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Brilliant Lady’s Changes Revealed to Support New Destinations

Changes to Brilliant Lady including positioning of the lifeboats as well as the introduction of a new Sea Terrace type, the (Slightly) Smaller Balcony Sea Terrace allow the ship to pass through the Panama Canal.


Cargo Ship traveling through Panama Canal
Cargo Ship traveling through Panama Canal © Photo by Rikin Katyal

Virgin Voyages is potentially set to embark on exciting new journeys through the Panama Canal (following previously announced itineraries), breaking away from the limitations posed by its current fleet. The highly anticipated Brilliant Lady, rumored to launch in May – October 2025 (according to First Mate documents), brings about significant changes, particularly in lifeboat placement and the introduction of a unique cabin type.

Lifeboat Changes Allows Panama Canal Passage

It’s long been speculated that the current trio of lady ships lifeboats overhang the structure of the ship and have restricted Virgin Voyages from navigating through the Panama Canal. Brilliant Lady, with its launch on the horizon, strategically adjusts the placement of lifeboats further into the ship. The changes could open a vital route to the Pacific Ocean providing access to ports in California, Alaska, Canada and Hawaiian islands.

Pictures from the construction of Brilliant Lady show the lifeboats positioned closer to the ship and lower down - Valiant Lady (left) Brilliant Lady (right)
Pictures from the construction of Brilliant Lady show the lifeboats positioned closer to the ship and lower down – Valiant Lady (left) Brilliant Lady (right)

Introduction of “(Slightly) Smaller Balcony Sea Terrace” Cabin Type

As a result of the lifeboat adjustments, a new cabin type emerges. Previously categorized as Limited View Sea Terraces, cabins between 8034A/Z – 8086A/Z and 8214A/Z – 8314A/Z will transform into (Slightly) Smaller Balcony Sea Terraces. The notable exception to this is 8086A/Z, a standard Sea Terrace cabin that will transition into a (Slightly) Smaller Balcony Sea Terrace. These cabins mark a reduction in terrace size from 40 square feet to 9-11 square feet depending on placement on the ship.

(Slightly) Smaller Balcony Sea Terrace Floor Plan with two hammocks on the terrace, a bed, toilet, shower and wardrobe
(Slightly) Smaller Balcony Sea Terrace Floor Plan© Photo by Virgin Voyages
Brilliant Lady Deck Plan changes with updated cabin numbers
Updated Brand Brochure shows the changes to the deck plan © Photo by Virgin Voyages

Two Hammocks Instead of One

The (Slightly) Smaller Balcony Sea Terraces will exclusively feature two hammocks the only cabin to have this feature except the Massive Suite, providing an unparalleled and relaxing experience for passengers. Notably, these cabins will lack additional furniture on the terrace but do maintain the same interior cabin size of a Sea Terrace. The shift in lifeboat placement and name change suggests that these cabins may no longer have obstructed views of the ocean however this is speculation until more of the ship is revealed.

A person lounging in a hammock
The new cabin type, exclusive to Brilliant Lady, will feature two icon red hammocks on a newly designed smaller balcony to accommodate the narrower ship design – crucial to allow the ship to pass through the Panama Canal© Photo by Virgin Voyages

Further Cabin Updates

We will be updating our cabin look up tool to include information of each affected cabin on Brilliant Lady. It’s important to note that, aside from these alterations, there are no other reported changes to the cabin layouts on the Brilliant Lady.

Anticipation for the Mermaiden Voyage

Despite the delay in Brilliant Lady’s launch, Virgin Voyages enthusiasts eagerly await the announcement of the Mermaiden voyage. Increased activity around the ship, behind-the-scenes footage from the crew, and additional information included for First Mate Travel Agents all hint at an impending announcement. With the prospect of Panama Canal cruises on the horizon, Virgin Voyages is poised to introduce sailors to a whole new region.

VV Insider will keep you updated with any further Brilliant Lady announcements. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook for further information.

Source: Virgin Voyages Brand Brochure December 2023

About the author

Co-Founder and Editor. An iOS developer and writer with a passion for theme parks and extensive cruise experience, blending technical know how with a love for Virgin Voyages nearing 15 sailings around the world.


  1. Michaela says:

    Two hammocks is a intriguing trade off for the smaller sea terrace.

  2. Andy K says:

    I hope they will also address a major flaw in the design of some of the Rock Star suites. Our Brilliant suite on Resiliant had a sliding glass door to give privacy in the bathroom. The problem was while there were guides for the door to slide a long, there was no way of securing it in either an open or closed position. Therefore, as soon as the ship started rolling (common in Australian/ NZ waters) the door would continuously slide / slam open & closed with a slamming sound – I don’t know how it didn’t break.(we heard from some other rock stars that they were missing this door from their bathroom – most likely broken!!)
    VV staff’s’ solution was to put towels on the floor thereby preventing it from being able to close, and securing it in an open position. All well and good if you were in your cabin when the ship started rolling.

  3. Walter says:

    The placement of the lifeboats hanging over the side of the first three Ladyships prevent them from going through the canal. The boats would be damaged by the canal walls if they attempted to go through. Hence the reason for the change and why Brilliant is the only ship that can go through the canal. I believe they also squared up the aft. The first three ships flare out at the aft. I believe Brilliant has a square aft at the waterline.

  4. Jerry R. says:

    Why is it so many people refer to this “smaller” ship being done for Panama Canal crossings? This infers that the current ships are too wide for some reason.

    The Current ships (Scarlet, Valiant, and Resiliant Ladies) are 125ft (38m) wide, and 912ft (278m) long.
    The maximum in the canal is 160.75 ft (49m) and 1,200.75 ft long (366m).

    So to me it does not make sense to indicate that the smaller ship is for Panama crossings. That claim just does not make sense.

    However, smaller vessels could go to different destinations where larger ships just can’t dock.

    1. VV Insider says:

      It’s a certainly an interesting discussion. This article is a roundup of rumours and speculation that have been circulating about Brilliant Lady pre-launch. Be sure to stay tuned for updates when official announcements are made. 👍

    2. Bill says:

      It is a requirement that ships transiting the Panama Canal not have anything that hangs over the side of the ship. Holland America learned this the hard way when their new Pinnacle Class ships Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam were unable to transit the canal. Koningsdam had a long cruise scheduled that circumnagivated South America to get it to the west coast so it could sail Alaska just as Covid hit. It actualy did go end up going through the canal during the cruise shutdown despite the lifeboats to get crew home, but it has remained on the west coast since then.

      Rotterdam, the latest ship in the Pinnacle family, corrected this oversight by doing the same thing that VV is doing on Brilliant, bringing in the lifeboats so it can sail the Panama Canal.

      So what the article says definitely makes sense.

      1. Thomas says:

        That is correct. There can be no overhangs when transiting the canal as the tugboats need to maintain a visual of the side of the ship at all times.

    3. The current ships are too large to navigate the Panama Canal. That has been confirmed by many sources. The newest ship will be able to navigate the canal should it so desire.

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