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I'm a millennial who avoided cruises because I thought they were full of germs and kids. My first experience proved me wrong.

Sophie Katzman   

I'm a millennial who avoided cruises because I thought they were full of germs and kids. My first experience proved me wrong.
  • Millennial Eliza Green avoided cruises because she felt they were germ-riddled and full of kids.
  • A friend suggested a surprise cruise on Virgin's child-free ship and Green apprehensively agreed.

This is an as-told-to essay based on a transcribed conversation with millennial Eliza Green, who took her first cruise vacation on Virgin Voyages. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

I always thought cruise ships were a place to pick up germs from people, especially children. I'd heard nightmare stories of people getting sick, overcrowding, and bad food. But when friends approached my husband and me to go for a 40th birthday, I was willing to try.

My frequent cruise traveler friend gave us a couple of options. Virgin Voyages sounded particularly appealing. The rooms were affordable, with balconies and no children. Plus, the five-night length felt manageable as a first-time cruiser.

In October 2023, my husband, two other couples, and I embarked on Virgin Voyage's Scarlet Lady Dominican Daze. We set off from the port in Miami for two stops in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic and Bimini, Bahamas. For lodging and food for two, it cost $3,234.

Still skeptical, I went in with little expectations and just the hope of having a good time with friends.

Cruise food was better than an all-inclusive resort

The food was a pleasant surprise, far better than the buffet options I'd imagined on other cruises. This was our first cruise, but it was our second all-inclusive-style vacation. Compared to the all-inclusive resort in Jamaica, the cruise had a wider variety of cuisines.

For a ship that had to serve thousands, the level of food and choices exceeded my expectations. I never ate the same meal twice. The ease of dining was seamless. Food was included in our prepaid rate, so we didn't have to take out our wallets during mealtime or show our cruise wristband.

There were sit-down restaurants, grab-and-go stations, and dining hall-style venues. We made reservations before our trip since we had a large group and the tables booked up quickly. However, you could walk into restaurants or book upon embarking on the ship through the app.

There were premium items for an extra cost, such as lobster or wagyu, but they were unneeded because there was already so much food provided. Although alcohol was an extra cost, the prepaid option gave us extra dollars toward drinks, which was a good value.

The cabin was a needed respite

Before traveling on a cruise, I'd heard of windowless cabins and cramped rooms. Throughout the journey, I enjoyed spending time in my room, which I hadn't expected.

I was also concerned about seasickness in a confined space on the water. I came prepared with motion sickness remedies, but it never hit me.

The room was sizable and nicer than many hotel rooms I have stayed in on land. The cabin felt huge compared to the hotel I'd stayed at in Miami before embarking on the ship.

We had a bed, seating, and ample closet space, as well as a decent bathroom. I never felt cramped or like I was stumbling around my husband.

As somewhat of an introvert, the room was a nice respite. When I wanted time to recharge, the hammock on the balcony was a great place to read and gave me an escape, making the trip more relaxing.

The entertainment wasn't cheesy like I expected

I hadn't planned to partake in much of the entertainment because I assumed it would be cheesy.

The quality of the shows and activities defied my expectations. We enjoyed a puzzle contest one night, and another night, when we stumbled upon an entertainment show; the performance was impressive and well-produced with polished performers.

Virgin did a nice job of giving every traveler their own experience despite being on the same ship.

The boat's layout made it so we didn't hear noise from the louder late-night parties, and they didn't detract from our vacation. I liked being able to spend time with our friends on the cruise and also seek out our own experiences.

High-tech amenities meant the service was great

All the offerings were shared in an app, which we could easily access onboard from our phones. The well-thought-out amenities, such as using a wristband for drinks and not having to show a room card for dinner, made it so we didn't have to think about anything. We truly felt like we were on vacation.

The bartending staff was friendly, and the service was impressive. Plus, the layout of the boat was easy to navigate. We took advantage of the laundry service for a small fee, as it was reasonable and made our trip more convenient.

In addition, the boat offered other amenities, such as a gym, gaming areas, spa, and shopping boutiques. They even had a tattoo parlor onboard and a medical-grade spa offering botox. Even though we didn't end up using these additional services, it was still nice to know they were available.

We could have spent longer at the destinations

Ironically, the destinations were the most disappointing part of our experience. The cruise made a stop in Puerto Plata and Bimini. Since they were around six hours each, including disembarking and embarking, we didn't get to experience as much of the culture as we would have liked.

That said, we enjoyed a pre-booked waterfall excursion in the Dominican Republic, which we paid for separately. Bimini felt like an extension of the cruise because we stopped at a Virgin-owned beach club for the day. It was fun, but we wish we could have seen more of the island culture.

Even despite that, we felt the cruise was a good value. The quality of the food and the room alone made it worth the investment. Plus, the boat was a great way to travel with friends. In the future, we would cruise again, especially if we could have more time at each stop to improve the experience.




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