After Nearly Two-Year Delay, Virgin Voyages Will Launch Fourth Cruise Ship

Brilliant Lady cruise ship
Brilliant Lady seen during construction at Fincantieri but recently went into layup waiting for her September 2025 introduction (Fincantieri)

Published May 3, 2024 5:10 PM by The Maritime Executive


Virgin Voyages which was launched to disrupt the cruise industry with a new approach to the business is finally set to introduce its fourth cruise ship completing one of the most challenging startups. The cruise line which was announced with great promise and fanfare ran into headwinds as its introduction coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virgin Voyages this week announced the September 2025 introduction of its fourth cruise ship, Brilliant Lady (110,000 gross tons), which is 21 months after the originally announced first voyage for the cruise ship. The company faced timing challenges with the introduction of each of its ships as the first ship Scarlet Lady was on her positioning trip to the United States in March 2020 when the cruise industry shut down due to the pandemic. She would not start sailing till 2021 with similar delays for the startup of Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady.

The cruise line has been forced to also reshuffle its deployment plans several times including in September 2023 when they announced the cancelation of all the planned cruises for Brilliant Lady, which had been scheduled to enter service in December. At the time the company blamed “unexpected construction, supply chain, and staffing challenges,” while it also reported it was completing a new round of financing.

The delay of Brilliant Lady caused them to also cancel winter 2024 Caribbean cruises for the Valiant Lady and summer 2024 Greek Island cruises for Resilient Lady. Most recently in an unrelated development, they said they will not be running a second season in Australia after reporting the Resilient Lady would reroute around Africa due to the current security problems in the Red Sea. 

When the cruise line delayed Brilliant Lady, they said it was likely to take up to two years to ramp up for her launch. She was floated out from the building dock on November 25, 2022, and Fincantieri counts her as delivered in 2023. She, however, did her final dry docking in Palermo, Italy in February 2024 and Virgin sent her to the anchorage off Cyprus where she is laid up.

Virgin says a few subtle changes are planned for the fourth cruise ship reported an “adapted frame, meaning Brilliant Lady is designed to sail through the Panama Canal.” Seatrade reports this included removing deck and lifeboat overhangs which are excluded for clearances at the Panama Canal. Virgin Voyages also reports she will introduce new dining and entertainment options.

The cruise line started with a business model that called for inclusive pricing, dining and entertainment options, and a “no kids” policy marketing the cruises as “adults only.” Most of the cruises have been seven days or less in length with destinations in the Caribbean, Europe, the Mediterranean, and this most recent season Australia. The cruise line attests to having “some of the highest repeater rates in the industry.”

The introduction of Brilliant Lady now scheduled for September 2025 is set to adapt the model. She will be offering cruises between 5 and 14 nights and heading to new destinations. The company reports homeports were requested by its travelers. The ship enters service sailing from New York to Bermuda and Canada followed by winter cruises from Miami to the Caribbean. In March 2026, she sails westward marking the brand's first Panama Canal transit, cruises from Los Angeles, and an introductory season between May and September 2026 from Seattle to Alaska.