Our Travel Stories, Travel Reviews

Virgin Voyages – A new style of cruising.

A Review of our cruise on Scarlet Lady

Scarlet Lady docked in Key West, Florida

At the time of writing this I am gently swaying in what’s has already become the iconic Virgin Voyages red hammock, which is fitted to every balcony on their ships. To be suspended above the water with the sun on my face, the wind in my hair and slowly rocking with the movement of the ocean and the sound of the waves lapping 14 stories below is an incredibly unique sensory experience in itself and once which needs to be personally experienced to fully appreciated. In fact it is SO relaxing, whether I stay awake to finish this blog in one sitting is yet to be seen!

I actually first heard about Virgin Voyages back in 2017 when I friend of mine was helping to design some of their navigation systems and from what he told me back then of the plans for the brand it already sounded exciting and innovative.

Fast forward 5 years and I started working part time as a Personal Travel Consultant with Hays Travel. As part of their ongoing training I got to attend an online seminar with Virgin Voyages and as an avid cruiser I was so excited by the concept the delivered, within 24 hrs I had convinced my partner that we HAD to try this, and with the benefit of a very attractive staff discount we were booked.

My partner and I are both 51, I am a very experienced cruiser whilst he is completely new to all this and didn’t have any expectations or anything to compare it to, whilst I have sailed with many different cruise lines over the years.

So what attracted me to it before we even booked?

❤️ This is a cruise line which has been designed for my generation and younger, and not my parents generation.

❤️ The first cruise line to be entirely adults only and to be marketed to younger working millennials, rather than to either senior citizens or families.

❤️ No gratuities expected. Many people will know that most cruise lines now automatically add gratuities to your onboard account and whilst you can ask for these to be taken off, they are still expected to be paid to staff, and can make up a big percentage of their earnings. Richard Branson pays his crew fairly so they are not dependent on additional gratuities and they are not expected, nor added to your bill every single time you purchase a drink (a BIG plus for me)

❤️ Wifi included. Most cruise lines charge an exorbitant amount for having wifi at sea, using the excuse that if it was free then everyone would be using at at the same time and it would be painfully slow to load. Well once again Virgin have proved that to be wrong as every passenger on this ship has inclusive wifi and so far we have not once encountered a problem and download speeds have been perfectly acceptable. (I might add that it is only basic wifi which is inclusive and not fast enough for streaming. I had wanted a streaming package this holiday as I wanted to be able to watch the livestream of my Aunty’s funeral back in Ireland and I paid $40 for the 4 day upgraded wifi package)

❤️ No formal dining. With Virgin Voyages not only are there no formal dining night, there are no central dining rooms as with other cruise lines, and no specialty restaurants with an additional cover charge to pay. On Scarlet Lady there are over 20 eateries, with an array of different cuisines, from Gumbae, a Korean Barbecue experience to The Wake which is a steak and seafood restaurant, but whatever you fancy you will find a cuisine to suit your taste.

Gumbae restaurant where food is cooked on a grill at the table.

We couldn’t get over how spacious the ship was and wherever you went there was adequate seating, and there were sun loungers everywhere, many of these in pairs so plenty of room for couple, friends to be close together. Scarlet Lady has a passenger capacity of just over 2700, however only our cruise we discovered we were sailing with around 700 passengers! Unsurprising then that they ship felt SO spacious. However, having done many cruises over the years I believe that for the majority of the time this ship would still feel spacious in most areas even at full capacity.

For the fitness lovers there is not only a very well equipped gym, there is an outside running track, and also other fitness equipment including an punch ball boxing ring on another of the outside decks. Oh yes and I failed to mention that there are swings and seesaws – for ADULTS!

My fiancé and I are not ones for clubbing (we are self confessed old farts) however we both loved the Scarlet Night pool party. There was an amazing vibe and atmosphere, great music and incredible dance entertainment to get to the party started. Virgin Voyages have designed their central pool so that each end has just a few inches of water in, which means during the day you can just lounge in the shallow water with a cocktail, but come night time…you can also dance in it!

We spoke to many people throughout our cruise and of different age groups, without exception everyone said they were LOVING the Virgin Voyages experience, and how different it was from any previous cruise experience.

Our cruise was the 4 night voyage from Miami, stopping at Key West, Florida – Bimini Island in the Bahamas, and then one sea day.

Key West, Florida

Scarlet Lady, docked in Bimini, Bahamas
Bimini, Bahamas

Both ports were outstanding. We would have loved to have done a longer cruise but for many Americans they have 5 days annual leave so this would have been their main summer vacation and the reason Virgin have tailored shorter 4-5 night cruises on Scarlet Lady for the American Market.

For longer cruises, Virgin Voyages are also offering 7 night cruises from Barcelona on Valiant Lady, and when their third ship Resilient Lady enters the fleet for her maiden voyage in May 2023 she will have her first home port In Athens where you will also be able to embark on a 7 night cruise.

I am hugely excited to watch the future of Virgin Voyages unfold and to see new ships and new itineraries as they are launched. It won’t be for everyone and I have a feeling it will have the ‘marmite’ effect, people will love it or hate it.

I for one cannot praise them highly enough though for taking this bold, brave move to revolutionise cruising as we know it.

Want to experience a Virgin Voyage yourself??

Well guess what? you can pop over to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/terrihaystravel/. Give me a ‘like’ and drop me a message if I can help with any future travel/cruise enquiries.

Until next time, have an extraordinary day and keep making memories.

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