Cruise & Ferry Review - Autumn/Winter 2023

71 INTERVIEW Limitless possibilities Rebecca Barnes asks Virgin Voyages’ Tom McAlpin about what lies ahead for the brand as it prepares to visit new countries and welcome a fourth ship Virgin Voyages has only been in business for two years but has already earned multiaward-winning status. It’s an impressive achievement and nobody can deny that the brand has worked relentlessly to bring energy and originality to the industry since launching in 2021. “It’s exciting when I think back to how we started, building this brand from the ground up, but it’s wonderful to realise that we still have so many incredible milestones ahead of us as well,” reflects CEO Tom McAlpin. In August 2023, the brand will sail its first-ever ‘Virgin Celebration Voyage’, for which it has taken a page out of the traditional CEO sailings rule book and tossed the rest overboard. McAlpin will be hosting, alongside brand founder Sir Richard Branson and a few other members of the Virgin family. The line is then heading to Australia – once Resilient Lady’s season in Greece and the Adriatic concludes, it will embark on a 44-night repositioning voyage before docking in Sydney. “I can’t deny the excitement around Resilient Lady’s MerMaiden in Australia,” says McAlpin. “Our president and chief experience officer, Nirmal Saverimuttu, as well as our chief brand officer, Nathan Rosenberg, are both Australian, so our entire team is eagerly awaiting to see how the brand will be received by Australians, who have such an affinity for the brand. We’re also exploring possible collaborations with our sister companies like Virgin Money, Virgin Active and Virgin Australia.” Resilient Lady will be in the South Pacific until late March 2024 undertaking a series of shorter itineraries to places like Melbourne, Burnie and Hobart, sprinkled with a few longer-haul voyages to New Zealand. Also on the horizon is the second annual ‘Limitless Voyage’, curated by chief celebrations officer, actress and singer Jennifer Lopez. The 2024 ‘Limitless Voyage’ will coincide with International Women’s Day and feature a collection of female entrepreneurs who will share their stories to inspire and network with sailors (Virgin’s term for passengers). Activities ashore are continually evaluated, and McAlpin reveals there will be some new ‘Shore Things’ for guests to look forward to. “We’re not afraid to “ Our entire team is eagerly awaiting to see how the brand will be received by Australians” Photo: Virgin Voyages