Every cruise out of Miami on Virgin Voyages will make a spot at Bimini in the Bahamas. One important thing to note is that Bimini is not a private island for Virgin Voyages but offers a private Beach Club that guests on the cruise can enjoy. For me the private island stops are always the highlight of any cruise in the Caribbean. I have been to pretty much all of them too. Disney and Holland America have my favorite private islands but I have also been to NCL's, Princess, and both of Royal Caribbean's. Technically Royal Caribbean's Labadee isn't a private island since it is actually part of Haiti so I was kind of expecting the Beach Club at Bimini to be sort of like that. The big difference is that for Labadee the ship pulls up right to the private beach area so you walk off the ship and you are there. The Beach Club at Bimini is not really walkable from the ship but they do offer a tram all day. It is at least a 15 minute ride and there really aren't sidewalks which is why I say not walkable from the ship. The tram also makes 2 stops along the way at an area where shore excursions will depart from and also a casino. I heard some guests say they were hoping for a small town to explore but all we really saw were resort type areas and some homes. Golf carts were clearly the way most people on the island get around and I heard you could rent one for the day so I guess if you wanted to go off on your own you could.
My main focus was to check out the Beach Club. When you pull up you can tell that most of this is very new - which made me wonder would this have all been ready back in March 2020 when Scarlet Lady was supposed to start. Either way it was a nice welcome area which reminded me of what you might find in an open air lobby of an all inclusive island resort. Right away you see the big pool area and there are plenty of places to sit and get comfy everywhere. The Beach Club kind of reminded me of the way the ship is also designed with lots of smaller areas to enjoy instead of just one huge area. There are lots of cozy sitting areas around the resort but too bad that doesn't apply to the beachfront. To either side of the pool area there are places to grab lunch (which is included) and drinks. Of course there is a swim up bar and there are also some self-serve soda stations as well.
The pool area seemed to have music and stuff going on most of the day and for me that is not what I am looking for on a private beach day so I headed right for the sand! This is where I was let down though. The beach area is not very big and felt very crowded with lounge chairs and umbrellas all on top of each other. Our ship was only about a 1/3 full so I cannot imagine what this beach will be like with a full ship. There was also a roped off area with nicer lounge chairs but that was for Rockstar guests only. There are of course cabanas that you can rent but honestly they didn't seem to offer much for the price.
I prefer a little more space on my beach day so I can really just relax but you won't really find that here (definitely no social distance). The other thing I love to do at the private island stops is to float in the gorgeous turquoise water. Yes the water was that lovely color here but there wasn't a lot of swimming space and the water was a bit rough. There also wasn't an option to rent a float which I am guessing is due to the small area and not really floatable water. Along with no floats there weren't really any water toys either. We usually like to rent a hobie or something like that to go out and play but this beach area really wasn't designed for that. I guess in my head I was thinking the Beach Club at Bimini would have some fun things in the water like maybe some of those large inflatables or something like that so maybe that is something they are still working on. Right now the focus seemed to be more on the pool area for activities.
The one thing Beach Club at Bimini does have that no other cruise ship private stop does is a late night stay which includes bonfires! I was very excited for that as I have always wished the ships would stay late and do a night party type thing on their islands. We spent a couple hours on the beach in the morning and then headed back to the ship to eat and shower and then went back over closer to sunset to enjoy the bonfires and the cooler temperatures. I found I loved the Beach Club much more at this time of day. Most people had left so you could grab a lounge on the beach and relax. They had 3 large metal balls that they used for the fires and they were very cool. They lit them one by one and each lighting came with some music from the Phantom Folktales which I really enjoyed. We hung out for a bit and then headed back to the ship to catch the show. The ship was staying in port until 11:59 pm so it was a really late departure even though I am not really sure how many people even stayed on the beach past 9:00.
I know they cannot change the location of the Beach Club so I don't think there is a lot they can do for the swimming on the beach but maybe other times of the year will offer calmer water. I will be back in January and see what I think then.
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