The first Mermaiden Voyage for Virgin Voyages was October 6, 2021, an event filled with mermaids and merman, fantastic food, and the wonderment of being on a ship that was delayed a year and a half due to COVID. As I outlined in my article about What It’s Really Like On A Virgin Voyage, Virgin got many things right when they first started sailing but had significant opportunities to improve.
Since I sailed Virgin, the company has won countless awards for ship design, service, food, LGBTQ+ travel, and several other categories.
The week of Thanksgiving 2022, I finally got back on the Scarlet Lady to see what had changed and to find out if Virgin was living up to all the awards that had been bestowed upon them.
Are you wondering if Virgin Voyages is a good cruise?
Keep reading because I’ll dive deep into why Virgin Voyages was one of my best cruise experiences.
Yes, I already tipped the plot twist. Virgin Voyages is one of the best cruise lines on the market today. But stay with me because they’re not for everyone, and I'm about to share what makes them unique. I’ll share what makes them unique, what they improved, and what they still need to work on.
Virgin Voyages Cabins:
The cabins on Virgin Voyages have been criticized as feeling too much like an IKEA showroom. The cabins had minimal character, plain walls, minimal storage, and the bathrooms needed to be better designed (read as small).
Recently, Virgin has put small touches such as wood panel walls and additional baskets for storage that make them feel less Ikea-likeCabins from the Inside to XL Sea Terrace still have the Sea Bed, which converts from a sofa chaise to a king-size bed, though it will spend most of the voyage in bed mode.
The standard bathroom has a spacious shower with a rainfall showerhead; however, the rest is still tight. Not that I’d expected this to change since my last voyage, but it is important to note that keeping the door open while using the bathroom will make it feel less cramped for people of most sizes.
Virgin Voyages App:
The app was a waste of space last time I was on the Scarlet Lady. It worked infrequently, and it took ages to accomplish a single thing. After a solid year of sailings, I’m happy to say that the app has improved. During my voyage, I could accomplish most of what I set out to do in the app, only needing to be restarted once or twice.
However, my experience was not had by all. Those with Android phones had more difficulty with the app. This was especially true with “Shake For Champagne” (the app’s feature of ordering a bottle of Moet anywhere on the ship). My iPhone could complete the shake with just a few flicks of my wrist, but Android users had to shake their phone like it was a shake-weight for it to register the request.
The wifi on the ship is still one of the best services I’ve experienced at sea. The included basic wifi is enough to accomplish simple texts, emails, and some social media. But if you need to work while on the ship, want to make calls, or send/post photos, you’ll want to upgrade to premium wifi. The good news is that it’s only $10 a day to upgrade, and if you do it on the first day, it’s slightly discounted.
Virgin Voyages Food:
Food remains one of the best reasons to book a Virgin Voyage (number one to the ship being adult-only). Virgin Voyages has ditched the mega-kitchen in favor of smaller specialty kitchens that service each restaurant. This means fresh, made-to-order food for every sailor, for every meal.
Just 13 months after the mermaiden voyage, most of the menus had remained the same with a few tweaks by the chefs. Each dish I had tasted just as I remembered it, and the consistency between all three of my Virgin sailings have been amazing. The only exception was Test Kitchen, which, as the name implies, has cycled through its menu to offer different experiences.
As Virgin Voyages enters 2023, new menu items will start to cycle onto the menus. During November, Virgin gave previews to sailors of what was coming. Of the dishes I tried, I’m happy to say that the tradition of phenomenal dining will continue for years.
Virgin Voyages Entertainment:
One of the most common criticisms of Virgin when they first started sailing was that there was little entertainment on the ship. I found there to be enough to do but compared to other cruise lines, there were fewer options.
Some of this was due to staffing issues and the company intentionally holding back on entertainment costs while the ships were sailing at less than 50% capacity. As the ships started to fill up, so has the onboard entertainment options.
The Thanksgiving sailing was the fullest a Virgin ship has sailed, with less than 100 cabins remaining empty. There was always something going on, and with improvements to the Line Up (the daily activities) in the app, it was super easy to find something to do if you wanted to participate.
For those looking to relax and get some sun, the athletic club, aquatic club, and well-being pool offered plenty of spaces to spread out. Even during mid-afternoon on a sea day, I could find a space to claim with new friends I met on the voyage.
LGBTQ+ Presence on Virgin Voyages:
Apart from an Atlantis or Vacaya cruise, Virgin Voyages is one of the best cruise lines for the LGBTQ+ community. The crew treats everyone equally, many of whom are part of our community or allies.
On most voyages, the LGBTQ+ community makes up a large percentage of the sailor population. While Virgin does not include LGBTQ+ meet-ups, there is little need, given how easy it is to find other sailors to spend time with.
On deck, everyone felt comfortable wearing their favorite speedos, thongs, or other swimwear without feeling like they were being judged or having to worry about a child being too close for comfort. The childless atmosphere can’t be understated and is one of the leading reasons that Virgin is such a fantastic experience.
I’m excited to write that Virgin surpassed every expectation I had before I set out on my voyage. The Deep Blue Extras offered to repeat cruisers, and those with elite status on other cruise lines continue to set Virgin Voyages apart and reward those who are loyal or making the jump from other options.
Virgin continues to make improvements, asking for feedback at several points to ensure everyone has a memorable experience. The most significant issues from their early voyages have been overcome, and now Virgin is the cruise line to experience.
With just a few weeks before I’m back on the Scarlet Lady, I’m looking forward to more time spent in a hot tub with my fellow sailors.
Are you still asking, “Should I take a Virgin Voyage?” Schedule a consultation with Rainbow Getaways, and we’ll answer all your questions. Plus, we’ll help you transfer your loyalty program to Virgin Voyages for Deep Blue Extras or other perks offered during your sailing.
Rainbow Getaways proudly help travelers of the LGBTQ community (and our allies) research, plan, and book incredible vacations where you feel confident and comfortable enjoying and exploring your destination. We plan each vacation to meet your specific needs, so you'll have an experience just as unique as you.