A Virgin Voyages ship returning to Europe from Australia has been diverted away from the Red Sea and Suez Canal due to attacks on shipping in the region.
The line was left with “no choice” but to change next month’s repositioning cruise by Resilient Lady and pledged to protect agency commissions.
A full review of other similar repositioning voyages and linked sailings is also being carried out.
An update on any further changes is expected within weeks, “with the very likely continuation of this escalated regional conflict top-of-mind”.
The company said: “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.
“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.
“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.
“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.”
More than 30 attacks by Yemen-based Houthis on international shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden have taken place in support of Palestinians in Gaza.
This has resulted in Carnival Corporation rerouting 12 ships across seven brands to avoid transits through the Red Sea alongside other companies such as MSC Cruises.
Resilient Lady will now depart from Sydney to sail around the coast of Africa via Eden and Fremantle in Australia, Mauritius, Durban and Cape Town, Walvis Bay in Namibia, Cape Verde, Tenerife, Casablanca, Barcelona, Malta, Santorini and Piraeus for Athens including extended time at sea.
The full length of the revised voyage is actually the same length as the original reposition at 43 nights.
Passengers on the former three legs of the repositioning voyage will have guaranteed spots on the revised itinerary at no additional cost with a price protection commitment in place, according to the company.
“If these dates are not convenient they can receive a future voyage credit based on their paid balance or a full refund.
“In addition to this, we are committed to remaining a good partner to our First Mates (travel advisors) and will be protecting their commissions.”
Virgin Voyages stressed: “The safety of our passengers and crew is our number one priority.”