Times and circumstances have changed though, and after a nearly 2-year lockdown - a brand new baby, and a toddler in the house I was jumping at the opportunity to take a familiarization trip and see what the hype of Virgin Voyages was. And so, I embarked on a 4-day cruise that took me from Miami to Nassau, Bimini and back. This is what I thought about it.
Virgin Voyages is an adults only cruise. This was very appealing to me, and if you have young kids, you probably know what I mean. The thought of finally sleeping through the night also eliminated my worry of motion sickness…which I always thought of as the impediment of cruising for me.
A never-ending vibe
- after a quick and simple boarding.
The boarding process was fairly simple. Virgin Voyages has a brand new terminal in the port of Miami, you pre-register your boarding time and stand in your designated lane. A Covid test is administered on site- fast and simple, not the type that tickles your brain- and results are available within 15 min. You can do a test 48 hrs prior if you choose to do so, at approved testing locations in your hometown.
Once on board you can feel the vibe that will be prevalent throughout the cruise. A DJ playing the most popular hits sets the tone for the rest of the sailing. Luggage already waiting in front of the cabin. The cabin itself seemed more spacious than I expected, with a bed that can be configured in several different ways depending on who you are sharing it with. Wall-to wall windows, with blinds controlled from the in-suite iPad. I was in a sea-terrace cabin and especially enjoyed the hammock on my balcony. Mood lighting, room service, TV, music could all be handled on the iPad. The bathroom was cozy, and the water pressure surprisingly good- with a rain shower I may add.
Once we settled in, we went to explore the ship. The furniture and décor was modern and well thought out. Seemed like the designer was really tuned into modern life, and little things like outlets at the tables were some of those small details you don’t think of, but sure miss if it’s not there.
I learned that it is best to make all your reservations for the week as soon as you board. Restaurants, shows, activities, classes- they fill up quickly. You’d think there would be more availability for them considering the size of the ship, but everything is really kept on the smaller side, to allow for that intimate, personal feel. You can make all your reservations through the Virgin app, which by the way sends you reminders of things you registered for, in case you forget…No shows or late cancellations do come with a fee- but you can even feel good about those, as all cancellation fees collected are donated to charity.
The cruise food
- is absolutely amazing.
Let’s talk about the food….I don’t know how other cruises have it, but I imagine Virgin would take the lead in their restaurant and menu choices. There is a food court available of course, but most restaurants are a-la-carte. The menu is fresh, interesting, and diverse. The food is delicious, and service is outstanding. It would still be hard to pick a favorite, but perhaps the Mexican was the most surprising to me.
- for any type of traveler
Live music sets off the evenings, and it’s mostly original songs and up-and-coming artists, not the typical cover albums. The shows are something else too, bold and thought provoking. The cruise prides itself with their inclusivity and celebration of gender identities, and all of it perhaps comes through the most in their shows.
One of the biggest highlights however was the crew for me. Someone needs a promotion in the hiring department, as they were able to scout and retain the most amazing staff. Always with a smile on their faces, eagerly going the extra mile- this level of hospitality was like a breath of fresh air especially nowadays, where grumpiness and an air of indifference seems to dominate the sector.
Health and well-being are also a prime focus on this ship. Gyms, spa, jogging track, workout classes, wellness evaluations and seminars, fresh-pressed juice and smoothie bar- you name it, they have it.
Hard to choose
- stay on the ship or explore the land?
Everything about the ship, atmosphere on board, entertainment and restaurant choices make it really hard to leave the boat…Which is why maybe the choice of destination was the only thing that left me a bit unimpressed. One day in Nassau, and another one at Bimini beach club, this voyage is probably more geared towards enjoying the Virgin experience and less about discovering a new destination.
So… am I a converted cruiser now?
This thought has popped up in my mind a lot during the sailing, and as hard as it is to admit- if this is what cruising is all about, I like it! It is certainly geared towards attracting and converting non-cruisers and it works! I feel like there are times in our lives that a relaxing, effortless getaway is exactly what we need, and Virgin Voyages offers just that packaged up perfectly.
I think travelers between 30-60 years of age would find this a great fit for a quick getaway. This is a cruise for the open minded, a place where you can party till 3am or relax the entire time, choices are plenty. I see this as a great option for small-group getaways (think girl’s trips, fitness retreats, milestone celebrations…) or romantic couple’s getaways. It’s quick, convenient, classy, diverse and it is worth a shot even if you think you are not a cruiser…
As for my concerns of sustainability, I was happy to discover that this cruise line takes intentional steps to achieve carbon neutrality, they employ technology that coverts engine heat to electricity, and overall care about the little things that ultimately matter a lot.
For more information and personal insight, or if you want to discuss how this type of travel would be a good fit for you, please reach out, I’d be happy to assist. Ahoy sailors, till the next time…