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How Are Virgin Voyages Ships Different To Other Cruise Lines?

How Are Virgin Voyages Ships Different To Other Cruise Lines?

The cruise industry has been evolving away from its stereotype of dress codes, formal dinners and ballroom dancing for some time, as cruise lines seek to attract a wider audience with a more relaxed approach and sense of fun. However, new to the sector, Virgin Voyages have set out to significantly disrupt the market with their approach to cruising.

Tom McAlpin, president and CEO of Virgin Voyages, describes their cruise experiences as “rebellious luxe,” or a casual sophistication. But what exactly can you expect when stepping onboard a Virgin Voyages ship?

Flexibility in its inaugural sailings

Virgin Voyages’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, was due to sail in 2020, but due to Covid, its launch was postponed to August 2021. With innovation and lateral thinking very much a part of this brand, these initial cruises were three-day ‘staycation’ voyages around the UK with reduced passenger capacity. This year, as well as Scarlet Lady, you’ll also be able to book cruises to the Mediterranean and Caribbean on its new additions, Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady.

A different look

Virgin Voyages has stepped away from traditional cruise ship design. Instead, they have engaged high-end hotel and restaurant designers to give their décor a more contemporary feel. With an eco-friendly focus, they have also adopted planet-friendly products and energy-conserving appliances. The cabin design is influenced by superyachts, with mood-matching lights, cool tech and your very own hammock on the balcony for you to chill out.

Child-free cruising

Virgin Voyages is joining Viking Cruises as the only two leading cruise companies with fully child-free policies. To sail, you must be at least 18 years old.

Adult-focused fun

Although the cruises are child-free, Virgin Voyages encourage their guests to bring along their “inner-child”, offering a range of activities for adult fun.

You’ll not see any broadway-style shows, instead entertainment is cutting-edge, encompassing a festival-style line-up. Get in the mood with a ‘shake for champagne’ delivery service, an innovative, on-demand phone feature that brings the bubbles to you.

Then visit The Manor, a two-storey, three-bar venue named after Branson’s first recording studio. Here you can indulge in fine wine, craft beer and cocktails and enjoy live music shows until the space incredibly transforms into a nightclub for its late-night vibe.

There’s a karaoke lounge, called the Groupie, for budding singers, and for a retro music experience, head to their vinyl shop, created as a nod to Virgin Records. All Scarlet Lady cruises stop off at Virgin’s private beachfront club, Beach Club at Bimini, in the Bahamas, offering you the chance to dance the night away with headline acts like DJs Mark Ronson and Diplo.

If you’re seeking a lasting memento of your holiday, take a trip to Squid Ink, the first-ever-at-sea tattoo parlour. Here, you can have your design colourfully created in vegan ink or instead opt for a piercing.

Dining redesigned

Many cruise lines are leaning away from traditional cruise dining. However, Virgin Voyages has completely stepped away from the old clichés. On their ships, there is no main dining room and no buffet.

Instead, you can choose from more than twenty dining venues, where almost all items are included in the fare. This is a significant departure from most other cruise lines, where many speciality restaurants incur a surcharge. Dining options include a steakhouse, Korean barbeque, elevated Mexican cuisine, and a veggie-focused restaurant. 

There are no assigned dining times and, if you have the midnight munchies and fancy a pizza, their 24/7 diner is ready to oblige.

What’s included

As well as all dining, Virgin Voyages have included a few other elements in their cruise fare, such as Wi-Fi, gratuities, soft drinks, including juices, sodas, teas and coffees, and group workout sessions, like yoga, cycling and HIIT classes. 

There are no drinks packages. However, for alcoholic drinks, passengers can add money to a bar tab in advance to get a discount.

Virgin Voyages have certainly achieved their objective of creating a different cruise experience. Although it’s not attracting the much younger demographic originally intended. Early reports show that most guests on Virgin Voyages’s cruise so far are aged 37-62, with an average age of 47 – very similar to the industry average. However, many are understood to be seeking a less traditional cruise experience, and some are new to cruising entirely. 

If you’re interested in this new approach to cruise holidays or would like to book a Virgin Voyages cruise, please get in touch with our cruise specialists.

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