I was not paid for content but my night onboard Scarlet Lady was complimentary.
‘Oh Ship! She’s Ready, You are invited to join Virgin Voyages on board Scarlet Lady…’ was the headline of the email… ok you’ve got me intrigued! As someone who had been on cruises from a young age, I’d had lots of experience of the ‘hotel at sea’ type holiday offered on board a cruise ship. But that was many years ago and not only has cruising changed a lot since then but this new cruise line from Richard Branson promised to shake things up even more.
First of all this ship is adults-only and it packed with adults-only fun things to do… that meant saying goodbye to Oscar for the night. Mr S agreed I could do with a night off and letting my hair down, so I enlisted my sister and off we went to Dover for the night. The port was a short shuttle ride from the station and there she was in all her bright red majesty, the Scarlet Lady, the first of four Virgin Voyages cruise ships.
Richard Branson first thought about starting a cruise line when he was in his twenties, so the launch of Scarlet Lady is the realisation of a dream. Forget your usual cruise cliches The Scarlet Lady promised to be a party ship for young people; there’s even a tattoo parlour (aptly named Squid Ink), drag queen brunches and not one kids club in sight… The ship isn’t set to visit the usual places either trips will be to beach clubs and places off the beaten track.
With 1,330 cabin, the ship is considered mid-sized. Our room was a Sea Terrace, which is a standard size cabin (there are also cabins of the same size with no terrace).
Honestly, I try to be as positive as possible on this blog, but this was not a great room. It was fitted out very cheaply – the idea of maximising space by using a sofa bed is not something that will suit everyone as many people might want to nap in the middle of the day. There is very little storage, nowhere to put a suitcase and a very tiny wardrobe, no bedside tables. The bathroom was also teeny tiny and there are no ‘basic luxuries’ such a toiletries, drinking water or bathrobes. Each cabin has a steward and I did ask ours for water and he bought in a carafe but I feel like this is something that should be placed in the room as standard. Also the plug sockets were European and American and there were no adaptors in the room for UK plug sockets. I feel like they should have at least warned us about this as I hadn’t bought an adaptor to charge my devices.
My sister and I quickly freshened up and headed out to the Red Room where we were booked in to see a show. The Red Room is the ship’s performance space, an intimate and flexible theatre that will set the scene for contemporary and immersive theatre. Jen and I took our seats in the front row anticipating the start and got talking to the man sitting next to me. We were deep in conversation when the music started, and dancers came out and then suddenly the man next to me jumped up and it turned out he was part of the show! He really had us fooled! Soon ‘Duel Reality’ unfolded, a modern take on Romeo and Juliet told through circus tricks, music and song. The show was brilliant and we witnessed the theatre transform several times throughout. If you were watching my Instagram stories you’ll know a performance artist yanked me up on stage without warning causing my camera to fall the floor and the lens to shatter, leaving broken glass on the floor… be warned to look after valuables if you’re going to this show!
We headed back to the room to glam up for the night and get ready for a night to remember!
There are twenty eateries onboard the ship, some are full sized restaurants for example Gunbae (the Korean restaurant) Razzle Dazzle (serving Vegan fare)and The Wake (a steak and sea food restaurant).
Some are smaller outlets such as The Pizza Place where we grabbed a snack before the show, Lick Me Til I Scream and the Grounds coffee shop. And then there’s the Galley, a food hall featuring eight shops and food carts each with a different concept… it was here we got our 1am burger and chips! One of the USPs of the ship is there are no buffets and the food concepts are better quality. I was divided in opinion when it came to the interior design of the spaces – in some places you could see the stylish Tom Dixon touches whereas others looks little basic and plastic.
We were lucky enough to be allocated The Test Kitchen – a gourmet restaurant that is part cookery school and part restaurant. The decor is stylish and we had a tasting menu of fantastic food, I was fortunate enough to run into a few friends so we had a brilliant dinner with Domenica, Blonde Flamingo and Claire and Laura from Twins that Travel.
After dinner there are multiple options for drinks and the Virgin have partnered with top mixologists to devise the cocktail menu. There’s the Draught House, On the Rocks, Loose Canon and my personal favourite SIP, the champagne bar. After grabbing a glass at SIP we headed back to the Red Room for UNTITLED, a dance party-cum-show that got the whole audience raving…
Next we took a pit stop at the ship’s casino but as there was no gambling for the night we actually had a game of Connect 4… our favourite childhood game.
With still so much energy we decided it was time to head to The Manor the ship’s two storey night club / bar to dance the night away to some cheesy tunes whilst drinking some more prosecco! Other unique entertainment spaces onboard include The Groupie, a private Kareoke room, and Vintage Vinyl, the onboard record shop.
With a night of partying under our belt perhaps the best place for us the next day was the spa! We didn’t have lots of time to sweat it out but we popped down to the Redemption Spa for a peek…
This was probably my favourite space on the ship with a slightly futuristic look and jacuzzi and steam rooms to relax in.
Wellness is set to be a major focus for Virgin Voyages and as well as the spa there’s a gym, a training camp, an outdoor running track, yoga and more.
Other spaces of note on the ship are the Aquatic Club, the hotel’s main pool deck – personally I thought the pool was far too small for a ship of this size.
And Gym and Tonic, a well being pool with a bar serving cold pressed juices.
Else where there’s a blow dry bar and men’s grooming area plus plenty of shops.
We took a sneak peak inside so of the other rooms before we left. The Mega Rock Star suites are much bigger spaces and of these the Massive Suite is the most indulgent with a huge terrace and hot tub and even a guitar / rock and roll room.
For a five night cruise these are £20,000. Honestly I was a little baffled by these suites as I’m not quite sure who they’re aimed at. If someone could afford that for a five night holiday, surely they’d choose a more luxurious ship, even a private yacht?
If you are considering booking a cruise with Virgin Voyages you do need to be aware that this is not a high end luxury cruise though five nights in the standard category room comes in at £1280, a night including food, basic beverages and WIFI. I think you can tell from my post that I personally wasn’t quite convinced by Virgin Voyages, however I know I’m not the target market, it’s aimed at a younger market looking to party the night away – not at someone with a young family. Having said that I had a brilliant night on board catching up with friends and though I missed little O, it was amazing to be reunited with him after 24 hours!