Virgin Voyages has put sailings on sale through to spring 2023 to meet demand and announced a new homeport for its third ship, Resilient Lady.
Resilient Lady, which will operate Greek Island sailings from Piraeus (for Athens) next summer, will be based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in winter 2022 through to spring 2023.
Associate vice president of international sales Shane Riley said: “This is great for the UK market because Resilient Lady is going to be offering two different seven-night itineraries, so people can do a seven-night with a pre-cruise stay, or 14 nights back-to-back.”
One itinerary leaves San Juan for Tortola, Guadeloupe, Barbados and St Lucia with a late-night stay in Antigua. The other calls in Aruba, where the ship will make a late-night stay, Curacao, Martinique and St Kitts and Nevis.
Riley said: “We are definitely seeing people looking further ahead and booking winter 2022 and spring 2023. We have received lots of requests.”
He added that guests were looking at longer durations and higher grades of cabin, meaning average selling prices from the UK were up.
“We know that people have got a lot of accidental savings because they haven’t been able to spend money on things they would normally have spent it on,” he said. “I always said 2021 would be the year of the splurge and it seems to be happening. Even on our UK summer sailings, the suites sold out first. The ship is booking from the top down which doesn’t usually happen.”
Riley said Virgin Voyages had started a trial with representation company FlexiReps to get in front of even more agents over the summer and added he had seen a “big surge” in agents signing up to its Seacademy for training when the new Scarlet Tier launched recently with an offer of £75 bonus commission.
A third tier – Silver – will be unveiled later this summer, which will offer agents access to trade rates for their own travel.
“I think agents saw the benefits of the first tier – Violet – when we were offering free cruises and are now signing up to be part of it,” Riley said. “I think they thought perhaps that agents would go into a draw for a free cruise, not that everyone would get one.”