Valerie Wilson Travel

Virgin Voyages

I was at the Valerie Wilson Travel Academy when I first sat down with Virgin Voyages and was intrigued by the new concepts that Virgin was implementing – no lines, no buffets, no keycards, a la carte bars, etc. As I know cruises can be great options for groups like multi-gen, milestone celebrations and bachelorette parties, my son and I hopped on Virgin’s kid-free Scarlet Lady for four days from Miami to see what the buzz was about. Scarlet Lady has thrown out the rule book of cruising and created an experience that is sleek, sexy and different than anything I have experienced before.

When we boarded, the first thing I noticed (thankfully) was the lack of fanfare. No dancers, no photographer to sell me my own photo later, nothing for sale. Just a nice welcome aboard.

Scarlet Lady

From the moment I stepped on the ship, it was apparent Virgin was targeting a different demographic. The Décor is modern, elegant, and sultry, with a vibe more reminiscent of an upscale hotel lobby than cruise ship. We stayed in a midship balcony room that featured a signature red hammock that is not only comfortable and a great position to watch the scenery pass, but beautiful to look at from the outside of the ship. The rooms are equipped with mood lighting that can be tailored to romance, picture and even a hangover setting. One thing that I really liked for groups is the ability to really separate the king size bed into two twins. Instead of being pulled two inches apart, one bed is rotated so the two beds form an L shape. This also gave us a lot more space in the room.

As pictured below, everyone onboard gets a band that serves as your room key and is also used for onboard purchases at the casino, bar and various other venues. This is perfect for groups as each person can easily keep track of their purchases instead of having to split a long bill. You can also keep the rope band after the cruise, which is a nice souvenir.


When it comes to nightlife, Virgin Voyages turns the typical Cirque Du Soliel-style entertainment on its head. There is an acrobat show that is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet and parties at night that are not obnoxious. The ship even had a tattoo parlor and glam station that is once again perfect for bachelorette parties. I did get a chance to stop by the gym and adjacent juice bar and thought it was nicely equipped for people who take their fitness seriously; in fact, one of the decks has an outdoor fitness playground. There were hurdles, weight lifting stations, even tire swings for adults to pass the time post-workout like a kid. There‘s a basketball, in case you like your workouts to be social and competitive.

Excursions were diverse, fun and seamless. They can be booked easily from the Virgin Voyages app – as can dining, spin bikes, and a spot in a morning yoga class. When in Bimini, we chose to go fishing. The excursion was easy to get to, not overbooked and provided us a nice and relaxing morning.


One of the biggest factors that sets Virgin Voyages apart from other major cruise lines has to be the dining experience. There is no main dining room or long-lined buffets, but instead, a series of restaurants ranging from Korean BBQ Gunbae, the Italian eatery Extra Virgin, and the incredible molecular gastronomy Test Kitchen where the mushroom course pictured below came from (seven kinds of mushrooms pulverized with milk). There is a 24 hour diner option where you can order classic eggs, bacon and hash browns (very New York of them) and various stations, all manned by staff, in The Galley alongside the reservation-only restaurants. There were two Intelligentsia Coffee bars and a few cocktail bars that are not included in the price. I liked that because you are guaranteed a good drink versus an open bar which can be hit or miss.

Virgin was right, they had made changes to cruising, and they got it right. We both really enjoyed the cruise. My son is already putting together a group of friends to go back on board this summer. I think that says a lot. Cruising used to feel geared toward an older crowd. If Virgin can energize a younger crowd to book (and then rebook) their cruises – then they really have changed the game.

December 2022