I raved about my Virgin Voyages experience because I truly had a really great time. Then, 2 people I know went and said they felt like they were on a different cruise than I went on. (Oh no, LOL.) Sadly, it happens. We go along in life planning these great experiences and sometimes they don’t seem to live up to the hype. I had the same feeling about a different very popular cruise line a few months ago.
In fairness, my anticipation for this trip was huge and I was determined to have a great time. I went in expecting to participate, party, have quiet moments, good food, and experience everything including the Spa. It was our first good trip without kids, we had an actual first in April that just didn’t come close to expectations. Our anniversary trip on the Scarlet Lady nailed it though! If you want to know more, read my Intro to Sailing on the Scarlet Lady.
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Life can creep up and suck all the joy out of your carefully curated expectations. Sometimes, it happens in the form of sudden illness, bad weather, relationship issues, or even the general interactions with others as you pass through public areas.
My best advice is only to expect nothing from anyone other than yourself, that’s the only person you can control and some of us can barely control ourselves. Our own bodies can even betray us when we least expect it.
Everything and everyone else can change abruptly and you have no choice but to go with the flow and make the best of it all.
There is one more thing you can do to help though, you can be prepared and aware of some details and remember that everyone’s experiences vary, so don’t compare too much.
Virgin Voyages FAQ
Is it worth buying the $300 bar tab for a bonus? (Or Where are Virgin Voyages drink packages?)
You have to ask yourself how much you will probably drink during your cruise since soda, coffee, and tea are included. That means there are no drink packages but you can start a tab instead.
While I love a cute cocktail for photo purposes (and consumption), I know that I won’t be ordering rounds no matter how friendly I seem. Nor will I be table dancing after a 15th margarita, and if I am, trust me, that’s ALL Me checking off another fabulous experience for the bucket list.
Here’s how I spent my entire $300 bar tab plus $100 bonus:
- Day 1 – As soon as we settled, I hit the Sun Club bar, the Aquatic Club bar, and the Athletic Club bar and tried a fruity cocktail at each that night. I also had the cocktail pairing at the Test Kitchen that evening and my husband had the wine pairing. Total $139
- Day 2 – During a visit to the Dock House, the Manor Bar, Razzle Dazzle, and Gym & Tonic, we spent another $98.
- Day 3 – One drink at the Beach Club in Bimini (it was my least favorite drink and bartender), another at Gunbae, and during shows at the Manor Bar. Total $64
- Day 4 – Specialty (spiked) coffee at the Grounds Club, drinks at another show in the Manor, and afternoon tea at Sip. Total $99
I felt like I was spending with wild abandon since it is more than I would normally drink but it was just enough.
Tip – If ordering room service, you may as well order a specialty/premium drink to avoid the $5 Ship Eats fee.
Virgin Voyages Experience – How much are the drinks on board?
You can roughly expect to pay:
- Frosé $13
- Rum & Diet Coke (Skinny Captain) $9
- Beers $6 – 9 ($25 – 40 for a bucket of 5)
- Craft cocktails $13 – 17
- Saint Louis Brut Rose $8 glass
- Half bottle spirits (Bacardi rum $45, Patron Silver $60) include mixers of soda water, tonic, or juice.
- Moet & Chandon $21 for a glass or $95 for the bottle
- Afternoon Tea with Bubbly $35 per person (no bubbles $19 per person)
You can request complimentary sparkling and still water in your room, refilled daily.
Can you share the bar tab?
Yes! This is the best part. Normally, you have to buy a drink package for everyone in your party on other ships. If someone in the party isn’t really going to use it, this feels like a waste. It’s really just socialism at its best, they’re evening out for the ones that will take full advantage and drink to the limit each day.
At Virgin Voyages, your bar tab can be used to purchase drinks for whomever you like, bottles to bring home, the Shake for Champagne button, Afternoon Tea with Moet, and wine, beer, or cocktail pairings at dinner.
Virgin Voyages Experience – Onboard Credit
You’ll notice different words used to describe the Virgin experience from other cruise experiences. Onboard credit is called Sailor Loot and instead of drink packages, there’s a Bar Tab. Sailor Loot can be added prior to your cruise and there may be bonus offers that give some to you. You can also purchase gifts of Sailor Loot for others.
The big difference between Sailor Loot and a Bar Tab is that your Bar Tab must all be spent on that voyage or you lose it. Sailor Loot can be used for experiences, drinks, gifts, excursions, and shopping while the Bar Tab is for drink and drink experiences only (such as afternoon tea with bubbly).
When can I expect my band?
Some people get it before they travel, most have been receiving it at the port.
What toiletries are provided?
The shower area includes full size amounts of Red Flower Shampoo, Conditioner, and Body Wash. If you care for a more flowery or feminine scent, you may prefer to bring your own. The sink has a bar soap for hand washing as well. Lotion was not provided and was not an option for request on the app in an XL Sea Terrace but may be in Rockstar Suites.
Is there free champagne on Scarlet night?
There were several moments when we were able to enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne. These were at the sail away party and at some events on Scarlet night especially if you are particularly outgoing and don’t mind participating in the fun. Maybe a dance in a hall or more active participation during a show can get you a free “Yes, Queen” in the Manor.
Can you bring wine on board?
You can bring up to two 750ML bottles of wine or bubbly PER CABIN. Not the usual per person on some other cruises.
Is there open karaoke?
Yes. There were scheduled social karaoke times plus you can book a private session for yourself or with friends at the Groupie.
Are the games free?
Yes, they are! Go back in time and play Centipede or Space Invaders, sadly I did not see my favorite – Mrs. Pac-man though. Feel free to be a sore loser at your spouse/friend for their shockingly horrendous game play at air hockey as well.
What is the Happenings Cast?
The Happenings Cast is the new term that Virgin Voyages has coined for reinventing your Cruise Director and Cruise Staff. Each member of the cast has a specific set of skills and expertise utilized in different ways throughout the voyage.
They are separated into the Aficionados and the Influencers.
- The Diva – a hilarious Professional Drag Performer that you may encounter at game shows, brunches, and parties.
- The Hostess – a glamorous vocalist known to be the center of attention at a pool party, leading a Grog Walk, or guiding you on a star gazing journey.
- The Artist – a visual artist that gives art history talks and helps you paint by numbers in “Live Life Colorfully.”
- The Gamer – an expert gamer known to be a Dodgeball and Trivia.
- The Charmer – a cool magician that provides storytelling illusions and a spirit experience on Scarlet Night.
- The Doctor – a brilliant hostess that guides you through adult play wellness and intimate secret sharing.
- The Balancer – nutrition and fitness expert that leads you through group classes and Camp Virgin at the Beach Club.
- The Foodie – knows all about food and helps you plate and photograph or craft a perfect cocktail.
The Spark / The Flare / The Hype / The Glow / The Bounce – Look for the ones amping up the party they can get you to the secret crew bar if you’re lucky. They often are the first ones to greet you on board.
You may encounter certain cast members more depending on what you’re more likely to frequently enjoy around the ship. Like many cruise employees, they sign contracts for a limited amount of time and may or may not return so enjoy once in a lifetime moments with the ones you meet.
What is the thermal suite pass?
The thermal suite pass gives you 3 hours to roam around the spa enjoying each room and pool in complete relaxation. Timing is important. You can not pre-book this so you need to head to the spa once on board and know what time you want.
You save a few dollars if you book while the ship is in port rather than on a sea day. It was $39 while in Key West versus $69 on a sea day. It’s also much busier on a sea day which defeats the purpose a bit. I like to enjoy the spa as much as possible all to myself. With that in mind, we ventured out during the early morning and scheduled our spa time for 2 – 5 PM.
Okay, I also cheated and noticed on the sign-up sheets that this block of time had the least amount of sign-ups so far. I figured that could change but might be my best bet. Overall, there were maybe 9-10 other people during our time and between the different areas, other people’s presence was really not as noticeable.
The Redemption Spa Experience
Upon entry, you will be given a bathrobe and rubber type slip resistant shoe. There are plenty of fresh towels to use and hampers to return them to. Complimentary fruit infused water is by the towels and small cups of mud are near the entrance for the mud room. Each room has hooks outside of it to leave your robe before you enter. Enjoy the sweeping almost sea level views from various vantage points through the large porthole windows during the experience.
- Mud Room – Rub the mud on your skin in a circular motion in order to cleanse, exfoliate, and soften the skin. Sit with it on for 15 minutes or so and then rinse off. The open shower in the room provides the perfect temperature. Be sure to use the hoses nearby to rinse off your mud spot after use.
- Steam Room – a perfect relaxation room in a steamy environment with more of those beautiful views.
- Himalayan Salt Room – lie back amongst the heated walls as micro particles of salt are dispersed in the room while you relax. You can typically enjoy a salt session for about 40 minutes so don’t feel rushed to leave this room. Although, it would be better with zero gravity recliners or body comfort-formed heated benches. The hard flat surfaces are not as relaxing.
- Sauna – L shaped benches with 3 levels in a dry heated room. The timer is on the wall by the door as you enter.
- Plunge Pools – There are 2 of these with frigid temps and room for 2 in both.
- Hot Tub – needs no explanation but does only have room for 2.
- Pool – the center pool is room temperature and provides a more social gathering experience for some.
- Heated Quartz slabs – while this area has the ambiance and beauty you expect, we didn’t find the slabs to be comfortable or very heated.
Overall, it was a highly enjoyable 3 hour block of time spent relaxing. Too bad they can’t install those hammocks in the salt room, that would be really nice.
Are Virgin Voyages Spa Prices reasonable?
For the most part, yes. A Spa pedicure starts at $69 and you are seated in front of large windows. This is nice on a port day if you’re not planning on doing much while in port. Enjoy the sweeping views and some pampering instead.
How does the Virgin Voyages upgrade bid work?
You may receive an email to bid on an upgrade. It will have options available for upgrade and the lowest possible amount per person as a starting point with a sliding scale that you can choose to bid at. Once sent, it may take awhile to hear a reply as it states that they will let you know within 48 hours of your boarding.
If successful, you will be notified and your payment on file will automatically be processed. Your experience can vary greatly depending on what’s available during your voyage. If the upgrade sounds nice, it may be worth the try. If not getting the upgrade will be disappointing, then you should probably book what you want instead. Some report success with it and were very happy with the opportunity.
Is there a Virgin Voyages Drag Brunch?
While I did not see the drag brunch listed in my schedule, there is typically one mentioned. I was able to catch a wonderful show hosted by the Diva / Carlos the Uber Driver. There was lots of singing, dancing, and audience participation on this “round the world” inspired show.
This was in the regular lineup of events, we missed the first showing but made up for it on a Sea day. Arrive early for the best seats. Seats on the side are harder to see although there are screens above to help with viewing more of the stage and movement. You can also find the Diva throughout various other parties and events.
Entertainment on a Virgin Voyage
Without giving too much detail because it is a different experience that should be enjoyed with fresh eyes, the entertainment on board includes varying levels of interactive participation from the audience. Instead of an in-depth description of each venue and event, how about some Must-Do’s?
- DO start off a fun cruise by going to the pajama party on night 1.
- DO wear red and have your moment in the mirrored hall of the Manor.
- DO say 10 (or higher) when asked as you enter The Manor for NSA: Never Sleep Alone if you are ready to jump on stage and provide the entertainment!
- DO wobble and electric slide your way around the Red Room during the Untitled DanceParty-ShowThing.
- DO talk to the Happenings Cast for a chance to get a secret invite to an unlisted event or party. Look for people like the Hype or the Charmer and interact.
- DO visit the main lounge areas to catch pop-up performances.
- DO make an appearance at storytimes like the Myth of Scarlet Night to get more details, win prizes, and possibly score a secret invite.
- DO make time for Star Gazing at the Dock House, either on your own time or during a Stargazing mood enhancing event.
- DO take quiet moments for yourself in your hammock if you’ve booked a sea terrace.
- DO watch people jump in the pool fully clothed (or be one of them) at the ultimate pool party.
- DO enjoy the company of the people you meet during your Gunbae meal even if only for the moment.
- DO book karaoke early at the Groupie and sing your heart out with no audience and no waiting for your turn.
- DO join in some group events like the painting where you all contribute and then the giant painting is cut up into strips for each participant to take with them. (It’s easy and they found a way to make it fun and switch things up!)
- DO make memories like a kid again at events where you can keep a ball in the air or dance under a giant parachute.
- DO everything you want to and none of what you don’t. It’s your vacation.
More Things to Do on Board:
Voyage Vinyl is an onboard record shop where you can shop for unique finds and special editions or just enjoy a personal listening station.
The Groupie is the bookable karaoke, gaming, and movie lounge.
Phantom Folktakes is a collection of musical micro-plays that happen spontaneously and disappear just as quickly throughout the ship.
If you found these tips useful and are ready to book your Virgin Voyage with me as your First Mate (Virgin Voyages travel agent), then let’s do this and BOOK TODAY! You can go solo, have a romantic getaway, or party with friends (Create a Circle!). There’s something special in it for you and your friends when you book togetherThere’s an adventure waiting for you.
Experience a visual guide to cruising the Scarlet Lady on my Instagram page.
As always, please feel free to ask your questions in the comments also. You never know who else is wondering about the same thing!
7 thoughts on “How to Get More From Your Virgin Voyages Experience”
I have heard about Virgin Cruises but wasn’t sure what to expect. This sums it up nicely…where do I book?
Such a helpful post. Great tips for travellers.
Thanks so much, hope it was useful for you!
these are wonderful tips, especially for your first time. attitude is a huge piece!
Thank you. Attitude is everything! Glad you found it useful.
Thanks for info. Questions: Thinking of doing the Grog Walk, but wondering how to plan dinner. Also, considering bubbly at sailaway, lots of drinks at Grog Walk (do you pay extra for these in addition to the $45 each?) and wine at dinner, I’m hoping to be able to make the pj party! Suggestions for best way to do this appreciated. tx
This is what I’ve done and suggested to others. I love the Test Kitchen and like to secure that one first for right after the sail away party, so somewhere between 7-8 pm. If the Grog Walk is full for the first night, make sure to look ahead and try to book the next one which will probably be on a sea day. ( But book it as soon as you get on board because they fill up fast!) The $45 includes your drinks during the walk and there’s some fun entertainment happening where you’ll get some nice interactions with the happenings cast/crew.
As for dinner, unless you’ve booked a Rockstar experience wine is additional during dinner but a great way to save is to book during a special like the current one which gives you up to a $600 bar tab credit depending on the length of the cruise.
If you book dinner for 7PM, you should make it to the Grog Walk at 9PM and PJ party at 11PM with a few moments to spare in between depending on what’s happening. There is usually complimentary bubbly during sail away and on scarlet night.
As long as you can get the times, 6:30 to 8PM seemed to be ideal for dinner. Have a great time!