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Virgin Voyages: No buffets, no set times - dine with a difference this summer

Author: Sophie Chichester

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Virgin Voyages has made it clear it is standing out from the crowd ever since the cruise line burst onto the scene - and its food and drink offering is just one part of that.

Virgin Voyages is setting sail this summer, offering a series of sea voyages from Portsmouth.

On three- or four-nights sailings (or seven if you decide to combine the trips) "sailors" can enjoy everything the Scarlet Lady has to offer - and buoy, is that a lot.

All manner of indulgence is available onboard the ship, particularly when it comes to its food and beverage experience – so get ready for a festival of taste!

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Virgin Voyages restaurants

What sets Virgin Voyages apart is its approach to dining. Whereas most cruise ships have historically relied on buffet-style restaurants, this line is riding a new wave.

Virgin is ditching the one-big-dining-hall experience and given buffets a wide berth.

Unlike your typical cruise ship, dining on the Scarlet Lady is more like visiting a New York restaurant block.

Each dining concept has its own ambience and everything is made to order. And, in good news for holidaymakers who dislike restrictions, there are no pre-defined dining times.

So, no matter when you fancy tucking into some grub, Virgin has you covered.

Any craving you have is likely to me be met, too. There are a whopping 20-plus eateries available - one of which is a 24/7 diner to help cure those munchies whenever they may hit.

Food on table
Virgin Voyages: A Michelin-starred chef collective means incredible onboard dining experiences. Credit: Virgin Voyages

Virgin doesn't just serve up casual dining options, though.

A Michelin-starred chef collective means incredible onboard dining experiences.

There's The Wake which provides steaks, seafood and a full raw bar as well as a cocktail trolley.

For even more meat, there's Korean BBQ joint Gunbae, where you can get stuck into hands-on meat-grilling and soju drinking.

Alternatively, jet off to the West to Mexican restaurant Pink Agave where a master of ceremonies will guide you through a highly curated dining and drinking experience.

Pink agave
Virgin Voyages: Mexican restaurant Pink Agave offers a highly curated dining and drinking experience. Credit: Virgin Voyages

Vegetarians and vegans are more than catered for, too, with Virgin Voyages developing each menu with non-meat-eaters in mind.

Razzle Dazzle Restaurant not only offers a veggie-focused menu but also signature cocktails.

Another option is Italian trattoria Extra Virgin which serves regionally-inspired food punctuated by fresh, handmade pasta.

Should you fancy more than one cuisine, check out The Galley. Modelled on a food hall, this spot offers sailors a variety of options. You can find a dedicated bakery and pastry shop, a panini shop, a burger grill, a taco shack, a sushi bar with bento boxes, a noodle bar, a soup and salad stand, and a 24-hour American diner.

However, if you're a foodie that likes to get more involved, The Test Kitchen might be your cup of tea.

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This laboratory-like eatery is part cooking school and part restaurant, boasting classes and evolving tasting menus.

Alternatively, if it's only a sweet treat you're after, there's Lick Me Till Ice Cream, a whimsical ice cream shop that includes six seasonal homemade, artisanal flavours such as the vegan Green Machine or Gianduiotto Chocolate.

The good news is that you can feast guilt-free - all Virgin Voyages' food is sustainably packaged.

The cruise line places value on sourcing from local suppliers to support communities.

Couple drinks duo
Virgin Voyages: The Wake provides steaks, seafood and a full raw bar as well as a cocktail trolley. Credit: Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages bars

The all-inclusive holidays Virgin offers don't just include food.

Filtered still and sparkling water, non-pressed juices, sodas, teas, and even drip coffee are all included.

High-quality cocktails, wine, and beer are all available at reasonable prices.

Virgin has partnered with some of the industry's most esteemed mixologists to create an exceptional beverage programme.

Bar On The Rocks sees bartenders rustling up off-the-menu cocktails crafted perfectly to the guests' specifications.

Then there's curated champagne lounge Sip, designed to satisfy all sailors' champagne and caviar needs.

Alternatively, if beer's more your thing, Draught Haus offers a variety of beers on tap.

So sailor, what are you waiting for?

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