When Virgin Voyages debuted, it announced that passengers would have access to an exclusive beach club in Bimini that was only for Virgin Voyages guests.
The cruise line teamed up with Resorts World Bimini to build out this area about a mile from the cruise port, which offered powdered sand and turquoise blue water.
However, during the cruise industry shutdown, cruise lines were looking for alternative ports in the Bahamas and started calling at Bimini Island. Beachfront property that was first developed for Virgin Voyages is now accessible to other cruise lines on days when a Virgin ship is not in port. Carnival Horizon was the first ship to call there with passengers in July 2021.
Located 60 miles off the coast of Florida, the port’s location allows ships to stay later and be able to arrive back to Miami or Port Everglades in just a few hours.
This article is focusing on my experience at the Bimini Beach Club as a non-Virgin Voyages guest. I was sailing on Carnival Cruise Line both times I went to the beach club.
Booking the Bimini Beach Club Shore Excursion
If you’re sailing to Bimini Island on Scarlet Lady or another Virgin Voyages ship, you do not need to worry about buying a ticket because everything is included in the price of your cruise.
However, if sailing on another cruise line, like Carnival, you’ll have to purchase your ticket before you arrive on the island or the day-of.
While keeping in mind that pricing may vary depending on the cruise line you’re sailing, Carnival’s pass was $39.99 for the Bimini Beach Club day pass, and $99.99 for the pass with an open bar.
I’ve yet to see the Bimini Beach Club available in the cruise manager to purchase before the cruise; all three times I’ve been to the island it has only been available on board at the shore excursion desk or through the cruise line’s app.
Because the cruise pier can only hold one ship at a time, you don’t have to worry about the resort getting too crowded unless everyone on your ship decides to book the shore excursion. Even then, there are still plenty of areas to escape and enjoy your day at the beach.
Towels are provided at the Beach Club, so you don’t have to take a towel off the ship if you don’t want to.
Docking in Bimini
There is a dock here, so there’s no need to tender. When you arrive at the pier, the first thing you’ll notice is how blue the water is. While the ship was docking there was a pod of dolphins close by, and in the distance, we could see sea turtles swimming around.
Upon disembarking, there is a booth on the dock that you’ll check into. One of the staff members will put a bracelet around your wrist based on the package you bought. The difference between the bracelets is that one is for the open bar, while the other is just for the standard day pass.
After receiving your bracelet, you’ll wait for the open-air vehicle (think Disney World tram) to take you a mile down the road to the entrance of the beach club. (Note: It is not recommended to walk to the resort because there aren’t any sidewalks the entire way and it gets very hot.)
The short transfer takes about five minutes and then you’re at the entrance of the club where they inspect your wristbands and let you into the resort.
First Impressions of Bimini Beach Club
The resort has a mixed feel between a Las Vegas resort pool and Carnival’s Half Moon Cay beach.
As soon as you get off the tram, you check in and enter the resort according to your wristband. Inside the complex, there’s a bar where you’re served a welcome cocktail (also available without alcohol). This is also the bar you’ll go to if you bought the open bar package.
There were also bathrooms and changing areas in this area that were very clean and constantly being mopped and wiped down. Actually, all the bathrooms on the property were equally clean.
Everything here is first-come first-serve, so if you’d like to get your pick of the sun loungers, it’s best to hop on one of the first trams. Our first tram was at 8:30 a.m.
There are cabanas located throughout the property for rent. If you want to purchase one for your visit, you can contact a staff member at the resort. The cabanas are based on availability.
It was also nice to see free Wi-Fi on the property.
Pools at Bimini Beach Club
Just past the bar, there are two expansive lagoon-style pools, both with swim-up bars, and chairs with umbrellas lining each side. You can clearly tell the resort was branded for Virgin with the dark red umbrellas around the entire property, otherwise, the bars and chars were designed with soft earth tones.
The pool on the right side has a DJ booth at the end of the pool, whereas the left pool is a little quieter. The pools are only 20 feet apart so you’ll be able to hear the music from either one. However, you won’t find any flotilla parties or a beach bonfire — those are strictly reserved for Virgin guests.
During our visit, we opted to hang out in the pool on the left side (without the DJ) because we wouldn’t be right under the speakers. The music was pretty good; I’m not sure if the tracks were from Grammy award-winning songwriter and record producer Mark Ronson or just what the DJ had available. Virgin teamed up the with artist when launching the beach club.
Both pools had a swim-up bar and all the cocktails were the same price of $12 each. The poolside bars take cash and credit cards, and gratuity is not included in the check.
It didn’t matter where you were on the property, you were never far from hearing the sounds of the ocean. It’s ultimate relaxation at its best.
Just off the pool area there a hammock retreat that anyone can use. There are a dozen hammocks hanging there that are really comfortable… so comfortable that I fell asleep in one for about 30 minutes.
The Oceanfront at Bimini Beach Club
Depending on when you visit the island will depend on how cold the water is. When we were there in July, the ocean was balmy 84 degrees. In February, it was 76 degrees. It’s amazing how your body reacts to the drop of temperature in the water because on land, it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between 84 and 76 in the humidity.
The water is crystal clear which makes it perfect for snorkeling and seeing marine life.
There was a line of chairs oceanside once you walked down to the beach with a mixture of some covered clam shells thrown in there. The clamshells were the first to be taken, followed by areas with umbrellas.
There’s a nice sized span of beach that butts up against the free beach. The difference between the free public beach and the Bimini Beach Club is that you don’t have access to facilities or beach chairs if you opt for the free beach experience.
In my opinion, it’s better to pay the $39 for the day pass to one of the resorts. Yes, you’ll be dropping money on the excursion, but at least you’ll have access to shade, a towel, a freshwater pool, and bathroom facilities.
Open Bar Package
The drink package from the ship does not work here. Whether you think the open bar add-on is worth it depends on what type of alcohol you drink. It’s $60 more than the basic package, and if you’re drinking five or more drinks at $12 each, it’s probably worth it.
However, there are a couple of things you should know going in.
There is a dedicated bar that the package includes, and that’s the same bar that you get your welcome drink from. The upgrade does not include anything but well brands. So if you’re cool with the cheap vodka or rum, it could be worth it. If you’re not, you might want to pay for drinks individually.
Also, you do not get frozen drinks with this package — it is only beverages on the rocks such as vodka and soda, margaritas, rum and coke, and mojitos.
Dining at Bimini Beach Club
Unlike those visiting the island with Virgin Voyages, dining is not complimentary for guests from other cruise lines.
In fact, dining is where things get a little expensive. Available for purchase are chicken sandwiches, burgers, chicken Caesar salad, and chicken tenders with barbecue sauce.
Everything was $15 and the sandwiches and tenders came with a bag of chips. The bottled water was also pricy. Two chicken sandwiches, two chicken tenders baskets, and four bottles of water set us back $80.
The food service was a bit on the slow side, but it was solid and what you’d expect $15 chicken tenders would taste like!
Getting Back to the Cruise Ship
Bimini operates trams every 15 minutes that will take you back to the ship. Depending on the tram you take, you’ll head directly back to the pier or you’ll stop at a couple of the Resorts World tram stops to pick up other guests heading back to the ship.
Once you arrive at the pier, you’ll have to pull your ship card out to show it to port security and then the driver will take you up to the roundabout where you boarded the tram earlier that morning.
DO NOT try to bring shells back onboard the vessel. There was a garbage can full of conch shells, and one guest tried get back onboard with a box full of them and was quickly shut down.
While it’s not technically illegal to bring shells back to the United States, the cruise lines frown upon it because of the rules set by the Department of Agriculture. The agency says the shells must be properly cleaned to avoid bringing microorganisms home. The shells also have to be declared and inspected by U.S. Customs upon reentry to the states.
Final Thoughts of Bimini Beach Club
The beach and pool day is awesome and totally worth the $39 pass for all the amenities, and the flexibility to hop between the pools and the beach.
The tram service was efficient and for someone who isn’t a big fan of cruise line excursions, this is perfect. You are basically doing your own thing after you get the wristband after debarking the ship in the morning.
If we do it again, we will not get the drink package. As much as I tipped to get upgraded to Titos vodka, it would have been cheaper for me to pay a la carte for the two drinks I ordered there.
However, I can’t blame the resort for this, the cruise line should have done a better job outlining what was served instead of preying on guests thinking they were going to get an open bar.
This wasn’t the first time Carnival has done this. Over the summer they misled guests to believe that the Blue Lagoon VIP Tour in Nassau was an upgraded experience, but it wasn’t. Once the cruise guests got to the island it was a totally different experience. Everyone got 50 percent of their money back.
Overall, this was a great way to spend six hours. They did a superb job developing this resort and it is just what cruise guests would expect and want out of a beach day.