A Candid Review of My First Cruise w/ Virgin Voyages
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Virgin Voyages has been making waves in the cruise industry since its launch in 2019. With a focus on creating unique experiences for travelers, Virgin Voyages offers an array of amenities on board their ships. From a tattoo parlor to a record shop, Virgin Voyages strives to offer something for everyone–as long as you’re 18+. Yes, the cruise line is adult-only, and that is one of its primary selling points. In this post, I detail the highlights of my experience aboard the Scarlet Lady, one of Virgin Voyages’ four ships.
As a wellness destination planner, I was immediately drawn to Virgin Voyages gym and spa offerings. I booked my first cruise on the Scarlet Lady, which sailed directly after the Limitless Voyage curated by JLo. My son and I flew into Miami, Florida, from Texas one day before our cruise departure, which gave us extra time to explore Miami.
I booked us in an upscale but affordable boutique hotel, Yotel Miami, which was about two miles away from Virgin Voyages Terminal V. The hotel was located close to the Metromover rail, city buses, and the free city trolley. The day of our sailing, my son and I made our way to Virgin Voyages cruise terminal. As a travel agent, I make it a priority to explore various ways to get around different destinations, so to get to Virgin’s Terminal V, we took the Coral Way, a free trolley in downtown Miami that stops at the cruise terminal and goes all the way to Terminal V. Virgin Voyages crew members were also on the trolley on their way to welcome “sailors” (Virgin Voyages passengers) and board the Scarlet Lady.
We arrived at the terminal a little over an hour early, and while we waited to line up for boarding, the Virgin crew offered us free shuttle rides to and from Bayside, an area of the cruise port with shops and food. The shuttle accommodated around 15 adults and had room for luggage.
While at Bayside, we ate at a mainstream chain restaurant and explored the mall. By the time we returned to Terminal V, we were able to get in line to board the ship. Boarding took between 30-40 minutes, and check-in was easy.
Tip: Currently, Virgin Voyages requires all passengers to have a valid passport that is not within six months of expiring post-voyage.
The party atmosphere Virgin Voyages is known for started the moment we got through passport checks. The crew danced and made loud, enthusiastic pep announcements before we boarded. The deck of the ship we entered on (Deck 7), led to shops and few eateries. This led to most people opting to eat at the nearest (and easiest to navigate to) restaurant, The Pizza Place. The restaurant had limited seating, and this created an awkward clustering of people minutes after stepping on board. This introductory experience was a preview of the week to come: confusion on how to navigate the ship.
Our cabin was ready after we finished eating at The Pizza Place. The moment we opened the cabin door, the curtains to the balcony opened automatically. The infotainment touch pad was handy, and the movie offerings were decent. The Band, assigned to us pre-boarding, worked like a champ when it came to accessing our cabin and making purchases. Lastly, my Ship Eats delivery was my best-tasting food on board.
Real Guests vs Virgin Voyages Marketing
Marketing videos and materials for Virgin Voyages show a diverse crowd of people on their ships, and that is true to life. People of all sexual orientations, ages (I’ll return to this), races, etc., were ready to dance, drink, get in a hot tub, and lounge in the sun or at one of the bars or hangout spots on board.
As hinted at above, I ran into just one unwelcome sticking point while on board. Oddly, while Virgin Voyages caters to people 18+, if you actually look 18 or in your early twenties, you will get a lot of stares from other guests. I’m not sure why this was a thing, but after Scarlet Night (the second night of the cruise) my son, who looks about seventeen but is years above eighteen, felt very out of place and didn’t want to leave the cabin for a while. He pulled it together the following day and made the best of it for the remainder of the cruise. But how young we both look was commented on more than once; this meant at every reserved restaurant, people stared at us. Maybe people wondered how we afforded the cruise?
I’m honestly at a loss as to why we stuck out like such a sore thumb. As a lifelong wellness practitioner, abstaining from alcohol and staying out of the sun is great for antiaging, but I don’t like being gawked at for it, and for being such a socially inclusive line, I was surprised by how uncomfortable my son was made to feel merely because of how young he looks. I know Virgin Voyages is not at fault for the behavior of its guests, so that was just an unfortunate experience on our sailing. Other cruise lines that aren’t adult-only have kids (actual kids) on board, and therefore seeing a young-looking person is not a big deal.
The shows on board are creative, fresh, celebrate focus on only sub or counterculture, and one popular show, Dual Reality, is a new take on the classic Romeo and Juliet. Pop-up entertainment was also around on board, which was often singers and dancing crew members. Compared to other cruise entertainment I’ve seen, Virgin Voyages is equal to or in some ways more entertaining than entertainment on other cruise lines. In addition to creative theatrical shows, great large-screen technology is also incorporated in a number of Virgin Voyages shows.
Virgin Voyages recently won a best dining award by Cruise Critic. The week we sailed, the flavor quality was not there, however. I wish it was because I was really looking forward to a tasty meal, since the quality of food everywhere seems to have been declining lately. I’m not sure why most meals I had on board lacked flavor or in some cases lacked something as simple as salt. I like to believe my experience was a fluke because many guests continue to praise the food on Virgin Voyages. My theory is the food lacked flavor because our cruise directly followed a major celebrity sailing. Maybe they ran out of salt—and sugar, and all seasonings? Lastly, on debarkation day, the coffee was very weak, and crew members brushed it off, making it clear that they were done servicing us, even though we had not debarked yet. Duly noted.
Gunbae on Scarlet Lady - Virgin Voyages - IG
I booked the Fire & Sunset Soirées itinerary, which sailed to Key West then Beach Club Bimini, Bahamas, and finally returned to Miami. Key West had great excursion options and many tourist-oriented places to explore. Bimini, Bahamas, is a narrow strip of land with some excursion offerings and shops that were closed during our stop on the island. Virgin Voyages Beach Club Bimini is toward the end of Bimini island and is set up for lounging, ocean swimming, and partying in large pools. I unfortunately missed the planned bonfires because I returned to the cruise ship early. I’m sure the bonfires were beautiful. See the video below for images of Beach Club Bimini.
Beach Club Bimini
While the Fire & Sunset Soirées sailing was brief and within the eastern Caribbean, Virgin Voyages sails to many locations, with some exciting, bucket-list-worthy destinations. Some popular itineraries take sailors to Greece, Australia, and Dubai.
See all Virgin Voyages Itineraries.
Will I Sail Virgin Again?
Virgin Voyages is a new cruise line aiming to fill a gap in the cruise market that will accommodate sexy, fitness- and wellness-oriented adults who love great food, group gatherings, relaxation, and drinking. To me, as a lifelong fitness-oriented person, a couple of those things don’t go together, or at least there should be more spaces to keep some things apart. I prefer activities outside of the bars and lounges I found on board the Scarlet Lady. However, for lounge and bar-goers, the ship had a gaming area as part of The Social Club for quizzes and group games. The Groupie, a karaoke lounge, was also a great feature of the ship. I enjoyed making people’s ears bleed as I sang Stricken by Disturbed and other songs far out of my range of vocal capabilities.
Overall, Virgin Voyages is a great fit for bar and lounge lovers, sub and counterculture enjoyment, wellness experiences. Virgin Voyages is a new cruise line, and I know there is a lot in store for the future. Don’t let the bumpy points of my first Virgin Voyage experience stop you from trying this new cruise line.
All said, I’d be happy to sail on a Virgin Voyage again. Travel can sometimes be trial and error. The fun of it lies in exploration and what the experiences teach you about yourself.
As an athlete for over 19 years and a broke single mom for most of that time, I created brokesinglemomfitness.com, now LLAFIT.com, to aid anyone who believes the road to fitness requires a lot of cash or time. In reality, the way to fitness is paved with knowledge and firm principles; teaching readers how to master both is the goal of this site. LLAFIT – Lifelong Affordable Fitness