Most of the time, cruisers get excited about the newest ship coming to a cruise line. Carnival Horizon, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, and Norwegian Bliss have all made tons of headlines due to their size, grandeur, and newest features.
Imagine, then, if instead of just a new ship there was an entirely new cruise line. And that cruise line what making major changes to what’s considered “normal” in the cruise industry.
That’s exactly what we’re seeing with Virgin Voyages. The cruise line is part of Richard Branson’s “Virgin” umbrella of companies, which includes everything from airlines to cell service. One thing about the reputation of Virgin is that the company is seen as always doing things a bit different — and a bit better — than its competitors.
From the sounds of it, the Virgin Voyages cruise line will be no different. While the first ship won’t be up and running for more than a year, there’s been a steady trickle of news and unveilings of noteworthy features. In fact, much of what’s been revealed so far make it clear that Virgin will not be just another cruise line.
Here’s what we know so far…
Virgin Voyages Is For Adults Only
Perhaps the first sign that Virgin won’t just be another cruise line is that it is adults only. For years cruise lines have pushed to be family friendly, designed to appeal to everyone. Kid’s clubs and activities for children are commonplace on most cruises. However, Virgin has announced that you must be 18 years or older to sail on its ships. That means even if you have teenagers who know how to behave themselves, they still won’t be allowed on board. Leave the kids at home.
The First Ship Will Sail From Miami
If you want to ride on the new cruise line, you need to start looking for tickets to Miami. Virgin has announced that the ship will sail from PortMiami. This shouldn’t be a surprise. The company has offices in nearby Plantation, Florida, so sailing from South Florida makes sense. Meanwhile, the Miami cruise port is the busiest in the world and offer the resources and facilities to handle a new cruise line.
The Ships Will Look Like No Other
Even the look of the cruise ship is getting an overhaul. The renderings of Virgin’s first ship show a futuristic design, with cabins that go all the way to the point of the bow. The bow itself is creates more of a vertical line from the water instead of the classic forward angle On the stern, the superstructure is cut-in from the width of the hull, similar to the MSC Seaside. It all combines to create a ship that’s unmistakable and sure to turn heads.
The First Ship Is Named Scarlet Lady
So much is made of a cruise ship’s name. It can set the tone for what passengers expect, based simply on the name. In this case, Virgin Voyages has named its first ship Scarlet Lady. In our opinion the name suggests style and grace, which is likely what the cruise line was going for. In addition, the name is an homage to the name of one of the early planes to fly for Virgin’s airline.
There Will Be No Buffets
Buffets and cruise ships go together like peanut butter and jelly. But when is the last time you really loved eating at the buffet? Truth is that many passengers eat there because that’s what’s available. Virgin Voyages will take the buffet out all together.
All Restaurants Are Included
Over the years, it’s been a trend to have more restaurants on the ship… but to charge extra for them. So if you want to eat somewhere other than the buffet or the main dining room, then you usually have to pay up. That’s not the case on the Scarlet Lady. The cruise line has announced that not only will there be 20+ places to eat on board, but they also will be included in your cruise fare. That’s a welcome relief from the trend toward charging more for specialty restaurants.
There’s a Bar in Every Restaurant
One thing that Virgin Voyages isn’t getting rid of is the bar. In fact, every restaurant on the ship will have a bar so there’s no need to run elsewhere for a drink while having a meal or just hanging out. No word yet on if drink packages will be available.
Food Is Made to Order
Remember how we told you there were no buffets on the cruise ship? Well if the idea of food sitting out for extended periods doesn’t sound good to you, then you’ll love to hear that Virgin Voyages plans to have all of its food made to order. We’re not exactly sure how the cruise line will be able to feed thousands of people during the meal time rush without having some items pre-made, but we sure like the sound of having everything freshly made when ordered.
Single-Use Plastics Are Gone
According to the cruise line, there will be a massive reduction in disposable plastics — including elimination of single-use plastics — across the fleet. Things like plastic straws, and disposable water bottles will no longer be offered. Meanwhile, the ship also aims to reduce the total amount of disposable plastic consumed (compared to the average liner) by 50% or more.
There’s a Tattoo Parlor On the Ship
It certainly isn’t for everyone, but for those that want to get some ink done, there’s a one-of-a-kind tattoo parlor at sea. We know of no other cruise line doing something like this. “Squid Ink” will be able to handle anything you need in the tattoo department, whether it’s a butterfly on your ankle or a clipper ship across your chest.
Havana Will Be On the Ports of Call
A few years ago Havana began opening up for cruise ships and it’s been an exciting new addition to cruise lineups. Virgin has announced that Havana will be its first destination. As one of the most “unspoiled” cruise ports in the Caribbean, we certainly think Havana makes sense as a ground-breaking destination. There’s no word yet on what other ports the ships will visit.
There Are Four Ships Planned
The first ship from Virgin Voyages is the Scarlet Lady, but that’s not all the cruise line has planned. Already a second ship is under construction. Right now this ship is yet to be named. In addition, there are two more ships ordered, which will mean a fleet of four Virgin ships by the time they are completed. In other words, Virgin Voyages is not simply looking to have a ship and call itself a cruise line. It will be sailing with an entire fleet.
Gyms Are Completely Reimagined
Head to the gym on a cruise ship today and you’ll find some treadmills and weight machines, but that’s about it. In fact, most of the time it’s empty. Virgin seems to be focusing heavily on health and wellness. The ship will include a “Training Camp” room, boxing classes, space for yoga and meditation, and even a cold-pressed juice bar. In addition, the cruise line seems to be focusing not just on working out, but working out and socializing, which it says is inspired by athletic social clubs of the past.
Scarlet Lady Sets Sail in 2020
While the exact date is yet unknown, if you’re excited about sailing on Virgin Voyages, then you’ll have to wait until 2020. That’s when the first ship in the fleet is scheduled to set sail. After that, the schedule is for each of the remaining ships to come online one a year through 2023. There is no word yet on when reservation will open for passengers to book their spot to set sail.