Cruise Life: With Virgin Voyages
Updated: May 24
Our Director James Bacon, was invited to join Virgin Voyages for a cruise around the Med in May. It was an introduction into how Virgin are pushing into the corporate events and incentives market. - "From minute one as you come on board the ship, it feels unlike any other cruise environment. Fun, relaxed and you really feel the unique boldness of the brand."
We boarded in Barcelona and while we queued and went through the check in processes. There was a real excitement and buzz in those waiting to board. It already felt like a different crowd than you may perceive it to be on a cruise. Then as we came on board we were greeted by beach club style vibes in the background and two members of the team excited to see and welcome you aboard.
Music as you can appreciate with the Virgin brand plays a big part across all areas of the ship. But at no time do you feel it overpowers the ambience, just subtly enhancing the mood and relaxing you.
As we set sail from Barcelona we all met out on the pool deck for a welcome reception (well more of a farewell to BCN party!) that really got everyone together. Prosecco, dancers, DJs...it was letting everyone know, if you hadn't guessed already. This was going to be an inclusive fun voyage.
The cabins in general are smaller than those who are regular cruisers will be used to. But they are more than adequate and the whole point is you are out on ship enjoying the facilities and mixing with people. It had all I needed with a nice balcony area with a hammock to relax and take in the scenery. For those wanting a bit more for their accommodation, or for VIPs and potentially senior management for corporate groups. You have the Rock Star Suites which are amazing and come with your own private area of the ship to relax in.
Things to do on board:
Across the ship it has a range of facilities. Again with the brand being what it is, you can expect first class health and wellness. It has an amazing spa to compliment the extensive high end gym facilities. Nothing like doing a spin class overlooking the sea! Or perhaps shoot some hoops with the outdoor court, outdoor ring and punchbag or pop up to the top deck and use the outside running track?
For those looking for a bit of fun, there was a games area where you could play old school arcade games, air hockey, table football or maybe play your favourite retro board game with friends?
Fancy a flutter? Well there is a casino on board complete with numerous slot machines and your choice of table games. Or maybe a touch or shopping along their own high street area. You can even book your own private karaoke booth!
But the main focus has to be to relax and for this you have a split pool area with several jacuzzi's. As well as multiple chill out / lounge areas inside and out on deck to enjoy the vista, have a drink or read that book you bought especially for the trip.
If you are an ardent cruise passenger. You can still get your fix of scheduled activities like trivia, fitness classes and lessons in an number of activities. Be aware it may be a more current spin on what you are used to...!
Food & Beverage:
The important things right? You won't be left disappointed with the extensive range of dining choices and cuisine options available. From Pink Agave, Test Kitchen, Gumbae, Extra Virgin, Razzle Dazzle to the main Galley area which has a real street food feel. Highlights and there were many, had to be the BBQ Korean in Gumbae, Brunch in Razzle Dazzle and the steak in Pink Agave. But all of the options will never leave you disappointed or hungry.
The bar areas were plenty around the ship. The pool bars were always popular, especially when the DJ came to play. But I enjoyed the dock area which was relaxed and often had live performances out there. Also the indoor lounge bar which was a nice option after dinner and always had amazing bands playing there each night.
If a brand such as Virgin cannot deliver here, then something isn't right! As mentioned, there are DJs across the day around the pool areas, live acts in the lounge and bar areas. But when it's time to put on a show or a party, you'd better be ready. Our first night for example began after dinner with a fantastic drag show, followed by getting into our PJs for the Pyjama Party in the Manor (in house club).
Quite a start eh? Each day/night had a new show to experience alongside the numerous acts across the ship. The showcase evening being the Scarlet Party night. Yes, you dress in red / scarlet and a large octopus comes out pool side with DJs, dancers and other areas of the ship getting involved with the party.
So, are you not entertained??
Time off ship:
With all that going on, why should you need to leave the ship? Well isn't that the whole point of a cruise too? As much as there is to do on board and you get sea days where you have to stay on ship of course. When you get the opportunity to be back on land, it is a welcome change up. For example, we happened to dock in Cannes on the first day of the International Film Festival. The buzz around the place was fantastic and for a film buff like me, it was amazing to be there.
Then we docked in Palma, Mallorca and had a lovely evening around the scenic marina before heading back on board. Here's where my story ended as I had to fly back the next day. But from there the experience continued onto Ibiza and then back to Barcelona (and I've already heard some stories from that part of the journey!).
From a leisure perspective, going on a Virgin Voyage Cruise is really a bit of a no brainer. What is there not to like if you are within a large part of the age demographic. Of course some will be more traditional in their requirements and that's absolutely fair in choice.
Can it work with corporate groups? Totally. As an incentive and reward for groups up to 40 or 50 people. It absolutely plug and play, ticks all boxes in terms of offering, is wow factor and instagramable enough to ensure your sales team, management team or high performers will be talking about this for years to come. Not only will they be recharged and focus to perform again. It will create enough FOMO (fear of missing out) to motivate others to push on as well.
For larger groups, it will take some planning and work with your agency ;) and the Virgin team. But there is no reason you couldn't mix both the incentive side with your corporate kick off or forum event.
Do you want something different, current, memorable, instagramable, engaging and fun for your next event? Then you should really consider a cruise option. At the very least get it in the planning discussions when looking at options. Virgin Voyages rips up the rule book and your perception of cruising.
Cruise life...Cruise Virgin for your next incentive.