I’m back from my 5-day cruise on the Scarlet Lady with Virgin Voyages and so excited to share my journey with you. Virgin Voyages launched officially in 2019, but the inaugural sailing was delayed to October 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They offer a unique take on cruising with more inclusive value, exciting entertainment venues and even host the first tattoo parlour at sea.
Before the Voyage
One of the first things I did when my sailing was confirmed was download the Virgin Voyages App. The app makes getting ready for check in easy and straightforward, plus it makes planning your vacation fun. You can reserve dining venues, check out the event lineup and even order champagne wherever you are on the ship! I highly recommend doing this early to make your dinner reservations (especially if you’re with a larger group)
I loved the Virgin Voyages Band as well. Instead of lugging around a cumbersome cruise key card, I received a beautiful bracelet to wear. It’s waterproof as well so no need to take it off. You use this fob to open your door, make purchases and for when you go ashore at the ports. Keeping sustainability in mind, Virgin Voyages designed the band from ocean plastics. Each band is produced from about 6 grams of coastal and marine plastics, helping to keep our oceans clean.
Check in was also a breeze. I didn’t wait more than 10 minutes in line and was promptly on the ship and off to check out my cabin.
Depending on your budget, Virgin Voyages offers many cabin styles from inside rooms to massive Rockstar quarters. They also offer solo cabins for those traveling alone. (With solo themed events to help you make friends on your travels as well!)
I stayed in a Sea Terrace suite and it was stunning! The room can be configured from day to night offering you a seating area and more space during the day and then a comfortable bed at night. The balcony was spacious and had a hand-woven hammock as well which offered a new way to relax and enjoy those sweeping views.
If your budget allows, make sure to book one of the Rockstar (or Mega Rockstar) cabins. Not only are they in prime areas of the ship, larger in size and come with a host of extras not available to regular sailors.
- Early boarding via private VIP area
- Priority access to booking events and dining
- 24/7 access to a RockStar Agent
- Access to Richard’s Rooftop (with daily complimentary Moët champagne from 530-7pm)
- Full size, fully stocked bars (First round is included for RockStars and bottomless for Mega Rockstars)
- Daily Bar Tab (Mega RockStars only)
- Daily Spa Access (Mega RockStars only)
- Premium WiFi ((Mega RockStars only)
I was lucky enough to receive access to Richard’s Rooftop during my voyage and loved the private comfortable atmosphere it provided. It was a great place to read my book, soak in the hot tub and sip champagne. When I wanted a dip in the pool, it was just a set of stairs down. On a fully booked ship, this is a haven that would be welcomed by many.
By far, the plethora of restaurants and eateries on this ship was what I was most excited to experience. Unlike a traditional cruise, you won’t find a buffet on board, nor will you find a large main dining room or specialty restaurants that cost more to dine in.
Virgin Voyages has opted to instead have an array of eateries (20+), six of which are full restaurants. In place of the buffet, the Galley hosts a number of food stations (see the list of all the choices HERE). No waiting in line though; simply choose your seat and make your selections with your server.
I experienced all six full restaurants on board. If you can’t book them via the Virgin Voyages app, walk-ins are accepted on a first come basis. Just like the Galley, all of the food is included with your cruise fare. A few items can be upgraded but the prices are clearly marked. The restaurants available are:
- Extra Virgin – trattoria-inspired Italian
- Razzle Dazzle – Vegetarian & Vegan focused
- Gunbae – Korean BBQ
- Pink Agave – upscale Mexican
- The Wake – Steak and Seafood
- Test Kitchen – Chef designed, ingredient focused
- The Dock House – alfresco-style Mediterranean
A particular favourite of mine was Gunbae, a Korean BBQ set up as a group dining experience with circular built around a flameless grill. As a solo traveler, I was seated with a group of ladies from Wales. We had a great time with the icebreaker drinking game (first round of Korean soju is on them!).
Another favourite was Extra Virgin. I enjoyed both a dinner here and Appertivo hour so I was able to sample a number of dishes. The Carbonara was delicious and Gnocchi was freshly made and flavourful. I suggest trying the fried artichoke and chicken liver pate as well.
For a more in depth look at the restaurants check out my post: Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Restaurant Guide
Virgin Voyages really shakes things up when it comes to entertainment onboard, and I am thoroughly impressed. Edgy and modern with seating that puts you right in the mix of their entertaining performances.
The Red Room was a brilliant venue that encouraged audience participation. Duel Reality was a unique take on the Romeo and Juliet theme complete with music-infused aerobatics and the energetic UntitledDanceShowPartyThing is a must see!
If you love to dance, the two-storey nightclub called the Manor is the place to be. Be sure to pack something red for Scarlet Night – a ship-wide celebration and the first night’s pajama party is a great way to start the journey.
Some of the other entertainment options on board include:
- A casino
- Old school arcade
- Social Club complete with foosball, shuffleboard and board games
- Pub crawls
- Pop up entertainment
- Pools and Hot Tubs
- The Groupie (book your own private Karaoke night)
Incorporating wellness into travel is becoming increasingly important to people. Virgin Voyages has taken note and offers a wealth of options onboard for everybody no matter if you’re a fitness fanatic, or simply want to meditate as the sun rises over the water.
And unlike a traditional cruise line, you won’t have to shell out any extra money to get your wellness on. Some of the included activities are:
- Sun-Rise Yoga classes
- Outdoor Boxing
- HIIT classes
- Wellness talks & events
- Full cardio gym and weight room
If you’re like me, wellness means quiet reflection, massages and spa time! The Redemption spa is a “haven of tranquility and self-preservation”. While the spa is an additional cost, the thermal spa day pass offers incredible value by including a mud room, salt rom, hydrotherapy pool, jacuzzi, thermal suite, cold plunge pool and quartz mattress beds. Of course, you can get pampered even more with a massage, facial or body treatment.
Additionally, they offer hair services via the Dry Dock Salon and the men can get pampered at Stubble and Groom (their barber shop). Don’t forget to book an appointment at MAC to get glammed up for the evening too. For $100, you’ll have your makeup professionally done AND get to spend $100 on your new favourite products.
The Shore Things
My 5-day cruise took me to Key West and Bimini Island (in the Bahamas). In Key West, the trolley tour gave me a full view of the area with an informative guide throughout. It’s a hop on/hop off tour which was fantastic for a solo traveler to explore and get around. In Bimini I just wanted to take in the exclusive Beach Club and enjoy the sun, beach and pool.
While I chose to explore on my own, Virgin Voyages offers a multitude of shore excursions that you can book with them. Some are very traditional tours, but I love that they have options that really immerse you in the destination or have an eco-focused aspect. You can find yourself in a hidden cenote, making pasta in a local’s home or basking in your private cabana at the Beach Club in Bimini Island.
One of the most unique offerings from Virgin Voyages is the inclusive value they offer compared to traditional cruise lines. On top of everything, your cruise fare also includes Wi-Fi, gratuities, and basic bevis. These include a variety of still & sparkling water, iced tea, lemonade, juices and soda pop. (These often cost an extra $15 USD per person per day on other popular cruise lines)
Sustainability is key for Virgin Voyages as well. Richard Branson says:
“There is nothing more important in this world than our oceans, and
we’re on a mission to protect them and set an example. Success
needn’t compromise sustainability”~Richard Branson
Since the first day at sea, Virgin Voyages is striving to remain carbon neutral. They have eliminated all single use plastics, and even their toilet paper is tree-free. The tech in the rooms is smart and efficient; LED lighting with room sensors will dim the light and close the curtains to conserve energy and maintain temperatures. They even transform heat from the ship’s engines into clean energy and purify wastewater that you could even drink it!
To read more about what Virgin Voyages is doing to help our Earth, check out their Sustainability page here: Sustainability | Virgin Voyages
Final Thoughts: Why you should book now
Overall, my cruise on the Scarlet Lady was incredible and I am already looking at booking my next voyage with them. (Definitely take advantage of the onboard booking offer!) Virgin Voyages may not be the cheapest cruise line option out there but the value provided, scrumptious cuisine and unique offerings more than make up for the price tag.
I’ve heard people say the cruise line is just for millennials but they offer so much for so many. On my cruise the majority of people seemed to be in their 40’s to 60’s, but there were sailors from young adults to a fantastic group of women in their 80’s that had a blast at the drag show!
Want to know more? Click HERE to send me a message and start planning your voyage!