Finally, some better pricing: Start-up cruise line Virgin Voyages cuts rates for early sailings
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency such as Orbitz or Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through the Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.
Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on airfare per calendar year purchased direct or via Amex Travel with the Amex Platinum card.
Editor’s Note: As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
Virgin Voyages in recent days has been marketing an “up to 30% off” sale on inaugural season trips that includes discounted cabins and extra onboard credit, to boot.
The deal isn’t quite as good as it sounds. We’ve poked around the line’s online inventory today, and we don’t see a lot of cabins that appear to be 30% less expensive than they were when we last looked. The “up to 30% off” phrase clearly is a bit of a tease. But we definitely are seeing some lower pricing as compared to earlier this year.
For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter
Two November “Fire and Sunset” sailings out of Miami to Key West, Florida, and Bimini in the Bahamas start at $650 per person. That’s below the $750 starting price that was common when we were writing about these trips earlier this year.
Five-night “Mayan Sol” voyages out of Miami to Costa Maya, Mexico, and Bimini in November and December now start at $750, also lower than prevailing rates for the same trips earlier this year.
In addition, passengers booking interior and oceanview cabins for the sailings — the least expensive categories — will get $150 per cabin in onboard credit. That effectively knocks down the per person cost by another $75.
Passengers staying in balcony cabins and suites will get a $300 and $500 per cabin credit, respectively, as part of the offer.
The onboard credit portion of the deal only is available through June 30 — just three days from now.
Even with the markdowns and the credits, the rates at Virgin Voyages remain high compared to similar four- and five-night Bahamas and Caribbean sailings offered by such cruise brands as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean.
Norwegian currently is offering five-night voyages to the Bahamas out of Miami in November from $279 per person — less than half the starting rate of similar trips at Virgin Voyages.
That said, Virgin Voyages is positioning itself as a more inclusive line than Norwegian and some other rival brands. Its fares always include dining at specialty restaurants, basic beverages, Wi-Fi access, group fitness classes and, perhaps most notably, gratuities and service charges.
Passengers in most cabins on Norwegian ships will pay a $77.50 per person service charge for a five-night cruise, and it normally charges for specialty restaurant dining and Wi-Fi. Still, a current promotion at Norwegian is bringing free drinks, Wi-Fi and credits for excursions and specialty dining, blurring the distinction between Norwegian and Virgin Voyages a bit on inclusiveness.
Virgin Voyages initially was scheduled to begin sailings from Miami in March. But the maiden voyage of the line’s first ship, Scarlet Lady, has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic. The vessel is now scheduled to sail its first voyage from Miami on Oct. 16.
In pushing back its debut to October, Virgin Voyages said the start-up would be a “soft opening” during which onboard protocols on Scarlet Lady would be adjusted due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. The line said the official naming ceremony and maiden voyage for Scarlet Lady would be postponed until early 2021.
Virgin Voyages has been promising to shake things up in the cruise world with the arrival of Scarlet Lady. Able to carry 2,770 passengers at double occupancy and 17 decks high, the vessel is designed to cater to a hipster crowd with everything from a tattoo parlor to drag queen brunches and a colorful karaoke lounge. To ensure a proper party vibe, it’s also a kid-free travel zone, with a minimum age to sail of 18.
Virgin is going after travelers who might think themselves too cool to cruise. To that end, the ship has no buffets, no dress codes and no big Broadway-style theater shows. For entertainment, expect interactive dance parties, DJ sets and “microplays” instead, plus late-night games of dodge ball. Suites have a rock-star theme.
Planning a cruise for when sailings resume? These stories can help:
- The 6 best waterslides and watery fun zones at sea
- The best cruise ships for people who never want to grow up
- Cruise restaurant nirvana: The 7 best meals at sea
- The most exciting new ocean ships of 2020
- The most exciting new river ships of 2020
- The best Caribbean cruises for every type of traveler
Featured image courtesy of Virgin Voyages
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.