Updated: Dec 25, 2021
Spoiler alert: I enjoyed it!
From the moment I heard of Virgin Voyages, I was enthusiastic about the cruise line, and I was scheduled to be on one of the earliest cruises in March of 2020. That was canceled, for obvious reasons. Finally, in December 2021, I have recently disembarked from a 5-night cruise on Scarlet Lady. In case you are not aware, Virgin Voyages started with a mission to do things differently from other cruises. At some point, they asked people what they liked and disliked about cruising, and that influenced the design of their experience.
There are a few things that stood out to me as I anticipated the cruise. I knew that it would be adults only, and they call it “adult by design.” They also did away with the buffet and replaced it with what they call The Galley, which is sort of a food hall concept. Virgin Voyages also made a point to publicize that there would be no “nickel & diming,” so gratuities are included, all dining is included, and wifi is included.
On board, I felt that they have succeeded in accomplishing what they set out to do, and I had a great time. I thought a few of times about what a feat it was to not only start a new cruise line but also to do it in a different way. I also thought that it might be the perfect time to do such a thing, considering the change that has happened in the world since 2020. Many people have rethought what is important to them, and they are embracing life and other humans in new ways.
Having said that, Virgin Voyages creates a very open and accepting atmosphere. This is true for crew, as well as sailors (aka passengers), and I am referring to tattoos, hairstyles, and clothing, as well as lifestyles. For those who embrace diversity and individuality, as well as those who either seek or are not bothered by an LGBTQ friendly environment, then Virgin Voyages would be an excellent choice. I think the point is for everyone on board to feel comfortable as themselves and to sail and have fun together.
I believe this also ties into the “adult by design” concept, which is Virgin’s wording for “adults only.” If ships had ratings like movies have, most cruises would be G or PG rated. Virgin Voyages would range from PG to R, depending on the time of day. This doesn’t mean it’s a “den of iniquity,” by any means. It just means that you may hear words or see things that you wouldn’t see or hear on other ships. It’s simply a more relaxed environment in this regard. Everyone on board is an adult and can choose their experiences.
The ship itself is beautifully designed throughout. Like any cruise ship, there are many different areas, and each is designed differently. For example, The Dock House has a light and airy nautical theme, while the Sip Champagne Bar is lush and posh, with velvet and copper accents. The Roundabout is the name for the central atrium area, with a large spiral staircase that leads to The High Street (shops), a bar/performance space, and even an area with an arcade and photo booth.
My stateroom was also beautifully designed. Honestly, judging from photos and renderings, I was concerned that I wouldn’t like it, but it was a very comfortable space to call home for a few days. The actual room, a Sea Terrace cabin, was spacious and luxurious feeling. The bed was comfortable, the tablet was handy (controls temperature, lighting, and television), and the storage was functional. The bathroom was small but well designed and functional. Although the shower was quite small, a rainfall shower head was a major plus.
The food is what I give the most rave reviews. Not only are there 20+ eateries on board, but they are all quite good! Of those eateries, I think six are actual restaurants. Pink Agave (Mexican), The Wake (steakhouse), Razzle Dazzle (veggie forward), The Test Kitchen (molecular gastronomy), Extra Virgin (Italian) and Gunbae (Korean steakhouse) are the restaurants, and each has a completely different atmosphere. I had dinner in each restaurant, except Razzle Dazzle, and I had lunch there. I had an excellent experience in each place! The remaining eateries serve food such as poké, sushi, tacos, diner food, ice cream, desserts, salads, and more. There truly is something for everyone.
My only complaint with dining is the way I was dealt with as a solo sailor. Reservations were necessary for dinner, so my reservation showed that I would be dining alone. It would be nice if they had a table set for one so that when I arrived no questions were asked. Instead, I’d sit at the table set for two, and the server would have to ask if I was waiting for someone before clearing the other place setting. It’s not a big deal, but it’s a slightly awkward moment that could easily be eliminated.
The entertainment was interesting and unusual, and I felt that it was all done well. One of the least unusual things I heard onboard was the band that played at the sail away party. They played a variety of high energy music that would appeal to adults (classic rock, R&B, etc.), and it was fantastic! Phantom Folktales is a group that is part of a theatre company, and they did a variety of things. When I first saw them, they were in The Dock House playing an intimate concert of folky, bluegrass-ish music. It was really lovely, and at other times, the same people could be found doing very bizarre things like walking around with umbrellas and flashlights or playing with kitchen utensils. Each night, a blues singer performed with his band in a lounge area near The Roundabout. It was always a fantastic, fun show!