Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review

I’m going to write this review in a different manner than most other cruise reviews I’ve written in the past, but it certainly wasn’t a typical cruise either. I’m not going to lie, I read very mixed reviews of what cruising with Virgin Voyages would be like. This is the first adults-only cruise line of it’s type. But did it live up to the hype?

Checking in at the port for my Virgin Voyage Cruise on the Scarlet Lady

I was so excited to have been invited to try out the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady out of Miami from December 10th to 15th, 2021 on the Mayan Sol itinerary (stops on this cruise included Costa Maya, Mexico and Virgin Voyages Beach Club at Bimini in the Bahamas). I have been following along with Virgin Voyages since they were first announced as a cruise line and on Scarlet Lady’s build journey, which is the first “Lady Ship” with Virgin Voyages. Virgin Voyages is a very unique concept of a cruise line and sailing with them, this was very apparent. I will say that there are some aspects of the ship I didn’t like, however for the most part I personally loved sailing with them.

The Virgin Voyages App

Once you’re confirmed onboard on a sailing, you should download the Virgin Voyages app. Through this app you will have access to your check in before you cruise, make dining reservations and also use it extensively on the cruise. I did have some glitches with the app during the check in process and actually couldn’t finish one of the check in stages, even though I had submitted all the documents it asked for. This did not effect my check in at the pier, check in there only took about ten minutes. Once you are connected to the ship’s wifi once at the pier however, I highly suggest making all your onboard reservations right away, especially if you’re interested in any of the entertainment and fitness classes. Most of them sold out within a couple hours of being on the ship. With dining reservations, they only allow you to select one restaurant per night per sailing through the app. That being said, I wanted to eat at Extra Virgin again and was accommodated as a walk in with no problems. The app was apparently very glitchy onboard for some people. I personally didn’t have too many issues, most of my issues were before I arrived at the pier.

The Virgin Voyages Band – Your Cruise Key Card

Virgin Voyages uses a band, bracelet style with a fob, key card. It was very comfortable to wear throughout the cruise. The Band by Virgin Voyages is your ship card and with it you open your cabin door, make purchases onboard and use it to check in and out when going ashore. If you are living in certain countries, particularly Canada and the USA, you should receive your Band and luggage tags at your home before departing for your cruise. However mine for some reason were never sent out and I was able to get one at the pier when checking in. The band is also one of the many sustainability elements that Virgin Voyages has with their cruise line. It was designed and made from ocean plastics. Each band is produced from about 6 grams of marine and coastal plastics. In total, through this sustainability initiative more than two pounds of plastic from marine and coastal environments will be removed with every sailor who sails with Virgin Voyages. This means that they are hoping to remove 2.2 million pounds of marine plastics from our oceans over the next 5 years with sailors on the Scarlet Lady alone! I’m actually really excited about all the different sustainability elements that they have onboard, including no single use plastics on the ship and they’ve been striving to be completely carbon neutral since day one.

The Band is your key card onboard Virgin Voyages

Boarding the Ship

Virgin Voyages own terminal at Miami is still under construction when my sailing took place, so we departed from Terminal C. I took a Lyft from my hotel (The Berkeley Park Hotel by M Gallery, click here to read my South Beach Miami Travel Guide) and costed about $20 USD with tip. When I arrived at the port, a porter took my luggage and wrote my cabin number on a luggage tag for me. My check in time was 11:45am, so I found the sign for 11:45am and waited for about five minutes. They did allow us to go in right at 11:45am, once inside you go through a security check, then to register for testing. There were QR codes to try to pre-register, however they gave us the code as we we allowed in and my cell signal I had was not the best. I was able to switch to the port’s wifi and it seemed to work better through there and was able to finish the registration just in time to be called up to the counter. After registering for the test, you go over to the next line for the actual covid test. As we were the first group to go in, it was very quick. Once you’ve been tested, you’re given a band to signify you’ve been tested. Then I headed upstairs for check in. At check in, they confirmed my vaccination records (at the time of my sailing you had to be fully vaccinated to cruise), passport and gave me a band as mine never arrived in the mail prior to my cruise. I also received a card with my cabin number on it and some tips about boarding the Scarlet Lady.

By the time I walked over to the “sitting area”, I had my negative results and received glorious “Boarding Card 1” and went into the next waiting area. Here they did have a water station with juice and iced tea.

Unfortunately Virgin Voyages does have a later check out time for “sailors”, so the ship embarkation time doesn’t start until 2:00pm, which I personally am not a fan of. I do think that this could be changed to 12:00pm as guests are required to leave the ship by 10:30am. I’m not sure why they have such a gap in turnaround times. My tip here would be to make sure you have a portable battery as there were extremely limited spaces where you could charge your phone if needed and none in the sitting areas. Masks were required to be worn in the cruise ship terminal at all times. Boarding Card 1 was called at 2:05pm and I was in my Sea Terrace cabin 12014Z at 2:16pm. So very quick to get on the ship once your boarding card number is called. I did like that my room was ready the moment I stepped on the ship. Once onboard, wearing masks during my cruise was totally optional.

My Sea Terrace Cabin – 12014Z

I loved my “Sea Terrace Cabin”, a fancy name for a balcony cabin. It’s not large, but they made good use of the space in my opinion. I did film a full Sea Terrace cabin tour as part of my first episode in my Scarlet Lady cruise series on YouTube, click here to watch. The Sea Terrace has a closet area with a closed in shelving area. In here you will find two lifejackets, a safe (which was large enough for my MacBook Air and all my camera gear), a hairdryer and some pool/beach towels. In “cozy” bathroom there are two sets of hand towels and smaller face clothes that have “makeup” on them (which I thought were cute), a metal cubby, which is great for hot tools such as flat irons or curling irons, a well lit mirror, however not really much space for your amenities. The shower had an amazing rainfall shower and a wand, the bathroom amenities were by Red Flower and had a lovely spa scent. The shower wasn’t huge, but was adequate for me and had a glass door (I hate shower curtains on cruises lol). The actual room itself was a comfortable size for me as I was travelling on the Scarlet Lady solo, I could see how with two people it would be a bit crowded. The bed looked amazing and was comfortable as a couch, however for me it was not that comfortable as a bed. I did change it into the couch format on the following sea day to see how the room looked, it does give you a lot more space in the room and I did end up even having a nap on it when it was setup as a couch that afternoon. You can request the bed to be made up as a couch each morning should you choose on the tablet in your stateroom.

My Bed Setup as a Couch in my Sea Terrace on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

The tablet has a charging dock on the desk, where you’ll find a ship map (very useful for the first day or so as there are no maps around the ship or in the app). With the tablet you can control pretty well everything in your room including the lights, temperature, curtains and the tv. I was really impressed by the tv series and movie selection onboard and did watch a couple James Bond movies this cruise (this was the first cruise ever that I’ve spent time in my cabin watching a movie), it really was a comfortable space to relax in I felt. The tablet also has “moods” that you can set and this is where when you first arrive, you play the safety video from. It was probably the most entertaining safety video I’ve seen on a cruise ship and kind of reminded me of some fun airline safety videos I’ve seen in the past. Also at the desk area, you’ll find complementary water (I always had one jug of sparkling and still water) and this is refreshed as many times as you need it to be. Having something as simple as water included in your cabin is huge and something I really appreciated. I actually hope that other cruise lines follow suit. It’s a huge step towards being more sustainable. I also liked the fact that my goal was to drink at least four of the glass jars of water per day in addition to water I drank at meal times. You simply can order more through the tablet (along with extra towels, ice or cabin maintenance issues). They also had water bottle refilling stations throughout the ship, which again was so amazing. There is also a mini fridge, which I used to store my two bottles of “Rose Prosecco” that I brought onboard. Yes, you are allowed to bring two, 750ml bottles of wine onboard with you with no corkage fees. The balcony curtains are automated by either the tablet or the switch on the wall, the sheer curtains are manual. The balcony or “Sea Terrace” had two metal chairs (which were not comfortable), a side table and a hammock. I loved the hammock on the balcony on the Scarlet Lady. It was so comfortable to lay out on and enjoy. I actually read a book for a couple hours on one of the sea days out on the hammock and really took full advantage of it. The Hammocks are another sustainability aspect to the Virgin Voyages cruise ships. The hammocks are a sustainability project by Virgin Voyages with Yellow Leaf Hammocks, which is a social enterprise that fosters women’s empowerment and community transformation in rural Thailand. My cabin also had a chair by the window and a “c-table”. My cabin was also the last “Sea Terrace” before the “Cheeky Corner Suite” and it did connect with that cabin. I was very happy that there was very minimal noise transfer as sometimes a connecting cabin can be quite noisy. Overall, except for the actual bed itself (it was just too firm for me), I really liked my Sea Terrace cabin on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady.

Sea Terrace on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

Dining on the Scarlet Lady

Virgin Voyages touts that their ships have twenty plus places to eat onboard their ships and they are all included in your cruise fare. Some of the restaurants do have some items on the menus that are upcharges, however you will find these very clearly listed. I did try to sample something at as many places as I could, however it was basically impossible on my five night Mayan Sol sailing to do this. The restaurants I ate at were The Wake, Razzle Dazzle, Extra Virgin and Pink Agave. I also ate at The Galley (Virgin Voyages “Food Court”, buffet substitute), The Dock House, The Pizza Place and “Lick Me Til Ice Cream”. I unfortunately had a reservation for The Test Kitchen, however due to my food allergies I was recommended against it as they couldn’t accommodate me easily, which I was totally fine with. I also decided against “Gunbae” which was the Korean BBQ restaurant as they would have sat me at a table with at least four strangers. I personally wasn’t comfortable with this as I was being extra careful due to the pandemic, so I skipped Gunbae this cruise as well. I will say that the food onboard the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady was probably the best I’ve experienced on a “contemporary cruise line (Celebrity, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, etc)”. Further to that, some of the meals I had were better than some food I’ve had in specialty restaurants on other cruise lines. If you are a foodie, you will be in foodie heaven sailing on Virgin Voyages. One of my cruise travel tips is I typically ask for small portions. In many of the restaurants they were happy to accommodate this or they assured me that certain things I was ordering were already smaller portion sized. Even the food at the Bimini Beach Club was really good (I’ll go through that down further in the blog). Let’s go through each dining experience separately:

The Wake

I had dinner here at The Wake once and also tried The Wake for breakfast and lunch. The Wake, named for it’s location over looking the wake at the aft of the ship, was definitely one of my favourite restaurants onboard the Scarlet Lady. I ate at The Wake for dinner the first night. I had the Clam Chowder to start as an appetizer, my main was the Filet Minion cooked to a perfect “medium rare”, served with roasted garlic and the sides I chose were the twice baked potatoes and the asparagus. I personally loved my dinner meal and I prefer my food not overly salted as I don’t eat a lot of salt at home. I have read reviews that some felt the food was bland, however I thought everything was seasoned perfectly to my personal taste. I did also try the bread and it was so good. For dessert I had the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake which was presented beautifully. It was light and fluffy in texture and tasted amazing.

Dinner Menu at The Wake on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Dinner Menu at The Wake on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Clam Chowder with Bread
Dessert Menu at The Wake on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

The following morning I did try The Wake for breakfast at 8:00am, however the menu says “Brunch”, which can be confusing for some when it comes to opening hours. I ordered the Poached Shrimp to start which was again presented so well (tasted great as well) followed by a half portion of “The Wake” Eggs Benedict and the Brioche French Toast. The service was a bit of a miss in the morning, I didn’t receive a refill on my coffee once my meal was finished, the staff never came by afterwards again. I will say that I did experience a couple serves lapses on my sailing, however I knew that the ship was experiencing some crew turnover at this point as crew contracts were ending. It never really effected me in a true negative way, however there just were a couple little things that were noticeable and I just wanted to be honest in my review.

Brunch Menu at The Wake on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Brunch Menu at The Wake on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

I ate at The Wake for lunch the day of Costa Maya and again had the Poached Shrimp as a starter and had the Hangar Steak as my lunch main. The Wake serves a Lunch menu that starts at 12:00pm. They did make a slight error in my order and gave me more fries than salad, I had asked for the other way around, more salad than fries. The service again lacked here as it took quite awhile to be checked in on after finishing my meal, in fact, I wasn’t, I actually walked out. So I didn’t order any brunch/lunch desserts here, even though I really wanted to try the “Crepe Cake”. Guess I’ll have to cruise Virgin Voyages again.

Lunch Menu at The Wake on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady is… you guessed it… Italian cuisine. Extra Virgin is probably my absolute favourite restaurant onboard Virgin Voyages. I actually ate here twice for dinner during my cruise. My first meal at Extra Virgin was on “Day 2” of my cruise.

Dinner Menu at Extra Virgin on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

I started with the Crispy Artichoke and the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio. Both appetizers were great, but the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio was amazing. This was my favourite dish I ate on the Scarlet Lady. The flavours were amazing. I then tried the Affettati Misti (which was a chef’s choice charcuterie board). I did have to make a few adjustments due to allergies, but they accommodated me and it was still delicious with the selections I was given. For my “pasta course” I had a small portion of the Potato Gnocchi served with Mushrooms and a Truffle Butter Sauce. I love truffles so this was again, another favourite dish. All the breads and pastas are made onboard daily and the gnocchi were pillows of perfection. For my main course I had the Porcini-Rubbed New York Strip cooked medium rare, which was served with Calabrian Chili Butter, Farro and Sautéed Escarole. I actually tucked into it before taking a photo or video as it looked so good and I was thoroughly enjoying my meal. For dessert I had the Ricotta Bomboloni and a small Affogato with a Whiskey Crema Gelato and of course topped with espresso. They also served me a shot of Lemoncello as a complementary aperitif.

Dessert Menu at Extra Virgin on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

My second meal here was the last night onboard. As I didn’t have a reservation, I was seated at a “communal high top” table at the rear of the restaurant. The table thankfully wasn’t packed, however there were some issues with the “checks” and I did have two bar drinks appear on my onboard account that were not mine. If I were to do this again, I would have waited for a proper table to myself again to avoid the issues with orders and the drinks. I again had the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio, and this time the Braised Mini Meatballs to start and for my mains I had two small portions of pasta. The Potato Gnocchi again and this time tried the Bucatini Carbonara. I also had the Ricotta Bomboloni again for dessert as it was so good.

Razzle Dazzle

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you will have no problems whatsoever eating onboard Virgin Voyages. In fact I had several vegan and vegetarian dishes onboard this sailing and loved every one I tried. Razzle Dazzle is the plant forward based restaurant onboard. Anything on the menu that has fish or meat in it is considered on the “naughty list”.

I ate here at Razzle Dazzle on the Scarlet Lady twice, once for lunch/brunch and once for dinner. My first meal was lunch on day two. I started off with a Smoked Cheddar Jalapeño Croissant, which was so yummy, followed by the amazing Mushroom “Tartare” which was a flavour bomb and vegan! For lunch I did try the Fried Chicken Sandwich from the “naughty list” which had a Beet Aioli and a “Black Bun”, I had it with a green salad and a side of their “Smoked Bacon” which is served in a cup. The bacon is so good, it has a sweetness to it and it’s so crispy. The chicken sandwich actually wasn’t my favourite dish, but it wasn’t terrible. I just found it to be a bit dry personally. I finished off my lunch with dessert with the “Razzle Cake” which was again, delicious and one of my favourite desserts I tried onboard.

Breakfast and Lunch Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Breakfast and Lunch Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Breakfast and Lunch Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Breakfast and Lunch Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

I ate dinner here at Razzle Dazzle as we departed Costa Maya, so on day three. It is a different menu than what is served for breakfast and lunch. I again had the Mushroom “Tartare”, again which was vegan and the Melon Salad to start. For my main I had the Heirloom Squash Ravioli served with mountain huckleberries and arugula (due to allergies, I asked for the chestnuts to be removed which they were able to do). This was so good and I actually kicked myself I asked for a smaller portion. My dessert tonight was the Rainbow Churros which was served with Ube ice cream (yes, sweet potato ice cream) and a strawberry caramel sauce. Move over Disneyland churros… These churros were good and the ice cream was really good, definitely not what I expected sweet potato ice cream to taste like! Overall, all my meals at Razzle Dazzle on the Scarlet Lady was really enjoyable.

Drinks Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Dinner Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Dinner Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Dinner Menu at Razzle Dazzle on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

Pink Agave

Pink Agave on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady is a Mexican inspired restaurant. When it came to the restaurants on the Scarlet Lady, Pink Agave was unfortunately my least favourite of the ones I tried. It was more so the actual vibe of the restaurant I didn’t like and where I was sat. I travel alone, and prefer to be sat in a corner or somewhere less conspicuous. Here I was sat at a weird table location in a very busy area. Anyways, it put me in a situation that it just wasn’t comfortable for me personally. The food however was good.

Dinner Menu at Pink Agave on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Dinner Menu at Pink Agave on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady
Dinner Menu at Pink Agave on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady

For starters I did have the Guacamole and the Esquites which is Grilled Corn with a Spicy Aioli and Lime. I also ordered from the “Medium Plates” the Enchilada de Pollo which are two small enchiladas which I would actually say is more of a small plate. Plates here are served more “family style”, so if you are eating alone, make sure to order smaller portions. For my main course I had the Cochinita Pibil which is Achiote Marinated Smoke Pork with a Sour Orange Habanero Pico de Gallo. It’s also served with flour tortillas to eat them as tacos. It was really good! For dessert I had the “Chocolate Tacos” served with a cherry sauce. Again, the food at Pink Agave is great, I just didn’t like where I was seated for dinner and made my experience uncomfortable.

The Galley

I ate here several times throughout my cruise as it was very easy and convenient for coffee and light breakfasts/quick snacks as my cabin was a few decks below at the aft. I’d also have to walk right by it to go up to The Perch for my morning yoga and mindfulness classes, so on the way back down to my cabin I’d grab a cup of coffee or two. I did try a few of the eateries here including “Let’s Taco About It”, “The Bento Baby”, “The Sweet Spot”, “Hot Off The Press” and the “Burger Bar”. They also have a “Quickeze” grab and go, which has salads, wraps and my personal favourite were the charcuterie to go boxes. I had a couple of these up on my balcony while enjoying some Prosecco in the hammock. 

The Pizza Place

A cute, trendy place to grab a pizza for lunch or late night after hitting the Manor night club. There is seating here indoors and out on the promenade deck. There is also a cute, Instagramable place to sit inside with the saying “You Wanna Pizza Me?” on the wall. I tried the “Pretty Fly For A White Pie” which was mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, roasted garlic and oregano. It was really good. The only thing I wish is that they also served some Italian salads like a caprese salad here. The pizza was really good and was a perfect size for a snack. You can also take your pizza to go! 

The Dock House

Located on Deck 7 at the aft of the ship, The Dock House was one of my favourite places to relax. If you’re lucky enough to find a place to sit out here, it’s a great place to relax and take in the views, especially while sailing on a sea day. Here they serve mezze and tapas style Mediterranean plates. My favourite dishes here were the Grilled Shrimp, the Hangar Steak, Grilled Polenta, the Watermelon Salad and the Beetroot Hummus. Depending how the ship is situated, it can be hard to find a seat in the shade and also the outdoor area can get quite busy in the afternoon.

The indoor area of The Dock House was really relaxing and had a great vibe. They typically had live music here in the evenings. 

Lick Me Till Ice Cream

Most gelato shops on other cruise lines are an additional cost. The fact this place was included was a huge plus in my books. They have a few different flavours of waffle cones to choose from including regular, red velvet (my favourite) and salted blue corn. My favourite gelato flavours were the “Brown Butter Financier, Key Lime Pie and Strawberry Malted Milkshake”. 

Room Service

There is also room service available called “Ship Eats” for a delivery charge of $5 USD. Apparently if you order an alcoholic drink with your meal they waive the delivery fee. I personally didn’t order the Ship Eats room service. I did bring some items and snacks back to my room such as Pizza from the Pizza Place in a to go box and charcuterie from the grab and go sections throughout the ship. 

Fitness Classes on the Scarlet Lady

I have to be honest, this was actually the first cruise that I left lighter than I boarded. My goal was to take advantage of all the different fitness and wellness activities that I could. The gym onboard the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady was the best gym I’ve ever seen onboard a cruise ship.

Not to mention that all the group fitness classes onboard are included with your cruise fare on Virgin Voyages. Again, something that is an additional cost on most other cruise lines. I did a Sunrise Yoga session each morning up on The Perch, usually followed by either a guided meditation or breathing class. I also tried out a Barre class, a 80’s VHS workout class in The Manor night club one afternoon and a “Bungee” class. One of the Yoga classes (the last one in Miami) was held indoors due to rain.

There were so many other classes to choose from including HIIT classes, boxing, spinning, TRX and rolling. You could also hire a personal trainer at an additional cost for one on one training sessions or classes. The wellness aspect alone has me sold on Virgin Voyages from now on. I loved it and didn’t feel as guilty sampling all the food I did eat on this sailing.

Pools on the Scarlet Lady

This is where I hope future Lady Ships do get an upgrade. The pool area onboard the Scarlet Lady in my opinion is small. I personally like to do laps in a pool. In this pool it is impossible to actually swim, it’s more of a “hangout” spot. The other surprise to me was the circular pool with an “x” in it, I was expecting it to be hot, it was not. It was really a cool “chill out” pool with jets. The two hot tubs here didn’t have jets, which I found extremely strange as that’s why I like to enjoy a hot tub, the jets on my back. The only two hot tubs that had jets that were accessible to regular sailors (not counting Richard’s Rooftop, you need to be a VIP or Rock Star to access) was up on Deck 16 at the aft of the ship. Again, the pool and whirlpool situation on the Scarlet Lady is really quite disappointing and good luck trying to use them on a sea day.

Adults Only “By Design”

This is actually a huge draw for me towards Virgin Voyages as a cruise line. I typically travel solo. I don’t have kids and sometimes get very annoyed on cruises when I come across certain types of families onboard ships. I’ve eaten in restaurants where the children are throwing food on the floor in the main dining room and the parents sit there and do nothing. I’ve been enjoying what is supposed to be an “adults only” pool or area on a cruise ship when a family strolls in and allows their kids to run wild. I’m not against kids. However I’m against parents that allow their children to behave badly and get away with it. For me, Virgin Voyages is an answer and a viable option. It was so nice to not hear screaming children in a dining room or not be splashed by the pool by kids jumping into water when they aren’t supposed to be. Believe me, I don’t hate kids haha. But the adults only concept of Virgin Voyages was a breath of fresh air. That being said, in some ways it brought you back to being a kid. The free and included arcade (again usually an additional charge on other cruise lines) was amazing and brought me back to some of my childhood games and I didn’t have to feel bad about harassing an 8 year old that it was my turn. At the Social Club they had games available usually every afternoon into the evenings. Yes there’s the chess, Life, Candy Land and other traditional board games available, but also Cards Against Humanity and other options typically not seen on other family friendly cruise lines. Social Club also had sweet treats, boozy milkshakes, cake pops, red licorice and gummy bears. The staff are also super friendly and I’m so happy that Virgin Voyages is such an inclusive cruise line. Typically on cruise lines staff have to hide tattoos by wearing long sleeved uniforms or with band-aids, etc, they are not allowed piercings other than one in each ear, regular hair colours and the most important one is around body types. Yes, most other cruise lines will only hire certain bods types aka people who are thin! It’s actually a form of discrimination, but also not to “offend” cruise ship guests who are very conservative. Because Virgin Voyages hires people of all types, the staff’s unique personalities come through and it makes the experience that much more enjoyable. Again, because of some thought process that we have become accustomed to as a society, “you probably couldn’t get away with that on a family friendly ship”. Insert eye roll here. Again, I’m glad to see the inclusivity onboard Virgin Voyages and it makes me so happy to see the progress that they are making in this regard. I will also say that the music that was played around the ship, if there was explicit lyrics, it was played or said. Again, keeping to the adults only vibe. Which brings me to the entertainment onboard…

Entertainment on the Scarlet Lady

Again one of the things that had extremely mixed reviews onboard the Scarlet Lady was the entertainment. Honestly, I was extremely pleasantly surprised by the entertainment and really enjoyed the shows I saw. The very first night was obviously the “Sail Away” Party, which on our sailing complementary sparkling wine was free flowing for an hour and a half! Yes, free sparkling wine. The band playing during the sail away party was AMAZING, playing covers of Michael Jackson, Bruno Mars, Stevie Wonder, Bobby Brown and other great songs which I had an awesome time dancing and singing along to the music while the sun set over the Miami skyline.

Later that evening I watched the “Untitled Dance Party Show Thing” (yes, it’s really called that). It actually set the tone of the cruise in my opinion. The host of the show was a “talking cat” on the video screens, who kept reiterating “don’t be an asshole”. Fitting for how you should act on a cruise lol. It was a very random show (like very random), but I loved it. From watching the dance troop perform very contemporary dances to getting involved with the Electric Slide, the Macarena and even the Hokey Pokey. I was laughing so hard at times my, abs hurt. There’s a few other surprises, but needless to say it’s not your typical cruise entertainment and I can see why some people wouldn’t like it.

Later that evening, they even hosted a “Pajama Party” out on Deck 16, I did skip this as I was just too tired. The other show I watched was “Dual Reality” in The Red Room. This show brought acrobatics to a very interesting modern take on Romeo and Juliet. This show is VERY impressive and highly suggest watching it onboard. This is probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen on a cruise ship and that says a lot.

There was another show called “Never Sleep Alone” which I didn’t get to see it as my dinner ran late that evening. Scarlet Night was another very random evening. Unfortunately on our cruise, the night they hosted Scarlet Night it was very windy out on the pool deck, so it didn’t progress that far and was held mostly indoors. It went from a dance performance party, to a photo booth, to being roped into playing “Charades for Champagne”. I did start to feel a bit uncomfortable as it was packed inside (absolutely no social distancing) once everyone had finished dinner and no one was wearing a mask except for the crew, so I headed back to my cabin and called it a night.

Around the ship there was lots of live entertainment in various venues including “pop up entertainers” that would do pop up, roaming shows around the ship. These entertainers also performed at the “Bonfire” at the Bimini Beach Club. They had various game shows that were ice cream based, bingo and trivia. So there was usually always something happening entertainment wise. 

Daily Activities and Things To Do Onboard The Scarlet Lady

Again, Virgin Voyages is not your typical cruise line. Your room steward doesn’t deliver the next day’s schedule to your stateroom in the evening. You will find the entire cruise’s schedule in the app, on a few of the TV screens around the ship or you can pick up a printed copy at Sailor Services. I enjoyed some of the makeup classes held at the “Makeup Porthole” which is the first MAC and currently the only MAC store at sea. Around the ship, you’ll find many places to take Instagram worthy photos inducing the entrance to the Manor, up on Deck 17 at the “Save Water, Drink Champagne” sign, the large net at the back of the ship on Deck 16 and other areas around the ship. There were plenty of things to do if you wanted to be busy, but there were also gaps in the programming. I’m not sure if this is a current pandemic issue or if it’s just what Virgin intended. There is a casino onboard, however I didn’t visit it as casinos aren’t my jam. As a solo traveller, there is no “solo traveller meet up” or any other meet ups for that matter. So you really have to be comfortable sticking to yourself or being social at the bars and clubs. Thinking about getting a tattoo? Squid Ink is the first and only tattoo parlour at sea! Yup, there is a tattoo shop on Virgin Voyages Lady Ships! Believe me I was thinking of getting one, but perhaps next time. 

Lots of places to take some great photos for Instagram.

Redemption Spa and the Thermal Suite

I’ll be honest, I typically always buy a thermal pass when I’m sailing on a ship. I love these relaxed spaces, however the thermal suite on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady confused me. I did the tour on the first day to “sus” it out. The Redemption Spa Thermal Suite costs $70 USD per person per day, however included with some suite categories. Is it worth it? Not in my opinion. The sauna, steam rooms and salt room are all great. However the “heated marble slabs” are heated to a very low temperature and I found it to be very uncomfortable to lay on as they weren’t contoured to fit your spine’s curve. Also, the lack of a hydrotherapy pool with jets and again only ONE tiny hot tub that would barely fit two people (again no jets), was really disappointing to see. Something that needs to be addressed on future ships in their designs and even possibly a future refit onboard the Scarlet Lady. 

Sailor Services

Here on Deck 5 is basically Guest Services but renamed. They are very helpful and I did have an issue on my last morning when I saw that there was a couple drinks charged to my account that were not mine. You can chat with Sailor Services through the app which makes things very easy. Again this is actually a cruise tip of mine, always check your onboard account, sometimes there can be errors and it’s always easier to deal with these things onboard than after your cruise when you get home. Typically I like to review my account on the last evening which I did, however this error showed up after I had went to sleep on the last evening. I’ll also mention that the shops are only open for about half an hour on the last night (if your last stop is Bimini Beach Club before Miami) for only about 30 mins. So if you did buy something and had an issue or want to buy something, I’d highly suggest doing that on your second to last day.

Cruise Stops on our Voyage

On my sailing we had two sea days and stops in Costa Maya, Mexico and Bimini, Bahamas. I didn’t do any of Virgin Voyages “Shore Things” (what they call their shore excursions) as I wanted to really experience the Scarlet Lady as this was just a five night sailing.

Costa Maya. Mexico

It is a fair walk to Costa Maya from where the ships dock. I was glad I left the ship just after 9:00am, when our ship was cleared as it wasn’t too hot yet. On the way into Costa Maya I took some photos of the ship and I saw a very curious Brown Boobie.

Costa Maya is a very touristic port area. Once you enter, you will see a “Costa Maya” sign and the shore excursions meeting area to the right. If you continue to the left and enter the building, you will find a “duty free shop” and the entrance to the resort area. Here you will find the typical “cruise shops” such as jewelry stores, sunlight colour changing clothing, a pharmacy and many other tourist shops. There are some really nice places to relax here at Costa Maya, however to enjoy a beach chair you do need to buy a drink. That being said, the pools here are free to enjoy and you don’t need to purchase a drink to use the pools, just the chairs and cabanas. I will also say we had two other Royal Caribbean ships in port with us, so later in the day it was very busy in port.

Virgin Voyages Beach Club at Bimini

This was a highlight for me. I LOVED Virgin Voyages Beach Club at Bimini. There is an included shuttle that makes a couple stops at Resorts World at Bimini, obviously also including the Beach Club. I left the ship as soon as we had the all clear, around 9:30am. It was great as I had first pick of seats and could take some photos and videos of the Beach Club with little to no people in them.

I very easily secured myself a clamshell double lounger on “the quiet side”, where the pool bar was. The party pool was the north pool where the DJ booth was. This pool at one point was full of floats, for the ultimate floaty party.

The beach here was gorgeous. Unfortunately the swings were in disrepair during our sailing, but I can see how they were getting battered by the waves. Other than that, The Beach Club at Bimini was pristine and it was a vibe.

The food served for lunch and the late afternoon snacks were delicious. I loved the Lechon Asado, Caribbean Chicken with Coconut Curry, side of Rice and Beans and the Watermelon and Jicama Salad. There was also a West Indian Pumpkin Curry that was also good, however I preferred the other two dishes. All the plates were small so you could easily try all the different dishes if you wanted. For dessert the Rum Cake with Guava Sauce was heaven.

The included internet at the beach club worked great and even faster than some places on the ship (yes you get free wifi at their beach club when sailing with Virgin Voyages). The “basic bevvies” are also available at the beach club and are self service. At night, be sure to watch the sunset and take in the bonfires. They light up these huge metal globes with flames inside and really neat.

Later in the afternoon they have some different snacks including Crispy Cassava, Roasted Squash and Coconut Hummus and Tamarind Glazed Ribs. I swear you will not go hungry on a Virgin Voyages cruise.

The sunset on the beach here at The Bimini Beach Club was so beautiful. I can’t wait to cruise Virgin Voyages again one day in the Caribbean to visit Bimini Beach Club again in the future!

The Big Question: Is Virgin Voyages for Me?

Hopefully by now you can start to understand if Virgin Voyages is or isn’t for you. My experience was very different from others on the same sailing and even others I spoke with on the sailing before me. I think it depends on what you like to do on a cruise or what’s important to you. If you are more of a “conservative person” Virgin Voyages might not be for you. They promote that they are rebellious luxury and I think that is the best way to describe them. The food is really good. Like I said, probably better than most cruise lines I’ve tried thus far. 

What’s Included on Virgin Voyages?

Obviously your stateroom cabin category you booked, crew gratuities, “basic bevvies” (sodas, coffee, tea, some juices, still and sparkling water), unlimited group fitness classes, basic wifi (you could upgrade on the first day for $10 USD per day to be able to stream videos, I did upgrade for one day/24 hours for $15 USD to be able to do my PCR LAMP test to get back into Canada as I wanted to make sure I had a stable connection, I still FaceTimed with my Grandmother on the basic internet) and all your meals at over 20+ eateries. 

Disembarkation – Leaving the Scarlet Lady

It’s always a sad day when you have to leave a ship. The day before you leave the ship, you’ll be able to select what time you would like to get off the ship, up to a departure time of 10:30am. I was able to select a 10:15am departure time in the app. That being said, if you wanted to leave at whatever time, it seemed you could as long as you were out of your stateroom by your booked time and off the ship by 10:30am. I had breakfast in The Galley and relaxed. It did seem that most people had departed the ship by around 9:00am. If you did want your luggage taken off the ship for you, you needed to have your luggage outside your door by 10:00pm the night before and still have your original luggage tags on them. If you needed new luggage tags, be sure to visit Sailor Services before 9:00pm as there was quite a line. To leave the ship it’s very quick and easy, you scan your band and walk down the gangway. You then pick up your luggage and clear US customs and leave the terminal. Disembarkation took about twenty minutes from leaving the Scarlet Lady to ordering my Lyft back to the Miami International Airport.

In Conclusion

What I really enjoyed about the Virgin Voyages cruise was that you can make it what you want it to be and it’s 100% adults only. It can be party party or super chill and wellness focused. It’s like a “choose your own adventure” but for adults. 

Will I sail on Virgin Voyages again? Heck yes! I actually loved the cruise overall. While I do hope that they make changes to the mattresses on the beds, I will sail on Virgin Voyages again in a heartbeat. I loved the food, the crew and the wellness aspects onboard. I’m personally looking at a Mediterranean itinerary with Virgin Voyages on the Valiant Lady in the Summer of 2023. 

As a luxury travel advisor my clients typically receive added benefits when booking vacations, hotel stays and cruises through me. I’d love to work with you as your travel advisor, click here to contact me for more information.

Here’s my YouTube video featuring Day 1 – Boarding the Scarlet Lady:

Here’s my YouTube video on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady featuring Day 2 – Day at Sea:

Here’s my YouTube video on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady featuring Day 3 – Costa Maya, Mexico:

Here’s my YouTube video on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady featuring Day 4 – Day at Sea:

(Coming Soon – January 30th, 2022)

Here’s my YouTube video on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady featuring Day 5 – Bimini Beach Club:

(Coming Soon – February 6th, 2022)

Here’s my YouTube video on the Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady featuring Day 6 – Leaving the Ship & My Cruise Recap

(Coming Soon – February 13th, 2022)

One thought on “Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review

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