Cruising, but just a bit boujie: introducing the latest addition to the Virgin empire, Virgin Voyages.
The next generation of cruising is designed to keep you guessing, and driving the trend is Virgin’s luxury 17-deck ship, the Scarlet Lady. Excitingly, all notions of traditional ‘cruiser’ stereotypes have been stylishly torn to shreds. Outdated social climbing to the Captain’s Table is out, replaced with a smorgasbord of eatiers (20+, since you ask), ranging from the minimalist Test Kitchen to the vibrant and quirky Razzle Dazzle. Indulgence can be off-set with a HIIT class, track sprints, or a trip to one of three workout studios, all arguably better equipped than most high-end gyms. And the sustainability policy rivals the forefront of eco-warriors with zero single-use plastic on board and a ban on buffet-style dining to minimise food waste. Simply put, the Scarlet Lady has been designed to attract even the most reluctant cruiser.
I know this because I spent a night on-board the Scarlet Lady in Dover.
Tapping into the growing trend for immersive experiences, the Scarlet Lady voyage begins in the boarding area, complete with insta-ready props, walls adorned with inspirational quotes, and mini-sets. Because selfie. And the theme continues – our 5pm show was a Romeo & Juliet meets WestSide Story hybrid with audience participation, and drinks at the Loose Cannon came complete with sporadic table-dancing by the crew. To sum up? This could be a winner for the whole solo travel thang – the sense of community is unparalleled in landed travel, which is no mean feat considering there may be up to 2860 guests on board.
Our cabin was on the 12th deck (the elevator names each deck – not floor – as you go up, which I found unbelievably pleasing) with a sea-facing balcony equipped with red swinging hammock. It’s all everso on-brand. And on the subject of lounge equipment, I just need to pay homage to the next-level-cool bed situation. You see, upon entering our room we had an L-shaped sofa. Notably sans bed. Yet the time we had wined, dined, and tried out the Shake for Champagne app, the sofa had been transformed into a comfy double bed literally bursting with squishy pillows. And not an optical illusion because we’d over-shaken the app – this is a service that crew offer every day. Every. Single. Day. I call them bed fairies.
The highest you can go is the running track on deck 17 – and the views are incredible. You also get a birds-eye-view of the pool and much-revered hot tub, which I’m told is the biggest in the business. Bonus – size matters. Around the pool and overlooking the ocean are a series of lounging situations ranging from cabanas to open-fronted sheds, plus gazillions of traditional loungers. It’s all very Miami – especially the giant mermaid painted on the hull, which – sidebar – you can have permanently inked at the in-house tattoo parlour ‘Squid Ink’. First of it’s kind at sea and achingly millennial.
From start to finish, Virgin systematically shattered all my preconceptions about what a cruise would be like. This is an exciting new way to see the world and get your fill of adventurous, explorative travel. Every time I thought I’d seen everything the ship had to offer, I’d be told about another gym (all fitness classes are included in the price BTW), second plunge pool, or extra snack bar on the top deck… I’m confident that even the most active traveller would struggle to run out of things to do on-board. And the vast array of cuisines and activities means each experience will be unique. Basically, you can do as much or as little as you want – because if you fancy a lazy day lounging on your cabin’s private deck, that’s totally ok too. Virgin voyages have got you covered.
In light of the recent COVID-19 situation, Virgin Voyages has update its health & safety procedures to include industry-leading partnerships with EcoLab and AtmosAir Solutions. It is it vital any sailor read before booking. Check them out here.
Offers & Deals
Evergreen Value Proposition: Over $600 in value, On Virgin Voyages — Every sailing always includes dining at the 20+ eateries, all gratuities, free wifi, basic beverages, and unlimited group fitness classes.