Hello travelers! This is Gina Smith with Happy Hour Travel. As an avid traveler and travel planner, I’m always on the lookout for unique and exciting experiences.
I recently received an opportunity to sail onboard Valiant Lady, the newest flagship cruise ship by Virgin
Voyages with the sole purpose of doing research for our clients (oh the things I do for you!).
If you haven't heard much about Virgin Voyages before, that's ok, I'm here to offer you some light on what the cruise line is, and what is not, and help you decide if you should try it!
THE MAIN DIFFERENCES...
First things first, what makes Virgin Voyages different? I can name a few things but first and foremost, it's an adults-only cruise line. Yep, no kids running around and hogging the pools and hot tubs lol. Additionally, the cruise fare includes wifi and gratuities. Plus, there are no buffets or main seating dining areas. Instead, you will find restaurants with a la carte menus (the food is outstanding, read more about it below).
We arrived at Terminal V (clever!) at our chosen time. We handed over our luggage to a porter and made our way inside. There was a line but it moved quickly. We had completed all necessary requirements on the
Virgin app (very helpful and I highly recommend downloading it as soon as you book the cruise with us. I will remind you!).
THE WEARABLE ARMBAND...
We then received our wearable armband which acts as a key to your stateroom, identification, and payment method. No cruise card! This eliminated the need to worry about losing my key card or carrying it around everywhere I went, providing me with peace of mind and added convenience. Not to mention it was very cute and stylish!
In total, embarkation only took about 30 minutes. As we boarded, we were greeted by very excited Virgin crew members who told us the staterooms were ready (What?! Already?!).
As I looked around, I was struck by the ship's modern design and chic ambiance. The ship's sleek, adults-only concept was evident in the contemporary décor. I loved the big, partial sculpture of an octopus!
Before we headed to our cabin, we found The Pizza Place to grab some to-go pizzas to eat while we
unpacked. I highly recommend doing this, the pizza was phenomenal! I had heard the food was excellent,
so I had high hopes - and the pizza did not disappoint.
The cabins carry the same type of decor as the rest of the ship (beautiful and sleek) with ample storage space. If you have a balcony stateroom, you will have access to a red hammock right there... you can relax and sway in the breeze while enjoying the ocean views.
Another fun feature in my cabin was the tablet that controlled everything, from the lights and temperature to the TV and entertainment options. The tablet was easy to use, and I could even order room service with just a few taps.
After boarding, you need to go through the safety video and proceed to your muster station to learn the protocol in case of an emergency. This is pretty standard in all cruise lines but Virgin makes it quick and easy!
DEAR OCEAN, HERE WE COME...
We made our way to the pool area for the send-off party. Champagne was passed out, music played,
crew and passengers were dancing and having a great time already! It's always nice seeing adults enjoying
themselves and not having to be concerned with their kids. Everything about the ship was tailored
toward adults which created a distinct ambiance and added to the overall enjoyment of my
I will admit, I was worried that adults-only meant it would get really wild, but I was surprised to notice the ambiance was serene and peaceful throughout the ship. There was a party if you want it, but there were also plenty of places to relax and unwind.
The lack of children also meant that the onboard entertainment and activities were tailored toward adults. The
shows, performances, and events were all designed for a mature audience without the need to cater to younger guests. A couple of times, I did feel the jokes were a little much but overall, I wasn’t bothered by it.
Now, let's get to the REALLY good stuff: the food. OMG the dining experience was exceptional!! With over 20
unique eateries on board, ranging from casual cafes to gourmet restaurants, there was something for
everyone—and it was all included! The quality and variety of the cuisine were truly impressive, and I
found myself indulging in delicious meals prepared by world-class chefs. I often had to remind myself I
was on a cruise ship! The gourmet restaurants included a steakhouse, Mexican, Italian, the Test Kitchen,
and plant-based Korean BBQ. My favorite restaurants were Extra Virgin (Italian) and Pink Agave (Mexican)
and the Test Kitchen which resembles a laboratory (so think experimental food) - they were all
delicious! The food could rival any fine dining on land which is extremely rare for a cruise. If you like good food and you are a little gourmet oui oui, this cruise line is for you!
There was an array of entertainment and activities that kept me engaged. From immersive shows at the
Red Room theater to live music performances at the Manor nightclub, there was never a dull moment
on board. If fitness is important to you, they have yoga classes, fitness sessions, a very
impressive gym, outdoor basketball, and pickleball. There’s even a tattoo parlor! The ship's emphasis on well-being and self-care was evident, and I was able to relax, rejuvenate, and have fun at the same time.
Making reservations for restaurants, shows, and fitness classes on Valiant Lady is an important aspect
of the cruise experience. Make reservations as soon as possible. 45 days before the cruise, restaurant
reservations will be available. Don’t worry if you miss out on some at that point because new spots will open up once you are onboard - definitely make reservations your first priority when you board. I missed a bungee fitness class because when I realized it, it was already completely booked. Next time, I will be ready for it: I will check all the activities on the app prior to my arrival and make reservations as soon as I step on board. You can
always cancel but once they’re booked, you’ll have to wait until your next cruise!
As if adults-only, exceptional food and entertainment weren’t enough, I was also highly impressed with
the exceptional service provided by the crew. From the moment I boarded the ship, I was greeted with
warmth and professionalism by the crew members who were always ready to assist with a smile. The attention to detail, personalized service, and genuine care for the guests' well-being was evident in every interaction, making me feel truly pampered and valued as a guest.
There are some optional add-ons that are not included in your cruise fare. Alcoholic drinks and specialty coffees, spa treatments, and shore excursions are extra. And instead of a drink package, Virgin has a “bar tab”. This is unique from other cruise lines because you can purchase drinks for others and have one bar tab per cabin.
Another highlight of Virgin Voyages is the vibrant and diverse bar scene. From chic lounges to lively pubs, Valiant Lady offers plenty of bars that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences, providing the perfect setting to socialize and indulge in delicious cocktails. Another fun item (this isn't included but you have to try it at least once just for fun!) is the “shake for champagne” feature on the app. Simply open the Valiant
Lady app on your smartphone, select the "Shake for Champagne" option and then give your
phone a shake. The app detects the motion, and you receive a notification confirming the
request. Within a short time, a crew member will arrive at your location anywhere on the ship
with a chilled bottle of champagne, ready to pop the cork! How fun is that?!
When the cruise came to an end, disembarkation on Valiant Lady was also a seamless experience. We
were provided with detailed information and instructions on the disembarkation process, including the
option to self-disembark or use the traditional method of leaving luggage outside the cabin the night
before. The process was well-organized and efficient, and we were off the ship within 30 minutes - including going through customs.
As my cruise on Valiant Lady came to an end, I was filled with cherished memories and a sense of
gratitude for the remarkable experience. From the exquisite dining and entertainment options to the
enriching destinations and outstanding service, my cruise on Valiant Lady was a journey of a lifetime. It
was a testament to Virgin Voyages' commitment to creating unique and memorable experiences for its
guests - in doing things differently and may I add, better!!
I left the ship with a longing to return for another extraordinary adventure on the high seas so what could I do? Book a future cruise, of course!! Plus, I feel completely confident in recommending the cruise line to our clients if they are a good fit for it. You will get so MUCH MORE than you ever got in other major ocean cruise lines and I can't wait to have you try it (and thank me later ;-)
P.S.: If you are interested in sailing with Virgin Voyages, please contact me here. I not only have the exact same prices they have on their website but I can also search for specific promotions, share other important tips and take care of your cruise planning from start to finish, at no extra cost to you!