Howdy! Today we are taking a peek at the newest cruise line out there – that also happens to be Sir Richard Branson’s baby – Virgin Voyages. I recently had the pleasure of having Lauren Harris, Sales Manager at Virgin Voyages, South Central join me for a video chat to give us the scoop on this much anticipated new line that has been a long time coming thanks to its inaugural cruise getting pushed back for over a year thanks to you-know-what. So, let’s not waste any more time! Grab a drink and a chair on the deck of your choice and get ready to set sail with Lauren and I because we are not delaying this overview any longer! Bon Voyage!
Lauren started off her presentation with a look at the Voyage Well program and what it will look like when they get in the water and how they will sail safely. The number one thing are the testing goals and vaccinations for all Virgin Voyages employees – from Richard Branson all the way down. Virgin fully supports the idea of everybody getting vaccinated and because of that they will require that their crew and anybody sailing with them be vaccinated.
Along with that requirement there are other great standard procedures that will be in place – one of them being their Atmos Air System – an air filtration system kills 99.9% of all viruses in the air. The other major procedure in place – from a technology standpoint that is cool – but of course it is also safe – is their contact wristband. With the wristband you won't have to touch a dirty room key or handles or sign bar tabs or touch pens or anything like that – everything will be able to be done through the band which is super cool – and important in this day and age. And you guys it really is amazing how far this technology has come. I have been to many all inclusives where I still have to bring out my room key and sign checks all while still having to wear a band. So, here's an opportunity where your band is actually your key as well – so kudos for just being able to easily manage all of that via the band – super exciting!
Sailing The Virgin Way
Right off the bat I can tell you that this cruise line is very different – it's not your standard cruise line by any means. And Lauren expanded on that by saying when they say “Set Sail the Virgin Way” that really speaks to Virgin as a brand. Now – if you've experienced any other Virgin company whether it be the hotels or the airplanes – it's a very different experience from other brands. From the lighting and the mood to the attitude – what they've done is taken all of the best things about Virgin and compiled them into a couple different categories.
Off the bat – ALL of your meals. There are no specialty restaurants. They have 20 plus what they call eateries on board, and you can eat at as many of them as you want and as often as you'd like. They’re open early, they stay open very late with some of them open 24 hours. You can dine whenever and wherever with no upcharge.
Then there’s the gratuities. There are no tips allowed so anything that there is a charge for whether you're in the spa getting a spa service or getting your hair blown out or you’re closing out your bar tab – there are no tips and no tax. Meaning - whatever the price is there's no hidden fees or little secret add-ons at the end – so never any surprises.
Lauren also noted that they believe that why Wi-Fi is a basic human right. Now of course you can disconnect if you want, but if you'd like to create a little bit of envy back at home you can post to your Instagram and then go back to your fabulous day. It's there for those that want to use it as much as they like. And Lauren did admit it’s quite the Instagramable ship – like unbelievably Instagramable – so much so that sometimes you may wanna post like every other minute on your story and the nice thing is you don't have to wait till you're in American port to be like oh I have seven days’ worth of photos that I'm now gonna dump on all of my followers.
And – all of your entertainment is also included – meaning you can party all day and all night – at no extra charge – and there are plenty of entertainment options to choose from.
I started this conversation by saying let's talk a little bit about the food because this being Richard Branson the food has to be up to par…to which Lauren replied – it has to not only be up to par – it has to blow everybody away! She went on to say the best thing about the way that they have approached dining is that there are no buffets and no main dining room so you're not eating with 800 of your closest friends – lol. Instead, you are eating exactly like you would in the chicest city in any country around the world with your choice of 20 plus eateries, each with its own bar.
So, I asked Lauren to talk a little bit about how Virgin does beverages differently from everybody else. She explained that all of your basic beverages are included in the cost of your cruise. That means flat and sparkling water, soda, coffee, tea – so no need to buy a goofy soda package or anything like that for seven dollars a day.
However, for those that want to purchase premium beverages what they’ve done is they took a step back and they said they don't want anybody that's buying any type of drink package to feel like they're subsidizing the drinking for the whole ship. And they don't want you to feel like you purchase a drink plan now you gotta get your money’s worth – like you’ve done all of the math and if you have 17 and a half drinks every single day, you’ll get my money’s worth. Instead, they simply priced their drinks at a fair and reasonable price – similar to or very comparable to a midsize city like Dallas. They are not the most expensive but not the cheapest either.
They also created Bar Tab and that's their drink package which is a non-refundable onboard credit that can be spent on premium beverages all around the ship and at The Virgin Voyages Beach Club at Bimini. It cost $300 and for every $300 that you spend they will give you an extra $50 – or during some of their promotions – they will give you an extra $100. You can buy your buddies a round, you can share it among cabins, you can buy five bar tabs – there's no limits around how many you can buy or who can buy it for or what you can spend it on, and the possibilities are endless. Lauren laughed that people always ask her what happens if I don't spend it all and she’s like if you didn’t spend it all you didn't have a very good time! The only red tape around it is that it has to be a beverage – but it can be fresh pressed juice and it can be premium coffees or cappuccino, but most people will spend a majority of it on their alcohol. So, if you have money left and if you are coming up on the end of your cruise get an amazing bottle of wine or order bottle service at The Manor nightclub!
Virgin’s Ports and Ships
Lauren advised that they built a port in Miami so Scarlet Lady will port at her beautiful home at the very edge of Port of Miami year round. They also have Valiant Lady, and she will be there in in the winter – so between the two of them you'll always leave out of Miami. Scarlet Lady’s ports of call are Miami (Home Port), Costa Maya, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Key West, Puerto Plata, DR, San Juan, Roatan, Honduras and the Beach Club at Bimini in the Bahamas. Valiant Lady’s ports of call are Barcelona, Spain (Home Port); Ibiza, Spain; Ajaccio, France; Cagliari, Italy; Malaga, Spain; Marseille, France; Monte Carlo, Monaco and Olbia, Italy.
Who Are Virgin Sailors?
The sweet spot for the age of cruisers with Virgin Voyages is somewhere in the mid-30s to mid-60s – people who love the idea of an adult only experience or they love the idea of the different lengths of itineraries. Whether they are still working and have a limited amount of vacation time to spend or have obligations such as they can't stay away from your kids for too long – Virgin has all of the options there that's really appealing and plus you don't bring the kids. After that everything else is kind of split down the middle. There are slightly more women because they see a lot of girl’s trips, a lot of 40th and 50th birthday parties and even some divorce parties. They are finding a lot of celebrations per Lauren. Another thing she thought was interesting was that 60% of their sailors have children at home! So, 60% of the people are like it's time to get away - yeah, it's time for adult time!
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing all of Virgin Voyages sailings are open to fully vaccinated Sailors only and they will provide antigen testing free of charge at the terminal prior to boarding.
For the CDC’s most up to date information on COVID-19 click here. And for the most up to date information from Virgin Voyages about the safety precautions they are taking click here.
You guys I am so excited I can't wait to go and be on one of these cruise ships! And of course, you know once I decide I will let you all know so that you can join me! But in the meantime – let's start curating your cruise on the oh so fabulous Virgin Voyages line!
For more details on Virgin Voyages – including full itineraries, it’s price points and more - contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!
During the shutdown of Covid19, Loulu Lima began interviewing many tourism boards, destination management companies and suppliers whom BHGH works with in the curation of your itineraries.
Here you will find the videos as well as written summary of each. Summaries are transcribed by Carole A. Peck.
Video post production managed by MotionDash.Media
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