In early November 2022, Phil & Paula Nuttall set sail from Miami on a short sailing to Mexico and Key West (meant to be Mexico and Bimini, Bahamas). We asked them for an honest Virgin Voyages review.
Phil kindly wrote us a piece, which you’ll see below, but I also managed to grab him for 20 minutes to do a quick video interview:
Casting our minds back to the 25th February 2020 on a windy, rainy, cold, damp day in Liverpool…
There was an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and worry written across the faces of everyone in the queue. We were waiting to board Virgin Voyages‘ first ship in their fleet, Scarlet Lady.
There was the usual hype surrounding a “Sir Richard Branson” product launch, but the reality was that the ship wasn’t quite finished.
In addition, it was February… in Liverpool! Well…Miami it is not!
Fast forward 32 months and as the saying goes…
Welcome to Miami!!!
Stood in short queue with some 30 other “Rock Stars” in 30 degree heat with smiles of anticipation and excitement written across our faces, this was our moment. In fact, this was everyone’s moment. You could tell instantly that from the porters, the staff and the sailors, this was going to be an experience like no other, and nothing was going to stop these sailors from having a holiday to remember.
Stepping over the threshold to board Scarlet Lady I commented to our Virgin Voyages Welcome Host how good he looked in his scarlet glitter shorts, waistcoat and sailors hat. His perfectly judged response set the tone for an incredible voyage, with crew & passengers who lived and loved life as it should be – with fun, sincerity and inclusivity –
So do you sir. And, I can’t wait to see you undressed
Queue hysterical laughter from my wife and fellow sailors boarding with us. Bon Voyage!
What Are The Rooms Like?
We’re not big on cabins / rooms both on ships or in hotels, but our cabin was absolutely great. Fresh, good modern feel about it with smart furniture and smart lighting, nothing to dislike or query its position or relevance. The hammock on the balcony is actually really cool and very comfortable.
There’s no need to worry about carrying room keys, cash or cards around (unless you are a Rock Star – you need a pass for access to Richard’s Roof Garden). You simply wear the cool “Feelin’ Nauti” bracelets which give you access to your cabin and allow purchases of gifts and drinks on board.
A key aspect to your Virgin Voyages experience is one of our pet hates – Apps.
Incredibly, yet unsurprisingly, Virgin Voyages has mastered this with its stable FREE onboard wifi-enabled app. In our opinion it is industry leading, mainly because it is so slick and well designed. You never see people sitting around on their phones, or queuing at guest services asking for help. When you need it, it’s quick, efficient, easy to navigate and your phone is back in your pocket, your bag or on your sun bed in a matter of clicks.
Adult Only & Inclusive Cruising
Without a doubt, this is a holiday for adults. Make no mistake about it, and it works soooo well. Hey, we are grandparents of six and parents of four, and we love family holidays, but this voyage without children was just perfect for us. Undeniably there is a place in the market for “child free” cruising. One where the emphasis is on a holiday experience with a real vibe in an upmarket, inclusive environment, and where everyone is comfortable in, and with, the people and surroundings.
Retail is boutique and appropriate to the brand with a barber shop and tattoo parlour. Bvlgari adds a real sense of luxury to the shopping experience and is not out of place besides the cool “On the Rocks” Cave Bar with live music. This is the place to go in the evening for sophisticated cocktails mixed and poured for a VIP Rockstar, understated, yet with elegance that is befitting of your importance at that particular moment in time.
Food, Glorious Food! Dining Options Galore
Dinner is a time to share with your loved one and enjoy some well earned “you time” with a table for two. Of course you can also opt to be seated at tables with, or close to, other people. In fact the communal dining in some restaurants is a great opportunity to make new friends. Virgin Voyages does this so well and in a way that any solo travellers never feel they have to work hard meeting people or feel they are invading another’s holiday. Smart eh? See what they did there!
Whilst “fine dining” really does come to the front at “Test Kitchen”, it’s safe to say that our whole experience on board Scarlet Lady was one of fine dining. But, as always there’s going to be an element of fun and no Virgin Voyage would be complete without a drinking game (alcoholic or not) over dinner with people you meet for the first time. Gumbae is the Korean restaurant that brings people together and roars of “Gumbae” can be heard randomly throughout dinner as diners drop out of the drinking game to down their shot!!
We shared our table with a honeymoon couple from Sao Paulo, Brazil, a couple (US born school teacher in Florida and his wife who was born in Greece) and a couple with 3 kids from Detroit. This created a whole “Theatrical” dining experience with lasting memories.
Our American friends just love to talk with us and whilst queuing for dinner at “The Wake” the couple in front of us (after chatting) invited us to join them. Of course the Maitre’D accommodated this last minute request and we had an amazing, entertaining and rewarding dining experience. Friendships were made, and will continue thanks to social media – oh and Joel & Lisa from New Jersey.
We NEVER had a problem finding a sun bed or anywhere to sit during the day or the evening on board. Everyone was courteous and did not reserve or hog sun beds. No one was protective of a sun bed. In fact, if you left for a period of time, you simply gathered your belongings and left. No one disappeared for an hour or two expecting their space to be saved. Basically that mentality simply did not exist and this is the secret – you breed responsibility and sensibility in a totally relaxed environment and people simply do not take the mick!!
Wherever you go on the ship, there is an undercurrent of music as you walk from room to room, deck to deck and space to space. It’s very clever and very current, no more so than out on deck around the main pool where the music reaches a brilliant party crescendo mid afternoon. The “VIBE” is just awesome and there is nothing tacky about this, it is quality, current, on brand and certainly appreciated by the “Sailors” and crew.
Not To Be Missed! A Virgin Voyages Highlight
Scarlet Night can probably be best described as a let your hair down moment. One thing it is not is “No Carbs before Marbs” (we hate this term!). This is people who are comfortable with their body, their presentation and their sexuality hell bent on enjoying a pool party on steroids dressed (some more loosely than others) in Scarlet. Everyone is embracing life and everything that is good in people on Scarlet Night.
Undeniably, we had the most enjoyable time on Virgin Voyages. This a holiday where it’s not as important to go ashore for fear of missing out on board. It did everything it said on the tin. It is quality, it is slick, it is cool and if you think it’s not for you, we’d still recommend you try it to find out for sure.
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