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Princess vs. Virgin Voyages Round 1: Pre-Cruise Experience


CineGraphic
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As many of you know, Pam and I have been disappointed with the current Princess product, so we cancelled our much anticipated two week sailing aboard the Caribbean Princess and booked two short back to backs on Virgin's Scarlet Lady instead.

Many of you have asked me to let you know how things go, and I think that it's easier for all if I break it up, versus one long post.

So, here's the first installment, The Pre-Cruise Experience.

 

We booked what they call a "Lock It In Rate Ltd View Sea Terrace" for both sailings, and they were priced less than an inside, making it the most affordable option.
We normally book aft-insides with Princess, but the idea of having a hammock on our balcony for less than the price of an inside is impossible to turn down.
Booking directly with Princess on the phone was fast & easy.
The rep was cheerful and wanted to make sure that she could, "make ship happen" for us, and she succeeded.

The fare includes all gratuities, all dining venues, basic drinks (coffee, soda, juices), workout classes and more.

 

They do not sell drink packages, but they do sell bar tabs, which can only be bought pre-cruise.

The current deal is $300 for a bar tab, with a $100 bonus. The tabs are for one sailing only, and are non-refundable.

 

Our cabins were assigned 2-3 weeks before sailing (we sail 10/19-28) and as it currently stands we will move to a cabin 2 doors away for the second sailing, however, I'm told that I should ask about this at check-in or with guest services once on board. We also may end up bidding for a better cabin category for the 2nd cruise once we're on board for the first, just to get a better idea of what they have to offer.

 

At this point, Virgin does not have an air or hotel booking program in place, but I've heard that they are working on it.
We were able to book some great, affordable fares directly with Southwest, and our hotel in Miami.

 

Like all cruise lines, they have an app which is used to book everything from dinner and show reservations to excursions.

Our experience with the Virgin app was a thousand times better than the Princess app. Everything was completed for both sailings in just a few minutes. No glitches, no frozen screens, no lost info. Zero frustration.

Instead of a medallion, you get a bracelet/wristband. They used to mail them, but now you pick them up at the port.

 

Shortly after booking, Virgin introduced a status match program for most of the major lines.
Anyone with Platinum or elite status simply need to fill out an online form and supply a screen shot of your status.
The process was quick and efficient.
Here's the current deal for 2022 bookings: Free bottle of Moet White Star Champagne, Unlimited Premium Wifi (where available), Expedited Boarding: a dedicated embarkation queue, concierge support while onboard, Private Cocktail Event, Laundry Service (2 pressed items, 1 Dry cleaned item, bag of laundry), $10 daily credit for Specialty Coffee.

An additional benefit is a $100 bar tab bonus when purchasing a Bar Tab for future sailings through December 31, 2024.

 

One big difference I've noticed is that Virgin Roll Calls here on CC, are not at all as popular as they are with Princess cruisers.

Nobody seems to care about meet & greets, spreadsheets, slot pulls and the like.

Currently, the average roll call has just a handful of replies at most.

That may change as folks become aware of CC, but there are already several active Virgin Voyages groups and roll calls on several other major social websites.

 

I'm sure I've missed plenty, so feel free to post any questions you may have.

 

 

 

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31 minutes ago, CineGraphic said:

 

Booking directly with Princess on the phone was fast & easy.
The rep was cheerful and wanted to make sure that she could, "make ship happen" for us, and she succeeded. 
 

DID YOU BOOK  DIRECTLY WITH VIRGIN?

 

Our cabins were assigned 2-3 weeks before sailing (we sail 10/19-28)

 

WHAT YEAR?

 

 

31 minutes ago, CineGraphic said:

 

 

and as it currently stands we will move to a cabin 2 doors away for the second sailing, however, I'm told that I should ask about this at check-in or with guest services once on board. We also may end up bidding for a better cabin category for the 2nd cruise once we're on board for the first, just to get a better idea of what they have to offer.

 

At this point, Virgin does not have an air or hotel booking program in place, but I've heard that they are working on it.
We were able to book some great, affordable fares directly with Southwest, and our hotel in Miami.

 

Like all cruise lines, they have an app which is used to book everything from dinner and show reservations to excursions.

Our experience with the Virgin app was a thousand times better than the Princess app. Everything was completed for both sailings in just a few minutes. No glitches, no frozen screens, no lost info. Zero frustration.

Instead of a medallion, you get a bracelet/wristband. They used to mail them, but now you pick them up at the port.

 

Shortly after booking, Virgin introduced a status match program for most of the major lines.
Anyone with Platinum or elite status simply need to fill out an online form and supply a screen shot of your status.
The process was quick and efficient.
Here's the current deal for 2022 bookings: Free bottle of Moet White Star Champagne, Unlimited Premium Wifi (where available), Expedited Boarding: a dedicated embarkation queue, concierge support while onboard, Private Cocktail Event, Laundry Service (2 pressed items, 1 Dry cleaned item, bag of laundry), $10 daily credit for Specialty Coffee.

An additional benefit is a $100 bar tab bonus when purchasing a Bar Tab for future sailings through December 31, 2024.

 

One big difference I've noticed is that Virgin Roll Calls here on CC, are not at all as popular as they are with Princess cruisers.

Nobody seems to care about meet & greets, spreadsheets, slot pulls and the like.

Currently, the average roll call has just a handful of replies at most.

That may change as folks become aware of CC, but there are already several active Virgin Voyages groups and roll calls on several other major social websites.

 

I'm sure I've missed plenty, so feel free to post any questions you may have.

 

AND- price comparison apples to apples.

thanks for sharing 

31 minutes ago, CineGraphic said:

 

 

Edited by dog
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11 minutes ago, capriccio said:

What's the price differential between your cruise on Virgin and one at the same time, approximately same cabin type, and same perks on Princess?

 

I can't see any Caribbean sailings available for October with Princess, but here's an October 2023 TA

 

Virgin: 14 days Barcelona - Miami (balcony) $3073 all-in.

 

Princess: 14 days Southampton - Fort Lauderdale (balcony princess plus) $3906 all-in

 

Virgin's price does not include alcoholic drinks, but the drink prices are lower than other cruise lines, closer to land-based bar pricing.

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3 minutes ago, CineGraphic said:

 

I can't see any Caribbean sailings available for October with Princess, but here's an October 2023 TA

 

Virgin: 14 days Barcelona - Miami (balcony) $3073 all-in.

 

Princess: 14 days Southampton - Fort Lauderdale (balcony princess plus) $3906 all-in

 

Virgin's price does not include alcoholic drinks, but the drink prices are lower than other cruise lines, closer to land-based bar pricing.

What do you mean by (all in?)

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2 minutes ago, dog said:

Booking directly with Princess on the phone was fast & easy.
The rep was cheerful and wanted to make sure that she could, "make ship happen" for us, and she succeeded. 
 

DID YOU BOOK  DIRECTLY WITH VIKING?

 

Our cabins were assigned 2-3 weeks before sailing (we sail 10/19-28)

WHAT YEAR?

 

 

Whoops.....I meant Virgin.....the Virgin phone rep had both cruises booked in just a few minutes.

 

Year? 2022. We sail next week.

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18 minutes ago, richsea said:

Have a great cruise(s)! Looking forward to your report. I suspect it will be like comparing apples & oranges.

 

How will be be any different from comparing Princess vs Celebrity or HAL?

All 4 lines are considered "premium".

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12 hours ago, CineGraphic said:

 

 

 

Virgin: 14 days Barcelona - Miami (balcony) $3073 all-in.

 

Princess: 14 days Southampton - Fort Lauderdale (balcony princess plus) $3906 all-in

 

 

Comparing to Princess Plus isn't fair...that includes drinks while Virgin does not.

 

The Princess Standard price is $2878. Add 200 for tips & $150 for wifi=$3225 for Princesss.

A tad more, but that makes the 2 cruises far more comparable in price.

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4 minutes ago, KKB said:

Comparing to Princess Plus isn't fair...that includes drinks while Virgin does not.

 

You are correct, the Virgin fare doesn't include drinks, but it does include gratuities and wifi.

But Virgin is still a better deal.

With a $300 future cruise deposit, I'll get $600 of OBC to use towards drinks.

If I also purchase a $300 bar tab pre-cruise, they'll give me an extra $100 due to their status match program on top of any other bonuses (currently $100). That's $500 for $300.

All in, I'll have $1100 to use for drinks and everything will still cost $600 less than Princess.

 

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6 minutes ago, voljeep said:

and completely non-biased, of course

 

Memories are so short here.

Some of the same folks who claim all I do is complain about Princess labeled me as a Princess apologist. Go back a few years and see for yourself before you start slinging muck.

The Princess product has changed a lot in 10 years, and not for the better. Opinions change too.

 

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1 minute ago, CineGraphic said:

 

Memories are so short here.

Some of the same folks who claim all I do is complain about Princess labeled me as a Princess apologist. Go back a few years and see for yourself before you start slinging muck.

The Princess product has changed a lot in 10 years, and not for the better. Opinions change too.

 

slinging muck??  really?

prior opinions? not important

current opinions, of course

I hope you have a great cruise - why would I hope otherwise??

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1 minute ago, voljeep said:

slinging muck??  really?

prior opinions? not important

current opinions, of course

I hope you have a great cruise - why would I hope otherwise??

 

I thought you were being snarky. Sorry if I was mistaken.

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5 minutes ago, CineGraphic said:

 

made what!?

onboard. was concerned some such shyt would happen, bein' Florida in the fall.  Now get out there and take some photo's. 😄

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I still can’t see a clear comparison:

 

obstructed balcony to obstructed balcony

 

cruise fare for each line


taxes/fees for each line

 

then compare the extras- wifi- discount

etc

then 

subtract OBC


hope it works out & you enjoy it

 

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13 minutes ago, dog said:

I still can’t see a clear comparison:

 

obstructed balcony to obstructed balcony

 

cruise fare for each line


taxes/fees for each line

 

then compare the extras- wifi- discount

etc

then 

subtract OBC


hope it works out & you enjoy it

 

Of course, not all obstructed balconies are created equal !

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8 minutes ago, wowzz said:

Of course, not all obstructed balconies are created equal !

Nor can one fairly compare a Plus package fare on Princess to a base fare ( no drinks, internet, grats etc) on Virgin. As in OP’s first couple of posts.

 

it is a very confusing thread. 

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