‘Disruptor’ is a popular term these days for companies and brands bucking the mold in their respective industries. Virgin Voyages is one such example of a cruise line eschewing the traditional norms of the industry in favor of a bold, new kind of cruise vacation that, at times, feels far removed from what cruisers are used to.
Virgin Voyages is a cruise line that brings together cool, hip people from all walks of life and adds in excellent parties, fun activities, attentive staff and a slew of wellness and enrichment programs so sailors can curate their vacation down to every last detail. After sailing on Virgin Voyages’ Valiant Lady, it’s clear there’s an exciting alternative to the same old cruise vacation and one that’s likely to set trends in the industry moving forward.
One of the most noticeable changes in the cruise industry of late is the emergence of technology across new ships. Valiant Lady doesn’t disappoint when it comes to using tech to make things simple for cruisers. Known as “The Band”, Virgin provides every guest with a wearable bracelet that serves as a room key and allows for purchases across the ship from drinks to souvenirs and more. The Band is waterproof and adjustable for comfort so there’s no need to take it off during your voyage. Cruisers even get to keep their band after the cruise so you can remind everyone at home how much fun you had on your Virgin Voyages cruise!
Virgin Voyages stands out with their entertainment in a number of ways, but the most obvious is how present performers and entertainment staff are around the ship outside of the shows. Acrobats, singers, dancers and musicians mingle with guests throughout the cruise and bring their performances around the ship during the Scarlet Night party which happens once a sailing.
Compared to other cruise lines, the entertainment is certainly geared towards adults with more provocative themes, mature language and revealing attire. Never Sleep Alone, one of the most popular shows on board, is a comedy show with lots of audience participation.
If you’re sailing on Virgin Voyages, be prepared to stay up late. From late-night shows to dance parties at the ship’s nightclub The Manor, the ship turns up in the evenings and into the early mornings. The cruise line caters to night owls with a pizza place on deck 7 open until 1:30am and a 24-hour omelet station in The Galley food court on deck 15 so you can grab a bite after dancing the night away or trying your luck at the very popular casino. With late nights come late mornings, so beating the crowd to one of the pool deck daybeds usually isn’t a challenge.
The People and Vibe
There’s no doubt about it; the people you find on a Virgin Voyages cruise are not your typical cruisers and that makes for a very positive, upbeat and energetic cruise experience. Not only is the average age on a Virgin Voyages sailing significantly lower than you’ll find on other cruise lines, the people are undeniably hip and cool and that makes for a refreshing change of pace from traditional cruises. You also won’t find any kids on board a Virgin Voyages cruise which offers a more sophisticated and mature experience for guests.
To really illustrate how trendy and non-conformist the crowd is, the tattoo artist at Squid Ink, the ship’s tattoo parlor, said they do anywhere from 30 to 80 tattoos a sailing for guests looking for a memento they’ll have forever.
When you’re packing for a Virgin Voyages cruise, conservative is not the style you want as your fellow sailors are going to be looking chic and trendy with outfits specifically assembled for different evenings and events on board. Packing for Scarlet Night is particularly important as the ship transforms into a party with red as the dress code.
One of the most interesting things about Virgin Voyages is that every dining venue on the ship is included in the price of the ticket. While other cruise lines include an up-charge for the steakhouse or any other specialty dining venue, Virgin only requires a reservation for some eateries and you won’t shell out-of-pocket for anything but specialty juices, anything other than drip coffee or alcoholic drinks.
For those looking for a quick bite, there are multiple options to choose from. The Galley, Virgin Voyages’ food hall, has a number of quick options like grab-and-go bento boxes with fresh sushi, a 24-hour diner, a taco place, a burger joint, a sandwich shop, a design-your-own salad station and more. What’s nice is that it’s not a buffet; guests order their meal at the various counters and seat themselves at the various tables and booths found in the space.
Virgin isn’t alone as a cruise line focused on sustainability, but they are going above and beyond when it comes to going green at sea. You won’t find single-use plastics anywhere on the ship and individual-use things like straws are made from a durable, but biodegradable material that won’t get soggy in your drink like paper. Ship Eats room service orders come packed in reusable containers and smaller portions at dining venues across the ship help eliminate food waste.
Perks for Booking
Virgin Voyages departs from traditional cruise lines in a number of ways, but perhaps the most notable is the lack of a drink package. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll be paying for every drink you have. Virgin makes booking attractive by adding a little extra cash to pre-paid bar tabs. The line is also unveiling a new Sailing Club in 2023 which allows extra perks for frequent cruisers like exclusive cocktail events, spa services, extra money on your bar tab and Virgin Voyages is even going to match select benefits for cruisers who are rewards members with other cruise lines.
Other perks like included WIFI and tips already included help keep your overall costs down and make for a ship full of happy sailors.
With so much going on late-night, it’s easy to overlook the many wellness programs offered on board a Virgin Voyages ship. Beyond just the gym and spa, you can get up early and join in on sunrise yoga at the ship’s top-deck yoga studio. You can take group fitness classes, hit the heavy bag in the boxing ring and recover in the hot tub or with fresh-pressed juices and smoothies afterwards. The cruise line even offers services like acupuncture and a full slate of other health, beauty and wellness treatments at the onboard spa.
A highlight of any Virgin Voyages sailing is a stop at the cruise line’s private island resort on the Bahamian island of Bimini. The Beach Club at Bimini is just a five-minute tram ride from the pier where the ship docks and offers a wide variety of ways to vacation your way. The complex features two large pools set along the beach with lounge chairs and daybeds for guests to enjoy.
Though the two pools are side by side, one serves as the party pool complete with DJ booth and dancing entertainers, and the other a more relaxed experience. Those who get to the club earlier in the morning will find it more relaxing, with the pool party and DJ starting in the mid-afternoon.
Guests use their wristband to purchase drinks, but food is included and features a menu with different dishes like red snapper, chicken or pumpkin curry, macadamia nut salad and dessert options like rum cake. Guests are welcome to enjoy as much to eat as they want while lunch service is open between Noon and 3pm with small bites available after.
Overall, Virgin Voyages was a refreshing and much appreciated change of pace from its counterparts in the cruise industry. The cruise line caters to a young professional demographic who love to set trends and live life out-of-the-ordinary, with nearly unlimited options to turn things up or chill it out based on each sailor’s preference. If you’re looking for a fresh and bold take on a traditional cruise vacation, Virgin Voyages might just be for you.