Richard Branson is known for upending markets with his Virgin brands and creating products with a cult following. In 2014, the concept of Virgin Voyages (then Virgin Cruises) was first announced, and I have been following the brand's story with bated breath. What sets Virgin Voyages apart, and why am I so excited to sail with them? Keep reading to find out.
My first introduction to Virgin's brands was with Virgin Mobile back in the early 2000s. If you're not familiar with Virgin Mobile, it was a no-contract phone service operated from 2001 until early 2020. Being a teenager at the time, this nationwide service without a contract was incredibly appealing. I bring up Virgin Mobile because the Virgin brand made an impression on me that has lasted two decades.
In an interview with People Magazine, Richard admits to not having cruised or wanted to cruise. He saw an opportunity to build something different that was designed for adults-only. This is the first difference that sets Virgin Voyages apart from all the other cruise lines in the market. By creating adult-only ships, Virgin has been able to build something different from the ground up.
As you step on the Scarlett Lady for the first time, you'll immediately notice that the decor is closer to a boutique-style hotel than what you typically find on a cruise ship. This style continues into every restaurant, bar, public space, and cabin. The cabins were created to be trendy, but comfortable with plenty of options for solo cruisers and Mega-Rockstar suites for large parties at sea.
Virgin has included over 20 eateries that are each uniquely designed with menus created by a Michelin-starred chef. The best part is that every single meal on board is included in the cost of the cruise. Virgin ditched the specialty dining upcharges that nearly every other cruise line has filled their ships with over the last two decades. Plus, you can make your dining reservations from your cabin or lounging on the deck with the Virgin Voyages App.
As I'm preparing travelers for their first cruise, I am always asked if the drink package is worth the price. For frequent cruisers, you know how personal it is to buy the drink package given how much you personally consume and your travel partner's habits. Virgin Voyages continues to make waves with their Bar Tab. Unlike a standard drink package, your bar tab covers the cost of each drink you buy. This way, each sailor can drink what they want without subsidizing the heavy drinkers because they were forced to buy a package with their travel partner. Plus, Virgin has a perpetual offer of an extra $50 in your Bar Tab when you load $300.
While I'm on the topic of alcohol, drinks on Virgin are considerably more affordable than what you find on other cruise lines (and even hotels). Starting at just $5, you can truly control how much you're spending on the ship while still in vacation mode. There are, of course, plenty of options for beer, wine, and my favorite...cocktails.
While I'm on the topic of spending money, Virgin Voyages has done away with most of the nickel-and-diming that we have come to expect from mass-market cruise lines. Instead, everyone gets free wifi, basic non-alcoholic drinks, group gym classes, and all tips are included. This means that when you book a Virgin Voyage, you better control how much you spend on the ship without adding on the basics that we can't live without.
Virgin Voyages' support of the LGBTQ+ community is perhaps the biggest reason I love the brand. The Virgin brands have a long history of being allies and continue to be advocates for the community. Every sailor on Virgin Voyages should feel accepted and welcome to be themselves.
But celebrating the LGBTQ+ community is not Christmas and limited to one time of the year. When we travel, we should expect to be welcomed with open arms and have activities that are unique to our community. Virgin is making in-roads in this area as well with drag brunch and other entertainment. I see this as a big step in the right direction and why I believe that sailing with Virgin will be unlike any other cruise line at sea.
Interested in staying in touch with other lovers of Virgin Voyages? Join our Facebook group Virgin Voyages Sailors Pride. It's a place to talk about upcoming cruises, setup cruise meets, and even hear about exclusive Rainbow Getaway offerings onboard Virgin Voyages.
Virgin Voyages and the Scarlett Lady will be based out of the Port of Miami, sailing 4 and 5 night voyages year-round to the Bahamas and the Caribbean. With stops in Key West, the Dominican Republic, and their private island The Beach Club at Bimimi. Take a look at the all the options and start planning with Rainbow Getaways today.
Rainbow Getaways is a full-service travel agency that specializes in travel for the LGBTQ+ community and our allies. We believe that everyone deserves to travel and that their getaways should be safe and memorable. Every getaway is meticulously planned. Schedule your free consultation to get started planning today!