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Five tips to make your very first cruise truly unforgettable

07 Oct 2022
Adults at the table

If you’ve made it here, then you’re already most of the way to enjoying an epic experience at sea aboard one of our beautiful lady ships. All you have to do now to prepare for a Virgin Voyages sailing is to follow these five first-time cruise tips:

     1. Pack what makes you feel extraordinary — the best version of you.

So your dream getaway is booked and now it’s time to consider what things to bring on a cruise. Aside from the usual, tried-and-true essentials (sandals, SPF, sunglasses, etc) — our most important tip is to dress in outfits that make you feel, well, you. You should be comfortable; there’s no such thing as a dress code on board, we just ask that you wear outfits that make you feel amazing. That being said, vacation is an opportunity to take risks, so if you feel like digging deep into your closet for those looks that might normally be a little ‘extra’ for your daily life, go for it, because “normal” isn’t a thing beyond the dock. 

Think looks that sparkle under the stars, keep you cool in dazzling sunshine, and cause double-takes as you sip a double espresso. Need more inspiration? We’re talking flowing fabrics that billow in the breeze when you’re touring the castillos of San Juan. Satin and silk PJ sets to slip into for champagne toasts during a sunset sail away from Costa Maya. That linen guayabera shirt you impulsively bought on Calle Ocho in Miami? 100 percent necessary. And the swimsuit you wouldn’t dare wear back at home? It’s time. 

But the one cruise outfit idea you absolutely cannot forget: something scarlet, for our inimitable Scarlet Night party that happens throughout the ship one evening on every voyage. To see what we mean, you’ll have to experience it yourself, but trust that there’s never been a more perfect opportunity to show off your authentic style.

     2. Sail straight to the app.

Do cruise ships have WiFi? Well, our lady ships certainly do have (free!) WiFi, but they also have an incredible and intuitive app that’s your key to crafting your perfect vacation before you even come aboard. 

After all, shuffling through a folder stuffed with crinkled print-outs to double-check details and paper cruise tickets belongs in the past. Instead, all your plans are easily located in the palm of  your hand.

Download the Virgin Voyages app to easily take care of the essentials, like online check-in and booking Shore Things, but also to build your ideal detox-to-retox plan. Set up much-deserved spa treatments and lock in the restaurant reservations you’ve been salivating over (the multi-course Test Kitchen tasting menu is a must). 

Once you’re sailing, the app shifts into serving as something like your personal assistant at sea. Indispensable and always available, it’s the digital destination for every day’s activities…and a shortcut to getting Champagne delivered. Just shake your phone to reveal a (sparkly) secret. Seriously, you won’t regret it.

     3. Keep it light the first night.

The first few exhilarating hours on a ship go by in a breeze, and it’s tempting to over-schedule yourself in a frenzy to see, experience, and eat everything right away — though we do totally recommend a cheeky stop by Lick Me Till Ice Cream shop to see what flavors are scooping. Remember — all the food is included. Just save room for serendipity.

When you’re sailing, there is no need to rush; you have the rest of the voyage ahead of you. Our top first time cruise tips include taking it easy on your first and last days. Leave your schedule easy, breezy, and open for surprises. Remember, you booked your quartz bed massage at Redemption Spa, the stingray snorkeling adventure in Bimini, and a coveted brunch reservation at The Wake weeks ago in the Virgin Voyages app. 

There is only one sailaway — one beginning to this journey — and you should spend it how you want (or how fate finds you), whether that’s daydreaming and looking for dolphins from the hammock of your Sea Terrace, or making new friends over grilled shrimp with garlic yogurt and aleppo butter at The Dock House on deck 7.

     4. Slip, Slop, Slap.

Yes, you’ll need a passport for a cruise, but just as critical in your cruise essentials is sun protection. The classic Aussie reminder to “slip, slop slap” (as in slip on beachwear, slop on sunblock, and slap on a sun hat) is universally great advice, and the best way to be sure you’re not showing up for Scarlet Night with scarlet skin.

Start with a tube of Stream2Sea, our preferred partner for reef-safe sunscreen (yes, we have it onboard, too). Then add UV ray-blocking sunglasses and a hat to keep your forehead, nose, and ear tips shaded. It’s absolutely what to pack for a Caribbean cruise, but also for any voyage.

Go for extra credit by upgrading your adventurewear with sweat-wicking, UVA- and UVB-blocking clothing that’ll keep you cool no matter if you’re hiking the Pitons in St. Lucia, kayaking Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda, or simply hopping on a giant, inflatable popsicle for the pool float party at The Beach Club at Bimini.

     5. Embrace the delicious uncertainty of the unknown.

Whatever your cruise itinerary, you’re going to sea on the best cruises for adults. Beyond borders and away from your every day, a voyage on our lady ships is a journey as much into yourself as it is to breathtaking destinations around the world. Think about it—you’ve literally and figuratively left it all behind.

Fresh air and fresh opportunities await. So, be open to discovering a new favorite dish, like Pink Agave’s “Hoja Santa” with quesillo de oaxaca, root beer leaf, salsa macha, and pineapple, or The Wake’s salt-crusted dorade fish, expertly finished table-side with caper lemon butter sauce. Be the one who starts a champagne toast around the bonfire at The Beach Club at Bimini. Bounce super high in bungee fitness class even though you’ve never tried it before. Share secrets with seven incredible new friends you met in a vineyard just that day, as the coast of Sardinia slips into the horizon. 

The ocean humbles and inspires, relaxes and invigorates. You may encounter a new you out there. Be open to it.

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