Who Is the Ideal Virgin Voyages Client?by Dori Saltzman /
Putting into words who is the ideal client for a Virgin Voyages vacation isn’t easy. There’s no set demographic. Even where a demographic makes sense (say 20-somethings), an overall psychographic still needs to apply. A 25-year old who happens to be a picky eater, loves traditional cruising and doesn’t think tattoos are an appropriate way of expressing oneself won’t have a good time on a Virgin Voyages ship. On the other hand, a 65-year-old who remembers their clubbing days fondly, thinks an evening spent at a drag show is a great time, and loves trying new food, will most likely have the time of their life.
To help travel advisors narrow down who the right client for a Virgin Voyages trip is, we’ve compiled a list of psychographics, demographics and group types that are most likely to love the Virgin experience.
“I feel the perfect client for Virgin Voyages is the person who is open minded and wants to try something new and unexpected,” Sandy Clark, owner of Sandy Clark Travel in Plano, TX, a Nexion-member agency, told Travel Market Report.
Jesse Morris, owner of We Book Travel, LLC, an independent agency in the Avoya Network said he tells potential clients it’s an “extremely liberal adult only experience,” adding the “live and let live” crowd are the perfect fit.
“Those who are less than open-minded when it comes to LBGTQ+ will not enjoy this ship. It’s easy enough to avoid the shows like ‘Never Sleep Alone’ because it’s very clear what that’s about but I was in ‘Ships in the Night’ and about three minutes in two older ladies clearly were unable to handle that the lead in the show was gender bending.”
Despite the glossy marketing with younger-looking “sailors,” age doesn’t really matter when it comes to who will enjoy such an experience.
“If you book and board with an ‘open mind,’ you will have a lot of fun regardless of your age, and now in my 70s, I can genuinely say that,” said Richard Tennant owner of Xanadu Travel LLC, an independent agency in the Avoya Network.
After our four-day April 2022 sailing, we’d have to agree with both Clark and Tennant.
First and foremost, the ideal Virgin Voyages “sailor” must be open minded – about everything from the foods they’re willing to try to the people they’ll meet on vacation to the experiences they’ll have.
In fact, this psychographic quality trumps everything else in the list below. A foodie that’s not open to meeting LGBTQ+ cruisers isn’t going to have a good time. Neither will a group of veteran cruisers on a girlfriend trip if they only enjoy sit-down Vegas-style entertainment in a theater every night and want set-seating dining.
Extraverts & Solos
Though this isn’t a must – introverts can have a good time too – extraverts and highly social people will fit in best on a Virgin cruise. The entire experience is designed to be shared, from open board game play to interactive nighttime fun during which being a wallflower is not encouraged.
Solo cruisers, couples and small groups wanting to dine at Gunbae are seated with other cruisers and the waiters lead drinking games to get everyone at the table involved.
Even many of the oversized, side-by-side outdoor day beds are designed to encourage conversations between friends who haven’t met yet.
And the vast majority of folks onboard are up for it. The line attracts a highly social crowd that loves to make new friends.
Morris said he believes a Virgin Voyages cruise is “best experienced by those who enjoy a very social environment. Those who do not talk and meet others easily or would prefer a quiet solitary experience are not going to be right for this cruise line… the socially awkward or the quiet loner are not going to fit in well and could easily be turned off by Virgin.”
This psychographic is particularly relevant for solo travelers.
“I am 60 years old and travel by myself most of the time,” Carla Woolstrum, owner of an Atlanta-area Cruise Planners, told TMR. “Not once have I ever felt isolated, left out of the fun or lonely on Scarlet [Lady]. There is always something happening that you can simply jump into and everyone is so welcoming… Also, their solo insider cabins don’t make you feel like you are sleeping in the cupboard under the stairs.”
Samantha Schultz, owner of Plan Your Perfect Vacation, LLC, told TMR she thinks the Virgin experience will resonate more with urbanites who tend to be up-to-date with what’s current and trendy.
More important than the urban factor, we believe Schultz has it right when it comes to trendy. Anyone who spends time on Instagram or TikTok will love all the visually appealing spots that were clearly created specifically to be social media ready.
Even the “shake for Champagne” app functionality seems designed to be shown off on video.
The DJ’d nightlife is also a big part of the Virgin experience, something many urbanites who hit the clubs on a weekly basis (or suburbanites who did back in the day), will love.
Virtually every travel advisor we spoke with agreed that foodies will love the variety of dining options onboard a Virgin Voyages ship.
“Clients that are looking for food experiences, not just regular dining,” said Schultz, highlighting Gunbae and the experimental Test Kitchen.
“The dining and cocktails are excellent,” said Amy Madson, owner of an Orlando-based Dream Vacations franchise. “Every restaurant is included and so amazing they would be up-charge specialty venues on any other cruise line. There are secret Happy Hours and menu items to discover and each restaurant has their own specialty cocktails.”
Another Dream Vacations owner, Trapper Martin agreed. “I am a foodie for sure and have been on 140 plus cruises. For us, being onboard for almost two weeks and eating in all the restaurants at least twice, the consistency and quality of the food was just outstanding.”
Morris echoed all three. “People who appreciate very good cuisine will enjoy this ship immensely. While not quite to Oceania level, it is definitely above every other peer in the contemporary and premium cruise line space when it comes to food.”
Woolstrum told TMR that Virgin Voyages cruises are “the world’s largest ‘no-judgement’ zone.”
We’d have to agree. With several all-gender (or non-gender, if you prefer) bathrooms to a two-part drag show that’s one of the cruise’s main entertainment options, a Virgin cruise is seriously LGBTQ+ friendly.
Dream Vacations’ Martin again agreed. “We are married and an LGBT couple as well. I think that gay couples that love Celebrity, in general would love Virgin.”
Assuming the right psychographics, a Virgin Voyages cruise is a fantastic option for a friends’ group.
“This is the ideal cruise for a girls’ or boy’s getaway for a few days hanging out together and having fun,” said Elizabeth Caran of Outlander Travel, a Nexion-member agency.
Clark agrees and, in fact, chose a Virgin cruise for her own birthday-with-friends celebration.
“We all enjoyed live music and dancing until the wee hours of the nights, and exploring almost all the dining options offered… I loved my experience on Virgin and felt it was an excellent way to celebrate my birthday with friends.”
With this in mind, Clark says she’s focused on selling Virgin to girls’ groups, as well as couples who like to travel together. This can be couples’ whose kids have already flown the coop or those with children they left at home.
Parents with 20-Something Kids
One client grouping that is more common than you might at first expect on Virgin is parents with their 20-something adult kid(s). We bumped into a woman traveling with her 20-something son and they were each having a blast. And Clark told TMR she had friends on a sailing who traveled with their 20-something kids and they all had an “amazing” time.
Generally, the 20-something demographic is a perfect fit for a Virgin Voyages sailing, but the price point tends to be above what most of them can afford on their own – yet another reason parents with 20-something kids they like to travel with are a perfect target audience.
While trend-conscious travelers will love Virgin Voyages, so will those who love the nostalgia that Richard Branson has brought to the line. From 80s and 90s music playing in The Roundabout to an arcade with classics like Donkey Kong and Asteroid to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and a Richard Simmons-themed fitness class, the ship feels like a legit Gen X playground. (Younger Boomers whose teenage years were spent living it up in the 70s will also appreciate a lot of the nostalgia onboard.)
Tennant said he’d go even broader. “I would seek out Gen X, Millennials, and active older Gen Z as potential ‘Sailors,’” Tennant told TMR. “But don’t presume Boomers would not enjoy a Virgin cruise.”
As mentioned above, those younger Millennials and older Gen Z (your 20-somethings) are less likely to have the money for a Virgin Voyages cruise, but if they do, they are absolutely a perfect fit for the line.
Fitness & Wellness Buffs
Another group of clients who will love a Virgin Voyages cruise are fitness and wellness buffs. With multiple gym spaces (indoor and al fresco) and included fitness classes, it’s a gym lover’s dream.
“Wellness is a big part of the Virgin experience,” Tennant said, referencing the vegetarian menu at Razzle Dazzle, along with healthy choices at most of the restaurants. “When it comes to fitness, Scarlet Lady had it all. From a good size gym, a ‘Training Camp’ for no charge, group fitness classes, a walking track, and multiple outside exercise equipment.”
“Even those that are casually into fitness have options – the 80’s VHS workout is fun for everyone and they offer group circuit workouts where they adjust the difficulty for each individual,” said Madson.
Experienced Cruisers Looking for Something New, Different & Kid-Free
While Virgin Voyages is expected to do a good job bringing in new-to-cruise clients, the line is also great for past cruisers who have been there/done that and want to try something different, said both Clark and Schultz.
Other advisors pointed out the kid-free aspect that many cruisers are also looking for.
“We’ve found the perfect clients to be business professionals who have very stressful jobs and are just looking for fun, casual relaxation,” Madson told TMR. “Nothing stuffy, nothing serious – do what you want, be who you are… and the biggest reason they love Virgin – no kids!”