Virgin Voyages has announced changes to the repositioning cruise of Resilient Lady because of concerns about growing tensions in the Middle East.
The cruise line said: “The safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority. 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.
“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 taking place on March 27.”
The first leg of the original cruise had been due to call at Airlie Beach, Cairns and Darwin in Australia, with an overnight in Bali, then on to Singapore. After that, the second leg was due to leave Singapore on 11 April, to Malaysia, Phuket, Sri Lanka, Goa, overnight in Mumbai and arriving in Dubai on 24 April.
The final leg had been due to depart Dubai on 25 April, calling at Egypt, then Rhodes, Santorini and Athens.
Virgin Voyages said: “In place of her former repositioning voyage, Resilient Lady will now be departing from Sydney, embarking on an iconic, once-in-a-lifetime sailing around the coast of Africa with a brand new route stopping in Eden and Fremantle (Perth) in Australia, Port Louis (Mauritius Islands), Durban and Cape Town (South Africa), Walvis Bay (Namibia), Praia (Cape Verde), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Spain), Casablanca (Morocco), Barcelona (Spain), Valletta (Malta), as well as Santorini and Piraeus (Athens) in Greece – all with extended time at sea.”
Virgin said passengers on the original three legs of the repositioning voyages will have guaranteed spots on the new sailings at no additional cost and a price protection commitment in place. If the dates aren’t convenient, passengers can receive a future voyage credit, based on their paid balance, or a full refund.
Exact dates of each leg are expected to be announced later today.
Virgin Voyages added: “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.
“In addition to this, we are committed to remaining a good partner to our First Mates (travel advisors) and will be protecting their commissions.”
The cruise line warned it might make further changes to other itineraries.
It said: “With the very likely continuation of this escalated regional conflict top-of-mind, and in an effort to minimise 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.
“We will provide an update in the coming weeks on any further changes we will need to make.”