If there is one thing Virgin does well, it’s a drink. Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin has cocktails, many of the Virgin Hotels offer an amazing boozy brunch menu and Richard Branson even launched Virgin Cola which…nearly…broke the soda market. Well, Virgin Voyages is no different. Cocktails, wines from around the world and beers galore are all on offer. So what is the best way to get your drinks? Is there a Virgin Voyages drink package to buy? Well….no. Let’s talk about the Virgin Voyages Bar Tab.
Let’s get one thing straight, unlike on many other cruise lines, there is no Virgin Voyages drink package. You cannot pay a big upfront price and then drink unlimited water, soft drinks or alcoholic beverages. As with lots of things on Virgin Voyages, they do things a little differently.
Wait, There is No Virgin Voyages Drink Package?
I know, I know, this is weird and wonderful in Cruise World. Virgin Voyages doesn’t charge a flat fee for a drinks package which allows you drink unlimited drinks in whichever category you have picked. Instead you can pay as you go, checking prices and charging it to the room. You just pay it at the end. However, there is a way to slightly prepay and that is with a virgin Voyages Bar Tab.
What is a Virgin Voyages Bar Tab?
Up to the day you cruise, you are able to put down a drinks deposit. These are offered in $300 chunks so you can choose $300, $600, $900 etc. You can then order drinks onboard and the cost is deducted from this tab.
What Does a Virgin Voyages Bar Tab Cover?
- Alcoholic beverages – From pints of beer to pina coladas and grown up negronis, there is a drink for anyone on board. Nearly all the alcohol is chargeable but there are a couple of notable exceptions that I’ll list below.
- Speciality coffees – If you need a flat white or macchiato in the morning, it is going to cost you. Barista coffees cost $3-$5…a little more if you want them Irish.
- Smoothies & fresh, pressed juices – This one seems a tiny bit mean to me. You can have fruit and yoghurt for free. You can have ice cream for free. To put them in a blender or a juicer costs…? We just stuck to the fruit bento boxes.
- Premium soft drinks – If like me, you need a Red Bull to defeat jet lag, it’ll cost around $5. There are also alcohol free beers and fancy canned soft drinks that are a few dollars.
A Quick Note : Although the Grog Walk, Shot for Shot and whiskey/mezcal tasting activities are based around alcohol, they are NOT covered by the bar tab. Instead, you will need money or Sailor Loot to pay for these.
What Are the Advantages of the Virgin Voyages Bar Tab Over a Traditional Drink Package?
- Bonus Time – For every $300 you prepay, you are offered an additional $50-$100. The amount of bonus depends on the offer at the time. We didn’t book ours straight away and the offer jumped from $50 to $100. We haven’t seen it go above this so if it is at $100, go for it. If it is lower, there is no harm in waiting until closer to the time t see if it goes up.
- Sharing is Caring – With a normal drinks package, you cannot order more than one drink at a time and you cannot order a drink for anyone else. However, with the Bar Tab, you can buy a drink for whoever you wish. We shared our tab between two of us and then offered to buy a new buddy a drink. It was nice! Plus, when I didn’t feel like a drink and Mr Fluskey did, I didn’t feel like I was missing out because we had been made to pay the same
- We Don’t All Drink – Following on from that. If you drink and your travel buddy doesn’t it’s silly to make them purchase the same drinks packages. This way, you can have a tab whilst your roommate sticks to the basic bevvies.
- Bimini Beach Bevvies – You can also use your Bar Tab during your time at Bimini Beach Club. This is a really lovely touch as it is more likely you’ll be chilling out and in need of a few cold cocktails.
Are There Any Drinks Included on a Virgin Voyages Cruise?
Yes absolutely, Virgin Voyages does offer a few drinks on the house…or is that ship?
- Gunbae – Before the food service, every guest is offered a shot of soju. This 17% rice-based drink goes down very smoothly, which is lucky because you are required to neck it during a fun drinking game. , If you are lucky, you may get a second shot too.
- Extra Virgin – At the end of your carb-laden meal, you can enjoy a measure of limoncello. Limoncello is a liqueur, invented along the Amalfi coast in Italy, made of lemon juice, sugar and vodka.
- The Sail Away – Everyone is offered free-flowing sparkling wine during the Sail Away party. As the ship pulls away from its base port, the first glasses g out and it only finishes an hour later….so you can get 4-6 glasses in if you really try.
- Richard’s Rooftop – Rockstars )suite dwellers) are given access to an exclusive area called Ricgrd’s Rooftop. Here, Moet & Chandon is served for 1.5 hours every afternoon for free. And speaking of Rockstars…
- Suites – Rockstars are provided with a full bar at the start of every cruise. This consists of wine, beer, champagne, half bottle of spirits and all the goodies to make some fun cocktails. Mega Rockstars can request for all that to be kept topped up throughout the voyage at no extra charge.
- VHS Workout – The 1980s style aerobics class is an absolute blast! More than that, they provide juices, refreshing lemon water and even little ginger and spiralina shots. it is worth working out just for those fun little options.
- Basic Bevvies – Lastly, lots of soft drinks are included. It is entirely possible to stay totally hydrated with basic bevvies.
What Are Virgin Voyages Basic Bevvies?
If you don’t drink alcohol then you could make it through the whole cruise without spending a penny on additional drinks. Happily, all of your basic bevvies are included and these are:
- Water – Still & sparkling water is available from every bar. There are still water dispensers around the decks (bring a bottle or cup to use these). You are even provided a carafe of fresh drinking water in your room every day.
- Soda/Fizzy Drinks/Pop – Again, any bar will provide you with Coca-Cola products at any time. there are also soda fountains in the Galley. We filled our water bottles with Diet Coke occasionally to relax in the sun.
- Tea & Coffee – Tea bags are provided, along with hot water. I guess you could bring on any tea you particularly love…or even hot chocolate. There is also filter coffee but I didn’t love it and opted to pay for the nicer stuff.
What Are the Virgin Voyages Drinks Prices Like?
Virgin Voyages have made quite a big deal about having drinks prices that run the full range of budgets. It is true that the drinks seem cheap when compared to the bars in Miami but they will feel pretty steep after a small stopover in Barcelona. We looked through most drinks menus and found some fun bargains but the majority did seem expensive to us. We just had to keep thinking we were on a night out in a nice restaurant in London, which eased the pain. It was a constant battle between our backpacker habits and remembering that we had already aid for the drinks so we might as well have the ones we really wanted.
The cheapest boozy drinks we came across started at £7 which isn’t too bad. We saw some nice rum which was up over £40 for a single. As much as that sounded good, we gave it a miss. There was a cheaper sparkling wine for $7 so you didn’t need to splash out on the $22 Moet. Most signature cocktails were between $11 – $17 a pop. Realistically, at $400 for five nights, we needed to have 3 nice drinks each a day to break even. Easy enough! If I had stuck to the spritzers, beer or another of the good value drinks, I could get in 5 or 6. Sadly, our Bar Tab wouldn’t stretch to the magnum of Dom Perignon in the SIp Bar. It was just shy of $700.
Where are the great value beverages? Read on for some top tips.
The Best Value Virgin Voyages Drinks
- Bottomless Brunch – For just $25, you can add bottomless drinks to your brunch. This is available at both The Wake and Razzle Dazzle but with slightly different drink options. Considering brunch can be a two-hour, three-course affair, you can absolutely get your value for money. If the Yaaaas Queen is still on offer at Razzle Dazzle, I highly suggest you get one…or five.
- Test Kitchen – During your tasting menu at Test Kitchen, you can have a drinks pairing. The beer pairing is $25 and consists of five full pints. If you opt for the wine or cocktails then it will be $35. This sounds steep but the cocktails are pretty strong and you can order one pairing to share.
- Extra Virgin Little Wines – Extra Virgin has a brilliant wine list, full of lovely Italian offerings. Some of these are quite expensive but the cool thing is, they offer mini glasses at very reasonable prices. This means you can try a couple, without breaking the bank. Is just $4 for 3oz (90ml) of prosecco, Tuscan rose or a Venetian Pinot Grigio.
- Beer – The bane of our backpacking existence still rings true. Beer is always available and always cheap. You can get a pint of Heineken for just $5 or cans of something more interesting for $6 – $9. If you order a bucket of five by the pool you save $5.
- Spritzers – If you want a light, refreshing drink to enjoy in the sun, consider one of the Ketel One Spritz cans. They are only £.5% but then again, just $6. They are a subtle flavour and I already miss the cucumber and mint one! At first, I was confused about why these vodka spritzers were not listed as hard seltzer, but have since found out that in the USA, hard seltzer isn’t normally made with a vodka base like they are here in the UK.
Can I Bring Alcohol Onboard Virgin Voyages?
Yes! Only very specific alcohol though. Each cabin is entitled to bring two bottles of wine onboard. This could be red, rose, white or sparkling so if you want to bring champagne to sip on your balcony, you can! If you want to take it out of your room, to enjoy at a restaurant or PJ party for example, there is a $25 corkage fee. Just make sure they are in your carry on luggage on embarkation day. If you have it in your checked luggage, you may be asked to go down to Sailor Services and it is just a bit of hassle you don’t need.
Any other alcohol, or anything in a plastic bottle, will be confiscated and returned at the end of the cruise. This goes for any booze you buy in port or the onboard duty free (Booty Free) shop.
Is the Virgin Voyages Bar Tab Worth It?
In September 2022, we took a five day cruise from Miami. We “ummed” and “ahhhed” about whether we would really need a tab, especially with the booze we could take on with us. Eventually, we came to the conclusion that we love a drink on holiday. More than that, we both love cocktails so cheap beers just aren’t for us. We decided to go for it. When we bought our $300 bar tab, there was an offer that gave us an extra $100 which seemed like a super deal. We hopped straight on it and hoped that it would work well on the ship.
By day two, I was worried we weren’t going to get through the tab. During the Sail Away we got a decent amount of bubbly. We were so busy during the first sea day that we didn’t have a chance to sit and chill with a drink. Plus, we did a class that included cocktails followed by dinner at Gunbae so we didn’t really use any Bar Tab dosh. Then, during our first port day, we weren’t around to spend it. However, on day three we got stuck and we bought quite a few drinks with dinner at Pink Agave.
Then, when we hit the beach at Bimini, we got all kinds of cravings for frozen cocktails and fresh coconuts spiked with rum. In the end, we spent almost exactly what we had put down, just tipping over the edge with a final cocktail with brunch. So yes, I think it was worth it.
During your cruise, you don’t want to be constantly reading right to left, checking prices before you order something. instead, it is just nice to browse a cocktail list and pick what sounds delicious! I get that, and it is what many people miss about a drinks package. However, the bars on Virgin Voyages are a different breed. Each bar has its own drinks rather than a generic offering and they are all rather grown up. Every drink on board is quite strong, with 30ml generous pours. Even if you normally hammer through 10 weak, frozen daiquiris a day, you’ll be surprised at how few drinks you’ll need to get a lovely buzz.
We had no regrets that we bought the Virgin Voyages Bar Tab. For two of us, on this short cruise, $200 to play with was just right. Even if we had spent $350, the last $50 was free so no loss! If we had done pay-as-you-go, we would have been over our budget. I would advise you get one and if you need a few more dollars then you can switch to all the budget options we have suggested….and don’t forget your room wine!