Review: Jess Nuttall, our Marketing Manager, left her child at home (with our CEO & Director!), grabbed her partner, and headed to the Med to join their very first Virgin Voyages holiday. No surprises from us…. they loved it!
I’ve joined the club… I’m officially a ‘Sailor’ and I’m not sure I’ll ever look back.
Okay, who am I kidding? We’re parents to a toddler & so we’ll most definitely be onboard a family-friendly ship or two in the near future.
But seriously… if you’re parents yourselves looking for an adults-only break? Or, simply don’t want a holiday surrounded by kids… (maybe it’s honeymoon time?) Virgin Voyages is the holiday for you!
What’s my history of cruising?
I’m a 30 year old who’s cruised for the best part of 20 years with the family. We’ve tried a fair few… P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Seabourn, Carnival Cruise Line & Royal Caribbean & more. Why am I telling you this? Because I think it’s important to know that I’ve tried & tested the different styles of cruising; and yet Virgin Voyages was everything I hoped for and more.
Let’s dive right into my first experience with Virgin Voyages.
And, before you ask
Are Virgin Voyages for the 18-30’s market?
My short answer would be no.
Actually, the average age is around 45-50, and I’d say the youngest on board were between 27-30.
It’s not to say an 18-year old wouldn’t enjoy the cruise… but read on and you may be pleasantly surprised.
The Itinerary & Ship
I’m a fan of the Mediterranean sunshine, so it felt only right to fly out to Barcelona and join Valiant Lady for 7 nights!
The Irresistible Med is the name of the cruise, with an itinerary visiting Toulon (France), Marina di Carrara (Italy), Ajaccio (Corsica) & Ibiza.
The best part… you’re docked in Ibiza overnight!
If you fancy a few different ports of call, check out the French Daze & Ibiza Nights itinerary – you get two overnight stays with this one, Palma de Mallorca AND Ibiza.
The Sea Terrace
(otherwise known as a Balcony Cabin)
As far as balcony cabins go, I couldn’t really fault it. Yes, the bathroom was cosy (but aren’t they all?). You rarely hear somebody tell you how spacious the bathroom was onboard a ship unless they’ve upgraded to a suite.
Let’s talk about the essentials – the bed was comfortable, there were plenty of USB sockets and a few American plug sockets, there was a mini fridge (empty for your personal use), a safe and a nice dressing table for doing your hair & make-up.
The wardrobe – plenty of hanging space & shoe storage. There were limited amounts of drawers, but there were shelves & some extra storage space above the rail hangers. To be honest, we found there to be enough for one week.
But it’s not all about the essentials with Virgin Voyages, it’s about the extra amenities. The curtains that open automatically as you enter the stateroom (a luxurious touch that makes you go ooh la laa), the mood lighting (for every occasion; zen, hangover, photoshoot & more), the endless amounts of films available on the TV and the hammock on the balcony.
No, the hammock is not a gimmick.
The hammock is very comfortable. Believe it or not, I’d opt for a hammock over a regular chair on a balcony every time. Every morning my partner would catch me in the hammock with a coffee in hand! A few whales were even spotted from the comfort of my hammock!
Oh and… forget having to remember to take a drink back to your room as you retire for the evening – Virgin Voyages provide two jugs of water, replenished whenever you request – all complimentary. Goodbye bottled water, hello free drinking water.
We LOVED the food.
If you’ve cruised before, you’ll be used to one main buffet and a traditional dining room. Not with Virgin Voyages, there is no ‘traditional dining room’ that you visit everyday, and you can say goodbye to the open buffet (keep reading, it’s a good thing, honest!). And if you’ve never cruised before… Virgin Voyages food will make you go wow.
Virgin Voyages has changed the way you dine on holiday (particularly onboard a cruise). There are 20+ eateries, ALL INCLUDED in the price of your holiday, some of which are world-class restaurants. There’s an Italian, a Korean-BBQ restaurant, a Mexican, a Steakhouse (yes fillet steak is included), a ‘Test Kitchen’ with a 6-course tasting menu and an American themed restaurant, to name a few.
We genuinely loved this style of dining; a different restaurant each night… a different atmosphere… a meal inspired by a different continent of the world. I wish all cruises would stop with ‘speciality dining’ that costs you extra and start by including a variety of contemporary restaurants. And the quality of the food is amazing – in fact, if I could order a plate of crispy chicken from ‘Gunbae’ (Korean BBQ restaurant) to my house right now – I would.
What did I mean when I said goodbye buffet?
Allow me to introduce you to The Galley – this is the ‘equivalent’ to your buffet area, except less food waste and more fresh food. There are various different food stations, from tacos and noodles to sushi and paninis. Seriously, 90% of this is cooked fresh to your table. In fact… you order at your table. The Galley is open 24 hours a day; the perfect spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner… maybe even just to cure that sweet tooth in the afternoon (did somebody say pastry and cake?). Psstt… 10pm fresh cookies are served & trust me, they don’t last very long.
Love a late-night pizza? No problem, head to Deck 7 and grab yourself a pizza… open every night until 2am (and yes, all included). You’ll be hungry after a few drinks & a dance at the nightclub.
Oh and I must tell you about our favourite part of the ship ‘The Dock’. I can only describe it as a little haven at the back of the ship. Think Mediterranean beach club vibes; it’s classy & elegant with a touch of daily live music. Perhaps my photos speak a thousand words.
The best part of all… take a seat on a comfortable ‘day bed’, raise the flag on your menu (literally) & relax whilst the Mezze Cart comes to you! You’ll be offered a selection of Greek Inspired dishes to choose from (I highly recommend ordering the Octopus, cooked fresh to order) absolutely delicious – and again, all included.
Unlimited Essential Drinks? Eh?
Allow me to explain… your soft drinks are INCLUDED. Unlimited cola? No problem. All included. I said it earlier and I’ll say it again… goodbye bottled water, hello free drinking water. Your cruise fare includes all of your soda (fizzy drinks), your English breakfast tea, chamomile tea, peppermint tea, and your coffee (regular filter coffee). You can purchase a Barista Coffee for roughly $4.
What About The Alcoholic Drinks?
Did somebody say Pina Colada?
I have to admit, we did indulge in a few poolside cocktails… it’s hard to resist when you’re basking in 30 degree heat. It’s handy to know a cocktail will cost you circa $11, a beer around $8 and a bottle of Chardonnay $35 (a glass around $8).
Onboard Atmosphere & Entertainment
From the sailaway party to the moment you disembark, you’re entertained throughout. Whether it’s fitness classes, evening shows, daily quizzes or karaoke… (all included) you’re sure not to get bored with Virgin Voyages. They even put on a ‘Ship Show’ where you’re provided with dinner whilst you watch – a great concept and you guessed it… all included.
If I’m honest, theatre shows are not my cup of tea. Whilst I heard GREAT reviews from fellow sailors onboard, we didn’t attend a show onboard. We prefer live music, whether it be the ‘busker’ (live guitarist) in The Dock or a DJ by the pool. Whatever your preference, there is a little bit of something for everybody.
There was a really relaxed atmosphere onboard Valiant Lady; the onboard team were friendly, our fellow passengers (sailors) were a barrel of laughs and the dress-code was ‘wear whatever makes you happy’. But… pack something red for Scarlet Night. (optional, but never-the-less recommended).
Let’s talk some more about the dress code with Virgin Voyages. Seriously, there isn’t one. You can dress up to the nines or you can relax in your shorts & t-shirt. I opted for a bit of both… one night I’d put on an evening dress with a pair of heels, the next I’d wear flared trousers with my flat sandals. It was the same for our fellow passengers… I didn’t feel out of place once. Some men chose trousers, others wore shorts. Some women wore trainers, others wore sandals.
You do you and you can’t go wrong.
To sum it all up
I’m a convert…
My next adult-only holiday will be a Virgin Voyage! Maybe a group holiday with my fellow mums!
I found the holiday to be great value for money… relaxing (I’ve not relaxed like that for a long time… then again, we have a 2-year-old at home)… and fun, oh how we had fun.
My Top Tips For Your First Virgin Voyage
1) Pre-book some restaurants on your app before your voyage… it doesn’t cost you anything AND you can move them around once onboard should you change your mind. Pssstt… visit The Sun Club for lunch – delicious Poke Bowls & Bao Buns!!!
2) Pre-purchase a ‘Bar Tab’… Virgin Voyages are offering an extra $50 free, for every $300 tab you purchase. And the Bar Tab can be used by anybody in your stateroom – you can share just one Bar Tab if you’d like.
3) Watch the sunset from The Dock… if you’re lucky you’ll see a dolphin or two.
4) On Scarlet Night eat a little earlier… The entertainment kick-starts at 9pm & you want to be out of dinner by then!
Like the sound of a Virgin Voyages holiday for yourself? Check out the latest offers, and search for your cruise here; or call us on 02380 658 386.