Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review, we would like to thank Virgin Voyages for the chance to cruise on board the magnificent Scarlet Lady, a luxury 277 meter cruise ship. This was our first ever cruise, and we were looking forward to the experience.
The arrival at the COVID test site
The covid testing process was a bit of a pain but ran smoothly. First, we went to a car park to join a group for testing; the wait was around 40 minutes. We then drove to the test centre at the car park across the road. From there we got out of our car and joined the queue at the test marque. Staff kindly provided snacks whilst waiting. We provided proof of being double jabbed and then moved on to the testing. The testing was quick and painless and we had our results in just over 15min. Some results emailed and some via the tannoy.
Mmm the Port of Portsmouth parking was a confusing process. This is not Virgin’s fault. We paid for the multi-storey car park. On arrival a parking company directed us to reverse and GOTO the baggage drop, we were not the only ones requested to do this. We dropped our baggage, and I left my partner Rachel there, and then returned to a queue of cars. This was confusing as I didn’t expect to queue for a multi-storey car park. I sat in the queue for around 10 minutes, and the car in-front of me got redirected out. I caught the attention of one of the car parking attendants to find out what was going on.
He told me it would be a long wait to get parked, I then said this is odd for multi-storey car parking. The attendant then told me this is concierge parking and that for multi-storey parking I would have to reverse out and go to the far left. He backed me up, and I then found the multi-storey parking. The multi-car park attendant greeted me and I explained to him what had happened. He told me that the other parking company had been doing this all week, and they still had not got their act together. I got parked and met Rachel at the terminal. We sailed through the queue, got checked in, bordered a bus and we were soon at the Scarlet Lady.
The Scarlet Lady
After tapping our bands to board, we headed to the lifts and our cabin, no champaign but enthusiastic crew to greet us. When we arrived on the 12th floor, our cabin steward greeted us. He helped us enter our cabin and showed us the tablet controls for the cabin. This was the last time we saw the cabin steward. We stayed in cabin 12 294 A, a Forward Sea Terrace.
The cruise never left on schedule, as ABC were performing live on the 1st night. There was confusion over this, most of the staff thought we would leave that night. We left at around 7am the following morning. It would have been nice to have had an announcement about a late departure. We got up early so we could enjoy the Scarlet Lady sailing out of port.
Our cabin was very comfortable with a lovely rain shower and balcony. We especially like the hammock out on the balcony. The lighting, curtains and TV are all controlled by the in-room tablet. At one stage I crashed the tablet. But after a restart it reconnected and worked fine again. We didn’t find any draws in the cabin, but plenty of shelves and an in-room safe. They provided fresh water daily.
We never converted the ‘Seabed’ into a sofa, but will try it out on our next Virgin Voyages cruise.
There are of plenty US, European power sockets and USB ports in the cabin.
The Food and drink
From all included food and basic bevvies we certainly did not go hungry or thirsty. From hot dogs and pretzels to pizza, we found plenty of choice on-board, so sailors certainly have plenty to eat. We could always find something at all hours. We also purchased a bar tab, this covered the extras like cocktails and speciality coffees. Our favorite coffee was in the Sip Champagne Bar.
Our favourite meal was in the Test Kitchen, this completely blew us away. A 6 course taster meal, I paired mine with the wine (at an additional cost). Also, we loved the Hanger Steak and Grilled Shrimp which are available from The Dock House, an outside mezze lounge.
We also found the Razzle Dazzle, the vegetarian restaurant that had an amazing full English breakfast. Which surprised us, as we thought the entire menu was vegetarian.
In some areas service was a little slow and confusing. At the bars where they served food, the food waiter would pass us off to the bar waiter to order drinks. The staff were reliant on customers scanning QR code to view the menus. We much prefer a paper menu as trying to view a full restaurant menu on a smartphone screen can be a challenge. Especially when in the Galley with multiple restaurants.
At some restaurants, even though we had booked and arrived 10-15 minutes prior to our booking we had to queue. We even witnessed a couple who did not book get turned away from The Wake, this we found confusing, as the restaurant was not full. There were even tables unoccupied for the two hours we were in there. This could have been down to a set number of covers.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to try every restaurant or food place. We also missed a couple of bars. Also, there were no milkshakes onboard, which I really wanted to try. We can’t fault any of the food we tried and had a great time sampling different things.
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review
Finding our way around
We couldn’t find any deck plans of the ship near the elevators or elsewhere. But there are signs on every floor by the lifts. During the trip a map of the ship appeared in our room, this was only after we overheard a few sailors mention they wanted to see a deck plan.
Where are the loos? This was a tricky one, we walked the length of the ship to find a loo. Sometimes only to find we were already close to one. And then we found only one female or male toilet. They seem to be hidden about the ship and usually occupied. The loo’s onboard got cleaned regularly. In the end, we did resort to returning to our cabin..
From the spinning Virgin Voyages logo to the app removing bookings, both staff and sailors struggled with the app. But when it worked it was good. Once they iron out the bugs, it will certainly offer a better user experience. But there are times they are over reliant on it.
Even though the app had issues, these didn’t appear to be down to the Wi-Fi. I ran a few tests. I used WhatsApp to have a video call with my mother and even attended a full hour zoom meeting, and even did a live showcase and showed them around the deck I was on.
Dolphins in the wake and Air-sea rescue.
One morning when we were having breakfast in The Wake, one of our fellow sailors spotted dolphins through the windows. This resulted in a rush of people to the windows of The Wake. I followed, but noticed the couple sat waiting for their breakfast. I felt sorry for the lady at the table as the amount of people that rushed over overwhelmed her. Later when leaving I apologised, she thanked me for acknowledging her before having a look.
The first time we heard the captain speak was when he announced the ship was making an emergency re-route to Falmouth. At full speed all passengers were asked to go inside, the doors were closed and the crew went to their muster stations. We headed up to our cabin on the port side. From there we saw firsthand the dangerous manoeuvres that Air-Sea rescue perform when coming in close to a cruise ship. We saw no one air-lifted from the ship, fellow passengers reported they saw a bag attached to the line that was lowered down. Rescue at sea or emergency test?
From the gyms, to the 80s arcade machines, there was plenty to do onboard, on our last night we watched the spectacular Dual Reality. A modern day telling of Romeo and Juliet, incorporating acrobatics, trapeze and a sea-saw.
We also enjoyed the random games scattered around the ship and got our 10,000 steps in a day walking a full circle of the ship on the promenade deck. We even had a late night play on the basketball court. On this occasion we didn’t spend any time in the gyms or early morning classes as we were exploring the ship. We had a look at the app and found that a lot of the classes were fully booked, so they were popular. Early booking is advised if you want to try them.
An external company ran the onboard spa so there is a cost to use the facilities.
On, our last day we chose not to book a restaurant and grazed at different food places so we could try the onboard quiz and a few other events. We found it a little tricky with the times slots as they often coincided with the restaurant bookings, so it was booking a meal or doing the quiz or some other activity. Then visit the Galley or attempt to get in a queue at a restaurant. We noticed some people leave early, so they did not miss their bookings at restaurants.
Our final evening we had a little fun in the casino with our remaining bar tab credit. We played the slots, roulette and blackjack. And lost at craps. But we walked away with a few dollars for our next cruise.
Virgin Voyages have a few improvements to make with the app. Also, a few service issues need to be resolved. But once ironed out, the experience will be even better.
First time cruises or sailors as Virgin Voyages call us. Would we voyage again with Virgin Voyages? A definite resounding YES! We can’t wait until next year for our next cruise ‘French Daze & Ibiza Nights’ when the ship will call at ports.