Ready to experience a cruise unlike any other? Virgin Voyages adults-only ships are a millennial’s dream. Much like Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, these vessels are stylish, forward-thinking, and full of cheeky surprises. I was lucky enough to sail the Scarlet Lady for a 5-night Riviera Maya voyage, which embarks from the port of Miami and stops in the Riviera Maya, Mexico and Bimini Island in the Bahamas. Here’s everything you need to know about sailing the Scarlet Lady in this detailed Virgin Voyages review.
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A Detailed Virgin Voyages Review – Scarlet Lady
The Basics. // A Destination at Sea.
Virgin Voyages sail from Miami, Puerto Rico, Barcelona, and Athens, to trendy port destinations such as Mexico, Caribbean Islands, or even transatlantic from Miami to the Mediterranean. European destinations include the Greek islands, Spain, Portugal, and one of my personal favorite travel destinations, the Italian island of Sardinia. You can have your pick of a short weekend sail, all the way up to longer, 2 week+ voyages. The Scarlet Lady is the first of Virgin’s ships journeying the waters, with the Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady to follow.
Scarlet Lady Cruise Ship Prices
Cabins on the 5-night Riviera Maya voyage begin at $1450 for two sailors, with all food, basic (non-alcoholic) drinks, and all tips included. Wifi is also included in the cost of the cruise and worked great the whole time. Alcohol is not included, but there are Virgin Voyages drink packages for additional costs should you want to pay for booze up-front. Most alcoholic drinks are extremely fairly priced, with many specialty cocktails and glasses of wine costing $10 or under.
The atmosphere is fun, friendly, and diverse; You will see a bit of the typical cruise crowd (who all told me this is their best cruise yet), but I’d say it’s equal parts a party vibe as much as it is people just relaxing/hanging out and having a good, chill time. There are entertainment options for almost every type of traveler, from the most introverted to extroverted, as you will see by the end of this post.
The Scarlet Lady cruise ship feels like a destination in and of itself, and to put simply, it’s really, really nice. In a way, Virgin Voyages is like a boozy adult summer camp taking place on a floating 5-star Vegas-style resort. If you aren’t sure that you’d love the typical cruise experience, this might just be the cruise for you.
Tip: The Virgin Voyages mobile app is going to be your best friend. Download it as soon as you book your voyage and start exploring/booking right away!
In a way, Virgin Voyages is like a boozy adult summer camp taking place on a floating 5-star Vegas-style resort.
There are a variety of cabin types to choose from starting with center ship cabins that are good for solo travelers, all the way up to the Mega RockStar Quarters (the biggest suites, which OMG, you need to see these.) Many of the rooms have balconies with hammocks to enjoy the soothing sea breeze, including plentiful “Sea Terrace” rooms, as well as the more exclusive RockStar and Mega RockStar suites.
Party (and Voyage) Like a RockStar.
In comparison to the Sea Terraces, the RockStar/Mega Rockstars are of course larger, with a bigger balcony and a bigger bathroom outfitted in marble. All suites also come with a complimentary, fully-stocked minibar filled with top shelf liquor, champagne, and wine, as well as non-alcoholic drinks like kombucha and redbull. The record player and variety on records in the room were also the perfect touch to set the mood just right.
The MEGA RockStars are massive, have hot tubs on the terrace, high-end guitars in the room, and you even get your own “rider” to ask for any silly, outlandish, or over-the-top luxury requests.
All RockStars/Mega RockStars also get their own “RockStar agent” AKA personal concierge. We loved our agent Dorothy, who helped us every step of the way from restaurant reservations and activity bookings, to sharing insider tips. She was always there checking in to make sure all expectations were met, and helping us make the most out of our time on (and off) the ship.
Other perks of booking a RockStar or MegaRock Star level room include access to the VIP sundeck aka Richard’s Rooftop, where you get to enjoy private cabanas and loungers, hot tubs, complimentary daily cocktail hours, and late-night parties for VIPs only. Lastly, RockStars also get to enjoy priority boarding and dibs on restaurants on board that require reservations.
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The basic RockStar suite is almost double the price of the Sea Terrace, so if a suite is not in your budget, the Sea Terrace is a great room on its own. There are lower category rooms (like a Sea View or Insider Cabin,) but having a balcony is definitely the way to go, if it’s in your budget.
Something nice about all standard cabins is that they come with a “seabed” which is a bed that staff will convert daily for you into a couch (if you want) so that you have more space during the day to hang out. This way, the rooms feel much more spacious than a standard cruise cabin.
All cabins are designed to emulate superyachts, and much like the rest of the ship, are fashionable and tech-forward. All rooms and suites come with a convenient iPad where you can adjust to different mood lighting, order food, cabin services, or watch movies.
Related: Virgin Hotels Las Vegas Review
There are more amenities on this ship than even your standard resort would have. The most amuzing part about it is that you never know what you’ll find behind each corner. Just perusing the ship is a fun pastime on its own, and there are enough amenities to satisfy body, mind, and spirit.
On the ship, you’ll find:
- A multi-structure indoor/outdoor fitness complex that includes a spin cycle studio, yoga and barre studio, boxing ring, basketball court, and running track in addition to an extremely state-of-the-art gym/fitness center. The best part however, is the complementary group fitness classes which included yoga, spin, HIIT, bungee, barre, and even VHS 80s style workouts.
- A main pool deck surrounded by plenty of lounge seats, plus a second round plunge pool and hot tubs near the gym. You’ll also find additional hot tubs for RockStars/Mega RockStars on Richard’s Rooftop VIP deck.
- Shopping, including a vinyl record shop, clothing, makeup, accessories, and a duty-free.
- And probably the most unique amenity of all, a tattoo parlor called Squid Ink.
The Redemption Spa
One of my favorite amenities on the Scarlet Lady was the Redemption Spa which is so stunning, luxurious, and will sometimes even turn into an after-hours spa club with a DJ and spa parties.
At the spa you can get treatments done on a quartz crystal bed, and there are different detox rooms including a mud room and salt room, plus a hydrotherapy pool and a cold plunge pool. It’s the perfect place to detox after a long night, lounge, and relax.
Foodie-Forward Dining at Virgin Voyages Restaurants.
There are over 20(!) eateries on board ranging from full sit-down restaurants to grab-and-go snack bars. You won’t find the typical buffet or banquet dining here, instead, you get incredible signature restaurants, some even curated by Michelin-starred chefs. Each restaurant has its own chefs, kitchen, and staff making them all entirely unique. If you have dietary restrictions, they are more than accommodating with plenty of options for vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diners and are all clearly marked on the menus so that there is no confusion.
Tip: Book all your restaurant reservations as soon as you're on the ship, or if available, on the app before your trip!
As a die-hard foodie, I was completely freaking out over the variety of incredible dining options and the fact that they were all-included. Did I make it my personal goal to try all 20 during my 5-night stay? Yes I did. Did I succeed? No, definitely not. But I got close.
Here are the eateries you absolutely shouldn’t miss:
Razzle Dazzle: A “veggie-forward” restaurant with beautifully presented, Instagrammable food, desserts, and cocktails. Think fairy toast, rainbow churros, and baked goods from a personal Miami favorite of mine, Zak the Baker. They are also rumored to be starting a fun drag brunch in the near future!
Gunbae: An LA Koreatown-style Korean BBQ immersive cooking experience where you can grill your own proteins and/or veggies, complete with all the banchan (side dishes), and drinking games for an extra social touch. At this restaurant you’ll be seated with other sailors and will have a blast (thanks to the shots of soju!) Don’t forget to try the shikye and black sesame soft serve for dessert, it’s a real unique treat.
Pink Agave: Elevated Mexican street food and a specialty mezcal cocktail bar. This restaurant has a particularly sexy vibe and a live DJ when I was there. I loved the aguachile and fish entree, and the choco taco dessert was to die for. I would say this one was one of my favorite eateries, but when I think about it, I have a few favorites for different reasons!
Extra Virgin: Handmade pasta, Italian wines, and an incredible affogato cart for dessert — need I say more? The gnocchi here is a ship favorite. I would say Extra Virgin is also in my top 3 favorite places to dine on Virgin Voyages.
The Wake: A fancy seafood and steakhouse in an upscale setting. We saved this for the last night to have an extra special dinner and it was so lovely from start to finish. The Wake also does an amazing brunch — an absolute must! (The Wake and Razzle Dazzle are the only two main restaurants that do both breakfast and dinner. I recommend going to both for both!)
The Dock / The Dock House: Mezze-style Mediterranean light bites in a breezy outdoor setting with one of the best sunset views of the sea. The Dock House, the indoor counterpart to The Dock, has a Mykonos-meets-Tulum vibe and is one of my favorite aesthetics across the ship.
The Test Kitchen: An experimental eatery that brings together unlikely food combinations on a rotating prefix tasting menu (with drink pairings!) There is a veggie tasting menu of course too, which was truly mind (and tastebud) blowing. I can’t even begin to explain what I ate, but I will say that there was so much thought that went into both the preperation and taste, and there wasn’t a single dish I didn’t like.
And for everything else….there’s The Galley.
Then, there are the self-explanatory, classic staple food spots for whatever you’re craving, like Noodle Around, Bento Baby, Let’s Taco Bout It, Burger Bar, and The Pizza Place. You can find most of these in a food hall-type setting called The Galley (The Pizza Place has its own shop, as does an eatery dedicated to classic carnival foods!) So if you and your sailing buddy are in the mood for different things, the options are plenty in The Galley. In the Galley you’ll also find a coffee bar and wine on tap, if you’re looking for something more than the soda fountain.
Of course, there are also plenty of places throughout the ship to indulge your sweet tooth. There’s the Pop Star for boozy (or non-alcoholic) popsicles, Lick Me Til has ship-made ice cream in unique flavor combinations, and The Sweet Side offers breakfast pastries and fancy desserts.
There’s a handful of other fun and tasty eateries, but I’ll leave those as a surprise for your sail.
Entertainment, Entertainment, and MORE Entertainment.
There’s bars to drink at all over the ship, a 2-story nightclub called the Manor, 2 theaters with Vegas-style shows, a casino, an old school arcade, and lots, and lots of different activities, workshops, and social events.
The variety of onboard entertainment is enough to keep you busy from sunrise until late in the night (or early next morning.) Whether eating is your sport, entertainment is your sport, or sports are your sport, there’s something for you on Virgin Voyages. Here are just some of the daily events and activities (and my personal favorites) to give you an idea of how you can keep busy on the boat.
- Cozy star gazing, cocktail sipping, and storytelling (hearing)
- Themed pool parties
- Tipsy paint nights
- A ship pub crawl
- Never Sleep Alone – a hillarious, sexy, R-rated and (optionally) interactive comedy show
- Workshops: various types of wellness, skincare, photography, cocktail, fashion/makeup/hairstyling, and more
- Cabarets, live theater, concerts, gameshows/trivia, karaoke, live DJs
- Splash of Scarlet Party/Scarlet Night – The biggest event on board! Everyone wears red, there’s pop-up entertainment, and you might end up in the swimming pool with all your clothes on by the end of the night.
- Pajama Party under the stars (accompanied by blankets and pillows if you wish to sleep out on the deck!)
- Dual Reality – A Romeo and Juliet-esque performance of seriously impressive acrobatics.
- Untitleddanceshowpartything – a very entertaining zeitgeisty dance show reflective of the age of social media, short attention spans, and lots of booty shaking. I went to this on the first night and it really set the tone for the character of the ship. Highly recommend it!
Whether eating is your sport, entertainment is your sport, or sports are your sport, there is something for you on Virgin Voyages.
The land excursions at the ports, aptly named “Shore Things” range from the usual adventure activities like snorkeling and scubadiving, as well as sightseeing/cultural/food tours, to luxury experiences like yachts and private cabanas. At some of the ports there are also activities that are strictly unique to Virgin Voyages, like becoming a mermaid for a day with a custom fitted tail and mermaid swim lessons.
With early morning docking and midnight departures, this gave us plenty of time to make the most out of the port destinations. What stood out to me right away about the Shore Things was that the excursions were all very fairly priced. It’s not uncommon to find cruise excursions to be a rip-off, but Virgin Voyages offered activities at a great value.
Tip: Book your Shore Things as soon as you board in order to get the excursion you want! Limited bookings are also available on the Virgin Voyages app prior to sailing.
Our first port location was in the Riviera Maya, Mexico on the island of Cozumel. From here, excursions could be enjoyed in Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen, or millennial-favorite, Tulum. There is a private ferry just for Virgin Voyages passangers that goes from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen making it super efficient to explore the different areas.
For Shore Things, you could choose from activities such as exploring ancient ruins like Chichen Itza and swimming in cenotes (beautifully ethereal underground caves and sinkholes), going on adventure activities, and of course, spending plenty of time exploring the sea or relaxing on the sand.
I booked a jeep and snorkel tour, which began by driving your own jeep to an ecological park where we visited a crocodile reserve, a small Mayan ruin, and went snorkeling. We culminated with a delicious local lunch on a beautifully idyllic beach complete with plush lounge beds just in time to catch the sunset.
Bimini and Virgin Voyages Private Beach Club
The second port was Bimini Island in the Bahamas, where we spent the day at a private beach club. Here they had plenty of lounge chairs for complimentary use, a restaurant (also complimentary) and a very large swimming pool with a live DJ.
As part of our Shore Things, we reserved a RockStar cabana which came with unlimited food and first round of drinks, as well as access to the RockStar VIP area (which is open to all RockStars/Mega Rockstars even without a cabana.)
If you’re looking for something a little more exhilarating to do on Bimini, you can opt for swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with sharks, scuba diving, or jet skiing. I really enjoyed spending the day just relaxing on the beach, and the beach club at Bimini was incredibly beautiful, with the most perfect turquoise-blue waters to swim in.
After an evening bonfire, from there it was back on board to sadly sail home.
View All Shore Excursions Here
Other Fun Stuff to Know.
The little touches are what make Virgin Voyages feel so special and elevated. There’s a lot of detail that went into the sailor experience and no stone was left unturned. Here are a few more things that I loved about Virgin Voyages:
- You can get “champagne on-demand” anywhere, anytime. Just shake your app and you’ll have a bottle of Moët & Chandon delivered straight to you.
- You can also get food delivered to you anywhere on the boat, as in not just room service to your cabin, but to literally anywhere you’re hanging out.
- There are great Instagram-worthy photo spots everywhere, from the infinity mirror entrace at the club to photo walls and aesthetic nooks. In a hotel setting, you’d typically find one area that is the most photogenic for this purpose, but on the Scarlet Lady, they were found from top deck to bottom.
- The crew is known to “surprise and delight” whenever they can. They go above and beyond to make sure you’re well taken care of, and having the best time. Each crew member we came across was a joy to get to know and talk with. Our servers, bartenders, and RockStar agent all had their own unique stories and backgrounds, and quickly felt like fast friends.
Covid Safety, Because Duh.
Every passenger must provide proof of vaccination and take a complimentary antigen test at the port before boarding the boat. Enhanced protocols for safety and sanitization are also in place for every ship including reduced passenger capacity (which is actually so nice to have as it ensures it’s never too crowded), as well as air purification systems and increased cleaning/sanitization. The entire experience from start to finish felt extremely safe and comfortable, and at no point did I feel my health or safety was at risk. In fact, it felt so nice to be able to enjoy life without a mask requirement again with the confidence that everyone is safe and protected.
Something I noticed on the boat is that there were no single use plastics, i.e. no plastic utencils, shopping bags, or water bottles. (Bring your own refillable water bottle if you like to always have water with you!) Virgin Voyages is commited to sustainability through the ban of single-use plastics, clean energy, and responsibly sourced food and goods. They take special care to reduce and minimize their carbon, waste, and water footprints, and are a carbon nuetral cruise line through participating in carbon offset programs. Virgin Voyages have also partnered with non-profits that advance ocean protection and awareness. As a concious traveler, these initiatives are so welcomed and appreciated.
CEO Richard Branson and the Virgin brand’s overall mission is to “change business for good.” This is reflected in the people-first model that focuses on creating unique and exceptional customer experiences for all their offerings, and the Virgin cruise line is no exception.
You’ll board the ship feeling excited, curious, and energized by all the opportunities, and leave feeling transformed, and maybe even converted into a cruise-lover. As far as young adult cruises go, that combine luxury with attainability, Virgin Voyages is one of a kind. Who is Virgin Voyages NOT for? Anyone who doesn’t like fun. Virgin Voyages is THE best cruise for young adults, and is perfect for friends, couples, bachelorette parties / bachelor parties, and even multi-generational families (bring your parents if they’re cool!)
Who is Virgin Voyages not for? Anyone who doesn’t like fun.
If you feel like a cruise like this would be a good time for you based on what you’ve seen here, the actual experience will be even better; and now you can see why all (is truly) aboard the Scarlet Lady.
Disclaimer: This trip was kindly sponsored by Virgin Voyages. As always, all opinions are strictly my own.
Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please see my Disclosures page.
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