Celebrating our customers onboard Virgin Voyages
It was great to sail onboard with our repeat customers, who all love the ship so much they have sailed multiple times. We’ve had some great talks from leaders across the Virgin Group, talking about everything from space to wellness to what’s coming next for us.
It was also wonderful to hear from Chris DeSalvo, who was on his 41st voyage – spending more than 200 days at sea this year, working remotely from our ship. Chris gave me tips for his favourite voyage (the Adriatic) and said this one wouldn’t be his last!
It was also hilarious finding out that I was not the only Richard Branson on board – one of our repeat bookers also shares my name. Two other sailors, Karl Fitzpatrick and Noel Doyle from Ireland, had also racked up more than 17 voyages in a year.
It brings me great joy to know that our customers are enjoying the ship as much as I am. We set out to reinvent the cruise industry and to bring people something different. We ripped up the rule book of what people think a cruise should be and swapped buffets for fine dining, average experiences for exceptional service, and put a big focus on both entertainment and wellness (because life should be about balance).
It's also important to me to hear their feedback and learn about any niggles. I’m always taking notes and the journey of disruption never stops – we’re always looking for ways to improve.
And sometimes when we make mistakes, it’s good to recognise what went wrong and use it as a lesson. I also bumped into Donovan Tildesley on board, a blind man who was wrongly removed from a ship a few months back because the crew were worried they couldn’t support him. We realised our mistake straight away, flew him back on the ship and did all we could to turn the experience around. It was great to hear that he is now consulting with Virgin Voyages and working with them to make sure accessibility is always front of mind and it’s a positive experience for all our sailors.
Our cruise began in Athens on a Sunday afternoon and we then sailed on to Santorini and spent the day there on Monday. It was my first time in Santorini and I was blown away by the beautiful views (which also showed me our wonderful ship from another angle!), great food and gorgeous whitewashed architecture. Rhodes was next on the itinerary and then cruise the continues on to Bodrum and Mykonos.
It really is such a stress-free way to travel and to see new places. It’s wonderful to be able explore a city and then hop on the ship for it to take you to the next place. It doesn’t feel like travelling or waiting, because it’s about enjoying the journey, as well as the destination.
My son Sam also joined us on the cruise and performed with his band Waves Rush In, which was so brilliant to see. We even got a sneak peek of new material, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
It’s been a brilliant few days and I know when I disembark I’m going to have to shake off the cruise blues.
A big thank you to our wonderful team at Virgin Voyages who have built such an incredible experience that people don’t want to leave. And a big thank you to our customers, who keep coming back – cruise after cruise after cruise.