Ambience, but no Virgin

Ambience, will be the last of the large cruise ships we’ll see in Freo this summer cruise season. She’s due to arrive tomorrow, Sunday, 3 March at approximately 8.30am.

Sadly, Virgin Voyage’s Resilient Lady, who we had been looking forward to welcoming to Fremantle, will not be visiting due to the continuing conflict in the Red Sea.

Ambience. Credit Ambassador Cruise Line

It’s Ambience’s first visit to Fremantle. She’s the flagship for the Ambassador Cruise Line. The word ‘ambience’ is derived from the French word ‘surrounding’ – the cruise line aims to achieve ‘the perfect ambience’.

Ambience is 33 years old and was last refurbished in 2022. She is 245m long – a little shorter than Brilliance of the Seas who visited a few days ago.

Interestingly, Ambience has had four previous names: Satoshi, Amy Johnson, Pacific Dawn and Regal Princess.

She has been on a 57-day-cruise from London. She left on 6 January, then visited Rotterdam in Holland, Oporto in Portugal, then the Azores Islands, Barbados, Netherlands Antilles, San Blas Islands Panama, Panama Canal, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tonga, New Zealand, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide before Fremantle.

On this trip into Freo, Ambience will have 1094 passengers and 578 crew on board. This is a ‘transit’ visit, which means Freo is a day stop with 27 passengers leaving the cruise and no one joining it. So, 1067 guests will continue on.

Ambience departs Freo on Sunday evening at 7pm on an Easter Themed 63-day cruise back to London visiting Lombok, Singapore, Penang, Phuket, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles, Kenya, South Africa, Tristan de Cunha Island, Brazil, Cape Verde, Morocco and Lisbon before arriving back to Tilbury, London.

Head on down to Victoria Quay to watch her depart on Sunday at 7pm.

There was great excitement about the first US based Virgin Voyages’ cruise ships coming Down Under, and even more when t was announced the luxury, adults-only Resilient Lady was coming to Fremantle.

Resilient Lady. Credit Virgin Voyages

Due to the hostilities in the Red Sea, Virgin has rescheduled its cruises. Fremantle has been cancelled. All those booked on the adult only trip out of Fremantle will not be able to fulfil their cruise dreams – at least for the time being.

Virgin recently suddenly axed all of its cruises that were set to depart from Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle for the 2024-25 seasons. A statement cited safety concerns regarding “potential escalations in the Red Sea over the next 12 months”.

Ongoing attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels on ships in the Red Sea are disrupting maritime trade generally through the Suez Canal, a vital route up past Africa and the Middle East into the Mediterranean. The militants say they will continue to control the area until attacks on Gaza stop. The blockage of this route makes it impossible to cut through that passage to Europe – the Virgin Voyages’ ships would have been required to take a long re-route around the whole west coast of Africa in order to get back to Europe.

However, Virgin are doing some relocation cruises out of Sydney via Africa and the Panama back to the US.

Of course, Virgin will be refunding those who’ve already purchased cancelled cruises. And in case you’re devastated to miss out on the opportunity to experience this luxe cruise, don’t despair. Virgin Voyages has also said they definitely plan to return to Australia as soon as possible.

So watch this space.

* STORY by Jean Hudson @jeansodyssey. Jean is our Shipping Correspondent and also a regular feature writer and photographer here on the Shipping News. You may like to follow up her informative Places I Love stories, as well as other feature stories and Freo Today photographs, right here.


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