Virgin Voyages: A Guide to a Fun, Memorable and Inclusive Cruise

Advisor - Jeff Katcherian
Curated By

Jeff Katcherian

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  • Cruises

  • All-Inclusive Travel

  • Bahamas

  • Key West

  • Virgin Voyages

Man jumping off a ship's bow
Curator’s statement

I never thought I would enjoy going on a cruise as an adult. When I was young(er) I loved going on cruises with my family – buffets with what seemed like endless food options, a casino I felt I could pray my way to winning (I was in Catholic school then) and various opportunities to meet with other kids and dance at the ship’s discothèque. After puberty, I became a more sophisticated traveler. I explored European cities, alone or with friends. I was more intentional in my exploration: I tried different foods; I engaged with the locals; I walked until my feet hurt; I structured chance encounters and I felt free. Why would I ever go on a cruise again as an adult where I would be stuck in a space forced to talk to people stuffing their faces with hideous food, surrounded by screaming children marking their territories in the pool, while stopping at ports for a half hour to “discover the local culture”? I admit, I went on one cruise as an adult last year. While I enjoyed being with my husband and in-laws, making stops at many of my favorite Italian cities, it was the first time I ever spit out food. My sweet tooth quickly subsided when I expelled the sugar crystals they called ‘frosting’ embedded within a dry cake onto my plate. So, when I got the opportunity to go on Virgin’s Scarlet Lady cruise ship, my reaction was tepid at best, even when I heard the stops would be in Key West and the Bahamas. Of course, I was excited by the mere fact that I was going away, but a cruise was not my first choice.

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Where to stay on a Virgin Voyages adults-only cruise

Virgin Voyages

Luxury adults-only cruise ship offering voyages to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Europe and beyond.

Advisor - Jeff Katcherian

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I was wrong on a Virgin Voyages adults-only cruise

blue cruise ship bow overlooking the sea at dusk

Virgin Voyages turned out to be a different type of cruise, an unforgettable cruise, for these reasons: 1. No kids allowed.

That’s it. Thank you.

The food on a Virgin Voyages adults-only cruise

woman holding black plates filled with vegetables

If you are a foodie, this is your cruise! The food is not just good, it is great! Of course, I had low expectations, but the food on Virgin exceeded them, not only the quality of food but the variety as well.

Here are a few places I enjoyed eating at on Virgin’s Scarlet Lady:

Gonbae: As someone who lives in Los Angeles, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what good Korean food, particularly Korean BBQ, tastes like. The food at this restaurant was fresh, delicious and plentiful. The restaurant is also entertaining. Before eating with your group, the waiter plays a fun Soju drinking game with everyone at the table. I lost, of course, but that only means you get to drink your Soju before everyone else!

The Dock: This eatery sits at the back of the ship and offers small Mediterranean bites and drinks of your choice while lounging on comfortable daybeds while you watch the sunset upon the trailing ocean. The hanger-steak skewers on little pockets of pita are a must try! And while you’re at it, you might as well get the shrimp skewers as well. After all, it’s included!

The Galley: Anything your heart desires is at The Galley: bento boxes with sushi, ramen, bagels, a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon, Intelligentsia coffee, tartines with lox, salads, fruit, overnight oats and my favorite, desserts of all kinds. I particularly enjoyed the s'mores-in-a-jar dessert. It wasn’t really s'mores, but I ate it almost every day on the cruise.

The Pizza Place: All types of pizza until 2:00am!

The Wake: The best place on the ship to go for brunch. They have a variety of eggs benedict you can wash down with mimosas.

Pink Agave: High-quality, Mexico City-style, elevated Mexican food with a great selection of cocktails and, of course, tequila. Like most of the restaurants on the ship, the ambiance is modern, hip (even though the word ‘hip’ is not so hip) and entertaining. If you ever go there, say hello to the friendly maître d', Nelson!

The Test Kitchen and Extra Virgin: While I did not get a chance to go to these two restaurants on the Scarlet Lady, my fellow colleagues went and came back with great feedback. Extra Virgin is the ship’s Italian restaurant, and The Test Kitchen is a high-end, experimental, multi-dish restaurant with pre-set menus.

The entertainment on a Virgin Voyages adults-only cruise

woman in a gold sparkly dress

If I could only say one thing about this cruise, it is that Virgin Voyages really knows how to throw a party. Of course, it’s a cruise, so you can easily decide not to partake in any of these gatherings, but if you do, you will be pleasantly surprised.

The Pajama Party: While the Game of Thrones onesie I wore was not my real sleepwear, it was comfortable and fun to dress up in while watching everyone else walk around with their real or fantasy-driven pajamas.

Scarlet Night: This party, where everyone wears something red, was even better than the pajama party. The DJ played music everyone could dance to, the entertainers put on a great show around the pool and what seemed like every sailor was dancing and enjoying themselves (some inside the pool).

The Manor: While various performances take place here, such as an impressive drag performance, I call this place the afterhours club. Designed like an oversized speakeasy, you enter The Manor through an Instagram-friendly wall of mirrors leading straight to a bar and dance floor, while the DJ plays nostalgic, yet still contemporary, dance music.

Dual Reality: So, as my judgmental self walked onto the cruise with low expectations of just about everything, I thought the entertainment was going to be, I’ll just say it, cheesy. I remembered the shows I saw on the cruises I went on as a kid, and even as a 10-year-old, I thought the shows were subpar and amateurish. The show, Dual Reality, changed my mind immediately. It was an acrobatic show set against a Romeo and Juliet-style story. It was like Cirque du Soleil but, I thought, better, because the size of the stage made for an intimate setting and the acrobats engaged with the audience. I was impressed!

Champagne on Demand: Amongst other things you can do with Virgin Voyages app, the best is the ability to “Shake for Champagne." When signed on the Virgin sailor app, you just shake your phone, which sets in motion a delivery of one bottle of Môet Chandon Imperial Champagne to wherever you may be on the ship.

Diverse and inclusive: I knew Virgin Voyages marketed itself as an inclusive cruise line, but I didn’t realize how diverse and inclusive it really was until I started sailing. Exemplified through the ship’s daily activities and entertainment options, the diverse staff created a safe space on board for every sailor, including couples and groups, bachelorettes and wedding parties, straight and LGBT communities and beyond! My friend and fellow colleague at Fora, Randy Marsden, says Virgin Voyages is “the cruise for non-cruisers." He is right.

My time on the Scarlet Lady was unexpectedly fun, relaxing, and enjoyable, but most of all, memorable. A cruise without kids that paradoxically makes you feel like one again. I returned home missing all the fun experiences I had, the people I met and the connections I made (oh, and the Bahamas were nice, too). Virgin Voyages is not only a cruise for non-cruisers, but even more so, a cruise for everyone (except kids, obviously).

Need to Know

Craving more travel tips? Also check out my ultimate guide to Brussels. This guide is part of our ongoing series on cruise travel.

Advisor - Jeff Katcherian

Travel Advisor

Jeff Katcherian

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on cruise travel.