Cruise lines are in full swing following the pandemic, and many travelers are trying to find their perfect cruise vacation. Cruise lines have continued adding new ships and itineraries, which is great but can make it hard to narrow down your choices. The key is to figure out what kind of cruise vacation you are looking for.
For example, when you compare Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean, there are several key differences as to the type of experience they offer. Royal Caribbean is a multi-generational cruise line that has activities for all ages. Virgin Voyages is a young cruise line that caters to adults only and offers eccentric experiences tailored to their guests.
When deciding between these two cruise lines, you need to ask yourself a few questions. What kind of atmosphere do you want? Do you want a family vacation where kids can come? Are you looking for a romantic getaway? Keep reading as we answer these questions and compare Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean cruises.
Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: Overview
Let’s begin with Virgin Voyages, as it is the newest cruise line to enter the market. Launched in 2020 with billionaire Richard Branson as its chairman, Virgin Voyages is an adult-only cruise line that focuses on “sensual experiences.” The atmosphere is relaxed and fun, and guests will find tattoo parlors, high-end gyms, spas, pool parties, and casinos. Menus are created by Michelin-starred chefs, and there are no buffets.
Virgin Voyages has a small fleet of Lady Ships, as they call them. While there are only four ships in the fleet, they have a wide range of itineraries sailing through the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Australia, and New Zealand. Since the cruise line is gaining popularity fast, it won’t be surprising if they add more ships in the near future.
Virgin Voyages is great for solo travelers and couples who are looking for an exciting, adults-only experience. In addition to its unique atmosphere, Virgin Voyages offers a nearly all-inclusive cruise experience. All onboard food, nonalcoholic drinks, entertainment, gratuities, and activities are included with your fare. Virgin doesn’t offer alcoholic drink packages; instead, they have fair pricing for all drinks onboard.
Now, let’s talk about Royal Caribbean, which is a well-known name in the cruise industry. Royal Caribbean has a massive fleet of over 27 ships sailing around the world. Aimed at travelers of all ages, these ships do a great job of keeping everyone entertained.
From rock climbing walls and FlowRider surf simulators to Escape Rooms, skydiving simulators, casinos, Broadway shows, ice skating rinks, zip-lines, and more, Royal Caribbean has something for everyone onboard.
Royal Caribbean cruises are not all-inclusive. For example, each traveler has to purchase one of their drink packages. In addition, you will have to pay extra for some of the premium restaurants, which can add up quickly.
Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: Ships
When comparing Royal Caribbean vs. Virgin Voyages, you will notice a lopsided difference in ship numbers. As mentioned earlier, Royal Caribbean has more than 27 ships that vary in size and amenities. Virgin Voyages only has four ships in its fleet, but you have to remember they haven’t been around for long.
One plus of Virgin Voyages being a young company is that all of the ships are nearly brand new. This means that the cabins, suites, restaurants, and deck areas are all modern and stylish.
However, that doesn’t mean Royal Caribbean ships aren’t amazing. On the contrary. They are large and contain all sorts of fantastic amenities (like bumper cars and surf simulators). Most of the ships in the fleet hold more than double the number of passengers than Virgin Voyages, with some accommodating over 6,000 passengers.
On Royal Caribbean’s larger ships, you will find that there are more pools, hot tubs, and activities. For example, the Virgin Voyages ships only have one general access pool, whereas Royal Caribbean ships typically have four. In addition, you might find there are ten hot tubs on a Royal Caribbean ship and only three on a Virgin Voyages vessel.
Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: Cabins & Suites
There are differences between Virgin Voyages and Royal Caribbean when it comes to cabins and suites. On Virgin Voyages, you will find more of a focus on luxury and style, with most rooms featuring modern décor, stylish amenities, and balconies with hammocks. Royal Caribbean has inside cabins, ocean-view cabins, balcony cabins, and family suites.
Guests can upgrade to one of Virgin Voyages Rockstar or Mega Rockstar suites. These suites include additional perks such as private lounge access, a bottomless in-room bar, outdoor showers, priority boarding and disembarkation, and a 24-hour concierge.
Royal Caribbean also offers suites with extra amenities like an oversized balcony, priority boarding, private dining areas, and more.
Depending on your budget and needs, you won’t have trouble finding the right kind of cabin or suite on either Virgin Voyages or Royal Caribbean.
Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: Entertainment & Activities
To be honest, Royal Caribbean cruises could be mistaken for Six Flags on the Sea. There are so many activities and entertainment options for adults, teens, and kids onboard the ship. From surf simulators, waterparks, rock climbing walls, and live shows to bumper cars, casinos, and escape rooms, there is something for everyone. There are also dedicated kids club areas as well as adult-only lounges and nightclubs.
Since Virgin Voyages is an adults-only cruise line, activities and entertainment are geared toward adults. You won’t find waterparks and kids’ clubs here, but you will find pools with daybeds, pool parties, music everywhere you go, casinos, nightclubs, and late-night entertainment such as drag shows and live music. If you are feeling adventurous, you can go to the tattoo parlor for a permanent reminder of your vacation.
If you enjoy going to shows, then Royal Caribbean has a line-up that you might not find anywhere else. The cruise line is known for offering award-winning Broadway shows such as Grease, Cats, and Hairspray. You can also enjoy comedy shows, game shows, and other live performances.
Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: Food & Drinks
You won’t have a problem finding a wide variety of food and drink aboard either Virgin Voyages or Royal Caribbean. Both cruise lines have 20+ dining options.
Royal Caribbean has casual dining, which includes a buffet-style restaurant called the Windjammer. Virgin Voyages, on the other hand, has gone away from buffets and offers unique eateries like an experimental kitchen.
While there are plenty of dining options on both cruise lines, there is a difference as to what’s included in the fare. For example, Virgin Voyages includes every restaurant in the fare. You will still need to get a reservation for some of the restaurants, but you won’t have to pay extra for them.
Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, has several complimentary restaurants, but some of the fine dining restaurants will need to be paid for. Guests can choose from dining packages such as the 3 Night Dining Package or Unlimited Dine Package.
There are also differences as to what drinks are included in the fare. Virgin Voyages offers unlimited non-alcoholic beverages with the cruise fare, and alcoholic drinks range from $6-$12, depending on the type of drink. In addition, all tips and gratuities are included in the fare.
Royal Caribbean, on the other hand, has four beverage packages guests can choose from: water package, classic soda package, refreshment package, and deluxe beverage package (which is the only one including alcoholic drinks). Gratuities will be charged per day for guests of all ages, which is an added cost to be aware of.
Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: Cost
It’s difficult to do an exact cost comparison of the two cruise lines since there is a wide range of prices for both. The costs will depend on the itinerary you choose, the type of cabin you book, and the time of year that you travel.
In addition, the total cost will depend on how many people there are in your group. For example, a family of five going on a Royal Caribbean cruise will typically be more expensive than a group of two going on a Virgin Voyages cruise.
Other factors to consider are if you need to book flights to get to the departure port and the additional costs associated with that. With that said, you can find great deals with both cruise lines. The key is to plan ahead and watch their websites to find the best deals. You can also work with a cruise travel agent who can help you find discounted rates.
Virgin Voyages vs. Royal Caribbean: Which Cruise Line Is Best for You?
As you can see, the biggest difference between Royal Caribbean and Virgin Voyages is who they cater to. If you want to take the kids on an unforgettable cruise vacation, then Royal Caribbean is an excellent choice. They have activities and entertainment for all ages and plenty of dining options.
Virgin Voyages is perfect if you want an adults-only cruise experience. The atmosphere is luxurious, unique, and modern. Plus, almost everything is included in your fare, which is a great perk.
At the end of the day, both are great cruise lines; you just need to decide what’s best for you and your travel companions. If you still aren’t sure, here are other cruise comparison articles that might help, including Royal Caribbean vs. MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean vs. Celebrity, Royal Caribbean vs. Princess Cruises, Viking vs. Oceania, Why Are Disney Cruises So Expensive?, Norwegian vs. Princess, Carnival Cruise vs. Royal Caribbean, and 10 Best Honeymoon Cruises and Cruise Lines.