Princess, Royal Caribbean Are Following Virgin Voyages’ Lead

by SharonKurheg

When there are competing entities in an industry, there tends to be a lot of  “keeping up with the Joneses.”

  • American Airlines was the first major US airline to charge for checking a bag. Fast forward a few years and now they (except Southwest) all do (here’s the sneaky reason why they started charging for that – it might not be what you think)
  • When one hotel says it is going to do THIS or not do THAT for reasons (usually “it’s what guests told us they would prefer” is a good excuse), all the rest soon follow.
  • We live in Orlando, and it’s fun to watch the “one-upmanship” between Disney and Universal. Case in point, Universal’s in the middle of building a whole new park now, so suddenly Disney is upping its game (but not building a new park. Not yet, anyway. Although they really need to.)

And then you have Virgin Voyages.

a cruise ship in the oceanInstead of following the lead of all the other cruise lines, they decided to be different—in some ways, very different. So…

The differences

  • They don’t allow anyone younger than 18 to sail on their ships
  • LOTS of what are typically costly additions (tips, Wi-Fi, soft drinks, drip coffee) are already included
  • They don’t have a main dining room; they have 6 sit-down restaurants
  • There’s a tattoo parlor on the ship
  • They don’t have drink packages. Instead, they offer what they call a “bar tab,” which is an account of money that you can use for ANY alcoholic beverage/cocktail/bottle, specialty coffee or pressed juice.
  • Nearly all cabins with a terrace have a hammock

All those differences made for a lot of people to give Virgin Voyages a try. So…winning!

But now something interesting is happening – some cruise lines are taking what Virgin Voyages does, putting their own spin on it, and offering it on their own ships. Take a look…

Princess Cruises: changing how they do dining

a large cruise ship in the waterPrincess Cruises recently announced they’re making a significant enhancement to their guests’ main dining option, so they’ll have more flexibility.

Starting this September, Princess guests will have 3 table service options: Traditional, Reservable, or Walk-in Anytime – coupled with the brand’s industry-exclusive OceanNow location-based “anywhere” service.

Each Princess ship will designate different dining rooms for different options:

  • one dedicated to traditional dining offering an early and a late seating every evening (read: same as always)
  • one offering reservable dining times (just like Virgin Voyages!)
  • one with open seating to support walk-ins anytime (again, just like Virgin Voyages! Although it’s admittedly not always an immediate walk-in if you try a walk-in)

Royal Caribbean: onboard improvements

a cruise ship in the waterRoyal Caribbean is also introducing some “enhancements” on Icon of The Seas, the cruise line’s newest ship.

“We spent a lot of time researching with guests what their day-one experience is, said Royal Caribbean Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider. “And what we’ve learned in that journey is that there is a lot of heavy lifting that the Royal Promenade today takes that we wish it didn’t,” he continued.

With that, visitors to the brand-spanking-new ship will be able to enjoy:

  • Passengers who scanned their passports, took an identification photo, added a credit card, and completed the health questionnaire in advance were given access to an Express Boarding lane (well heck, Virgin Voyages allows you to do this the day you make your reservation).
  • Passengers will be able to talk to guest services on RC’s app, instead of having to go down to the desk (just like Virgin Voyages!)
  • Passengers can use the app to let RC know when and how they plan to disembark (Virgin Voyages has been doing this since Say One. Just sayin’…)

You know what they say…

What’s the old saying? “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Tina April 17, 2024 - 6:18 pm

I’m on Icon now. Amazing and fun ship. Their app is no bueno and if you have a guest services issue they take 10 minutes to transfer complex questions from their robot to a person. Then they say hi, what’s your problem. Then they take 3 1/2 minutes to give a comment or ask you a question- even if you write quickly, you have to wait yet another 3 1/2 min for their next answer/question. Faster to walk down to guest services…

SharonKurheg April 17, 2024 - 6:34 pm

Well, TBH, Virgin Voyages’ app is pretty sucky too. Maybe that’s why RC’s is, too? To emulate it? LOLOL!


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