As of May 2022, I’ve been on Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady cruise ship three times and each of the first two times I’ve come home saying, “There’s a lot to like, a lot of things I found frustrating, and Virgin Voyages is not the cruise line for everyone.” I’m standing by that statement after my third cruise but have to say Virgin has made some changes and there’s a lot to love onboard Scarlet Lady.
I want to be clear about one thing: I like Virgin Voyages but there were some things about the experience that were less than amazing such as the app and WiFi (actually everything tech related), the activities available, and the furniture, to name a few. For the sake of fairness, Virgin is on a mission to create a new experience based on what they think people dislike about other cruise lines. It’s a theory based, I’m certain, on many (many!) surveys and other market research.
When creating something entirely new is your corporate vision there are bound to be some things that need to change once people are actually onboard and to their credit, Virgin Voyages listened to sailors on the Scarlet Lady cruise ship and made some, in my opinion, necessary changes.
By making a few changes, they figured out a way to make the guest experience on the Scarlet Lady cruise ship much better. Kudos to Virgin Voyages since these changes, while obvious to me, couldn’t have been simple or inexpensive.
The most immediate change I noticed was the improvement of the technology that Virgin Voyages brags about. The app has been streamlined making it easier to navigate and find exactly what you’re looking for plus it’s much more stable. Connecting to the internet was very easy and although WiFi does drop out semi-regularly, I was only offline for a few seconds to a few minutes each time. That’s a serious improvement from previous sailings.
Another improvement on the technology is actually a more is more situation. On my first two cruises on Scarlet Lady everything from viewing menus and making reservations to maps required the app and/or Wi-Fi to be working properly — and it rarely did. On this cruise in May 2022, physical menus were available at all restaurants and bars (I know the lack of menus was due to Covid) therefore removing technology from the equation. Similarly, the huge TV screens around the ship now have the schedule of what’s happening onboard.
The shows were, honestly, fantastic, cutting edge, and risqué, but there wasn’t much variety, and they weren’t available every night. Truthfully, there just wasn’t much to do if your expectation was bingo, game shows, and music. Other than a bar crawl (which was — and is — fun!), trivia, and some really cool photographing food / drinks for Instagram classes, a lot of the day was just sitting around in uncomfortable chairs.
In addition to Dual Reality and Never Sleep Alone, a new show, Ships in the Night, which is a new addition to the lineup on the Scarlet Lady cruise ship. There are also more opportunities to hear live music, and in an interesting twist, Virgin Voyages has added speakers around the outdoor areas that pump out music. I could be mistaken, but I didn’t remember thumping music onboard. I’m glad to see they have stuck with the “no cruise director” idea, though, which limits the number of announcements throughout the day.
Finally, at least for this article, there are plenty of great — comfortable — places to sit both inside and out on Scarlet Lady. There are still a lot of places where modern furniture (which I don’t find comfortable) and large multi-person loungers are present, but there also a number of places where I could sit comfortably with my feet on the floor and my back against the back of a chair.
All in all, Virgin Voyages is still a brand-new cruise line, even though they have a handful of brand new ships that will be sailing over the next couple years, is finding the balance between change and familiarity, cutting edge and comfort. If you’re considering an adults-only cruise, there’s a lot to love about Virgin Voyages.