Sir Richard Branson’s cruise-line venture, Virgin Voyages, is in the early stages of seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in fresh funding from new and existing investors.
The new funding round comes as the Virgin Group founder faces financial turbulence in other parts of his business empire. Virgin Orbit has recently gone under, and Branson has been vocal about the impact of the pandemic on its leisure activities, although it is unclear what the impact has been on Virgin Voyages.
Virgin Voyages in Financial Turmoil?
According to Sky News, Virgin Voyages is planning a new investment round involving new and existing investors, with the company looking for hundreds of millions of dollars. Although it’s too early to determine the scale of the fundraising or the mix of debt and equity, it would involve.
Virgin Voyages’ latest talks about raising funding come just seven months after it secured $550 million from investors. With two ships in the pipeline for this year, one of which has already been delayed, it’s not unlikely the company needs funds to make it to the end of the year.
This disclosure of Virgin Voyages’ talks to secure new capital comes just days after Virgin Orbit, Sir Richard’s commercial satellites business, announced it would lay off the majority of its staff and cease operations due to a lack of funds. Branson injected $11 million into the business this week to fund the redundancies of nearly 700 staff members.
Despite the possible financial issues, Virgin Voyages has been extremely successful in doing what it set out to do. From the get-go, Virgin has been a company that has shaken up the cruise industry and has proven that a new cruise line can show up and be successful.
The adults-only cruise line launched in 2021, following a 15-month delay caused by COVID-19, with its maiden journey from Portsmouth in August of that year.
The company operates two cruise ships, the Scarlet Lady and the Valiant Lady, with a third vessel, the Resilient Lady, set to launch next month and a fourth, Brilliant Lady, due later this year.
The delay of its first ship due to the pandemic, a delay for its third ship due to global supply issues, and low occupancy levels in the year following the pandemic due to pandemic-related measures have certainly played a role in the company now searching for additional funds.
Virgin Voyages is continuing to sail and amaze guests on board, with the company adding a new destination in the Caribbean in January 2024.
New Caribbean Destination
Virgin Voyages is adding another new destination in the Caribbean, Antigua and Barbuda, showing the cruise line is continuing to develop its product despite the investments Virgin is seeking.
The fast-growing cruise hotspot of Saint John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, will begin receiving calls from Virgin Voyages in January 2024
Cruises that include calls to Antigua also include calls to Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Pointe A Pitre; Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St Lucia; and finally Antigua, before returning to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Juan Trescastro, VP of Global Destinations at Virgin Voyages, announced that Antigua will be a port of call for Brilliant Lady. The ship will stay in Antigua until 10 PM during each stop, giving guests more than enough time to explore what Antigua has to offer.
All three of the “ladyships” weigh in at 110,000 gross tons and can welcome as many as 2,700 guests per sailing, with 93% of the cabins offering ocean views and 86% of the cabins featuring spacious balconies.
Virgin Voyages currently has two ships sailing, Valiant Lady and Scarlet Lady. Resilient Lady is set to launch on May 14, 2023. Its first cruise is the seven-night Resilient Lady Athens Mermaiden itinerary.
Brilliant Lady is set to launch on December 24, 2023, with a five-night Brilliant Miami Mermaiden Holidays cruise, including stops in Puerto Plata/Amber Cove, St. Croix, and San Juan.