Guide to Virgin Voyages: The Cruise for Non-Cruisers
Food & Wine
I’m typically not interested in cruises out of fears of crazy kids, awkward dinner guests, busy buffets, and unimaginative entertainment. Virgin Voyages took care of all of that and I am hooked. With beautiful yacht-inspired ships, Michelin star chef curated menus and the most innovative entertainment at sea, you can’t go wrong with one of their voyages. The voyage includes gratuities, all dining, basic beverages and more than what are the usual add-ons aboard other lines.
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Things to do
As a New Yorker, the entertainment really speaks to me. You’ve got drag shows, immersive experiences, daring acrobatics, and world-class DJs in the most legit nightclub at sea.
I’ll be the first to say I don’t like to participate as an audience member, but Virgin Voyages will hook you up with a drink for being brave, so it’s worth it.
Between all the partying and eating, how about balancing that out with a fitness club, complimentary classes and outdoor running deck that rivals the biggest clubs on land.
Get to know the crew! From your favorite barista to the Happenings Cast (their version of a Cruise Director) everyone is there to make sure you have a good time. They may even reveal secrets of the ship, who knows?
I’d be fully content just enjoying the ship, but the destinations are unique with Virgin Voyages because they stay in port later (overnight in Mykonos anyone?) and their Shore Things (excursions) are curated and unique to Virgin Voyages.
Here are my favorite Virgin Voyages itineraries:
Fire & Sunset Soirees: A perfect 4-night taster of what Virgin Voyages has to offer. Check out the timeless Key West without breaking the bank for a hotel there, and visit Virgin’s exclusive Bimini Beach Club where you’ll feel like you’re in Mykonos… but everything is included the same way as aboard.
Adriatic Sea & Greek Gems: There is nothing like waking up every morning to a new place in the Mediterranean. Sea three coastal countries in seven nights out of Athens, with a late night in Dubrovnik aboard the brand new Resilient Lady debuting in 2023.
Europe to Australia Repositioning Itineraries: Take an epic 44 night voyage from Athens to Sydney, or a more reasonable 14-15 night journey in between to see places like Cairo, Dubai, Mumbai, Phuket, Singapore, Bali, and the Great Barrier Reef. A unique offering that only happens twice a year starting Fall 2023.
What to Pack
Something red to wear, of course! You won’t want to be out of place on Scarlet Night, the biggest night of the voyage. But have no fear, there is none of that dress code ship on Virgin, come as you are.
This is a zero single-use plastics voyage, so we recommend bringing a water bottle that can be filled in your room or in many stations across the ship.
These cabins have a ton of US and USB plugs, but to maximize power options, bring an EU adapter.
As with all cruises, you can’t bring an iron, but your cabin attendant can get you a steamer or send your clothing for pressing and cleaning.
If you’ll be hitting the casino, bring cash to save on ATM fees at sea.
Use the app to upload important travel documents, check the events calendar, and book your restaurants.
If you aren’t local, I’d recommend arriving a day early to avoid any flight delays. We can assist with booking that pre-voyage accommodation.
As soon as you get onboard, check out events, spa treatments, tattoos, and more that require booking, spots fill up fast.
Wifi is complementary and premium wifi is available on Caribbean sailings, so feel free to WFS (work from ship).
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Besides the exclusive benefits, we can help book your dining, excursions, flights, hotels, and more. Leave it to the experts because we have only scratched the surface in this guide!
Places to eat & drink
Is it "specialty dining" when everything is specialty? There’s no nickel-and-diming, all food and basic beverages are included.
Gunbae: It is the only KBBQ at sea, and the only restaurant aboard where you’ll be seated with strangers (strikethrough) new friends. A round of soju and drinking games will break the ice.
Extra Virgin: My favorite restaurant on the ship, and I first experienced it while in Italy! Fresh made pastas, complimentary apertifs and an affogato cart to top things off.
Test Kitchen: It is truly not meant to be missed. Each course focuses on one ingredient. I highly recommend the cocktail or mocktail pairing as delicious and a very good deal. On longer sailings there will be two menus, so make sure to visit again later in the voyage.
The Wake is a luxe steak and seafood restaurant with a beautiful view of... the wake. Book your reservation at sunset while traveling East for the best experience. They are also open for breakfast and lunch to treat yoself.
Pink Agave: Serving authentic Mexico City-style Mexican that is as impressive as the Tom Dixon entrance to the restaurant. Don’t skip on dessert, the chocolate taco and chocolate masa dishes are unlike anything I’ve had on land.
Razzle Dazzle: A great vegan-forward brunch (w/ $25 bottomless drinks add-on), and they serve dinner as well. If you’re not vegan, you’ll still love it. I can taste the fried chicken sandwich as I write this! This is another great alternative for breakfast, and I recommend doing this on your arrival morning. Unlike other cruises, you aren’t rushed off the ship super early, so order that ube ice cream and cookies. There are vegan options at all the restaurants, so don’t feel constrained to this one. Oh - and don’t miss the secret Red Bar tucked away in the back.
The Dock is probably my favorite restaurant on the ship, and the shrimp is well… you’ll see. Make this your first stop on board, as well as your sailaway spot at each port. You’ll feel like you are at a luxury lounge overlooking the sights (which change daily). You can also head inside to the Dock House for more tapas and cocktails, as well as live music.
Tucked away on the upper deck is the Sun Club Cafe which has poke bowls and other refreshing lunch items.
The Galley is the main food hall with many options, including the best deal on wine (by the tap). My go-tos are the breakfast burrito, sushi & late-night ramen. And if all else fails you have 24hr breakfast!
The Pizza Place for the best late-night pizza ("pretty fly for a white pie" was my go-to). This isn’t buffet pizza, each personal pan is made as you order. Bring the pizza out to their outdoor patio for a unique waterside dining experience.
Ship Eats (aka Room Service) features the best of each restaurant and has a $5 fee unless you buy something. So if you bought a $5 cold brew, it's like getting it for free. This is available 24hrs (except on the last night) and it features the staples from each of their restaurants. You can also shake your app for champagne to be delivered anywhere on the ship.
There are grab-and-go coolers at The Galley and The Dock. Grab things from here throughout the day and put them in your cabin fridge for when you want a late-night snack.
Besides the restaurants mentioned above as well as the standard pool bars, you must check out:
Sip Lounge: In my opinion, the most beautiful bar aboard, with all the bubbly you need. You can even grab breakfast pastries and afternoon tea during the day. My favorite drink here is the espresso martini.
On The Rocks: The martini bar on High Street is the perfect place to grab drinks before a show, or stick around for a ton of live music every night. Head past the bar for a ton of hidden seating with waterfront views.
The Loose Cannon: The most missed bar aboard - it’s a ship within a ship. Gather a group for some interesting party drinks or make new friends at the trivia nights held frequently in this space.
The Manor: Where you’ll end most of your nights. This two-story nightclub has a few tricks up its sleeve, and you’ll dance the night away under a rather abundant collection of disco balls.
Virgin Voyages has no drink package and that I am thankful for. It’s much easier to pace yourself, your body will thank you later. However don’t fear because prices are quite inexpensive and gratuity is included. You can save more by pre-purchasing a Bar Tab and getting bonuses added for every $300 purchased. To see if a Bar Tab makes sense, check out my calculator here.
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