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Saturday 18 November 2023

Thanks for flying with us: would you like a free cruise?

Sir Richard Branson has never been one to shy away from a publicity stunt.

But even by the the flamboyant British entrepreneur's standards this week's headline grabber was a doozy.

Passengers on a Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Hobart were treated to $7000 cruise vouchers. Just because.

Branson, speaking via FaceTime through the plane’s PA system, told the passengers they would all get a free cruise.

Virgin Voyages’ ship Resilient Lady will start cruising from Melbourne's Station Pier from next month.

The adults-only Resilient Lady is the first new Virgin travel product to arrive Down Under since the launch of Virgin Australia in 2000. Cabins will start from $149 per person, per night with up to $1000 in inclusions.

The flight was chosen as its route is the same as Virgin Voyages’ first ‘Mermaiden’ voyage in Australia on December 11.

“Today, you happen to be travelling on the same route as our Aussie Mermaiden Voyage,” Branson said.

“To celebrate this milestone, I’m pleased to gift each adult on board a free Virgin Voyages cruise.”

The Resilient Lady’s itineraries from Melbourne will include calls in Hobart, Burnie, Sydney and across the Tasman to New Zealand.

Virgin Australia Chief Marketing Officer Libby Minogue said the airline was delighted to create a wonderful experience for guests to celebrate Virgin Voyages’ arrival.

“We are laser focused on creating wonderful experiences for our guests and today is a great example of the Virgin brands joining forces to deliver Australians new experiences in the air or at sea,” she said.

Virgin Voyages CEO Nirmal Saverimuttu said excitement was building for the arrival of Resilient Lady, which is currently sailing from Athens to Australia.

"There will never, ever be better prices to experience our award-winning dining, entertainment and wellness onboard the luxurious Resilient Lady," he said. "This is a new way of cruising Down Under and we can't wait for Aussies to sail with us.” 

Resilient Lady will dock in Australia for the first time on December 4 in Sydney, before heading to Melbourne for the Mermaiden Voyage on December 11.

Branson will be coming to Australia to celebrate the historic voyage, so expect more headline-grabbing stunts.

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