024, Scarlet will head to the Mediterranean, taking on Valiant Lady’s two seven-night itineraries: “Irresistible Med” and “French Daze and Ibiza Nights.” On 03NOV, Scarlet will embark on an 11-night repositioning voyage from Barcelona to Civitavecchia, stopping in Mallorca, Corsica and Sardinia. After a short period in dry dock for general maintenance, enhancements, and recalibrations, Scarlet Lady will return with a 16-night Transatlantic voyage from Rome to Miami. This new itinerary boasts calls in Funchal (Madeira, Portugal) as well as Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain).

After arriving in Miami on 14DEC 2024, Scarlet Lady will offer Valiant’s six- and eight-night winter voyages through the spring of 2025 including “Western Caribbean Charm” and the “Eastern Caribbean Antilles.” Originally debuting in the fall of 2022, these longer routes from Miami feature late-night stays in San Juan, experiences against the landscape of Roatan, and a taste of the USVIs with a day-trip to St. Croix.

According to Virgin Voyages, travellers can save 30% off Med 2024 voyages and up to a USD $600 Bar Tab when booked by 28SEP 2023. A handful of select Caribbean sailings and repositioning voyages are also eligible for USD $500 off.

Starting 11SEP, the new itineraries will be available to view and book.

More information can be found on Virgin Voyages' website.

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