My 5 Night Cruise on Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady
I have only cruised twice in my life before setting sail on the Scarlet Lady, Virgin Voyages’ first ship. The first was a Carnival Cruise’s Sensation in 2001, followed by a three night sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas in 2015. On both of those trips I had an ocean view room (meaning no balcony). Both of the cruises were completely forgettable.
Then came Covid 19 and my disdain for cruises only grew.
However, in the years after Covid, cruises had some good deals to lure customers back. Virgin Voyages was offering cruises in exchange for points. And the room wasn’t their lowest level room; it was for their standard Sea Terrace that includes a balcony. So I booked a five night trip on the Scarlet Lady for 62,000 Capital One Points and $0 out of pocket.
The itinerary was Dominican Daze with stops in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and Bimini in the Bahamas. I would find out my March 31, 2023 sailing had about 1600 guests and 1100 staff. A little over half capacity.
The Virgin Voyages Difference
Virgin Voyages is different in a number of ways.
- No kids. You have to be 18+ to cruise.
- No tips. There is no tipping on board as it is included in the price you see on the website.
- No up-charge for speciality dining. All food is included on the ship. Even the speciality restaurants. (A few do have extra charges for certain dishes — think lobster. I was never tempted to order any food that cost extra). Room service costs a $7 delivery fee unless you order a paid item (like alcohol, coffee, or fresh juice).
- No drink packages. All “basic” drinks are included. Water in your room, soda, basic juice, drip coffee, etc. If you want to purchase alcohol, coffee drinks, or fresh juices, then you pay extra per item.
I would also say the culture is different (from what I have heard). It is aimed at a younger crowd and breaks with lots of cruise traditions.
Deep Blue Extras
Virgin Voyages, which only launched in 2021, is still working on their loyalty program which is currently called Sailing Club. When I was booking my cruise for March 2023 they offered a status match. I already had top status with MSC Cruises through another series of status matches so I was able to earn Deep Blue Extras. This included the following perks:
- $100 Bar Tab credit for drinks
- $10 daily coffee credit
- Free Premium Wifi
- Free laundry services
- Invite to a hosted cocktail party
- Priority Boarding
To be honest, perhaps the most valuable perk was the priority boarding.
As I booked only about 10 days before my departure, I was put into the 3pm group for boarding, one of the later groups. Typically I wouldn’t care except that Virgin Voyages has a program for reserving restaurants, shows, and activities where you have to be on the ship wifi in order to make the reservation. Dining can be done starting 45 days before the cruise date through the app, but since I was booking last minute everything was already booked.
Virgin Voyages releases additional dining reservations and all show and activity reservations on the day of departure. Once you get on the ship wifi, you can book your reservations. So getting on early is important.
I arrived at Miami Cruise Terminal V, the dedicated Virgin Voyages terminal, at 1pm which is when I read that the terminal opens. There are porters to take your luggage but as I had a small carry on wheel bag I decided to just carry it on myself. While there were lines labeled with different embarkation times, there was also a Sailing Club sign directly in front of the door with a very short line.
Around 1:30 they allowed us to check in. After going up a couple of sets of elevators, there was a team of staff checking passports and handing out key bracelets.
Your bracelet acts as your room key and for paying for any items. It is also used as your loyalty card in the casino.
Once I had my bracelet I headed through security and up to the boarding hall. After the “Rock Star” suite guests and romance package holders, I was able to board. I was on the ship by about 2pm.
First thing I did onboard was to sit down in The Roundabout central lobby area and started booking my restaurants, shows and activities. I had my pick of anything I wanted. When I checked a few hours later, many things were booked up. The fitness classes seemed to be first to go along with other activities and earlier dining times.
I was assigned cabin 13-186A. This was mid-ship on the 13th floor (the ship has 17 floors). Virgin Voyages has the A side (port) and Z side (starboard). The rooms are modern and clean.
After watching my safety video in my room, I headed down to The Roundabout for my in-person safety briefing.
After that it was time for Sail Away on the top deck.
Booking Virgin Voyages with Points
My 5 Night Cruise on Virgin Voyage’s Scarlet Lady
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Sea Terrace Review
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Dining Review
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Entertainment Review
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Ship Review
Virgin Voyages Beach Club at Bimini