The Know-Before-You-Go Virgin Voyages Sailor Guide

Welcome to the VV Insider Know-Before-You-Go Virgin Voyages Sailor Guide. This guide is designed to help new sailors understand Virgin Voyages a little better. There are some tips and guides in here to make sure you have the best vacation you can.

Use the links in the ‘Jump to Section’ list to skip to the info you need.

Jump to Section

  1. Booking Your Voyage
  2. What is Included?
  3. Spending On Board the Ship
  4. Additional Packages
  5. Booking Restaurants and Events
  6. What To Pack
  7. Online Check-in
  8. Embarkation
  9. First Day On Board
  10. Restaurants Overview
  11. Bars and Venues Overview
  12. My Next Virgin Voyage (Booking Your Next Trip)
  13. Disembarking
  14. Get The Most From Your Vacation

1. Booking Your Voyage

How Do I Book A Virgin Voyage Vacation?

There are two main ways to find the best deal and plan your trip;

1. Direct With Virgin Voyages

The Virgin Voyages website has listings of all upcoming itineraries, you can book directly with Virgin Voyages in your local currency. You can additionally add extras like travel insurance. Note that when booking directly with Virgin Voyages you will need to contact them to make any changes or ask any questions about your booking, you may prefer to use a travel agent if you like booking a whole package with more of a personal touch;

2. Book With Your Preferred Travel Agent

If you like your vacation to be compiled by experts it’s a good idea to employ the help of a travel agent. VV Insider do not name or recommend any individual travel agents as we are an independent publication. We do, however recommend looking for travel agents that have a gold ‘First Mate’ accreditation with Virgin Voyages.

Being a ‘First Mate’ means they understand the brand and will be able to help you better than the larger, impersonal brands. Travel agents will often be able to offer extras like additional on board credit that Virgin Voyages cannot offer direct.

Getting The Best Deal

Regardless how you choose to book – booking early is the best way to make sure you get the best value. We have seen instances of some voyages doubling in cost just a few weeks after they are listed for sale.

Keep an eye on Virgin Voyages social media and subscribe to our emails to know when Virgin Voyages deals are made live. These deals can be booked direct, or with your preferred travel agent.

2. What is Included?

Virgin Voyages has one of the more generous inclusive offerings among the large cruise line operators. Here are some highlights of what you get included in your cruise fare;

Even sweet treats like hand-scooped ice cream is covered by your cruise fare© Photo by Virgin Voyages®

In general you will still need to pay for; alcohol, excursions (Virgin Voyages call these ‘Shore Things’), ‘Treat Yourself’ premium dishes, up-charge events and merchandise.

There is even more included in your fare as well as some key exclusions you should know about in our detailed ‘What is Included’ guide.

3. Spending On Board the Ship

The Band – Smart Wristband

Although much is included in your cruise fare; it is likely you will need to pay for some things while you are on board. For this reason you will be given a band that you wear on your wrist. You will use this band as a room key, ID and ‘credit card’ while you are on the ship. When paying for something you will tap your wrist band and it will be automatically charged to your cabin account.

Three Virgin Voyages® bands, 2 red and one balck rope-style bands each with an anchor-shapes clasp
Sailor bands are red, unless you’re a Rockstar, then you’ll be given an exclusive VIP black band© Photo by Virgin Voyages®

Paying For Your Purchases

Prior to setting sail, you'll be required to link a credit card to your Virgin Voyages booking. Virgin will reserve $250 on your card, a common practice among cruise lines, to cover any onboard expenses you might incur. You, as a sailor, are responsible for clearing your balance. Should you wish to pay in cash (US dollars only), you can do so at Sailor Services before you disembark. Virgin will automatically charge any remaining balance to your credit card at the end of your journey. If you haven't spent the full $250, rest assured the hold on your card will be released soon after your journey ends.

On Board Credit

When you book your cruise you’re often given incentives and deals where you are given either promotional Sailor Loot or Bar Tab – if you’re lucky you might get both! You might wonder what this means, here’s a breakdown;

  • Sailor Loot – This is a credit balance on your on-board spending account. It can be used for any kind of on-board spending; premium drinks, spa treatments, merchandise, paid-for events like mixology, bingo etc. (You can also use Sailor Loot in the Casino with a few caveats on withdrawals, contact Virgin Voyages for up-to-date information about this)
  • Bar Tab – This is credit that is for beverages only. When you buy a drink on board the cost will be withdrawn from your Bar Tab first. If you run out of Bar Tab you will then use any remaining Sailor Loot. If you do not have Sailor Loot then it will be debited from your on board account. As a bonus – if you plan to spend more on drinks during your cruise you can buy additional Bar Tabs before you sail so you can save money.
Glasses of champagne, tea and a tower of food
Although Bar Tab can be used only on drinks you can use it for Afternoon Tea and Bottomless Brunch© Photo by VV Insider

4. Additional Packages

There are currently two extra packages you can add to your trip if you want to get some extra special treatment when you sail. You can add either of these packages by speaking to who booked your trip.

  1. Splash of Romance – A package for couples (although you can buy this solo too) which includes a bottle of champagne, spa access, an exclusive party. You will also get special sweet treats delivered to your cabin, early boarding and fresh pressed juices every day.
  2. A Splash for Your Bash – A package for when you’re sailing with people in other cabins and have something to celebrate! If you buy this package as a group each cabin will get a bottomless brunch, a specially curated dinner party with inclusive champagne.
A couple smiling at each other against an idyllic beach background
Splash of Romance is popular and only available on a first-come-first-served basis, don’t miss out!© Photo by Virgin Voyages®

5. Booking Restaurants and Events

To make booking for dining and events you will need the Virgin Voyages app.

Fair warning: the app is known to be unreliable – if you are having problems with it you may need to close it and open it again.

Booking Dining

There are no additional-cost specialty restaurants on board, all restaurants are included in your fare. To keep things fair, there is a limit to how many times you can book each restaurant, visit our guide for more details on this exclusion.

Top tip: Try to anticipate times where you will want to see shows and entertainment. Between 7pm and 9pm is normally a good time to book, but check the entertainment line-up to be sure.

You can book dining ahead of your voyage using the app, the booking window depends on the type of cabin you chose;

  • Sailors in non-suite cabins can book dining 45 days before the voyage.
  • Rockstars (suite-level) sailors can book 60 days before the voyage.

Sailing with a larger group? Check our restaurant booking guide for information on how to book for more people.

Booking Events

Ahead of your sailing you will see the ‘Line-up’ in the Virgin Voyages app start to fill with a number of daily events including headline shows, classes, wellness activities and more.

Generally, you will need to be on-board before you are able to book these events. Some events will also be “First Come First Serve” which will be noted on the event and a line will form ahead of these events, arrive early to avoid disappointment.

We have a guide on how to make sure you secure the bookings for events you don’t want to miss.

Booking Shore Excursions

Shore Excursions or Shore Things as Virgin Voyages calls it are exclusive tours at ports of call. You can book these pre-boarding or on board. Check out our guide on when shore excursion bookings opens and how to book.

6. What to Pack

The is no dress code on board Virgin Voyages, there is a ‘come as you are’ vibe and as long as you’re not wearing anything offensive or too revealing you can dress as you wish. This is true of the restaurants and bars on board too, you can dress up if you like but your are equally welcome in t-shirt and shorts!

For general advice on packing for a cruise we find this packing guide from Cruise Critic very useful. Keep in mind that the electrical Outlets on board may also be different from your home country.

A group of people dressed in red and feather boas drinking alcoholic drinks
Dressing for theme nights is optional but most sailors do wear red for Scarlet Night as a minimum© Photo by Virgin Voyages®

Packing for Themed Nights and Special Events

Depending on the ship you have booked, there are different themed nights and parties that you may want to have fun dressing up for. These themed events are completely optional but many guests find it fun to take part in. Highlights;

  • Scarlet Night – Pack something red and fabulous to wear on Scarlet Night
  • PJ Party – Pack some fun PJs to dance the night away at the PJ Party
  • Club Nights – Depending on your ship there will be 2 or 3 club nights with themes you can dress to match.

To make this easy and to spark some inspiration; we have a full guide on what outfits to pack for each event.

a group of people in fun pyjamas posing in a colourful room
Getting inspiration from the Happenings Cast social media accounts for PJ Party is a good way to start your PJ planning© Photo by Virgin Voyages®

7. Online Check-in

You can check in for your voyage as soon as your booking is confirmed, you don’t need to wait. You can check in using the Virgin Voyages app.

When you check in you will be able to select a port arrival time. The earlier you check in, the more port arrival times you will be able to select from and will be able to board early. If only later times are available it could be worth looking at other ways to board early.

You can add your payment information. This is where you can register a credit card against your booking for on-board spending.

Uploading Mandatory Information

You will receive emails from Virgin Voyages to notify you when you can upload more information. You need to upload a photo of your photo ID (normally a Passport, government ID for USA-only sailings). Then, upload a selfie so they can identify you on board. Lastly, you will need to fill in a medical questionnaire close to your sail date.

Check Your Cabin Before You Sail

Ahead of your sailing date Virgin will send you a notification letting you know which cabin you have been assigned. When you get your cabin number you can check on our VV Insider Cabin Finder tool to see if there are any good or bad points before you sail.

8. Embarkation

In preparation for your sailing we recommend joining the Facebook group that is specific to your sailing. This way you can meet fellow sailors before you sail and share tips on the destinations. You can find the group for your sailing here.

Getting to The Port

We always recommend getting to your departure port one day ahead of your sailing, to avoid missing the boat if your travel plans are interrupted. Staying in a hotel near the port is recommended for the night before your sailing.

You should aim to get to the port within your port arrival time slot. The arrival time will be shown in the Virgin Voyages app.

Do not arrive to the port early unless you qualify for early boarding through Sailing Club perks, Rockstar or Splash of Romance. By arriving at the port during your allocated slot you can help reduce queuing and wait times for other sailors.

What to do With Your Luggage

Virgin Voyages do not send luggage tags ahead of your sailing. Bring your luggage to the port and staff at the port will add tags to your luggage for you. Your luggage will be taken from you before you check in, it will start making its way to your cabin.

There are some limitations on what you can pack, you can however, bring 2 unopened bottles of wine per cabin. Wine must be brought on board in your carry-on luggage or it will be confiscated.

Cruise passengers making their way to a luggage drop-off point labelled 'Virgin Voyages' in red
When you arrive at the port, the first thing to do is hand your luggage over to the porters© Photo by VV Insider

Checking In

Follow the correct signage for your sailor status, in general there are separate lines for;

  • General Boarding – This is the majority of sailors unless you fall into one of the following priority groups;
  • Sailing Club – Members of the Virgin Voyages loyalty programme
  • Rockstar Quarters and VIPs – Those in suite-level cabins or VIPs that have been invited on board (including social media influencers and industry partners)

You will need to show the check-in staff your ID document. The staff may need to take your photograph if it’s not in the system already. You will be issued your wristband. Red bands are given to most sailors. Black wristbands are given to Rockstars and VIPs.

Boarding the Ship

You will be invited to start boarding in the order you have checked in. As you enter the ship, your wristband will be scanned. The security team will check you match the photo on their system.

You will be greeted by a number of shipboard staff and normally at least one member of The Happenings Cast. The staff will guide you to an area where you can start exploring the venues on the ship.

When Will My Cabin Be Ready?

Another area Virgin Voyages exceeds expectations – your cabin is always ready immediately as you board. You can head straight to your cabin to drop any carry-on luggage you might have.

When you reach your cabin this is a good opportunity to watch the safety demonstration video. It is mandatory to watch this video, you can either do this on the in-room TV or in the Virgin Voyages app.

Your cabin will be ready as soon as your board the ship© Photo by Virgin Voyages®

9. First Day On Board

Safety First

International Maritime Law dictates that you must visit your muster station before the vessel can sail. You will find the name of your muster station in the Virgin Voyages app. There will be a ship-wide announcement when it is time to visit your muster.

When you arrive at your muster station you will check-in with your wristband. You will need to watch a short demonstration of the lifejackets. Once this is over you can start enjoying your vacation!

Make Your Bookings

Now you are on board you can start booking activities and events. You should also check the app for additional dining times as some restaurant booking slots are only made available while on board.

If you are struggling to use the app or would like to make special or larger booking you can find people to help in The Roundabout or The Chart Room – including Shore Things (excursions) staff and restaurant managers.

Sail Away

Late in the afternoon you should start heading to the pool deck. The Sail Away Party is an excellent way to start your voyage. Free bubbles will be served around the pool and there is a special toast to celebrate sailing ahead, courtesy of The Happenings Cast.

The resident DJ will get the party started with poolside dancing and good vibes from the mingling Happenings Cast around the Aquatics Club.

Dancers dressed in red in a pool
The sail away party, ‘Let’s Set Sail’ is your first opportunity to meet all of your fabulous Happenings Cast© Photo by VVInsider

First Night Activities

A great way to meet fellow sailors on the first night is by joining The Grog Walk, a bar crawl led by members of The Happenings Cast. With games and activities designed to get you talking to other sailors, this is a great way to socialise.

Another first night must-do is the PJ Party. A ’90s and ’00s inspired disco with dancing and singing provided my The Happenings Cast. There is even an impromptu PJ competition for those that want to shine brightest!
First Night Overview

10. Restaurants Overview

Virgin Voyages is becoming famous for their incredible food options. Here are the main restaurants;

Restaurant Cuisine Notes
The Wake Steak and seafood One of the larger restaurants on board, good for the less adventurous palette as they serve great traditional dishes
Extra Virgin Upmarket Italian food One of the larger restaurants on board, very good Italian dishes with unmissable antipasti and fresh pasta dishes
Razzle Dazzle Adventurous and indulgent dishes Originally designed as the ship’s vegan-forward restaurant, it now serves a great range of dishes for all tastes
The Test Kitchen Experimental tasting menu With two menus on rotation, this restaurant is great for foodies and those looking for something a little different
Pink Agave Upmarket Mexican food A smaller restaurant with great interior design and a fully stocked tequila and mezcal bar
Gunbae Korean barbecue A unique dining experience where food is cooked at the table on a grill, highlights include a fun drinking game with free soju shots
An oval plate with grilled lobster and a smaller pink bowl with a lobster salad inside.
World-class cuisine is one of the hallmarks of the Virgin Voyages brand© Photo by Virgin Voyages®

Other Food Options

Restaurants are not the only places to dine on board. The Galley is Virgin Voyages’ answer to the ship’s buffet. Rather than being a traditional buffet, quick-food options are available in a food court style venue. All-day-breakfast options are available in The Galley 24/7.

There is also a huge number of quick-service food options available around the ship including pizza, ice cream, hot dogs, wings, nachos, poke bowls, bao buns and so much more. See a list of all quick-serve food places on board.

11. Bars and Venues Overview

The ship is packed full of stunning venues offering drinks and entertainment for your whole voyage.

Featured Venues

While there are many smaller bars and venues that you will come across during your voyage, the main venues are listed here to help you pinpoint the most visited entertainment areas:

Venue Description Notes
The Red Room A multi-function space that hosts the ship’s larger entertainment offerings This venue can change from arena, theatre and nightclub. It is the main venue for the larger acts and the location of the main-stage headline acts.
The Manor The ship’s nightclub, with a large dance floor and a stage for live events This is where some of the live acts will perform. It is also the location of some dinner shows. Late into the night, The Manor dancefloor is the place to be.
On The Rocks A centrally-located bar with a well-stocked bar offering cocktails, martinis and more There is a performance area located in this bar that hosts live music and other entertainment including cabaret performances by some of the on board talent.
The Social Club A casual sports-bar style venue This is the location of trivia, karaoke and other casual fun. It is also a place to come through the day for board games and other activities.
The Dock and The Dock House A chilled bar with huge outdoor veranda and tapas-style food The ultimate place to relax with a drink. There is delicious freshly grilled food served from lunch time to early evening, delivered to comfy chairs and loungers. This venue hosts pop-up style live music acts.
An s-shaped banquet table in a venue with club lighting
The Manor plays host to not only club nights but also cabaret-style dinner shows on selected nights© Photo by VV Insider

Other Bars and Venues

There is much more to explore;

12. My Next Virgin Voyage

No doubt you will have loved your first Virgin Voyages cruise. You’ll want to do it all again!

While you are on board you can speak with the team at Get Lost – a desk centrally located on the ship. The team will help you to book your next voyage. Alternately, you can book a MNVV (My Next Virgin Voyages) which acts as a placeholder. Once you buy a MNVV you will lock in the on-board deal for any sailing in the next 24 months.

The great thing here is you can link your favourite travel agent to anything you book on board so you can still get that personal touch ahead of your next sailing.

You can read more about MNVV (My Next Virgin Voyage) in our comprehensive guide.

A large grey cruise ship cutting through the waves with red lifeboats and funnels. There is a glamorous mermaid painted on the side. Against a setting sun background.
You can combine the on-board MNVV offers with other promotions and deals © Photo by Virgin Voyages®

13. Disembarking

If you are staying on the ship for the next voyage, this is called a ‘back-to-back sailing’ (B2B’). You can following our guide to B2B sailings if this applies to you, otherwise;

All good things must come to an end.

On the last night of your voyage you can place any packed luggage outside of your cabin. They will be collected and placed in the arrival port for you, this is optional.

You can just take your luggage with you when you leave the ship. This is useful if;

  • you prefer to have more time to pack
  • need to leave the ship extra early in the morning, or;
  • want to keep a hold of your own luggage

You will get an alert in the Virgin Voyages app toward the end of your voyage. This will invite you to select a disembark time slot. The quicker you book this, the more time slot choices you will have.

Although you book a time in the app. This is not strictly enforced. Do not panic if you are running late on the day or want to leave earlier.

All guests must have departed the ship before 10:30. From this time the next voyage will be beginning so all non-sailors must be off the vessel. There will be a ship-wide announcement letting you know when you must leave.

14. Get The Most From Your Vacation

Thank you for using our Ultimate Virgin Voyages Sailor Guide.

If you found this guide useful please share it with those that you are travelling with. For more Virgin Voyages guides, tips and news you can sign up for updates. We will send you info, guides and tips straight to your inbox. You can also like or follow our Facebook page and stay in touch there.

If there is anything you think we could change or add to this guide, please leave a reply below.

From the team here at VV Insider, we hope you have a great Virgin Voyages vacation, see you on board!


  1. Conni says:

    Great information, I learned so much from reading! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Rhonda Thomas says:

    This information is just what I needed, awesome!

  3. Paul Wilson says:

    Great info, thanx V V INSIDER

  4. Marie Madeleveryy says:

    Very informative. Easy to understand. Thank you.

  5. allison whittaker nee hallmark. says:

    Fantastic information. Cannot wait for our cruise. So hope the disaster in the Middle East doesn’t disrupt or voyage. 🤞🤞🤞

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