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Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Cruise Lines With Big Differences

When comparing Virgin Voyages to Carnival, not only will you see that the number of vessels in their respective fleets is different, but the atmosphere and experience onboard the two vary greatly. In this article, we will discuss the differences between Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival, so you can decide which cruise line is the best fit for your vacation.

Virgin Voyages Fab Suite terrace

When deciding which cruise line to go with, you will need to ask yourself what type of vacation you are looking for. Virgin Voyages and Carnival cater to different types of cruisers and offer differing amenities, activities, cuisine, entertainment, and overall onboard experience.

Reasons we love Virgin Voyages

  • It’s almost all-inclusive
  • Adult only
  • Amazing food
  • Top-notch approachable service
  • New fleet of ships

Reasons to Pick Carnival

  • Variety of amenities
  • Tons more routes and ships
  • Family Friendly
  • Affordability

Get an extra $100 Sailors Loot

When you book through our link or with one of our travel agents, you will receive $100 in Sailors Loot per cabin to use on board for these sailings through April 2024.

Also available in August is $500 off all Caribbean voyages through April 2024 or $1000 off sailings from Barcelona and Piraeus (Athens) — all with up to $600 in free drinks included so they can toast on every coast.

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Carnival Overview

Carnival has been a known name in the cruise industry for years and has developed a loyal following. Carnival is known for its onboard entertainment that appeals to travelers of all ages.

Their 24-ship fleet cruises to destinations around the world. Itineraries with Carnival can range from 2 to 31 days, and guests can choose from a wide range of excursions and activities both onboard and off the ship.

Carnival has multiple dining options; from all-you-can-eat buffets to fine-dining restaurants, you won’t have a problem finding something that satisfies your cravings. For those cruising with kids, Carnival is a great choice because they have kid-friendly activities like waterslides, skeeball, Sky Zone, build-a-bear workshops, kid camps, and more.

While the kids play, the adults can enjoy one of the many bars, get pampered at the spa, or test their luck at the casino. As you can see, Carnival is a well-rounded cruise line that is fit for all ages.

Scarlet Lady

See our full Virgin Voyages Review on YouTube

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Virgin Voyages Overview

Virgin Voyages, on the other hand, is completely different. With a small fleet of four ships, Virgin Voyages is quickly becoming a popular adults-only cruise line. Launching its first “Lady Ship” in 2021, the young company wants to change the way people think about cruising.

For starters, you won’t find any buffets on any of the ships. You also won’t find any restaurants that cost extra. Virgin Voyages cruises are all-inclusive; all meals, nonalcoholic drinks, and gratuities are included. Guests will still need to pay for their alcohol separately, but drinks on Virgin cruises are all reasonably priced.

Two cocktails on a table at The Dock House UK Photoshoot / Atlantis Shoot Dates: Sept 27-30, 2021 Usage: Full Buyout Goal: Food & Beverages Deliverables: Retouched images, gifs, and videos TEAM Photographer: Scott Grummett https://www.scottgrummett.com Agent: Terri Manduca Food Stylist / AD: Elisa Merlo CD: Christian Schrader Art Buyer / Producer: Kathy Boos

In addition, Virgin Voyages prides itself on being as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible, utilizing clean energy to power its ships and reducing its carbon footprint. They have banned single-use plastics and have their own onboard recycling program in order to cut down on waste.

As far as entertainment and activities go, Virgin Voyages has several differences from Carnival. For starters, you won’t find waterslides, skydive simulators, or mini golf courses. Instead, you will find a strong focus on music and wellness, with several music venues, a large fitness center, and a spa.

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Carnival Food and Drink

Eating and drinking are a large part of any cruise vacation, so it is important to know what you can expect from each cruise line. As mentioned earlier, Carnival offers all kinds of dining options and a wide selection of drinks.

Included in your fare, you will find breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, with buffets and sit-down restaurants. However, Carnival does not include dining at specialty restaurants in their fare. If you want to eat at these restaurants, you will need to pay extra.

Furthermore, guests will need to purchase one of the drink packages. Carnival has two different drink packages, Bottomless Bubbles and Cheers!

The Bottomless Bubbles package includes soft drinks and juices, whereas the Cheers! package includes everything under the sun, including alcohol. The cost for the Bottomless Bubbles drink package is $6.95 per child per day and $9.50 per adult per day. The Cheers! drink package is just under $60 per adult per day.

A table set for brunch at The Wake eatery onboard Scarlet Lady. UK Photoshoot / Atlantis Shoot Dates: Sept 27-30, 2021 Usage: Full Buyout Goal: Food & Beverages Deliverables: Retouched images, gifs, and videos TEAM Photographer: Scott Grummett https://www.scottgrummett.com Agent: Terri Manduca Food Stylist / AD: Elisa Merlo CD: Christian Schrader Art Buyer / Producer: Kathy Boos

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Virgin Voyages Food and Drink

On the other hand, Virgin Voyages offers an all-inclusive package for meals and nonalcoholic drinks. You won’t find buffets, but rather more than 20 restaurants and snack bars that are all included in your fare. In addition, all non-alcoholic drinks are included, such as tea, coffee, soda, and juices.

If you want to drink alcohol, then you have two choices with Virgin Voyages. You can either purchase a $300 bar tab prior to departure or pay as you go onboard. If you decide to buy the bar tab, then you will get a $50 bonus, so it is definitely worth looking into. If you decide to pay as you go, you will find that their beer, wine, and spirits are reasonably priced.

A bartender smiles while mixing drinks at The Dock bar. UK Photoshoot / Atlantis Shoot Dates: Sept 27-30, 2021 Usage: Full Buyout Goal: Food & Beverages Deliverables: Retouched images, gifs, and videos TEAM Photographer: Scott Grummett https://www.scottgrummett.com Agent: Terri Manduca Food Stylist / AD: Elisa Merlo CD: Christian Schrader Art Buyer / Producer: Kathy Boos

Beers aboard the ship are priced between $5-$6, basic cocktails are around $9, and there are multiple wine and champagne by the glass options for $10-$15. Virgin Voyages also offers a selection of premium drinks for those who are looking for something special.

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Entertainment and Activities

Since Virgin Voyages is an adults-only cruise line and Carnival caters to people of all ages, you can expect differences in the types of activities available on the ships.

Carnival ships are similar to Royal Caribbean and Norwegian in the sense that they offer a wide variety of activities. Passengers will find mini-golf courses, waterparks, arcades, volleyball courts, trampoline parks, casinos, nightclubs, and much more. There are also plenty of daily and nightly activities and entertainment options, like games and live shows.

Since Virgin Voyages is adults only, it wouldn’t make sense for them to have waterparks and trampoline parks. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t live it up aboard the ship. Virgin Voyages ships have a variety of fun facilities, including pools and jacuzzis, nightclubs, fitness centers and classes, and a full spa, as well as several lounges and bars. Guests can also go to a PJ party, sing karaoke, go to a pop-up circus performance, or gamble at the ship’s casino. Nighttime entertainment includes drag shows, game shows, live music, and comedy shows.

Never Sleep Alone event at The Manor The Manor

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Typical Passengers

You may have guessed by now who the typical passengers are for each of these cruise lines: Carnival appeals to families, and Virgin Voyages appeals to adults. Virgin Voyages’ target market is adults ranging from 30 to 60 years old. The minimum age for passengers is 18 (and of course there’s no maximum).

Carnival, on the other hand, is perfect for families with children of all ages. It’s also popular with young couples who are just starting out their family and those who don’t want to leave the little ones behind when planning a vacation. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of adult-only areas and activities if you decide to come without kids.

It’s fair to say that the onboard experience between Virgin Voyages and Carnival is quite different. On Carnival, you will have kids running around having a blast, and on Virgin Voyages, you will find elegant dining, wellness activities, poolside DJs, and unique nightlife.

People hanging out at the Aquatic Club Pool.

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Itineraries

Carnival has a wide variety of itineraries that sail all over the world. Carnival’s destinations include but are not limited to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the U.S., and Hawaii. The voyages range from 2 to 31 days depending on the cruise, so you will be able to find something that fits your schedule.

Currently, Virgin destinations are limited to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and the South Pacific. However, as Virgin Voyages grows its fleet, it will likely add more itineraries in the future.

Virgin Voyages has a variety of mostly shorter trips, including Caribbean cruises that are 4 to 8 days. Mediterranean cruises are about 7 nights, and cruises from Australia and New Zealand range between 5-14 nights.

The Beach Club at Bimini

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Cost

Comparing costs between the two cruise lines can be difficult as there are several factors to consider. Depending on how long you are cruising for, the time of year you book, and what type of cabin you choose, the cost can vary greatly. Not to mention how much alcohol you drink and if you decide to pay for excursions.

The best thing to do is look for promotions and discounts that both Carnival and Virgin Voyages often offer. If you have flexibility in your schedule, you may be able to find a great deal on either cruise line. To take some weight off your shoulders, you can also work with a cruise travel agent to help you find the best rate.

Virgin Voyages vs. Carnival: Is One Better Than the Other?

As you can see, there are big differences between Virgin Voyages and Carnival. Not only do they cater to different types of customers, but the onboard experience, dining style, and itineraries are all distinct.

With that said, it’s tough to say one is better than the other. If you want a family vacation where there are activities for everyone, then Carnival is the way to go. However, if you are a solo traveler or a couple that wants an adult-only cruise with unique experiences, then Virgin Voyages will be your best bet.

Redemption Spa

Ultimately, it all comes down to what you are looking for in a cruise. Do your research and decide which cruise line is the best fit for you.

Still not sure what cruise line is best for your next vacation? Here are other cruise comparison articles, including Norwegian vs. Carnival: Which Is Best?, Carnival Cruise vs Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: How Do They Compare?, Uniworld Cruises for Young Adults, 10 Best Honeymoon Cruises & Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean vs. MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean vs. Celebrity, Royal Caribbean vs. Princess Cruises, Viking vs. Oceania, Why Are Disney Cruises So Expensive?, and Norwegian vs. Princess.

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