Virgin Voyages may be a small cruise line compared to the major players like Carnival and Royal Caribbean, but there is no doubt that it is making a splash.
Since opening for booking in February — and even before — the industry has been abuzz with all the ways that Virgin is taking a different approach to cruising. From being adults-only (no one under 18 is allowed) to the look and feel of the ships to the fact that wi-fi and gratuities are included in the price of your cruise — instead of being additional costs.
And it’s not just on the ship where Virgin Voyages is making updates to the normal cruise experience. As many other cruise lines have done, Virgin is planning its own private space in the Bahamas, where cruise passengers can spend the day enjoying the sun and beach.
What’s different is… well, just about everything.
Known as The Beach Club at Bimini, the island is located about 55 miles from the Port of Miami where Virgin’s first ship will sail from. Already all itineraries announced so far for the cruise line’s first ship — Scarlet Lady — are set to have a stop at The Beach Club. One major difference in this port call? The schedule calls for lengthy, all-day stays instead of just a few hours. In some cases arriving at 8 a.m. and leaving at 6:30 p.m. and on other cruises arriving at 9 a.m. and departing at 10 p.m.
So what exactly can you plan to do while at The Beach Club all day? Here’s a list of things already mentioned by the cruise line to take up your day in port.
Hang out in (or by) the resort-style pool
According to Virgin, the pool at The Beach Club is the “central anchor” of the area. And judging by the renderings, it will definitely be the place to be. By day the sweeping pool surrounded by loungers will be a great place to cool off and hang out with the friends you brought or made on board. By night, the pool’s lighting accents — and nearby DJ booth — will make it an awesome place to hang out under the stars.
Start the day with yoga and meditation
Virgin is putting a big focus on your entire well-being on a cruise, not just having a good time and getting some sun. They call it “Vitamin Sea.” At The Beach Club, it includes morning yoga and meditation, with the sounds of the ocean as the backdrop. Given everything we’ve heard about Virgin, we’re not sure people will be up early in the morning, but those who are have a relaxing way to ease into their day on shore.
Be a part of the DJ-led party
While Vitamin Sea sounds great, let’s be honest. If you’re at a beautiful private resort in the middle of paradise, then you likely want to let loose a little. Virgin plans “DJ-led pool and flotilla parties will be the center of the action” during the afternoon. Grab yourself a drink and stake out a spot by the pool to have a day you won’t forget anytime soon.
Take in the beach bonfire
With the ship staying so much later at Bimini than most other ships stay at their ports of call, there is the opportunity to do some unique things you won’t experience anywhere else. In this case, Virgin plans to have a beach bonfire during the evening, along with acoustical music. When the sun is setting and things are cooling off, we can think of no better way to take in the evening.
Party with Mark Ronson as DJ
Now we’ve already mentioned the DJ-led parties by the pool, but if you’re really a music aficionado, then you’ll want to check your calendar. Mark Ronson (perhaps most famous for collaborating with Bruno Mars for Uptown Funk) will have four performances at The Beach Club during 2020. This is the only opportunity we know of to have a blast partying on the beach with a 7-time Grammy-Award-winner, who also just won his first Oscar.
Eat like a local
One of the big drawbacks of many cruises is that they can remove the culture of a place to appeal to the widest audience. For example, most private islands from the cruise lines will serve up hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch. Virgin plans to offer Bahamian favorites instead, specifically mentioning “conch and mango salad, banana leaf-wrapped queen snapper, Bahamian rum cake and more.” If you want something else, there’s always the eateries on the ship, which are free of charge.
Have a drink (or six)
No cruise is a cruise without having something tasty to drink. And while the new cruise line is changing a lot of things, it’s not changing that. The resort on Bimini will have six bars for you to choose from. And since you are there all day you can each try to do the “Bimini bar crawl” — get a drink from each bar at the club before you make it back to the ship.
Just hang out in a hammock
There’s not much that’s better than hanging out at the beach in a hammock. That’s going to be easy to do at The Beach Club. There are hammock spots in multiple places, including under a grove a palm trees and even some out over the water. It’s the perfect place to relax and share a quiet moment, catch a nap, or take in the evening breeze.
Rent a poolside cabana
As we mentioned, the pool is the focus area of Virgin’s exclusive area. And around that pool are loungers, but what if you want your own dedicated space? There are poolside cabanas to rent. And if you want to hang out by the beach? There are also beach-side cabanas to rent as well. No word yet on the cost, but we’ve seen cabanas at other cruise lines run around $250 for the day. That may seem high but realize that you can usually fit multiple people in a cabana.
Play on the beach
If you want to play while enjoying the beach, you’re in luck. Virgin Voyages has said that the club will have “active areas for watersports and beach play.” There are no official details yet on what that means, but we’d guess there will be active beach sports like volleyball and soccer to keep you entertained on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
Explore the Island of Bimini
Most cruise lines purchase an entire island, making it entirely their own. Virgin Voyages has instead carved out its spot on a larger island of Bimini. That means you can head out and explore the island if you like. There’s a number of things to do and see, from simple sightseeing to diving, snorkeling, eating, fishing, spas, and just simple sightseeing while you drive around a golf cart.
For more on sailing Virgin, read how the cruise line will be different here.