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Virgin Voyages review
Adults-only cruises for hip parties and stylish good times.
Virgin Voyages boasts a downtown scene plucked from your city’s trendiest neighborhood and reinstalled at sea. On board, you’ll find a tattoo parlor, group fitness classes and up-and-coming DJs. Broadway musicals be damned — on Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady, watch edgy artistic performances and dance the night away at blow-out parties.
Depending on your personality, that could sound like a fantasy dream or an utter nightmare.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
If a weekend trip to Miami is your dream getaway, you’ll probably align with Virgin Voyages’ vibe. But if you’re hoping for an experience that’s a little more low-key, or perhaps simply lower in price, browse to find a better match.
Virgin Voyages’ cruise ships
Virgin Voyages has two ships — the Scarlet Lady and the Valiant Lady. The Scarlet Lady hits the waves for the first time in 2020, sailing from Miami to the Caribbean, while the Valiant Lady is on track to cruise the Mediterranean beginning in 2021.
Here’s what we know about the Scarlet Lady
Built by Italian cruise company Fincantieri, the Scarlet Lady was inspired by iconic restaurants, bars and hotels that popular bands have written songs about — which makes sense, considering Branson got his start in the record biz.
The architects enlisted to bring the Scarlet Lady to life have experience working with spaces on land, not sea — which is why they were hired to design Virgin Voyages’ first ship. Branson wants to overthrow traditional notions of resort-style ships, targeting young people who’ve never cruised before. Hence, the trendy eateries and Insta-worthy decor.
Where do Virgin Voyages’ ships depart from?
For cruises in 2020 and 2021, Virgin Voyages departs either from Miami for Caribbean itineraries, or Barcelona for Mediterranean itineraries. But as its fleet grows and evolves, more departure locations will likely be added.
Virgin Voyages destinations
Tropical escapes are the name of the game with Virgin Voyages — it sails mostly to the Caribbean. Some itineraries stop at The Beach Club at Bimini, Richard Branson’s own private island. Unsurprisingly, these routes tend to cost more.
Here’s where it sails to:Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexico
How much are drink packages on Virgin Voyages?
Virgin Voyages doesn’t have traditional drink packages for sale. So you’ll need to purchase your boozy beverages glass-by-glass aboard the Scarlet Lady.
Can I bring my own alcohol on a Virgin Voyages cruise?
You can bring two bottles of wine in your carry-on luggage, and that’s it. If you bring alcoholic beverages in your checked luggage, Virgin Voyages will hold on to it until the end of the trip.
Why you should — or shouldn’t — cruise with Virgin Voyages
Virgin Voyages’ trips are definitely not for folks who are primarily interested in immersive, educational voyages to far-flung destinations. Instead, they’re for young people looking to soak up sunshine and let loose on the boat and at the beach.
Families with kids should look elsewhere, as Virgin Voyages has a strict adults-only policy. This could have something to do with the fact that there’s a tattoo parlor on deck. It targets Millennials and the tippity-top of Gen Z, so fitness classes and Wi-Fi — which cost extra on typical lines — are included with the fare.
Word on the street is that Richard Branson hates buffets. So there aren’t any buffets aboard the Scarlet Lady.
Here are the key pros and cons to consider before booking a Virgin Voyages cruise:
Choose from 20 all-included restaurants inspired by global cuisine.
Your fare includes gratuities and unlimited Wi-Fi.
Cabins and amenities embrace the digital age with:
Tablets casting movies to the big screen TV.
Food is available 24/7.
Focus on health and fitness: There’s a gym and a juice bar.
Beds fold up into the wall so you can have more cabin space.
The ship is modern and brand-spanking-new.
Fare is pricier compared to other cruise lines.
18-to-20-year-olds must be accompanied by someone who’s at least 21-years-old.
Alcoholic drinks cost extra.
Shore excursions cost extra.
Itineraries and route choices are limited.
Focus on partying might be too much for some passengers.
It’s new, so you’ll have to wait for any independent, first-person cruising reviews until March 2020.
The Scarlet Lady will have designated smoking areas on decks around the ship. But smoking in cabins, including on personal balconies, is not allowed.
When booking your spot, you’ll have to pay a nonrefundable deposit that’s 20% of the total cruise fare.
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, However, it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated domestic travelers as of April 2021. International travelers need to get tested three days prior to flying out of the US and within three days after returning, even if you are fully vaccinated. It recommends that you delay travel if you’re not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.
If you’re planning a trip outside the US, bear in mind that many countries have placed restrictions on US tourists. Check the US embassy website for updates before booking international travel.
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