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If you put the cruise industry into a blender, you’d get Virgin Voyages

Sir Richard Branson’s cruise line is nearly here and if you think you know what you’re in for, think again.

Virgin Voyages may be the ultimate market disruptor.

When you think of ultimate market disruptor businesses, most lists would start and stop with one name – Virgin.

What started as a mail order record retail business in 1970 has over 50 years revolutionised music, health and wellness, money and finance, sports and perhaps most of all, travel. If Sir Richard Branson thought it could have been done better or differently, he did. And it made sense.

First came Virgin Atlantic in 1984, with many others following including Virgin Australia. Then Virgin Trains hit the tracks in 1997 and Virgin Hotels opened in 2010. Planes weren’t even Sir Richard’s only aviation effort – the man once crossed the Atlantic and tried to fly around the world – in a hot air balloon.

Then four years later, Sir Richard’s latest travel venture literally hit water as Virgin Voyages took float for the first time.

GALLERY: What's included on a Virgin Voyages 'voyage'?

  • Extra Virgin Italian
  • Gunbae Korean BBQ
  • Sun Club Cafe
  • The Dock House
  • The Wake
  • Pink Agave
  • Razzle Dazzle
  • Ship Eats
  • The Grounds Club
  • Plus essential drinks
  • All shows
  • Gratuities for the crew
  • WiFi to stay connected to Instagram

By its very definition, a good disruptor shakes up the status quo. And so far, Virgin Voyages has done just that, with Australian cruisers next to see what a cruise holiday will look like with Virgin’s expressive tick applied to it.

Innovation is the mother of invention and in some ways, the cruise industry was already taking steps to do things that Virgin has rapidly accelerated. But in other ways, Virgin Voyages has applied Branson’s original logic to do things differently to everyone else. Status quo – meet blender.

To start with, it’s not even called a cruise. It’s a voyage. And they’re not passengers. They’re sailors.

At one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the humble hammock, perhaps the epitome of holiday relaxation. Why has nobody thought to put one on every cabin balcony before? It makes sense.

But outside the cabin door is where the real eyebrow-raising fun begins. Words you’ll never heard onboard include ‘Kids, take a look at this!’ Forget hide and seek. You won’t find kids anywhere onboard, with all guests needing to be 18 years of age or older to come aboard.

Virgin Voyages describes its onboard entertainment as like a festival at sea. A festival where you get to wear your pyjamas.

Whether it’s a circus retelling of Romeo & Juliet (with all the acrobats, jugglers and magicians William Shakespeare left out), to a late-night talk show supper club, a look at the significance of insignificance or indeed a simple pyjama party, you’ll hope the kids are having fun with Grandma...for about five seconds.

Resilient Lady arrives in Australia on 3 December 2023.

Another thing you won’t find onboard is a buffet. The heart of the Virgin Voyages experience lies in its culinary offerings. With a range of dining options, from fine dining to casual fare, a sailor’s taste buds will embark on a culinary journey much further than the rest of their body.

Instead, The Galley is a collection of separate food carts serving fresh breads and pastries, paninis, burgers, tacos, noodles, sushi, soups, salads and more in quick fashion for those with more to see and do onboard.

For a more refined or formal dining experience, there are up to 20 other ways to keep the ‘hangry’ away, from steaks and seafood at The Wake, energetic Korean BBQ at Gunbae, creative Mexican recipes at Pink Agave, American comforts at Razzle Dazzle, hearty Italian at Extra Virgin.

And perhaps best of all is that it’s all included, as are the coffees, waters, soft drinks and juices. And the tips for the crew. And the WiFi. And the fitness classes. It’s all included. All-included luxury. How can you go wrong?

What does Sir Richard do next…go into outer space? Oh wait, he’s done that too.

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Written by: Virgin Voyages
Published: 13 October 2023

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