Recently a fellow Travel Agent and I had the incredible fortune to partake in a sailing on the one and only Scarlet Lady. This is the first post in a series of posts I will be uploading as there is just too much good stuff to cram into just one post!
Let me start by saying I have been on a LOT of cruises, but never on Virgin Voyages. From the time of arrival at the Terminal right up until the disembarking I had to completely throw out everything I thought I knew about cruising!
My travel buddy Lesa and I arrived into Miami two days early and boy was I happy we did. Just as our plane was departing Toronto snow flakes started to fall in what we can only call the winter storm of the century.
The weather in Miami was not fantastic, but it wasn’t snowing so we were happy.
After a day running amok in the city, it finally came time to head to the port. Of course, it was absolutely pouring rain but we didn’t let that dampen our spirits.
Trying to get to the terminal proved to be an ordeal and a half – there had been a multi car pile up in the exit tunnel and traffic was backed up for miles. Our poor Uber driver was somewhat frustrated, understandably so, with the lack of forward momentum. Alas, we arrived at the terminal close to an hour after our scheduled check in.
The Virgin Voyages terminal is at the very end of the Port – right next to the exit ironically. As soon as we exited the Uber, we were warmly greeted and told to go right in. Stepping inside the terminal was a whole new shock to the system. Bright white and red everything, all shiny and new. Gorgeous, modern and sleek came to mind. We were whisked up the escalator and really only paused momentarily to figure out which line to be in. We did follow the instructions from Virgin to check-in in advance, and that saved a ton of time.
I was completely impressed with the number of workers diligently checking people in. This resulted in a painless process, and we had our wristbands and were stepping onto the gangway in no time at all.
Having done our research, we knew that the Boat House would have food and drinks for us so off we went. The food and vibe in there were equally fantastic. From polenta on a stick to skewers of shrimp, we tried it all.
While we nibbled and tried the Sangria (amazing) we watched the safety video and then checked in for our muster requirements. Bam. Just that easy.
Due to the pouring rain, the sail away party had to be moved indoors to the Central Atrium. As we strolled around we noticed a handful of staff dressed in what can only be described as “interesting” red overalls…some with the sleeves torn off, some with one leg cut off…etc. Well it turns out these are the Happenings Crew. In place of a traditional cruise director, Virgin uses the team to mingle and get to know the sailors. It was a really refreshing approach. It was also how we learned that you need to book your show seats as soon as you are at the port. It was too late for us – all of the shows were fully booked, but there was a waiting line for each.
Throughout the cruise, the biggest things that really stood out to me was how much more personable and intimate the sailing was. Fellow passengers were engaging, open and so very friendly. We almost instantly met a great set of friends and our “squad” continued to grow through the duration of the cruise.
As Virgin Voyages is an adults only cruise line, the vibe with the entertainment was definitely adult oriented. And we loved it. I highly recommend the show “Never Sleep Alone” with Dr Ashley. It was naughty in all the right ways and had us in stitches the entire show. One other MUST on the ship is the Drag Queen Bingo. Who would have though that bingo could be so much fun! Not to mention that the prizes were way higher than I have ever seen on any other cruise. And if you happen to call BINGO and it is not a good bingo you’ll have to ask Lesa what happens. She does not recommend trying it.
The food on the Scarlet Lady does require a whole post of its own – stay tuned for that.
Now on to What I Loved and What I Was Not a Fan of:
What I Loved
- The Food (more to come on that)
- The Clientele. We met some of the loveliest people at sea and for them I am so grateful. Joy, David, David, Alex, Andy, Jean, Lowell, Matthew and Anton thank you all for such a fantastic cruise!
- I loved the cabins. From the mood lighting, the tablet that controls everything, the selection of movies, to the hammock on the balcony this is how cabins should be.
- The whole embarkation process was just fantastic. Fast and efficient we were on our balcony in no time at all.
- The disembarkation was the best I have ever experienced. You pick a time to leave on the app and wait in your cabin until it is your time to go. No mass crush in the hallways and common areas.
- The elevators. Wow. The elevators are magic. The back wall of each one features a video screen depicting fish in the ocean.
- The Bar Tab. Virgin Voyages has figured out that not everyone drinks alcohol. They do not offer a drink package per se. Rather, they have swapped that for a Bar Tab. You purchase a tab before boarding and get a bonus amount. For example, if you buy a tab of $300 you get a bonus of $50. Now here is the kicker, not everyone in the cabin has to buy a Bar Tab. You are also able to buy drinks for others as well with your tab. Fantastic concept. The prices for drinks also include the gratuity so the price you see is the price you pay. Oh, and you can buy bottles of Prosecco all over the ship for a pretty decent price.
- The Arcade. Hidden away in a back corner is an arcade that is stocked with all sorts of classics like Ms Pac Man and Asteroids. And they are all free to play.
- Room Service. I have never seen such a wide variety of treats on a room service menu before. From gummy bears to chocolate covered pretzels to sandwiches they had it all. Tip: As long as you order a drink of some sort there is no charge for room service.
- Your ability to bring on one bottle of wine per adult (this comes in real handy when they close the bars way before you are ready to be tucked in).
What I Wasn’t a Fan of
- The App. While it is a great concept, it is super slow and crashed on the regular.
- The included Wifi. It was brutally slow.
- The Shows sold out in minutes. Granted, our sailing was the largest they had to date. There was a line you could wait in though at the shows, and we were able to get in to the ones we wanted to see.
- Same thing for the exercise classes. We were super excited to take the Bungee aerobics class but all of those also filled up in a jiffy. Remember with Virgin, the classes are included, so them being full was no surprise. There was no wait list for the classes so unfortunately we missed out on this.
- How early the bars closed. And the casino. Our little squad found it bizarre that the bars for the most part closed by midnight. We felt like toddlers being sent to bed early most nights. Not that it stopped us from staying up until all hours almost every night.
That is really all the bad I can come up with. Not to shabby at all.
Overall, I highly recommend Virgin Voyages to all cruisers that want something different or just want to escape kids.
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