Transat Distribution Canada (TDC) invited 14 of its travel professionals from across Canada to take part in an exclusive “Raise your Sales” FAM trip aboard the Scarlet Lady, one of the luxury cruise line's Virgin Voyages ships, departing from Miami on Oct. 5.
Sandra Wesson, director of industry relations for TDC, accompanied the group and was able to see the difference in the cruise experience offered by Virgin Voyages.
"Cruise lovers will be very excited to discover what Virgin Voyages has to offer: an inclusive and diverse, adults-only experience, with an average Sailor age of 45 years of age, where everyone young and young-at-heart can enjoy a safe and enjoyable cruise experience. You won’t be constrained by any dress code, and the pace of the trip is set by the Sailor themselves via an app that allows everyone to make the most out of their cruise experience," said Wesson.
The Virgin Voyages app is very well designed and "super easy to use," she said.
"Sailors can create their own personalized agenda. For example, they can book or modify their attendance to one of the many shows, group fitness classes or dining reservations and invite other Sailors in their party or just met on board. Reminders pop up on your phone when it’s time to head to the next event on your agenda. There is something to do almost 24/7, and everything is listed on the app," she said.
"There are no announcements throughout the ship, which conveys a calm and relaxing onboard experience, and allows everyone to manage their trip as they wish."
There is no Cruise Director on board, instead the entertainment is managed by their Happenings Cast of 14 crew members, who each individually oversee specific activities on the ship – from shopping to gaming to fitness and much more.
The traditional buffet restaurant is replaced by a modern-day food court concept, the Galley, where each traveller chooses what they want to eat from a variety of mini menus via a QR code at the table, and their meal is brought out prepared to order.
There is no main dining room either, but rather 13 specialized restaurants with Michelin quality meals, offering travellers exceptional and interactive dining experiences such as Korean BBQ and a Test Kitchen featuring tasting menus paired with wine or spirits.
Wesson said "the stay becomes truly all-inclusive with the Bar Tab option, a package that allows access to premium spirits and cocktails at reasonable prices," because all essential non-alcoholic drinks are already included, as well as tips, dining, group exercise classes and Wi-Fi options.
Life on board
After a quick check-in, passengers are issued identification wristbands, which serve as their ID card, room key and payment card on board, as well as at the private Bimini Beach Resort.
The Scarlet Lady, like all ships in the Virgin Voyages fleet, has a "fabulously equipped gym" as well as a spa offering a wide range of treatments for those seeking a more zen-like experience.
Rockstar Suite guests have private access to upper decks, such as "Richard's Rooftop," which offers a private oasis of loungers, jacuzzis and bar areas. The staff, drawn from around the world, is very warm and welcoming, and the crew trades in their white striped lapels for comfortable t-shirts and pants.
The experience continues off the ship at the expansive private Beach Club on Bimini Island in the Bahamas, with two beautiful pools, plenty of lounge chairs by the beach and restaurant serving up delicious fare poolside.
Travel pros thrilled
The 14 travel professionals who took part in this exclusive TDC Network FAM trip were thrilled with the atmosphere on the ship, TDC says.
"They were able to attest to the exceptional quality of the food served on board, the attentive service and the wide range of services and activities offered," TDC said.
Wesson concludes by mentioning that "most of the travel professionals present knew exactly who they were going to be offering this experience to: adults looking for a more sophisticated, adult atmosphere, those who value health and wellness, and those who want to set the pace for their own vacation.”
The two mornings of classroom training, conducted by Adam from the ship’s Future Sales Team, allowed the group to dive deep and to understand the cruise line’s value proposition, Sailor demographics, in addition to enjoying a visit from Captain Giovanni and the senior officers.
There were also a few surprises and delights throughout the sailing.
Transat Distribution Canada added Virgin Voyages to their extensive list of preferred partners in September 2020. Virgin Voyages is also part of the Virtuoso network of luxury travel partners.