Setting Sail on the Scarlet Lady

In February 2020, a time where we were allowed in the same room as more than 6 other people, I had the privilege of staying overnight on the brand new Virgin Voyages cruise ship, the Scarlet Lady. Today I’ll be talking through this brand new ship and why you should consider it for your next great group trip. 

Now I should start by saying I love cruises, so I didn’t have to be convinced to take one. But Virgin Voyages have created something that is nothing like your traditional cruise, there’s something brand new for avid cruises, and something to make first-timers curious in taking the leap. It’s so different and it’s designed for people who are young at heart.

There’s been some negative news in the press about cruising recently, large outbreaks and inclosed spaces are enough to put anyone off. But with the innovative and effective ways that cruise ships adapt to outbreaks means they can be one of the safest, cleanest environments. Virgin Voyages already have in place a no-contact food service, as all food is made to order and handed to you. Yes, you guessed it, no buffets!

See what MSC is doing with their first post-pandemic cruises. Having guests complete temperature checks, medical review of a health questionnaire and an antigen COVID-19 swab test for every guest prior to boarding. Onboard there’s contactless options for doors and payments, and guests will only be able to go ashore as part of an MSC Shore Excursions group, and will not be allowed to explore on their own.

Why book Virgin Voyages for your next group trip

Like I said before this is nothing like a traditional cruise, it is tailored for people who want to have fun, who want excitement but also want to relax. 

The Scarlet Lady was due to start exploring the Caribbean in July of this year, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the maiden voyage has been delayed until November. Her sister ship, the Valiant Lady, is heading out into the Mediterranean in 2021. So you’ve got plenty of time to start planning your adventure.

Virgin Voyages refers to it’s ‘groups’ of sailors as Circles, these circles are for people booking 10 or more cabins. If you qualify as a “Circle” group, it means you can benefit from an extra 10% off your total package and free onboard credit called “Sailor Loot”. 

This Sailor Loot includes:

  • $50 onboard credit for every Insider or Sea view cabin booked.
  • $100 onboard credit for every Sea Terrace cabin booked.
  • $200 onboard credit for every Rockstar Suite booked.

You can spend your sailor loot however you wish, whether it’s getting the first round of drinks in from the bar or spend on relaxing treatments at Redemption Spa. Visit the Virgin Voyages website for more information on group bookings. 

I would highly suggest considering this for your future group trip, whether you’re into cruises or not, Virgin Voyages has something to keep everyone entertained as you sail summer days and nights around the Caribbean and the Mediterranean . 

My Experience, Highlights:

– The Room; I had the Sea Terrace room (Balcony). A nice, bright, modern room with a lot of space (there are XL versions available as well). During the day you’ve got a corner sofa facing the TV, and during the night that turns into either a double bed or two singles. Out on the balcony, there was a small hammock, which I can imagine would be perfect for warm nights in the Caribbean, but couldn’t be experienced in February in Dover.

– The Entertainment; In the evening we got to experience Duel Reality, in The Red Room, a modern retelling of Romeo & Juliet, with a splash of Cirque du Soleil and High School Musical. Very different to your normal cruise ship entertainment but overall a very enjoyable evening.

– The Food; We were allocated the Extra Virgin restaurant for dinner in the evening, an Italian place serving regionally-inspired food. Now I love my food and I love Italian food, and this was incredible. The 5 courses (of mainly carbs) were fresh, generous portions, with a lot of pasta! We also got to try Razzle Dazzle for breakfast, which leans more towards the vegetarian and plant-based dishes, with a bold and colourful dining experience.

– The Nightlife; Everything on the ship stays open till late, so after bar hopping around the ship, we spent most of the evening (and the early morning) in the nightclub The Manor. Two floors and three bars, the club is designed around a “sexy 70s, punk vibe”.

– Favourite Place; As a music fan I liked the edition of having a record shop on board (which is fitting with Richard Branson’s history). Some special mentions to the arcade and the karaoke room, but I liked the ice cream bar “Lick Me Till…Ice Cream”, mainly because who doesn’t like ice cream…

The Basics

– All tips are included in the price. There’s free Wi-Fi included and group workouts (like sunrise yoga). Plus, all food is included, and you’ve got a choice of over 20 different eateries.

– Cabins range from the basic Insider Cabin up to Richard Branson’s own RockStar Suites.

– All fitness classes are included, with classes for every entry-level. Fresh pressed juices for post-workouts. Oh, and there’s a tattoo parlour to immortalise your trip at sea.

– There are no classic Broadway productions onboard, instead, there are contemporary and immersive performances to suit everyone tastes:

o Another Rose: A seductively mysterious dinner party performance.

o Scarlet Night: Wear a splash of red and get ready for the dreamiest, most surprising, and heart-stirring event at sea.

o Duel Reality: A fast-paced retelling of Romeo and Juliet with an elaborate circus twist.

o Ships in the Night: Using ethereal technology and electrifying choreography, it’s a thrilling exploration of passing connections.

o Untitled ‘DancePartyShowThing’: The (un)title tells you everything you need to know about this show slash dance show slash thing.

– Other entertainment places include; A private karaoke room, record shop, gaming lounge, The Manor nightclub and the Aquatic Club.

Now let’s talk about sustainability

There is nothing more important in this world than our oceans, and we’re on a mission to protect them and set an example. Success needn’t compromise sustainability.

Richard Branson

The one thing on everyone’s mind when they think about cruises is the effect they have on the environment, but with the constantly evolving technology, it’s becoming easier and easier for these big cruise ships to sail responsibly.

Onboard the Scarlet Lady, some of the big changes they’ve made include:

– No unnecessary single plastics in use, including straws, water bottles, food packaging, shopping bags and takeaway cups.

– Design choices which minimise their carbon footprint, including tinted windows, LED lighting and room sensors.

– Eliminating buffets to reduce food wastage – everything is made to order, with sustainable seafood and direct trade coffee.

– Innovative technology which transforms heat from the ship’s engines into clean energy, and purifying wastewater so that it’s even clean enough to drink.

For more information about what else Virgin Voyages are doing, visit their website.

And it’s not just Virgin Voyages doing this, there are many cruises lines out there changing their ways to make a sustainable future for everyone, as well as altering the way we cruise in line with pandemic restrictions.

Ashleigh Ridler


All photos were taken in February 2020, before government guidelines of social distancing and face coverings.