30 Essential Virgin Voyages Tips You Need to Know For A Successful Sailing

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When you sail with Virgin Voyages, you enter a world where cruising rules are redefined. While you may recognize some elements from traditional cruises, these Virgin Voyages tips will guide you through booking, preparing, and, as well as what to expect when you step aboard one of their distinctive ‘Lady Ships”.

We are seasoned cruisers, but sailing with Virgin Voyages felt almost like being first-time cruisers again. It was an experience, from booking the cruise to finding our way around the ship. We were proactive and booked our dining reservations 45 days in advance, which was important to us to be able to enjoy the fantastic dining experiences onboard. Also, connecting to the ship’s Wi-Fi as soon as we got to the terminal allowed us to quickly book our preferred ‘Shore Things’ with the sailor loot we had.

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We’re not just sharing tips for a Virgin Voyages cruise; we’re giving you the essential Virgin Voyages tips you need to plan a successful cruise.

Understand the Value of All-Inclusive Rates on Virgin Voyages

Don’t be discouraged by the initial rates; remember, it’s all included on a Virgin Voyages cruise. Most importantly, it will be an ADULT ONLY cruise. When booking my first cruise, I initially found the pricing confusing. Unlike other cruise lines, Virgin’s website shows rates based on double occupancy by default, but you can easily adjust this to ‘per person’ in the filter settings. More importantly, Virgin’s rates include all dining, basic Wi-Fi, gratuities, and even fountain drinks, which are often extra costs on other cruises. When you consider these inclusions, the value of a Virgin Voyages cruise becomes clear.

Not included: alcoholic drinks, spa services, excursions, and some other premium upgrades.

Sofabeds in Standard Cabins

Virgin Voyages cruise ship cabin featuring a sofabed with white bedding, red and striped accent pillows, a side table, a desk area, and a closed curtain with a hint of the ocean view beyond.Pin

Something that Virgin Voyages does differently—and which has sparked controversy—is using sofabeds instead of traditional beds in standard cabins. The only real beds are found in the Rockstar Suites. Although I initially hesitated, fearing that the sofabeds would be the least comfortable option at sea, the sofabed in our XL Sea Terrace cabin was surprisingly one of the most comfortable beds we’ve ever slept in.

However, sharing the cabin with two or more people can make the sofabed situation awkward. The bed is configured into an L-shape, which means you’ll have to sleep head-to-head, head-to-feet, or feet-to-feet with your cabin mate. A third cabin mate would fit in a bunk. It might surprise you, too, so it’s something to consider when planning who you’re cruising with.

Tip: Before booking, consider pricing out two cabins instead of one. The cost difference is minimal and could make a huge difference in comfort and privacy, especially if you’re considering cramming into one cabin with multiple people. 

Watch Our XL Sea Terrace Cabin Tour

Book with a First Mate For Extra Perks

First Mates are certified travel/cruise agents with Virgin Voyages. You can book a cruise online, but booking with a First Mate has benefits, including additional perks like Sailor Loot or cabin choices. Their rates will never be more than what you see on Virgin. Someone also acts as a liaison between the cruise line and you, so if you need to make changes, they contact Virgin for you.

Download the Virgin App

A hand holding a smartphone with the Virgin Voyages app open, displaying options like 'Event Line-up', 'Ship spaces', 'Shore Things', 'Guides', and 'Add-ons', with a laptop and a cup of coffee in the background.Pin

Everything on Virgin Voyages operates through their app. Once you create an account with VV and book a cruise, it’s important to download the app. You’ll need it for various essential tasks: check-in, making reservations for dining, experiences, fitness classes, and even controlling the cabin lights. You’ll also receive all your notifications regarding the cruise on that app. So, don’t wait last minute to download it.

Be aware, though, that the app can sometimes be frustrating and sometimes requires patience. It works best on the ship. Despite any hiccups, it will be your primary tool for virtually everything on the ship.

VV Assigns Your Cabin After Booking


When you book a cruise with Virgin Voyages, they’ll assign your cabin number afterward. You can find out your assigned cabin by checking the app or your online account. If the assigned cabin doesn’t meet your preferences, don’t worry—you can call Virgin’s customer service to request a change. If you booked through a travel agent (referred to as a First Mate by Virgin), they can handle the cabin selection or make the call for you.

Here’s a personal tip from our experience: When we first booked with Virgin, we were assigned an XL Sea Terrace cabin. After looking it up online, we realized it didn’t have a hammock, which we really wanted. We called customer service, and they happily changed our cabin for us. So, don’t hesitate to reach out if you need something different. If you booked with a First Mate, you’d contact them first.

Status Match for Extra Perks

If you carry loyalty status with another cruise line, take advantage of Virgin Voyages’ status match program to earn ‘Blue Extra’ perks and join their exclusive Sailor’s Club—even on your first or second cruise. This offer is only available until December 31, 2024.

Last year, we utilized our MSC loyalty status to obtain ‘Deep Blue Extras’ on our first Virgin cruise. Initially, we had to status match our Hilton Gold status with MSC. Once that was established, we submitted our MSC status to Virgin, and the process was surprisingly smooth. Sadly, Virgin stopped allowing status matches from MSC anymore.

Elevate Your Cruise Experience with the Splash of Romance Package

If you want a smoother start to your cruise, think about adding the Splash of Romance (SOR) package to your booking. With this package, you’ll board the ship right after Deep Blue Extras and Rockstars, which means you get extra time to enjoy the ship. This is a big plus if your check-in time is later, like 3:45 PM.

But the Splash of Romance package includes more than early boarding. You also get a 3-hour thermal spa pass and a bottle of champagne.

Please note: The Splash of Romance package is an additional cost and limited availability, so be sure to add it to your reservation early.

Curious About RockStar But Think It’s Too Pricey? Try Bidding on an Upgrade

Cruising as a Rockstar or Mega-rockstar has its perks, but let’s be honest, it can be pretty pricey. If you’re feeling lucky, you can try to score an upgrade by submitting a bid for one of these swanky suites. It’s called a Level Upgrade, and while it’s not guaranteed you’ll win if you do, you’ll get to enjoy all those Rockstar benefits without the full price tag. It’s a great way to possibly elevate your experience without breaking the bank.

Check-in and Pick a Boarding Time as Soon as Possible


The Virgin Voyages app lets you check in almost immediately after booking to secure the earliest boarding time at the port. Check-in for other cruise lines typically opens much closer to the departure date. We could check in months in advance, which streamlined our boarding process and got us started on our vacation without any delays. The earlier you get on the ship, the more time you have to start your cruise and get reservations for things.

Book Your Restaurant Reservations 45 Days Before Embarkation Day

For Virgin Voyages, the window to book your restaurant reservations opens 45 days before your embarkation day, right at midnight EST. If you’re a Rockstar, you get a little extra leeway with reservations opening 60 days prior. These slots fill up fast, so I recommend setting a reminder on your calendar to make reservations at 12:01 AM EST on the dot. This ensures you get the preferred dining times without the stress of finding out they’re already booked.

However, if everything is booked by the time you try, don’t worry. Once you get onboard, you’ll have another opportunity to make reservations. Just do this as soon as you embark, ideally on the first day. Afterward, walk-in options may become scarce, and you might have to settle for less convenient times. The effort to book early is well worth it—the food at the sit-down restaurants is outstanding and a highlight of Virgin’s cruise experience.

  • You can only reserve a restaurant once during a sailing of 6 nights or less.
  • Keep in mind that sit-down dinners do last about 2 hours.

VV Does Brunch

A brunch spread on a table featuring a dish featuring a baked frittata topped with greens and mushrooms, a side plate of crispy bacon, and a red bowl of fresh fruit including melon slices, berries, and pineapple.Pin
Razzle Dazzle Brunch

Don’t miss out on a fantastic brunch experience aboard Virgin Voyages. The Wake and Razzle Dazzle both offer brunch throughout the week. We recommend booking a brunch on sea days when you can relax and enjoy your meal without a rush, or consider making it your grand finale with a final brunch on disembarkation day.

Follow the Ship’s Happenings Cast on Instagram

Each Lady Ship has a dedicated ‘Happenings Cast’ on Instagram, and we highly recommend following them. These crew members provide constant updates, activities, and fun around the ship. They’re a wealth of tips and knowledge that can greatly enhance your experience aboard by giving you insider info and highlighting can’t-miss events and activities.

What to Pack for Virgin Voyages

While our general cruise packing list is always a good starting point, there are a few Virgin-specific items you’ll definitely want to bring along:

  • Refillable Water Bottle: Virgin Voyages does not provide disposable water bottles on board. They highly recommend bringing a refillable water bottle as plenty of water stations are around the ship, and you can always ask for water at the bars.
  • USB-C Wall Plug-in: The cabins are well-equipped with electrical and USB-A ports but lack USB-C ports. A charging port will be necessary if your devices require this type of connection.
  • Hanging Toiletry Bag: Another item we highly recommend, especially if you’re staying in a Sea Terrace, is a hanging toiletry bag. The bathrooms can be a bit cramped, with limited storage and shelving, so having a hanging toiletry bag will keep your essentials organized and easily accessible.
  • Pajamas for the Pajama Party: Pack a pair of pajamas or comfy loungewear that you love for the Pajama Party on the first night.
  • 80’s VHS Fitness Class Outfit: For a blast from the past, pack an 80’s themed workout outfit for the 80’s VHS fitness class. It’s a fun way to sweat it out with some nostalgic flair.
  • A Red Outfit for Scarlet Night: Scarlet Night is a signature event on Virgin Voyages, so bring a red outfit or at least a flash of red to join in the fun.
  • Gold Outfit for “We Fancy” Night: Not all itineraries include a “We Fancy” night, but if yours does, a gold outfit or a fun gold accessory will have you fitting right in.

No Need to Print Luggage Tags

One cool thing about Virgin Voyages is that you don’t have to fuss with printing out luggage tags before you sail. Just show up at the cruise port, pull up your cabin number on the Virgin Voyages app, and hand it over to a porter. They’ll sort out your luggage tags right there. It’s easy and one less thing to worry about before departing.

Just a heads-up: The porters aren’t Virgin employees, so they will probably expect a tip for their help. A small tip can go a long way toward ensuring your luggage is well cared for.

Boarding Process: What to Expect


Boarding with Virgin Voyages doesn’t start until around 2 PM, and they are strict about adhering to scheduled times. Priority boarding is given in stages: Rockstars are first, followed by passengers with Deep Blue Extras (DBE), and then those with a Splash of Romance (SOR) before general boarding begins. If your check-in time is later, say 3 PM, and you arrive early at noon, expect to be asked to return closer to your designated time or stand in line at the designated boarding time and wait.

We recommend arriving about 30 minutes before your scheduled check-in time. If you’re a Rockstar, DBE, or SOR, you might find that the time listed on the app isn’t accurate—you can and should arrive earlier, around 1 PM since you have priority boarding privileges.

Once they let you in, you’ll go through security and check in with a rep who will hand you a band for onboard charges. Then, you’ll be on your way to the terminal to await boarding. Boarding is called by groups, starting with Rockstars.

Goodbye Cruise Cards, Hello Bands

Two wrists close together, each wearing a red Virgin Voyages Band, against a tiled floor background. The bands replace traditional cruise cards for onboard transactions and cabin access.Pin

Virgin Voyages has ditched the old-school cruise cards and switched to super convenient bands. These wristbands act as your keycard for everything onboard, making it easy to keep everything you need literally on hand. We loved the convenience of not having to dig around for a card.

You can recycle the bands at the end of your cruise, but I hung onto mine as a keepsake from my first Virgin cruise. It’s a neat little reminder of a great cruise.

Book Shore Things 120 Days in Advance

Inside the Scarlet Lady ship by Virgin Voyages, a vibrant red desk labeled "SHORE THINGS" for excursion planning and booking, with large windows overlooking the ocean in the background.Pin

Got your heart set on a specific shore excursion? The most popular ones can fill up quickly. You can start booking Shore Things 120 days in advance if you’re a Rockstar 145 days.

If you want to use Sailor Loot, you have to wait until you’re connected to the ship’s Wi-Fi. When we entered the cruise terminal, we connected to the ship’s Wi-Fi because we were eager to book the “Swimming with Sharks in Bimini” excursion. The morning tour was already booked, but we got the afternoon tour.

Have trouble with the app? Head to the Shore Things desk as soon as you board deck 7.

Book Popular Activities and Entertainment Upon Boarding

As soon as you step on board, one of the first things you should do is book all the popular activities and entertainment you’re interested in, whether included in your cruise fare or require an additional fee. This is a key reason to get on the ship as early as possible. Many of Virgin Voyages’ venues are relatively small, meaning they fill up quickly. Securing your spot immediately ensures you won’t miss out on any fun or experiences you’re looking forward to during your cruise.

No Drink Packages, But There Are Bar Tabs

a popcorn machine filled with bags of popcorn ready to grab and go.Pin

Don’t look for a drink package on Virgin Voyages; they don’t offer them. Instead, alcoholic beverages are sold a la carte, meaning you pay for each drink as you go. But here’s a cool tip: you can set up a Bar Tab before you board. If you load $300 onto your Bar Tab, Virgin throws in an extra $50. It’s non-refundable, so you lose it if you don’t finish it on the ship. If you don’t opt for a Bar Tab, any drinks you buy will be charged to your cruise account or deducted from your Sailor Loot.

Come as You Are Dress Code on Virgin

Virgin Voyages takes the whole “Freestyle Cruising” thing to a new level. There aren’t any strict dress codes, and they ask that you skip the swimsuit at dinner. They’ve got some fun theme nights, like Scarlet Lady, but joining in is totally up to you. You can dress how you like and focus on having a good time. It’s all about being yourself and enjoying the ride, so packing should be a breeze.

While the ship had a relaxed vibe, I thought everyone was pretty well dressed at night at dinner.

Fitness Classes Are Included

Unlike most cruise lines that charge extra for fitness classes, Virgin Voyages includes them in your cruise fare. If staying active is part of your cruise goals, you’re in the right place. You can join as many classes as you like without worrying about additional fees. Just remember to book them as soon as you board because they can fill up quickly. Walk-ins might be an option since sometimes people don’t show up at the last minute, but it’s not guaranteed.

Important Note: If you book a class and fail to show up without canceling, Virgin Voyages will charge a $10 no-show fee to your account, which they donate to charity.

Also, it’s worth noting that you won’t find typical frozen drinks like mudslides on the ship. Virgin Voyages offers a variety of crafted cocktails, which are a step up from the usual cruise drink fare. This is perfect for those looking to try something a bit more sophisticated and unique.

You May Want to Upgrade to Premium Wi-Fi

If you need a reliable and fast internet connection, consider upgrading to Premium Wi-Fi onboard. The basic Wi-Fi was a bit sluggish for us, so we switched to the premium option, and it made a world of difference. It’s worth it, especially if you need to stay connected for work, streaming, or just sharing your cruise moments on the go. When we sailed, the upgrade cost was $99 for the five-night cruise.

Be Food Adventurous

The food on Virgin Voyages is some of the best we’ve had at sea—perfect for foodies and anyone who loves good eats. Their food is generally creatively fun, high quality, and gourmet. Sure, they’ve covered the basics with pizza, hot dogs, and sandwiches for those who like to stick to what they know. But if you stick only to those, you’re missing out. On our cruise, we saw too many people looking skeptically at other folks’ plates or sitting in The Wake for brunch, wishing for something a basic Grand Slam Breakfast (they can go to Diner-and-Dash at the Galley for that). Remember, you’re not at Denny’s. Virgin Voyages offers unique, delicious options that are well worth trying. So try something different—you might fall in love with it!

Avoid Lines at The Galley, Raise the Flag

A hand is turning up the red “AHOY” service flag at The Galley on Virgin Voyages, indicating the call for a server, with the dining area visible in the background.Pin

The Galley on Virgin Voyages isn’t your typical cruise buffet—it’s a food court where you can skip the lines. One of the coolest features is the ability to raise a flag at your table when you’re ready to order. You don’t have to queue up unless you grab something quick, like a dessert or a bento box. Standing in line to order isn’t unnecessary and adds to the crowd. Try to avoid it.

Every time we raised the flag at our table in The Galley, servers quickly took our orders, and our food arrived shortly after. It’s a great way to enjoy your meal without the hassle.

Foodie Tid Bits You Should Know: Diner & Dash in the Galley is your all-American diner, open 24/7 on the ship. And to-go, boxes of snacks are always available at the entrance of The Galley and at The Dockhouse exit.

Navigating the Lady Ships

All Lady Ships by Virgin Voyages share a similar design, but getting around isn’t always intuitive. Reviewing the ship’s deck plans before you set sail to save time otherwise spent wandering is wise. Here’s a quick guide to help you navigate the key areas:

  • Sailor Services: Located on Deck 5 Mid-Ship for all your assistance needs.
  • Shore Things & My Next Virgin Voyage: Find these on Deck 7 to plan excursions and future trips.
  • Main Connector to Lower Decks: To move between decks 6, 5, or 4, head to Deck 7. From here, it’s the most direct route to those lower decks.
  • Social Hubs: Deck 7 has bars and eateries, such as the Pizza Palace, Ice Cream, and Grounds Club.
  • The Galley: Visit Deck 15 Aft.
  • The Manor Entrance: Surprisingly located within the Casino on Deck 6.

Make it a Movie Night in Your Cabin

a popcorn machine filled with bags of popcorn ready to grab and go.Pin

Who doesn’t love a good movie night? On Virgin Voyages, movies are free and included with your cruise fare, and there’s a huge selection to choose from—everything from classic films to the latest blockbusters. For the full experience, swing by the Social Club to grab some freshly popped popcorn, or hit The Pizza Palace for a slice or two (or maybe even both). Then head back to your cabin for a cozy night in.

Join in on Theme Nights and Events—You Might Be Surprised

scarlet night pool party on scarlet ladyPin

If you’re on the fence about joining in on Virgin Voyages’ theme nights and events, give it a shot—you might be pleasantly surprised! As someone who usually keeps to myself, I decided to dive into the fun during Scarlet Night by dressing up in red and heading to the pool party. It turned out to be a blast! Participating can enhance your cruise experience, giving you memorable moments and maybe even helping you make new friends.

Don’t Debark Without Purchasing My Next Virgin Voyage

The My Next Virgin Voyage (MYNV) program is a step up from typical cruise vouchers. It acts as a placeholder for your next cruise, locking in whatever promotional offer they have onboard that week. Here’s how it worked for us: On our last Virgin cruise, we put down $300 towards MYNV, which guaranteed us $600 in sailor loot for our next cruise if we booked within the next two months. Plus, the $300 went towards our deposit. Remember, if you book after those two months, the sailor loot drops to $300.

You can purchase this directly from the My Next Virgin Voyages desk on Deck 7 or through the Virgin App. You’ll need to provide a credit card when buying it, but it won’t be charged to your onboard account. We chose to buy ours at the desk because they provided immediate answers to all our questions and even gave us a PDF of all upcoming cruise itineraries to help us plan our next adventure. However, purchasing through the app is convenient if you know what you want.

You Can Debark the Ship as Late as 10:30 AM

No early morning rush to leave the ship here. Virgin Voyages lets you debark as late as 10:30 AM. That means you can enjoy a leisurely brunch before you say goodbye to the ship—just remember to book it early in the week to get a spot.

Debarkation on Virgin isn’t much different from other cruise lines, apart from the more relaxed check-out time. You can carry your own luggage off early with the self-assist group or pick a debarkation time slot under ‘Shore Things’ in the app a couple of days before the end of the cruise. If you’re not carrying it off yourself, just make sure your luggage is outside your cabin by 10:30 PM the night before.

We went for a later debarkation and kept our luggage with us, which meant we could sleep in a bit on that last day.

Virgin’s Website is a Wealth of Knowledge

I’ve found that Virgin Voyages’ website is way ahead of the curve compared to other cruise lines. It’s packed with answers to almost all your FAQs, plus loads of tips and insights about cruising with them. They even have some cool videos that give you cabin hacks and other handy cruising tips. It’s totally worth taking a bit of time to dive into their site. Also, don’t forget to follow them on social media for the latest updates and some extra tidbits.



Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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