What an amazing cruising experience!
Just back on terra firma after a brilliant and insightful 4-day cruise on VIRGIN VOYAGES brand new swanky Scarlet Lady.
As a treat for my dad's 80th birthday and of course a 'go-see' mission for myself on this 'Superyacht-inspired' inaugural sailing around the UK, we were in ore of everything this cruise had to offer.
With comprehensive Covid-19 testing prior to boarding for all passengers, hand sanitizers all around the ship and an overnight fumigation of all communal areas, there was a relaxed vibe, as there should be on any cruise. Operating at 65% capacity there was plenty of space on board and no reason to rush for the poolside sun loungers. In fact, all over the ship there were secluded private spaces to lay and chill in the sun or in shaded 'pods' looking out to sea at the horizon.
For us both it was the high-end finish and furnishings that stood out. Something you would possibly expect for a new build cruise liner, but everything felt 'swanky' and 'trendy' really encapsulating the modernity that the Virgin brand represents. From the tablet-controlled room lighting, curtains and TV to the easy use of wrist bracelet called 'The wearable', used when confirming reservations and paying for alcohol beverages, all of the funky tech served a convenient purpose rather than just being just some gimmick. But for those of you who aren't maybe tech savvy, don't be put off, the conventional ways off turning on a light, opening curtains and looking at a physical menu instead of using the VV App are all still possible and the tech is not instead of.
FOOD & DRINK: The eateries on board were numerous, 20+ in all, covering all parts of the globe and very high-end food cooked to order (No cold buffet food!) From Italian (Extra Virgin), Mexican (Pink Agave), The Wake (Steakhouse) and my personal favourite was the high drama of 'Gunbae'. A theatrical and authentic Korean BBQ, where it was possible to join others around a circular table dining experience. Ideal for the solo traveller if you're looking to meet other like-minded sailors. The waiters at Gunbae are incredibly enthusiastic and will invite you to play a traditional Korean drinking game, Sam-yuk-gu (3-6-9), where the losers take a shot of soju. It would've been rude not to partake!
While alcoholic drinks aren’t included in the standard package, Virgin Voyages offer reasonable pricing at around £4 for beer, £7 for a cocktail and nearly 50% of their wines are under £8 a glass. For a limited time only, if you purchase a $300 prepaid bar tab, Virgin Voyages will give you a bonus $100 extra to spend at any bar on board or at The Beach Club, which is a banging deal if you ask me!
ENTERTAINMENT: Although the weather wasn't at its best (not totally unexpected for a UK sailing), and opportunities to lay out in the sunshine were less than desired, there were plenty of daily onboard activities and entertainment shows to attend. I must give a big shout out to the entertainment crew. You’ll never find yourself bored on board the Scarlet Lady cruise ship, with a thrilling variety of entertainment and events. Not your average pre-dinner show, this cruise featured contemporary live performances in The Red Room, a large multi-form theatre where we were dazzled and delighted. We were captivated by the Duel Reality performance (produced by 7 fingers) which featured impressive acrobatics and elaborate circus tricks and treats.
If you want to keep the party going, then it was possible to head to the Scarlet Lady’s very own night club, The Manor, which is open until the early hours of the morning. In here you’ll find a moody party vibe across two storeys and three bars to refuel and keep you up on your party feet. Note: the entrance to The Manor features an epic light installation where you can get your Instagram fix.
IN CONCLUSION: With high-end modern furnishings throughout, the ship was equally matched by the fantastic and friendly international staff, who couldn't do enough for us. A 'new' modern cruising concept that should really open the eyes of other operators. The convenience of having all food included with meals cooked to order, no gratuities to pay, group workouts at no extra cost and basic bevvies all included - it proved to be the most inclusive cruise I've ever been on! So much so, I couldn't resist and have booked another sailing for Easter 2022 on the sister ship 'Valiant Lady' around the Canaries, which only touched the sea for the first-time last week.
Get in touch if you want to know more about experiencing any of the Caribbean or Mediterranean cruises that Virgin Voyages will be operating, as early as October 2021. But that's not it - there will be another chance to cruise on the brand-new Valiant Lady from Portsmouth to Zeebrugge in March/April 2022, with a chance to hop-off and spend a full day in Bruges.
Virgin Voyages - certainly redefining 'cruising' as we know it!