New York City with Virgin Voyages

I was recently invited to an exclusive event with Virgin Voyages to New York City. Even though the event was on Valentine’s Day, I was flown in a day early to make sure I would make the events on time. This was great because I could be a tourist for a day. Before I left, I was scrolling through my Facebook timeline and saw a post from a page I follow saying there was an opening of a new exhibit of Frida Kahlo at the Brooklyn Museum that I had to check out. Other than that, I had nothing on my agenda.

After checking into my hotel located in the Fashion District, I decided to walk around the area to check out the city. There was a great service at the property that I do want to mention. Check-In wasn’t until 4:00 but my flight got in at 11:00 am. There is a complimentary room in the basement where you can leave your luggage until you can check in. With no destination in mind, I opened Google Maps and started out. I walked by the Empire State Building and past Macy’s, thinking about how fun it would be to see the parade from this exact location. I’m not sure if there are many Project Runway fans reading this but I saw that Mood was nearby and I even got to see Swatch.

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Tickets for the exhibit were selling out quickly so I ordered mine online and went to Uber to see how much it would be to get from my location to Brooklyn. $100 round-trip? No thanks. Again with the help of Google maps, they posted a very easy step-by-step guide to the subway that would get me there for $10 round-trip. The museum stop actually was right outside the museum’s front door. It couldn’t have been easier and with the NYC traffic, travel was about the same amount of time.

Because I arrived a couple hours before my ticket time, I had a chance to explore the 5 floors of this wonderful museum. Their galleries were very diverse in art, special exhibitions, period furniture, sculptures, jewelry, video and more. Even getting off the elevators was an experience with the way they stage the artwork to amaze you at every turn. It took the whole of my extra time to explore. Even though I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the Frida exhibit, it was an incredible experience. The space walked visitors through her life story with letters, artwork, clothing, video and stories. There were even her body casts she decorated during her periods of immobility.

Tired from all of the walking, I went back to the hotel to check in. There were self-service kiosks in the lobby along with a couple friendly staff members helping those who wanted assistance. I was quickly checked in and made it to the room. Although a bit small, the layout was ergonomic to manage a shorter stay. My favorite thing about this hotel was the water pressure. I know that is weird but this rainfall shower was amazing!

Day two started out with breakfast at the Egghead sandwich shop and then off to the World Trade Center. I left early to make sure I was there on time. This gave me time to see the memorial which was very moving. The names of the departed are cast around the monument and on their birthdays, roses are added in remembrance.

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As the time was growing closer for the event, I made my way over to the World Trade Center and followed the Virgin Voyages signs to check-in up to the Observation Deck. The elevator ride for this is spectacular! It is all video screens and starts you off viewing the area in the BC era. Then as you go up, the time quickly escalates and you see New York City grow until it is the city it is today. Upon entering the room, I was greeted with a choice of a champagne bar or Bloody Mary bar.

The observatory room was decorated for High Tea and once I found a seat, a server had me select from a few flavors of tea to accompany the tea sandwiches and desserts. My seat was perfect to view the panel discussion with Virgin Group Founder Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages President, Stacy Shaw, Vice President of Sales & Business development, and CEO Tom McAlpin.

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The questions asked were many personable ones of stories from Sir Richard Branson’s past, where he got the love of sailing and even about his grandkids. This really helped to put this man of countless life successes into a more humanizing form from his legacy. They also talked about some of the cruise amenities that were not released before that day such as the private Beach Club on Bimini, Bahamas. We saw video renderings of the different spaces of the island retreat and learned about the entertainment that would be featured here like Boy George coming in as a guest DJ at some point next year.

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Virgin Voyages also released a video about the onboard entertainment which was also a big secret. The unique theater and dance troops are completely different than what you would expect from typical cruise ship entertainment. No Broadway shows here but you can watch amazing acrobatic storytelling and have brunch while you watch a drag show. Another new thing is that the stages themselves will transform into four different configurations—a traditional Proscenium stage, an alley stage used in fashion shows, a dance flat-floor configuration, and finally a unique reverse stage setup. This first at-sea theatre will enable Virgin Voyages to create completely different experiences for each day of the voyage.

Upon the conclusion of the presentation, we could walk around the Observatory and see spectacular views of the city. I noticed that Charles Wolfe from our DT Luxe office in Naples, FL was also attending the event. He was actually staying at my hotel so we decided to meet up and head over to the evening event later that night.

I wasn’t sure if there was going to be food at the event so I made my way up to our hotel’s rooftop bar called Magic Hour for a bite to eat. This place was pretty cool. Magic Hour puts a grown-up spin on the carnival concept. They had a carousel bar with rotating seats for a unique twist on bar seating.

The evening event was a bit more formal. It was suggested to wear a pop of red which was nice against the red carpet and paparazzi standing outside the event entrance of the Sony Playstation Theater. Once inside, the room was set up as the stage for the cruise ship I mentioned so the multiple acts throughout the night were performed on different stage set ups. The singing and dancing were just incredible so I can’t wait to see how they do on their home stage at sea!

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Overall, I think there is a TON of excitement about this new cruise line. Keep in mind that this isn’t just for the under-40 crowd. We’ve even had requests from corporate incentive groups who want the adults-only cruise experience. With unique destinations and a redefined concept of how the next generation of cruisers want to experience this type of vacation, Virgin Voyages is something you don’t want to miss! 

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