Major blow for Australian cruise fans

Resilient Lady Berths At Circular Quay For The First Time
Sir Richard Branson's exclusively-adults cruise liner 'Resilient Lady' will no longer sail to Australia due to escalating tensions in the Middle East. Photo by Matt Blyth/Getty Images.

Heightened tensions in the Red Sea has led a major luxury cruise line to cancel all of its sailings into Australia.

US-based cruise line Virgin Voyages has announced it will cancel all sailings by luxury, adults-only ship Resilient Lady to Australia starting later 2024 and early 2025.

It comes as Iran-backed Houthi rebels continue to attack and threaten container vessels sailing through the Red Sea in retaliation against Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

At least two dozen trips have been taken off Australian holiday-makers schedule as a result of the cancellation, including a six-night voyage from Perth to Melbourne in early December and a 7-night New Year’s Eve trip on December 29.

“We remain very concerned about potential escalations in the Red Sea over the next 12 months,” a Virgin Voyages spokesman said in a statement.

“This significant and ongoing conflict puts unacceptable risks for safe passage through the region for our sailors, crew and vessel.”

Yemen’s Houthis rebels released a video showing armed men seizing a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea.
Yemen’s Houthis rebels released a video showing armed men seizing a cargo ship in the southern Red Sea.

As the Yemeni rebel group stepped up its attacks on ships in the Red Sea in protest against Israel’s war on Gaza, the US and UK have ramped up attacks against more than a dozen Houthi sites. The attacks, backed by Australia, came after the Houthis began hijacking commercial ships sailing through the Red Sea in November.

They have since attacked more than two dozen others with drones, missiles and speed boats.

The Resilient Lady, which was due to dock into Adelaide later this year, will now complete its Mediterranean sailing season in October and divert its course towards Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.

Virgin Voyages said all customers affected by the recent changes would receive a refund.

“To say that we are disappointed to have come to this tough conclusion is an understatement. These adjustments are happening now in order to minimise potential future disruption to our passengers’ holiday plans,” a spokesman said.

“We are currently working through options to return to Australia and the Asia Pacific region once regional repositioning opportunities become more tenable.”