Virgin Voyages made its NSW debut this week, with the Resilient Lady cruising into Sydney Harbour where it was met by Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson in a classic wooden speedboat.

The mogul also scaled the Sydney Harbour Bridge for a BridgeClimb experience while Resilient Lady was docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal and shared a video of the visit via Instagram, where he has almost 5 million followers, and Facebook, reaching 4.5 million followers.

Branson said: “Sydney is one of my favourite cities in the world, and we wanted to ensure our arrival was as spectacular as the Sydney Harbour itself.

“To stand at the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and watch Resilient Lady come into Circular Quay was one of the most exciting moments since we founded the Virgin brand.”

Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox said: “Cruise is such a vital contributor to the visitor economy of NSW in terms of on-shore passenger spend, supply chain jobs and provisioning services. We are delighted that Virgin Voyages is offering its 'sailors' unforgettable experiences when they go ashore in the Harbour City and look forward to many more port calls into the future."

NSW has driven the recovery of the cruise industry in Australia, generating $2.75 billion, or 48.8 per cent of the national total, for the visitor economy in the 2022-23 financial year.

There will be 331 cruise calls into NSW ports this summer, up almost 16 per cent from last summer. There will also be a record number of maiden calls, with Resilient Lady among 12 first-time ships arriving in Sydney Harbour.

Resilient Lady was presented with the keys to the city to mark its arrival in Sydney, a tradition for all vessels on their maiden call to a port.

Destination NSW CEO Steve Cox and members of the Product Development team attended the ceremony aboard the ship.

Resilient Lady will visit Sydney another eight times during the 2023/24 summer cruising season. The ship will increase its visits to Sydney in 2024-25 to 12 overnight stays, together with additional stops in Newcastle and Eden.