What makes the proper seashore membership?
It’s a query that each cruise line has tried to get proper of their non-public islands all through the Caribbean, however significantly in The Bahamas. While there are some components that stay the identical for all cruise traces — unreal-looking turquoise water, scrumptious meals and loads of lounge chairs — there are others that have to be particularly tailor-made for that line’s demographic.
In Bimini, Virgin Voyages has performed job of getting a lot of the components proper. While the Bimini Beach Club isn’t a non-public island — elements of it are additionally utilized by different cruise traces — Virgin has created a spot that is all chill, with a couple of twists meant to attraction to the ships’ demographic — and in step with the road’s promise to do things different.
Scarlet Lady set out from Miami on its “MerMaiden” voyage on Saturday; that is the ship’s first name on the line’s non-public seashore membership. Here are some stuff you’ll wish to know when contemplating a Virgin Voyages cruise that stops at Bimini Beach Club.
Information right here relies on an October 2021 crusing, and should change.
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You Need To Take a Tram
Bimini Beach Club is a part of the expansive Resorts World advanced, which features a Hilton resort and timeshare properties. Don’t fear, Virgin’s seashore space is separate so you will not share the membership with these different company. (Other cruise traces, reminiscent of Crystal and Carnival, often use elements of the seashore membership too, however not when Virgin is in port and never with the Virgin touches).
The seashore membership’s location implies that not like most cruise line non-public islands, you’ll be able to’t simply get off the ship and be on the seashore. Bimini Beach Club is a number of miles away from the ship and not likely inside strolling distance (significantly in The Bahamas warmth). Trams run regularly — we by no means waited various minutes. The journey is about quarter-hour lengthy, so you probably have a selected occasion on the seashore membership that you just wish to do, take this time under consideration.
Pools and Beachfront
The Bimini Beach Club has two giant Lagoon swimming pools, with a bar at one finish and a DJ sales space on the different. Servers take drink orders, however we discovered them to be a bit overwhelmed at peak instances (take note, we have been on the primary income cruise; service points often resolve themselves after a couple of sailings). The swimming pools have a loungers throughout the water, in addition to loads of actual property round. There’s no drawback discovering a spot to take a seat right here (though if you would like a coveted basket swing close to the bar, you may be ready some time).
The seashore has beautiful white sand and the water is postcard good blue with a sandy backside; you will not want water footwear. Even on the seashore, grabbing that Instagram second is high of thoughts; there have been mini traces for folks to take a seat on the 4 Virgin-branded water swings.
You’ll wish to go early for the most effective seashore loungers; whereas there are cushioned clamshells and daybeds, these aren’t all the time within the shadiest areas. When we arrived at 11 a.m. within the warmth of the day, chairs with shade umbrellas have been at a premium and it was laborious to discover a spot (and our ship was at half capability). Shade on the seashore may very well be a problem as soon as capability ramps up.
Activities Run All Day
Virgin intends their seashore membership to be a spot the place the vibe adjustments all through the day. To that finish, early risers can head over to the seashore for yoga in a devoted area. The music additionally adjusts because the day goes on. When we headed over round 11 a.m., the membership was in sit back mode, with decrease quantity music (which was extremely appreciated after a late evening onboard).
An “Adult Camp” was on the schedule throughout our go to, the place folks have been inspired to kind groups to play video games like Capture the Flag and Tug of War. This appeared sparsely attended on our crusing; most passengers appeared content material with the identical “drop and flop” routine that you just discover at different cruise ship non-public islands.
As the day went on, the music turned just a little louder and a bit extra energetic. Glamourous ship mermaids and mermen got here within the afternoon to lounge across the pool’s edges, for that additional Virgin vibe.
Virgin has touted the truth that its seashore membership is open late into the night, however apart from the bonfire — see beneath — we did not see a motive to remain too lengthy after sundown. The line expects to have particular DJ occasions on the membership on sure sailings — the names Diplo and Mark Ronson have been thrown out — however the pandemic has meant that scheduling them has been troublesome. Expect these to be on choose sailings, however not the norm.
You Can Use Ship Wi-Fi and Bar Tab
One perk that we love about Virgin is that Wi-Fi is included in your cruise (and it is usually fairly good). The free Wi-Fi extends to the Bimini Beach Club, so we have been in a position to immediately ship these afore-mentioned swing selfies instantly again house to make our buddies jealous.
Virgin Voyages does not have the everyday drink bundle. Instead, “sailors” – the road’s identify for passengers — can purchase a Bar Tab of a certain quantity, which often additionally offers you additional credit score. The Bar Tab can be utilized on the Bimini Beach Club so you will not find yourself with two payments. For those that haven’t got a Bar Tab, the wearable bracelet that you just use on the ship to open your cabin and purchase drinks additionally works on the seashore membership.
Food is Locally Influenced
Lunch begins at midday and runs till 3 p.m. Unlike different islands, it is not a buffet. You go as much as a counter and order as an alternative, which we appreciated on this pandemic period. After 3 p.m., the menu switches to heavy snacks.
We loved a lot of the lunch objects, which ranged from a scrumptious watermelon and jicama salad and refreshing conch ceviche to Caribbean hen curry and banana leaf steamed snapper. Dessert is fruit salad and rum cake. Since Virgin is adults-only, meals generally have a contemporary and upscale vibe — you will not discover hen fingers right here.
We did not eat right here within the afternoon, however we did see an entire roasted pig being taken off a grill, which definitely boded properly. It’s a bit shocking that dinner is not served, given the seashore membership is open late. But we have been instructed by ship execs that whereas showers and altering rooms can be found, most sailors go away the seashore membership after sunning and alter earlier than coming again for night actions, versus staying there all day.
Yes, There Are Cabanas
It’s not a cruise line non-public island with out the chance to improve into your personal cabana. The Bimini Beach Club has a variety, with selections starting from close to the lagoon so you’ll be able to hear all of the music and watch what is going on on to ones which might be farther away for extra peace and quiet. Most value $350 for the day and you’ll deliver as much as six folks.
In phrases of cabana perks, there are a couple of. The first spherical of drinks, as much as $100, is included, together with a devoted server for the cabana space. You additionally get particular golf cart transport to your cabana, versus the bigger tram. The cabanas comprise a double day mattress, two soft seashore chairs, a espresso desk and drinks cooler.
Is a cabana price it? That’s as much as you. We usually discover cabanas to be a greater worth you probably have a bunch to share them with. Keep in thoughts that these cabanas have a thatched palapa-style roof and are open on one aspect, so whilst you do get some shade, they are not the air-conditioned respite that you just discover on some non-public islands.
For sailors booked within the ships’ RockStar suites, there’s a particular VIP space on the Beach Club only for you known as Richard’s Retreat (after Virgin founder Richard Branson). The lounge chairs are just a little nicer right here, we seen, and it appeared like a better proportion had shade umbrellas. There’s additionally a non-public bar and your lunch is delivered to you by devoted servers.
There are cabanas right here within the Retreat too, with a restricted quantity accessible to e-book for non-suite company. There’s not an enormous distinction in worth or facilities right here, nonetheless, so there isn’t any actual motive to e-book one in every of these cabanas over the opposite ones nearer to the pool, except you actually need extra privateness and the texture of a extra intimate space.
Shore Excursions Are Available
If lounging across the pool or seashore is not your factor, there are shore excursions that you could e-book outdoors the Bimini Beach Club — and from what we heard, sailors who did them mentioned they met or exceeded expectations.
Bimini is understood for sport fishing, and if you wish to e-book a constitution, you’ll be able to, for a worth. Scuba and snorkeling journeys are additionally accessible, with choices that embrace a go to to the Sapona shipwreck and swimming with nurse sharks.
Whether you do a shore tour or simply keep on the seashore, don’t miss the chance to get into the ocean. The waters round Bimini are a few of the greatest you may discover on a Caribbean cruise.
Three giant metallic hearth orbs adorned with Virgin’s signature octopus/squid tentacles are scattered across the Beach Club. At 7 p.m., these have been lit, offering a beautiful impact. On our crusing, a band of acoustic musicians circulated, taking part in songs reminiscent of “Sun King” and “Fire.”
We got here again to the seashore membership from the ship to witness the lighting, and it was pretty to see the world at evening, lit with fairy lights. Some type of snack can be welcome, if the road desires folks to linger. Also for those who’re planning a sundown lounge, deliver bug spray, as no-see-ums come out because it will get darkish.