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Virgin Voyages’ leisure is now the most effective on any cruise


Editor’s be aware: TPG’s Ashley Kosciolek accepted a free journey from Virgin Voyages to attend the maiden voyage of Resilient Girl. The opinions expressed under are fully hers and weren’t topic to overview by the road.

“What the f*cking f*ck simply occurred?” flashed throughout a collection of screens, uncensored, shortly after Persephone determined she was in love with Hades. Demeter, Persephone’s mom, was not comfortable in regards to the new underworld coupling.

No, it wasn’t a complicated dream I had after a very nerve-racking day. It was simply one other night time within the Pink Room theater on Virgin Voyages‘ new Resilient Girl. The efficiency, dubbed “Persephone,” satisfied me that the road’s reveals at the moment are the very best at sea — partly as a result of they push boundaries with their grownup language and themes and partly as a result of they characteristic a number of the finest singers, dancers, acrobats and aerialists I’ve ever seen on a ship.

Acrobats carry out throughout “Persephone,” one among a number of new reveals on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Resilient Girl debuted with an inaugural season of Greek Isles cruises from Athens (therefore, the present’s identify), full with shiny, new nighttime leisure choices. They rely as a lot on racy sexual references, forbidden love tales and notes of S&M and burlesque as they do the unbelievable expertise of the forged. The present ideas are fashionable and charming, and most had been designed from scratch by means of partnerships with big-name manufacturing firms.

Right here, I discover how Virgin Voyages has created, tweaked and darn close to perfected its leisure choices.

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Virgin Voyages’ leisure evolution

Singers carry out throughout “One other Rose,” a for-fee dinner theater present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

A high-energy dance and acrobatics present, an immersive nightclub activation that options three hours of burlesque in a library, and S&M-heavy dinner theater (full with a metaphorical threesome) are only a few of the brand new leisure choices cruisers can expertise on Resilient Girl.

The road’s newest vessel is basically the identical as sister ships Scarlet Girl and Valiant Girl when it comes to structure, meals and quirkiness. Nonetheless, every ship has its personal leisure, drawing tons of repeat cruisers to the brand new cruise line backed by enterprise mogul Richard Branson.

Leather-based-clad dancers carry out throughout “Persephone” on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Learnings from the primary two ships have influenced the kinds of reveals created for Resilient Girl, in addition to how they had been created. Virgin is infamous for pushing onerous in opposition to the boundaries of normal cruise-ship productions. Generally it really works; typically, it does not.

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One present, “By no means Sleep Alone” — a one-woman efficiency the place a “intercourse therapist” asks attendees to share bits of their sexual historical past with strangers (no, thanks) — has been faraway from the unique two ships following passenger suggestions. (Cruise line officers inform me it’d return ultimately.)

“‘By no means Sleep Alone’ was us pushing, pushing, pushing the boundaries, and lots of people cherished the present,” stated Richard Kilman, Virgin Voyages’ vp of leisure, throughout an interview with TPG. “However some individuals weren’t certain. I believe there was a notion created that wasn’t actually what it was. It is a comedy cabaret present.”

A duo performs reside music at Sip, the Champagne bar on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

“It additionally tied up a band of ours as a result of we had a reside band each time we did the present … Now we’ve got these 5 musicians — we’ve got a trio and a duo — so we have basically doubled the chance to have reside music in several areas of the ship. Individuals love reside music, and it provides us extra selection with reside music.”

Alternatively, “Duel Actuality” — a contemporary tackle “Romeo and Juliet” that is punctuated by rival “gangs” and jaw-dropping stunts like aerial acrobatics, hula-hooping and juggling — is so well-liked that it’s going to tour on land. This marks the primary time a present created particularly for a cruise vessel has gone from ship to shore.

Dancers carry out throughout “Persephone” on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Finally, all of Resilient Girl’s new most important reveals really feel like winners to me. It helps that they had been created in partnership with well-known entities like famed Brooklyn nightclub Home of Sure and Emursive, which operates New York’s model of “Sleep No Extra” — an interactive “select your personal journey” efficiency that splits you off out of your group and means that you can wander by means of a number of flooring of the outdated warehouse the place it takes place.

As well as, a rotating roster of musicians, comedians and magicians carry out on board for just a few weeks at a time earlier than switching out. Each one among them was spectacular.

“Our intention once we began this was to create leisure experiences that folks would fortunately pay cash for in the event that they had been on land,” Kilman stated.

I would say the endeavor was successful. Here is a breakdown of what you may count on from every new title on Resilient Girl’s proverbial marquee.

Reveals you will not wish to miss on Resilient Girl

One other Rose

“One other Rose” attendees are every given an actual rose as they’re seated. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

When Virgin Voyages tapped manufacturing firm Emursive to create a brand new present that is a partnership between the ship’s leisure and meals and beverage groups, the outcome was “One other Rose.”

“The unique launch of Scarlet Girl was meant to have ‘One other Rose’ on it,” Kilman defined. “And so, it has been like three years within the wings ready for that proper second … The world modified, and it actually hadn’t been the suitable time to carry that form of present again.”

Now it is right here in full power.

Dancers carry out throughout “One other Rose,” a dinner theater present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

As Resilient Girl’s solely added-fee present and eating venue, “One other Rose” is dinner theater at its most interesting. You’ll be able to sit in one among three places: balcony ($55), flooring ($65) or premium close to the stage ($75). If you enter The Manor — the ship’s nightclub space, the place the occasion is held — a crew member will hand you a wearable magnetic flower in a coloration that corresponds to your seating part.

Probably the most-Instagrammed space on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl was adorned with large flowers for “One other Rose.” ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

From there, you may stroll down a mirrored hallway set aglow with hundreds of white lights — essentially the most Instagrammed location on the ship, I am advised — the place servers give you an alcoholic welcome drink. (It is the primary of three grownup drinks included within the worth.)

After servers direct you to your part, members of the forged hand out actual roses. They might additionally choose you to maneuver to a different location within the membership to partake in one among your programs — a really “Sleep No Extra” contact.

One among 4 programs served throughout “One other Rose,” a dinner theater present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Dinner is a four-course set menu that provides cruisers two appetizers (candy potato chaat with tamarind, cilantro-mint chutney, yogurt and pomegranate seeds; and a tuna bomb with avocado inexperienced goddess dressing, spicy soy and semolina puri), a most important course (alternative of pan-roasted sea bass with moilee sauce, basmati rice grit and roasted okra; or braised brief rib with Kashmir chili-coconut sauce, basmati rice grit and scallions) and a dessert.

I left feeling simply the correct quantity of full, though I solely took one chew of the dessert — the world’s tiniest piece of cheesecake — which fittingly tasted like a rose. There’s additionally a vegetarian menu obtainable. (I don’t eat uncooked tuna, so I ordered the vegetarian celery apple bomb for my second appetizer, and it was improbable.)

One among three drinks served throughout “One other Rose,” a dinner theater present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Alcoholic drinks are served all through the meal. Tipples embrace Love Potion (gin, Cointreau, citrus and lavender), Elixir of the Poppy (Amaro Averna, jasmine tea and silver shimmer) and a glass of Champagne, which reveals up in between the opposite two.

The present, which occurs round you as you eat, is a mix of dancing, aerial acrobatics and small-group interplay with the forged. The storyline follows a princess pressured to decide on between two males she loves. Finally, she chooses and marries one among them. Her husband then falls in love with the discarded suitor, and the trio leads to a steamy throuple by the tip of the efficiency.

“One other Rose” on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl ends with a metaphorical threesome. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Regardless of the wonkiness of all of it, the present was charming to observe, and the meals was, fingers down, the most effective I ate on the whole cruise. It was seasoned to perfection — not too bland, not too spicy and with simply the correct quantity of taste. The timing of the service was additionally impeccable, coinciding flawlessly with the present. There wasn’t an excessive amount of time between programs; as a substitute, there was simply sufficient for attendees to observe a little bit of the efficiency with out continually being distracted by meals.

By way of each the present itself and the delectable delicacies, Virgin’s entry into dinner theater succeeds the place different strains have failed. Specifically, I am pondering of Norwegian Cruise Line, which had improbable leisure however horrible meals when it provided an identical idea years in the past.

Lola’s Library

Lola of “Lola’s Library” performs a pole dance on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Maintain on to your favourite titles as a result of there is a e book bandit on the free.

Three-hour-long “Lola’s Library” is a collection of performances — a “nightclub activation,” as Kilman calls it — divided into three one-hour chapters that run consecutively from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. a few instances per voyage. The expertise was created in partnership with No Ceilings Leisure, which runs the Mayfair Supper Membership on the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Passengers can dip out and in as they please, taking in a single or two components on one night time and returning once more for the remaining or staying for the whole efficiency from begin to end. Kilman stated the idea was born out of a have to make the identical nightclub interesting to cruisers for multiple night time on a weeklong voyage.

“Lola’s Library,” a three-hour present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl, options pole dancing, acrobatics, singing and extra. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

“When individuals go to Vegas or New York, if you are going to go for a protracted weekend or per week, you are going to go to a nightclub on an evening; you are not going to go to the identical nightclub 4 nights in a row,” Kilman stated. “That is simply not a factor. Right here, we’ve got individuals crusing with us for a full week, so how will we make the nightclub extra interesting, the place individuals will wish to come again [and not] really feel like they’re doing the identical factor?”

If you arrive at The Manor, you may sit wherever you want and settle in to satisfy Lola, a librarian who retains the library open for some after-hours hanky panky.

One night time, after the whole lot shuts down, a e book bandit steals a number of tomes, and Lola wonders how she’s going to elucidate their absence to her boss, Mr. Dick. (Of course, that is his identify.)

Dewey, Lola’s assistant, breaks out of his shell in “Lola’s Library.” ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

What begins as a burlesque-style present within the first chapter ultimately takes a extra S&M route, that includes just a few amusing sexual tropes: The horny librarian (Lola); the ugly-duckling nerd-turned-heartthrob, who’s secretly sporting six-pack abs (Lola’s assistant, Dewey); and the French maid (Mary, the cleansing woman, who is not French and who we discover out later within the present is definitely an engineer).

There’s additionally a totally random character referred to as Jack the Stripper, a serial flasher who’s a play on Jack the Ripper. He was my absolute favourite, merely for the shock worth.

It finally ends up being extra humorous than raunchy when he poses as different characters earlier than stripping right down to virtually nothing. It occurs a number of instances all through the present, however think about my utter shock when he, together with his borderline dad bod, pulls off a complete aerial routine carrying nothing however boxers with little purple hearts on them.

A gay model of the Seven Dwarfs inexplicably seems in “Lola’s Library” on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

I’ve by no means tried acid, however I think about watching this present is just like what can be occurring in my mind if I did. Take the entire above, and swirl it round with singing, dancing, acrobatics and pole dancing to music from Blondie, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and The Police. Sprinkle in some nods to “Star Wars,” appearances by the Seven Dwarfs (who, after all, are homosexual) and soiled references to sprucing Harry Potter’s wand, and that about sums it up.

This present receives excessive marks from me as a result of it saved my consideration — and saved me laughing — for 3 hours. The sudden twists had been spectacular (Jack the Stripper) and boundary-pushing (homosexual Seven Dwarfs).

It is also fascinating to notice that Celeb Cruises as soon as tried an identical strategy to leisure, that includes a considerably disturbing and hard-to-follow three-hour present within the Eden lounge on its latest cruise ships. Finally, the present needed to be pared right down to 90 minutes and was ultimately changed by a collection of shorter unrelated performances. Virgin’s concept of splitting “Lola’s Library” into three simply digestible segments makes the idea extra audience-friendly.

Thoughts Mangler

The “Thoughts Mangler” present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

The Thoughts Mangler isn’t any bizarre magician. The idea was born from a personality created by Mischief Comedy, the corporate liable for “The Play That Goes Mistaken” and “Magic Goes Mistaken.” It is one of many few reveals Virgin Voyages has licensed relatively than creating one thing new, in line with Kilman.

You will not discover drained illusions; as a substitute, you may witness a comedy routine blended with mind-reading and different sudden twists, together with an apparent viewers plant who’s a part of the present and wears an “viewers member” T-shirt. He continuously reveals as much as volunteer all through the efficiency and pokes enjoyable at accusations that magicians collude with individuals earlier than their reveals after which plant them within the viewers to assist them with their tips later.

As Kilman famous, it is extra in regards to the comedy than the magic, however cruisers will obtain loads of each.

Persephone

Dancers carry out throughout “Persephone,” a brand new present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Along with Emursive, Virgin has a next-level partnership with Home of Sure, the famed Brooklyn artwork house and nightclub that pulls crowds for its weird reveals and themed costume occasions.

To tie in with Resilient Girl’s Greece itineraries, Virgin’s leisure executives labored with Home of Sure to create “Persephone,” a dance showcase that additionally makes use of singing, aerialists, acrobats and pole dancers to inform the story of the goddess Persephone.

Dancers carry out throughout “Persephone,” a brand new present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Persephone falls in love and runs away with Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. When her mom — Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest — discovers she’s lacking, she flies right into a rage, and perpetual winter ensues, killing the crops.

Demons carrying horns and muzzles climb the partitions, and dancers coated head to toe in mirrors pop and lock to a robotic-looking quantity that, in my utterly unprofessional dance opinion, is the most effective on the whole ship.

Members of Hades’ underworld dancing throughout “Persephone,” a brand new present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Between dances, the singer who performs Demeter belts out fashionable songs with spectacular vocal vary, the forged members who play Persephone and Hades enter into a few wonderful acrobatic routines, and a dance battle between the gods and goddesses lends a little bit of competitors to the entire expertise.

The story is a traditional story most of us discovered in grade faculty, however the stage of power, the intricate costumes and the truth that the viewers appears like part of the present are what make it a standout efficiency. Attendees stand the whole time, proper up in opposition to the efficiency areas, with forged members transferring by means of the group at varied intervals.

A view of the brand new present “Persephone” from above on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

“The flexibility to have an occasion the place individuals can stand and transfer across the house and be near performers is a distinct expertise in and of itself, however then you might have all of the recognizable music … and we actually went excessive manufacturing value-wise,” Kilman stated, referring to “Persephone” because the ship’s big-spectacle present.

He additionally famous that it is the first time the versatile Pink Room has been used to its full potential, providing three completely different vantage factors for passengers — beside the stage, out on the ground’s perimeter or one deck above on the second stage, the place seating is accessible.

So as to add to the intrigue, a Greek refrain of prerecorded actors seems on the stage’s LED screens behind the forged. They rap in regards to the state of affairs to spherical out the plot line, even tossing out a few F-bombs. “F*cking youngsters,” they are saying after Persephone makes her escape.

Competition Stage

An indication greeting passengers on their means into the Pink Room theater on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Quite than a selected present, Competition Stage is a brand new Virgin Voyages idea that brings a rotating listing of rigorously chosen expertise on board to carry out for just a few weeks. The roster adjustments out to maintain the leisure contemporary.

Kilman stated he constantly heard from passengers who sailed the primary two Virgin vessels that they wished extra comedy. The cruise line delivered.

“Now we’ve got that component of rotating leisure the place, in case you come again, there’s one thing you are going to see that is new,” Kilman stated.

On my crusing, I noticed:

Abandoman: Via viewers participation, this Irish comic turns cruisers’ lives into hit songs by means of freestyle rap — proper on the spot. Through the hourlong present, he created a number of songs a couple of passenger who was crusing for her eightieth birthday, a girl who held a grudge for many years as a result of her mom would not let her get braces and a pair arguing over whether or not or to not get a canine. Ultimately, he tied all of it collectively flawlessly by rapping about one other couple who, coincidentally, owns a pet store.

Rapper-comedian Abandoman performs on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Flute Loops: Via a mix of flute, guitar and beatbox, this gifted Irish musician performed well-known songs on choose evenings. The music was mild however caught passengers’ consideration due to the musician’s skill to remix fashionable songs in ways in which modified their tempo. This created a guessing recreation, eliciting “Oh, what is that this one? It is on the tip of my tongue!” reactions from cruisers.

As for what’s subsequent, in just a few weeks, Tape Face — an “America’s Received Expertise” finalist who does a complete comedy routine together with his mouth taped shut — will be part of the repertoire of onboard leisure. Further comedy-magic hybrid reveals and acapella singing group acts are additionally coming quickly.

Returning favorites

A number of favourite reveals from Virgin’s first two ships have returned to Resilient Girl. They embrace:

Drag queen Miss Titty Kaka performs in The Manor on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Miss Titty Kaka: Drag queen sensation and resident diva Miss Titty Kaka graces levels on all of Virgin’s ships in a rotation. Replete with singing, dancing, fabulous costume adjustments and excessive kicks galore, her performances and witty sexual references will go away you equal components amused and blushing. Plus, who does not love a superb drag queen-hosted recreation of bingo?

The “Miss Behave” present on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Miss Behave: Land-based present “Miss Behave” was first delivered to the excessive seas by Virgin Voyages on Valiant Girl. Led by a number wearing a glittering gold outfit and a nerdy-looking assistant, it focuses on the concept that nothing actually issues, together with the factors that the viewers earns. Divided into two groups, attendees take part by means of singalongs, shout-outs and actions like standing up, sitting down, speeding the stage and texting selfies or solutions to inquiries to a devoted quantity by way of WhatsApp. It is all a bit chaotic, and that is simply the way in which passengers prefer it.

The Klub Rubiks ’80s theme celebration on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Theme events: One among Virgin Voyages’ greatest strengths is the power to throw unbelievable theme events. Take Klub Rubiks and We Fancy, for instance. The previous is an ’80s-themed dance celebration full with a DJ spinning ’80s music. Passengers are extraordinarily zealous about dressing up. The latter is a nightclub dance celebration the place members of the leisure forged mingle with passengers on the dance flooring. When you have something gold, that is the time to put on it.

Octopus tentacles adorn The Roundabout on Scarlet Night time on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Scarlet Night time: Completely no after-hours bash within the historical past of cruise ships can outdo Scarlet Night time. The top of events, it encourages everybody to decorate in purple to listen to the legend of Scarlet Night time. Informed each within the ship’s Roundabout atrium space — which is adorned with large, inflatable octopus tentacles — by members of the crew and by a lounge singer-style efficiency that runs each quarter-hour within the Pink Room theater, it entails a hapless sailor who falls in love with an octopus princess. Bizarre? Sure, however it’s completely Virgin.

Cracking on with the weird collection of Scarlet Night time occasions, the crew within the atrium select two passengers to “marry” each other after partaking in a reside, improvised recreation of mad libs that describes how the 2 first met. Finally, the officiant pretend-marries everybody inside earshot of the ceremony — however only for the night time.

After a full of life rave-style dance celebration on the pool deck, passengers transfer to The Manor nightclub to complete off Scarlet Night time on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

From there, members of the ship’s dance crew start popping up, flashmob fashion, to carry out all through the general public areas as everybody makes their method to the pool deck, the place the actual celebration begins.

An enormous inflatable octopus looms over the house, welcoming passengers as dancers invite everybody to leap into the pool. A DJ cranks music till midnight, when the festivities transfer indoors to The Manor, the ship’s nightclub. In all my cruises, I’ve by no means seen a celebration so nicely attended or one which concurrently makes use of so many public areas so successfully.

Backside line

A scene from “One other Rose” on Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Girl. ASHLEY KOSCIOLEK/THE POINTS GUY

Via stellar expertise, excessive manufacturing worth and big-name partnerships, Virgin Voyages’ leisure continues to push boundaries. Its new reveals firmly cement the road’s spot on the high of the cruise ship leisure leaderboard. The cruise line has taken ideas that failed on different cruise strains, reminiscent of dinner theater and three-hour-long performances, and made them work exceptionally nicely.

What’s nice in regards to the line is that it leans closely into passenger suggestions, tweaking a few of its choices to supply extra selection and to retain the entire quirk, allure and innuendo in a much less apparent (and, maybe, much less offensive) means. Plus, all however one among its brand-new reveals are free.

What you may count on from the performances on any Virgin vessel — however particularly Resilient Girl — are a number of the most awe-inspiring singing, dancing and feats of power you may see wherever, together with on land.

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