Virgin Voyages has come in like a wrecking ball, blasting about its award-winning, adults-only cruises. It’s the first time the Richard Branson-owned company has based a ship down under, 20 years since his Virgin Australia airline launched here. When in local waters, Resilient Lady won’t travel as far as his planes fly, offering cruises to four states in Australia (NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland) and around New Zealand.
Virgin Voyages has announced a range of special deals for locals. Virgin Australia airline customers snapped up last month’s offer of half-price cabins, while frequent flyers can still use their Velocity points to buy eligible cruises departing between 27 January 2024 and 5 March 2024. Even when the sales end, new pricing has seen all fares reduced, starting at $149 per person per night. It’s unlikely to ever be cheaper.
Except for alcohol, almost everything else is included. Every meal in every restaurant, Wi-Fi, tipping, ice-cream, soft drinks, water, drip-coffee and non-pressed juices, and all group fitness classes such as sunrise yoga, outdoor boxing, ‘spin’ cycling and bungee workouts. Entertainment, shows and parties are included, aside from the ‘Another Rose’ dinner and cabaret experience.
Even with the onboard currency in US dollars, booze is similar to prices in bars on land when you convert it to AUD. Every venue has a different drinks menu but it’s around US$7-8 for beer, from US$8 for a glass of wine, from US$12 for spirits, and US$10-19 for cocktails but most are US$13. Wines are from various countries, and beers (cans or bottles) include Coopers, Carlton Dry, Corona, Crown Lager, Great Northern, Little Creatures, Guinness and Asahi. The only beer on tap is Heineken.
This ship-wide party kicks off around 9.30pm in the Roundabout atrium, before other venues join in with live music, karaoke, games, pop-up performances and themed cocktails. Then the festivities move outside to the Aquatic Club, with passengers and crew dancing in the pool and a gigantic, inflatable octopus taking over the deck. The weather was too chilly on our evening so the party was held indoors at the two-storey nightclub, The Manor, where the awesome DJ Sojo made up for any disappointment.
Rather than one cruise director, Resilient Lady has 12 hosts known as the Happenings Cast.
So you get a different person hosting each party, show, bar crawl, trivia, 80s-style aerobics or just coming over for a chat. The dancers also get down on the dancefloor at The Manor (above) and the pool deck, not only performing on stages. Resilient Lady’s resident drag queens brought the biggest energy to events such as the sailaway party, bingo, karaoke, afternoon drag shows and Scarlet Night.
18+ doesn’t mean everyone is in their 20s. I have heard of ‘young at heart’ people in their 70s and 80s having a good time on Virgin, and definitely plenty of couples, singles and groups of friends in their 30s to 50s. It’s also very inclusive of LGBQTIA+ travellers, if the drag aspect didn’t give you a hint.
There’s no main dining room or self-serve buffet, but you can eat in a great array of smaller restaurants for no extra charge. The décor is glam, cute or elegant, depending on the cuisine. Most popular dinner venues are Gunbae (Korean BBQ), Pink Agave (Mexican), The Wave (seafood and steaks) and Extra Virgin (Italian). A good tip is to go to Razzle Dazzle for breakfast. The Galley food court is hit-and-miss; the most reliable lunch options are the bento boxes and ramen.
No waiting around for your room to be cleaned. All cabins are ready from the minute you step on the ship. There’s a very good chance your luggage will have already been delivered too. With short voyages, many people carry on their own small bags and don’t check in anything. The muster drill is also easy; instead of waiting for hundreds of people to turn up to your emergency meeting spot, the crew take you through the spiel in small groups or even solo. So you’re back into the action within a few minutes and ready to sail away!