What To Know As Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady Begins Cruising From Miami

by  Donna Heiderstadt | Sep 16, 2021
Courtesy of the cruise line

Scarlet Lady, the new 2,770-passenger ship from Virgin Voyages, offers a reimagined take on ocean cruising. Originally slated for its US debut in March 2020, the vessel officially began sailing from Miami on October 6, 2021, embarking on four- and five-night voyages to the Bahamas and Riviera Maya.

The cutting-edge, adults-only ship is complete with its own Squid Ink tattoo parlor, Dry Dock blow-dry bar, and Virgin Vinyl record shop. Now, it will cruise at 50% capacity, eventually increasing to 65% capacity in the coming months. 

All Scarlet Lady passengers must be 18 years old and fully vaccinated for more than two weeks prior to embarkation. Cruisers will also have to submit to take a COVID-19 Antigen test prior to embarkation. In addition, all crew will be tested every two weeks on average and are required to wear masks — which are also highly recommended for passengers in indoor public spaces when not eating or drinking.  

Virgin Voyages, the cruise arm of British entrepreneur Richard Branson's lifestyle and hospitality brand, offers a sophisticated, high-energy onboard social experience that could appeal to a younger cruise demographic. However, according to Frank Weber, Virgin Voyages’ Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, “sailors” (as passengers are called) aboard Scarlet Lady include folks of all ages. He claims that Virgin Voyages cruisers fit a certain “mindset or psychographic" — citing the cruise line’s “come as you are” philosophy of acceptance. He also notes that crew members are welcome to express their individuality through their hairstyles, tattoos, and makeup. Guests won’t need to conform to set dress codes, either.

Ultimately, Scarlet Lady — along with her sister ships Valiant Lady (set for a March 2022 debut) and Resilient Lady (scheduled for a summer 2022 inaugural) — offers a range of unique onboard experiences. What's more, these ships are geared towards cruisers looking for the antithesis of traditional, or what Weber calls “a premium experience that isn’t stuffy.” 

Here are some other key factors that make Scarlet Lady stand out from other cruise ships. 

All 20+ Dining Venues Are Included in the Cruise Fare — And The Culinary Offerings Are Exceptional

Test Kitchen Restaurant aboard Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady / Courtesy of the cruise line

Virgin Voyages turned to an array of world-class chefs to create its incredible onboard dining experiences. The cruise line purposefully chose not to offer a main dining room or buffet-style restaurant.

Instead, passengers will find 20-plus dining outlets. These include six restaurants: The Wake for an old-school steakhouse menu, Pink Agave for elevated Mexican, Gumbai for Korean barbecue, Extra Virgin for regionally inspired Italian, Razzle Dazzle for veggie-forward dining, and Test Kitchen for an exquisite (both in taste and presentation) six-course tasting menu.

In addition, The Galley serves as the ship's onboard food hall, complete with a dozen eateries. Here, you'll find an array of made-to-order items ranging from tacos and sushi to noodles and poke bowls — plus a 24-hour diner (yes, breakfast is available at any hour). Other venues throughout the ship offer Mediterranean-style mezze (The Dock House and al fresco Dock) and made-to-order pizza (The Pizza Place).

Beer, Wine & Cocktails Are Extra — But Passengers Can Pre-Pay Their Bar Tab

Sip Lounge aboard Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady / Courtesy of the cruise line

While water, soda, non-pressed juices, and drip coffee are complimentary, all alcoholic beverages are priced a la carte (including gratuities) — from $5 to $6 for beer to $9 for a basic cocktail. Meanwhile, 42% of wines by the glass are priced under $10. Sailors who plan to imbibe a lot can purchase a $300 pre-paid bar tab before embarkation, which includes $50 to spend at any bar or at The Beach Club at Bimini, an exclusive private beach club on the Bahamian island of Bimini.

Onboard lounges and bars include Draught Haus (a beach-bar style taproom), Sip Lounge (a retro-inspired venue where sailors can shake their Virgin Voyages app three times to summon a $95 bottle of Moet & Chandon bubbly), On the Rocks (for martinis and craft cocktails), The Loose Cannon (a nautical-themed seaside pub with adjacent air hockey tables and arcade) and two poolside bars (think: frozen cocktails aplenty). 

The Entertainment, Spa, & Shopping Venues Are Designed For The Unexpected

Redemption Spa aboard Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady / Courtesy of the cruise line

Making an entrance is half the fun at The Manor, where a dizzying hallway of mirrors leads to one of Scarlet Lady’s prime nightlife venues. Here, sailors can enjoy “Never Sleep Alone,” an edgy, interactive cabaret lead by Dr. A, the ship’s resident sexologist. The Untitled DancePartyShowThing, described as an “absurdist dance party," is also ideal for the energetic and uninhibited. The event, which offers a music-video-meets-club-ambiance that takes place in the ship's largest nightlife venue, The Red Room. 

More lighthearted are Phantom Folktales, a series of enchanting pop-up performances around the ship created by Pigpen Theatre Co. Meanwhile, those looking to belt out a favorite tune can also reserve time in The Groupie, a private karaoke space. Plus, every Virgin Voyages cruise features a Scarlet Night, when the ship is transformed with lighting and theatrics, while its passengers are encouraged to wear red. 

Any night-time over-indulgence can be remedied on the ship's Redemption Spa, a gleaming modern space complete with hot tubs, heated tile loungers, cold plunge pools, a salt room, and a very sexy couple’s treatment room. Sailors looking to shop at sea can browse the offerings at High Street, which is set around the architecturally striking Roundabout lobby. Scarlet Lady has offers designer pop-up shops, along with several boutiques featuring eco- and socially-conscious brands. You can also expect a fun assortment of Virgin-branded merchandise. 

Cabins & Suites Range From Solo to Rockstar — But All Feature Fun Innovations

Sea Terrace Cabin Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady / Courtesy of the cruise line

Scarlet Lady accommodates most travel budgets since it offers a wide range of staterooms to choose from. 

Solo Insider cabins are designed and priced exclusively for solo travelers. There are even chalet-style Social Insider cabins that can sleep up to four. There are 78 Rockstar Quarters — including two 2,147-square-foot suites complete with separate living, sleeping, and music rooms (equipped with guitars and a turntable) as well as a spacious outdoor terrace with a hot tub and stargazing loungers.

It's also worth noting that the majority of the ship’s accommodations (86%) have balconies. The Sea Terrace cabins or XL Sea Terrace cabins feature both a Seabed (which can be configured as a bed or sofa/lounging area for socializing and entertaining) plus a spacious balcony with two chairs and a (very on-brand) scarlet red-hued hammock.

Winter 2021-2022 Itineraries Offer Fun In The Sun

Virgin Voyages' Beach Club at Bimini / Courtesy of the cruise line

Scarlet Lady offers passengers the chance to escape the cold weather and soak up the sun. On Oct. 6, 2021, the ship will embark on a four-night Fire & Sunset Soirees itinerary, which calls on Nassau and The Beach Club at Bimini. The five-night Mayan Sol itinerary visits Costa Maya on Mexico’s Riviera Maya and The Beach Club at Bimini. (You'll also spend two days at sea.) Lastly, the five-night Riviera Maya itinerary sails to Cozumel, Playa Del Carmen, and The Beach Club at Bimini. Cruise fares start at $1,450 and $1,650 per person for the four- and five-night cruises, respectively.

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