Virgin Voyages: New Funding, Executive Moves, Ship Delay & Cruise Changes

It was a robust news day Thursday for Virgin Voyages with several major announcements. Here’s what’s happening for the cruise brand, which is part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group:

Capital Funding Secured

Virgin Voyages has closed on a $550 million capital raise, which will allow it to accelerate its growth plans. The funding round was led by funds managed by the Private Equity Group of Ares Management (“Ares”), a global alternative investment manager, and it also includes additional capital from existing investors including Virgin Group and Bain Capital.

It’s expected that this new funding will enable the Virgin Voyages brand to strengthen its financial position while supporting its rapid expansion into international markets. “The success of this capital raise shows how much Virgin Voyages has achieved and how much further it can go,” says Josh Bayliss, CEO, the Virgin Group. "We are very proud of the experience that Virgin Voyages has created and continues to deliver every day across its fleet.”

McAlpin Retires, Nirmal Saverimuttu is New CEO

Officially launched in August 2021, Virgin Voyages currently operates three ships with voyages to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and by year’s end, Australia and New Zealand. The brand’s founding CEO, Tom McAlpin, who’s been at the helm from the beginning, has retired from that post. He's transitioning to a new role as chairman of the board of directors and will continue to support the brand and team at an executive and industry level.

In turn, Nirmal Saverimuttu, who has been serving as Virgin’s president and chief experience officer, has assumed the role of CEO.

“While I will miss the day-to-day, I believe it is the right time to step aside as CEO,” says McAlpin.“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.”

Saverimuttu was a founding leader of Virgin Voyages and joined the business as chief commercial officer in 2014 from the Virgin Group after successfully closing the first investment round. In early 2021, he took on the expanded role of president and chief experience officer.

Brilliant Lady Delayed

Despite what it terms “careful planning,” Virgin Voyages said that it’s facing unexpected construction, supply chain and staffing challenges that will delay the new Brilliant Lady’s service start-up. So, the line has postponed the ship’s December 2023 service start-up to a later time, noting in a press release that it’s evaluating new possible launch dates. “We’ve built a brand that has taken the industry by storm, but even the strongest businesses face unforeseen challenges every now and then,” says Michelle Bentubo, senior vice president, service excellence and travel operations.

So, these cruises on Brilliant Lady have been canceled:

  • "MerMaiden" voyages on December 24 and December 30, 2023;
  • "Sunsets in the Lesser Antilles" sailings on January 6, March 30 and April 13, 2024;
  • "Southeastern Caribbean Isles" voyages on March 23 and April 6, 2024; and
  • A transatlantic crossing from Puerto Rico to Portugal on April 20, 2024.

Select 2024 cruises to the Caribbean scheduled for Brilliant Lady will now be operated by Valiant Lady. That and other shifts to create new itineraries have also resulted in additional cancelations including the following: 

  • Valiant Lady's six-night "Western Caribbean Charm" voyages from January 7, 2024, through March 17, 2024, and eight-night "Eastern Caribbean Antilles" sailings from January 13, 2024, through March 23, 2024.
  • Resilient Lady's week-long "Adriatic Sea & Greek Gems" voyages from July 28, 2024, through September 29, 2024, and "Greek Island Glow" departures between August 4, 2024, and October 13, 2024.

Virgin said that guests with bookings that have been canceled will receive a full refund or exclusive rebooking perks and onboard credit. The line has also produced a document showing "sailors" (guests), what replacement cruises might work for them. Replacement sailings have been offered for each of the canceled voyages. 

New Ports and Itineraries

Coral Reef Australia Photo Courtesy Tourism Port Douglas and Raintree Editorial Use Only
Virgin Voyages's new itineraries will call at Port Douglas, Australia, a port along the Coral Sea.   (Courtesy of Tourism Port Douglas and Raintree)

In a global expansion, Virgin Voyages also is introducing 27 new itineraries with 19 new ports through April 2025. Spanning all corners of the globe, the schedule will feature a return to the U.K. following strong customer demand, and new ports in Australia and the Caribbean.

In total, the line’s fleet will offer 63 itineraries across the globe “Our loyal sailors have been asking for more places to visit with us, so we’re delivering in a big way,” emphasizes Bentubo. Among the new options are what the brand is calling its “Seachange Series" of repositioning voyages. 

Travelers who want to book one of the new itineraries can take advantage of 30 percent off 2024 Mediterranean voyages, and up to a $600 bar tab when they book by September 28, 2023. A handful of select Caribbean sailings and repositioning voyages are also eligible for $500 off. 

“From Morocco to Mooloolaba, Amsterdam to Bordeaux, Catania to Port Douglas, we now offer more than 120 incredible places you can explore," says Bentubo. Here's a link to the line's press release with more detailed ship-by-ship information about the new itineraries. 

The new itineraries will be available to view and book on Monday, September 11. For more information, visit