LONDON - Virgin Voyages is calling it – cruising is back. After the brand has seen bookings surge by 178% in the last six months, 2022 is set to see a strong return across the industry as cruising sails towards pre-pandemic levels.
After two years of restrictions, a study of 14,000 travellers by the brand finds consumer appetite for cruising has rocketed, with 96% keen to cruise this year. Compared to global holidaymakers, UK travellers are hungry to explore, citing destinations as the lead factor in picking a cruise (69%).
Whilst the desire for travel is high, the data also indicates consumer confidence continues to rebuild with the health and safety protocols of a ship being the third most important factor (29%).
The findings were released as Virgin Voyages today launches its second lady ship, Valiant Lady, at London International Cruise Terminal, Tilbury, demonstrating the continued success of the lifestyle and travel brand by Sir Richard Branson, with the UK being a fundamental focus.
Speaking at the launch of Valiant Lady, Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages said, “It was incredible to launch Virgin Voyages last year, so welcoming our second ship, Valiant Lady, here in the UK less than a year later is a very special moment for the entire Virgin Voyages family. After a tough two years, people are excited to explore the world again and it means a lot to us that we can help facilitate that. We know that now more than ever, travellers want to invest in quality experiences. They’re seeking the best value for money, which is exactly what we offer.”
Virgin Voyages’ 2021 debut of Scarlet Lady at Portsmouth International Port was critical to securing government funding for the Port’s terminal extension project; the expansion plans proposed for the whole port look to return £739M GVA for the UK within the next 10 years. With Valiant Lady, attracting close to 3,000 passengers per call, it is anticipated to bring a boost to the city of £1.5m for each voyage through direct and indirect costs, further contributing to the nation’s travel sector.
Virgin Voyages has taken the cruise industry to the next level by bringing the glamour of a boutique hotel to the high seas – exactly what the Sailor of 2022 is seeking. Brand data finds that the overwhelming majority of cruisers (80%) are seeking and booking ‘exclusively adult’ propositions, and more than half (53%) of guests have children and are booking with the intention of spending time away.
Commenting on the launch of Valiant Lady, Nirmal Saverimuttu, President of Virgin Voyages said, “We’ve thrown out the rule book and said goodbye to bow ties and buffets. Instead, our ships are exclusively adult, have a no-tipping policy and boast some of the best dining experiences you’ll find at sea, or on land for that matter – including the world’s first Korean BBQ and the biggest collection of mezcal and tequila at sea. This is what it means to set sail the Virgin way, and we can’t wait to welcome Sailors – old and new – on board.”
From May, Valiant Lady will operate from her new homeport in Barcelona offering late night and overnight stays in the likes of Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Lisbon, Belgium and Ibiza.
Making its US debut in October 2021, Virgin Voyages burst onto the travel scene with its much-anticipated launch, turning heads by offering a fresh take on cruise travel, introducing the world to the modern romance of sailing. After just a few months in the water, the brand has received accolades from consumers and acclaimed travel companies, including being selected as Cruise Critic’s “Best New Cruise Ship for 2021” and holding the most five-star reviews on TripAdvisor. Virgin Voyages is gearing up to welcome its second and third ships in its fleet of four. Valiant Lady sets sail in March and Resilient Lady starts her voyages in August. Virgin Voyages goes global this year with homeports in Miami, Barcelona and Athens.