Villa Vie Residences has taken delivery of the former Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ MS Braemar and, after an eight-week renovation, will launch its much-anticipated three-and-a-half year world cruise.

Following the refurbishment in Belfast, the renamed Villa Vie Odyssey will set sail on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, on May 15th.

The line will be the first to sail after a controversial period for retirement at sea companies. A number have not managed to make their business plans work, leaving passengers who sold up homes and sunk their savings into the dream in the lurch.

The Villa Vie Odyssey refit aims to elevate the onboard experience for world cruise passengers with enhancements that will include a state-of-the-art business centre, rejuvenation of the pool deck, a pickleball court, an observation deck, golf simulator and a culinary centre. The comprehensive refurbishments of all 480 staterooms will also feature Starlink and Viasat 3 for internet service.

A Balcony Villa on Villa Vie Odyssey
Villa Vie Odyssey is currently undergoing a refit is a Belfast shipyard.

More than 400 ports in 147 countries

The all-inclusive cruise on the 24,000 gross ton Villa Vie Odyssey will visit more 425 ports in 147 countries, and 13 of the 14 Wonders of the World, plus remote beaches on more than 100 islands. Sailing on the Villa Vie Odyssey during its first circumnavigation will start at US$115,789pp (AU$176,343) before taxes and fees.

“We are thrilled to announce the possession of the ship and its transformation into Villa Vie Odyssey,” said Mikael Petterson, Chief Executive Officer of Villa Vie Residences

“This marks a significant step forward in our journey to provide residents with an unmatched quality of life and flexibility in residential cruising. Villa Vie Odyssey will set a new standard for global exploration, offering residents an exceptional blend of opulence, immersive travel, and personalised service.”

A walk through of Villa Vie Odyssey during the refurb.

Villa Vie Residences has hired Captain Jozo Glavic as Master of Villa Vie Odyssey. Captain Jozo, who brings over 20 years’ experience as a global mariner, previously brought the MS Braemar through the Corinth Canal and has successfully completed the last three dry docks. 

“We are excited to welcome Captain Jozo to our team and look forward to his leadership as he helms our ship on our global adventure,” said Kathy Villalba, Chief Operating Officer of Villa Vie Residences. 

Sunset in the aft restaurant on Villa Vie Odyssey
Watch the sunset in the aft restaurant on Villa Vie Odyssey.

Other concepts struggle

The success of the project follows in the wake of the failed Miray world cruise Life at Sea concept which hit the rocks. Villa Vie Residences was borne out of the old management team of Life at Sea, and they acquired the 30-year-old Braemar from UK-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. 

Apart from The World, which is due to dock in Sydney on Saturday, it will be the first successful world cruise concept to launch.

The world cruise with no ship

The Villa Vie Residences ship purchase follows in the wake of the struggling Victoria Cruises Line world cruise concept which is a cruise without a ship. With the launch more than a year overdue and no ship in sight, disgruntled customers have now started a Facebook forum page The Cruise with No Ship, which has 237 members. Cruise Passenger is aware of 32 customers, including several Australians, who have so far failed in their request for a refund of their AU$15,000 deposit. 

Many are well past the promised 90-day refund guarantee made by Victoria Cruises Line with the company offering a range of excuses for delayed launch and delayed repayment. Victoria Cruises Line has also threatened legal action against complainants and media who have reported on its failure so far to launch.