In a momentous occasion for Barbados, the luxurious Valiant Lady, one of the newest additions to the Virgin Voyages fleet, made its historic debut at the Bridgetown Port.
The inaugural visit was met with enthusiasm from government officials, including Minister of Tourism and International Transport Ian Gooding-Edghill, who expressed his delight during an inaugural ceremony held onboard the vessel on Tuesday.
The Valiant Lady, a five-star, 100% adult-only luxury ship, sailed into the port with 2,317 passengers and 1,142 crew members, marking a significant milestone for Barbados as the vessel chose the island as one of its destination ports for the winter cruise season.
Minister Gooding-Edghill, speaking at the ceremony, described the day as a “major celebration for Barbados.” He emphasized that it marked the first visit of the Valiant Lady to Barbados and the maiden call of any Virgin Voyages vessel on the island.
The minister expressed his pleasure in having Barbados included in the Virgin Voyages’ Caribbean program, showcasing the confidence the cruise line has in the destination.
“We are pleased to have Barbados as a part of its Caribbean program this winter for the first time,” Gooding-Edghill stated, underlining the island’s eagerness to explore homeporting opportunities and other avenues for new business.
The tourism minister thanked Virgin Voyages, a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Bain Capital, for choosing Barbados as a critical port of call.
He expressed optimism about the future, hoping the partnership would continue growing and strengthening over time.
Captain Justin Lawes of the Valiant Lady shared his excitement, stating that coming to Barbados felt “almost like coming home.”
Lawes praised the unique cruise experience of Virgin Voyages, attributing it to Sir Richard Branson’s penchant for innovation and disruption in the industry.
“We have a great cruise ship and a great cruise experience. Everything Sir Richard touches is very different and new, and we pride ourselves on being an industry disrupter,” Captain Lawes remarked.
Anticipating a positive experience for passengers in Barbados, he expressed hope for a long-lasting relationship between Virgin Voyages and the island.
The presence of officials from the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., Barbados Port Inc., Platinum Port Agency, and UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, marked the Valiant Lady’s visit.
Tuesday’s visit is the first of five transit stops scheduled for the ship’s winter season in Barbados. With a carrying capacity of 2,816 passengers, the Valiant Lady commenced its service in March 2022, sailing from Portsmouth, England, to Belgium.
It was later repositioned to the Mediterranean during the summer and then to Miami, Florida, for the winter season.
As the Valiant Lady sets sail for its next port of call in Castries, Saint Lucia, Barbados remains optimistic about the opportunities this partnership with Virgin Voyages brings, further solidifying its position as a premier destination in the Caribbean cruise industry.
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