Cruising on Virgin Scarlet Lady Review – Our First Lady Ship

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Since the cruise line’s inception, we’ve been curious about sailing with Virgin Voyages. Finally, we can say we sailed the Virgin Way, which did not disappoint. In our Virgin Scarlet Lady review, we dive into what made this cruise one of our favorites and where it could improve.

The Scarlet Lady is Virgin Voyage’s inaugural ship, making it the flagship of its current fleet of four Lady Ships. It holds a maximum of 2,770 passengers.

When we booked the Scarlet Lady, I didn’t know if cruising the four-year-old ship on a short itinerary out of Miami Cruise Port would be enough to sway us since this would be our first Virgin Voyages cruise. Would I be giving it the best chance? At the time, it was what worked with our schedule, so we went ahead completely open-minded.

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We had a fantastic five-night stay on the Scarlet Lady cruise ship. While we booked the Dominican Daze itinerary, visiting Puerto Plata, DR, and Bimini, Bahamas, in the Caribbean, the cruise was the standout destination on this trip. We loved our Virgin cruise. It wasn’t by any means perfect, but it was enjoyable throughout and the best value for a cruise of this class.

Sailing on Virgin Scarlet Lady Review

This is our first Virgin Voyages cruise and our first time sailing the Lady Ship, Scarlet Lady.

Virgin Voyages Lingo: Lady Ship = Cruise Ship. It comes from the British term ‘Your Ladyship’.

If this is your first time visiting our site, there are a few things you should know as you dive into this review:

  • I [Kathy] travel with my husband; therefore, when I say “we,” I usually mean us.
  • My husband is sober. So, we are not cruising with the goal of drinking our faces off. But I do like a drink here and there.
  • We love to cruise for many reasons, but when we cruise are looking for a great itinerary on a great ship that serves great food, shows, and entertainment.
  • The party scene is not for us, but we love great music.

Virgin Voyages App

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The Virgin Voyages app has the potential to be amazing. The problem is that it does not work as well as it should. Even though we upgraded to Premium Wi-Fi on the ship, it gets bogged down easily, which is frustrating when you’re trying to make reservations. Have some patience while dealing with it. When it works, it works.

  • Download the Virgin Voyages App
  • Check-In Using the App: Complete your check-in process as soon as you can get the best check-in time for cruise day. 
  • Book Dining Reservations at the 60-Day Mark: Mark your calendar to secure your dining spots as soon as the booking window opens, 60 days before your cruise on the app.
  • Use the App for Embarkation Day Check-In: Have the app handy on embarkation day.
  • Book Activities Once Onboard: Connect to the ship’s Wi-Fi to reserve Shore Things (excursions), Fitness Classes, and Entertainment options.
  • Don’t fret if you have issues booking things. You can book many of these things once onboard on that first day, and they will happily work it out for you. Do this first thing you’re onboard.

One of the things we loved about the app was the notifications we received in the messages. You may not have a cruise director, but you have an app to remind you of all your bookings, port information, and the ship’s ongoings.

You can also ‘shake for champagne’ with the app.

Embarkation on Scarlet Lady in the Miami Cruise Port

  • Scarlet Lady embarks in Terminal V of the Miami Cruise Port.
  • You can drop off your baggage with the porters starting at 9 a.m. They provide the luggage tags. (Don’t forget to tip them; they do not work for the cruise line.)
  • Boarding does not start until 2 pm, but depending on your check-in time and status, you can start lining up as early as 1:15 pm.

Full disclosure: We had status matched to Deep Blue Extras with Virgin Voyages in 2023 for 2024.

Deep Blue Extras was a status-match loyalty program they offered until the end of 2023. One of the perks is priority embarkation, which allowed us to embark right after the Rockstars. 

Virgin embarks a little differently from other cruise lines. They have a late embarkation process and are strict about arrival times. Because we had Deep Blue Extras, we lined up to get into the terminal at around 1:15 pm. At 1:30 pm, they allowed us to enter the terminal, where we passed through security, checked in, received our Sea Bands, and then an attendant guided us to a comfortable, air-conditioned terminal.

While we waited in the terminal, music played, and MC worked on getting us excited to board and start our cruise vacation. It was unlike anything we had experienced before embarking on a cruise. Usually, we are frustrated with lines and waiting, but this time, we were excited to make it on the cruise.

Before we knew it, we were boarding the ship. Rockstars boarded first, followed by Deep Blue Extras, Splash of Romance, and timed entry groups. The Happenings cast welcomed us on the cruise as we entered the ship.

Embarkation was a breeze, and it was when we truly started to experience the Virgin Way.

The Scarlet Lady Ship is Like a Trendy Boutique Hotel for Adults Only

The Vibe: The Scarlet Lady cruise ship has a cool, chill vibe that is different from your typical cruise experience. It’s like stepping into a modern boutique hotel that’s classy and a lot of fun. The decor is trendy, clean, and vibrant. I wouldn’t call it 5-star luxury, but it’s relaxed, modern, with a touch of luxury, and enjoyable in its unique way.

No Announcements: What a breath of fresh air — no cruise directors or constant PA announcements! We loved that there were no cruise directors or announcements over the PA during our entire cruise. The Captain spoke only for the welcome and muster drill, hinting at the undisturbed peace we’d enjoy the rest of the cruise.

Entertainment and Leisure The ship sometimes felt like a playground for adults where you could find your inner child by playing board games at the social club, your favorite arcade games, or joining lively dance parties at night. However, you choose to experience it how you want to experience it.

Ample Outdoor Spaces: There was plenty of seating space throughout the cruise ship, not just by the pool areas. The pool decks are small, and there are not enough lounge chairs for everyone.

Quiet Corners: If you want to find a quiet nook, you will. My favorite spot was The Dock, where I could relax with a drink and small bites.

The Layout: Navigating the ship is an adventure in itself, with a layout that encourages discovery. Getting lost was part of the charm, leading to new finds. I’m sure there were spots on Scarlet Lady I didn’t get to see.

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Photographic Opp: The fun Instagrammble spots throughout the ship made for great photos.

Scarlet Lady’s XL Sea Terrace Cabin

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We booked the XL Sea Terrace Cabin on the Scarlet Lady. Initially, we were assigned to a cabin that didn’t even have one of their infamous red terrace hammocks—a chair instead. When we found out, we immediately called, and they kindly moved us to a cabin with a hammock.

So, just be aware that some XL cabins do not have hammocks for security reasons because of their location on the ship. You’ll also find that instead of a glass partition, there is a metal one.

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Our final assigned cabin on this Scarlet Lady itinerary was XL Sea Terrace 12322A. It’s located on deck 12, portside (what the “A” stands for), and FWD.

Tip: Always research your cabin # on YouTube or Google to see if you can find photos or videos of the cabin. 

This XL Sea Terrace cabin worked out great for us during our stay. It did have its pros and cons, but the cons are superficial at best and do not stray us from booking it again.

We loved: 

  • The bathroom in this cabin category is larger than the regular Sea Terrace, with a separate toilet and rain shower. If you’re tall, you’ll appreciate this shower.
  • The mattress was so comfortable, which surprised us since it was a sofabed turned into a bed.
  • Located near the forward elevators.
  • Quiet area of the ship. Never heard noise overnight. 
  • The tablet controls everything in the cabin (except the bathroom light) and where you can order services.
  • All the free movies are included.
  • They refill the still and sparkling water daily.

We didn’t love:

  • Ikea-like decor. Didn’t match the rest of the ship.
  • The sofabed situation.
  • There was just enough storage for 2 for a short stay.
  • No other seating in the room besides the ottoman.
  • The cabin is starting to show its wear and tear. 

That said, we’d stay in this cabin again.

Dining on Scarlet Lady

How was the dining on Scarlet Lady? Above and beyond what we expected. 

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that food is my love language. When I booked my cruise on Virgin Voyages, my priority was the food. I couldn’t get to everything within the five nights on the cruise. I did get to dine at five out of six sit-down restaurants, had brunch at The Wake and Razzle, and tried a few things from the Galley.

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We loved that The Galley was not a buffet but more like a food court with the option of having servers take your orders. You could make lines, but with a flag raised for service at a table, they came quickly to take your order. Not only was the food made fresh, but I think it also helped reduce food waste and kept people from touching everything.

My final verdict is that Virgin Voyages has some of the best food at sea I’ve tried so far. Almost every meal was like eating at a specialty restaurant. The dining experience was as good as eating at some of my favorite restaurants here in Pasadena. The food was high quality.

The best part is that ALL dining from the 20 eateries is included, except for a few upcharges for extravagant selections like oysters and caviar. Fountain drinks (sodas), teas, and regular coffee are also included.

The downside is making and finding reservations for the sit-down restaurants. You can make reservations on the Virgin Voyages app at 12:01 am EST 60 days before cruise day or on embarkation day; straighten that out immediately.

A few standouts (but not all) of the amazingness we loved:

  • Pink Agave: The Ribeye (Bistec Marinero en Escabeche)
  • Razzle Dazzle: The Fried Chicken
  • The Test Kitchen: The Venison
  • The Wake: Steak and Eggs
  • Korean BBQ: Spicy Chicken appetizer
  • The Daily Mix at The Galley: Spinach and Quinoa Salad
  • Well Bread: Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • The Sweet Side at The Galley: Pistachio Macaron
  • The Social Club: The Pretzel
  • The Grounds Club: Excellent espresso drinks
  • Like Me Till Ice Cream: Stop by for the flavor of the day
  • The Pizza Palace: Pretty Fly For a White Pie

Pink Agave is one restaurant to add to your must-eats.

We missed dining at Extra Virgin (not enough days in our itinerary) but only heard amazing things about it when we spoke to other sailors.

Virgin Voyages Lingo: Sailors = passengers

❤️ Be aware of the food pushers serving you at all the dining establishments. They will ensure you leave happy and full and will not let you leave until you’ve had dessert.

We watched a couple try to sneak out without dessert, and the waitress caught them just in time and lovingly ordered them to sit down for dessert. It was a hilarious moment in which they said they’d stay for a taste and then ate the entire thing.

🍽️ Late-night Eats: Diner & Dash is open 24 hours, and The Pizza Place is open until 1 am.

We will have another post about our dining experience and guide.

The Scarlet Lady Crew

Speaking of food pushers, the ship’s crew we interacted with throughout the cruise couldn’t have been more helpful, happy, and going out of their way to ensure we had a great vacation. Everyone we encountered was nice and ready to assist, from the cabin attendants to the shore things staff. 

On our last night, when hubby decided to get a latte from Sips bar (Grounds Club was closed), the bartender went out of his way to get my husband a to-go cup they normally do not have at the bar. We couldn’t have been more thankful, even though we hadn’t asked him to go out of his way. The bartender replied and said it best, “It’s just the rockstar treatment.” 

Even though we were not staying in the Rockstar Quarters and wearing black bands, we felt we got excellent service throughout our time on the Lady Ship.

Scarlet Night on Virgin

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One of the biggest nights on Virgin Voyages ships is Scarlet Night. It is THE NIGHT that everyone looks forward to. This night is a ship-wide event and celebration that starts with sailors dressing in red and transforming the ship into an array of festivities.

The evening is a tribute to the Octopus Goddess of the Sea and the Sailor whose love story captured her heart. 

We are not partiers. We were unsure what to expect, but we dressed in red and went out to experience what made this night so epic. We found out that this night is more than just a party.

The ship COMES ALIVE. 

From deck to deck, you find everything lit up and decorated for the night. Music, entertainment, and live bands playing from one venue to another. Performances popping up when you least expect it.

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Later in the night, there is the pool party. It is unlike anything we ever experienced on a cruise. There were dancers and entertainment. The DJ is playing a remix of music from old school to present that would have gotten anyone up to dance at some point. The music was amazing!

It really takes off when everyone jumps into the pool to dance—well, not everyone. Many onlookers and people on the top deck take in the festivities from afar. You can enjoy the night as you see fit.

We watched and danced, but there was no pool jumping – maybe in the future.

We thought the night was EPIC and so much fun. We finally understood the hype.

The Happenings Cast on Scarlet and Entertainment

From day one to the end, The Happenings Cast enthusiastically welcomed us and saw us off. You can always make out who they are bouncing with energy, which I appreciate – it keeps me feeling young. You see them at activities and performances throughout the ship.

We didn’t attend many of the activities and shows. Most of the time, the times did not work for us, and the venue was fully booked. However, we did get to see the Diva playing Karaoke and singing at one of the bars, some other fun pop-up performances by the cast, and the band playing at The Dockhouse, which was good.

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Duel Reality in the Red Room

Duel Reality:  I booked a reservation upon getting on board. This is a modern tale of Romeo and Juliet with dancing and acrobatics at the Red Room. You must give the show a moment to take off and get into it because you’re impressed by the incredible talent once you do. It was a beautiful and fun show about love and not war.

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Lols Supper Club in The Manor

LOLs Supper Club: Reservations recommended. This is a comedy club hour with dinner at The Manor, a nice venue. We chose not to eat and only got drinks since we were heading to the Test Kitchen afterward. There were three comedians; the first two were okay, and the last was the funniest. The host was full of lame jokes but funny because they were intentional. 

There is one complaint about the lack of entertainment on the ship. We didn’t see it that way because we like to relax during the day. What we did find is that shows are booked quickly.

Disembarking Scarlet Lady

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The 1-2 days before disembarkation, you will receive a notification to book your disembarkation time. You do this through the Shore Things section of the app. We chose a 9:45 am disembarkation and chose to keep our luggage.

We had one of the easiest walk-offs on a ship we’ve ever had. It’s not because we decided to keep our luggage with us but because we got to sleep and disembark the ship at around 10 am.

That’s right—10 am! I fell in love with Virgin Voyages even more. Technically, you have up to 10:30 a.m. to get off the ship, which is not how it’s traditionally done with other mainstream cruise lines.

The Best Value We’ve Booked on a Cruise

Booking the cheapest cruise doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the best value. That also applies the other way around; booking the most expensive cruise doesn’t mean you’ll have the best cruise.

The value of what is spent may mean something different to you than it does to us. We paid almost $3500 for our Scarlet Lady Cruise in an XL Sea Terrace, which came with a couple of promotions: a $350 bar tab and $600 in sailor loot. Plus, a $100 bar tab for being Deep Blue Extras, $10 a day at Grounds Club, and Premium Wi-Fi for one.

Virgin Voyages includes all dining, entertainment, gratuities, basic Wi-Fi, and Fitness classes in your cruise fare. Their offer is the closest to an all-inclusive experience at sea because they don’t nickel and dime you for specialty restaurants, soda, and every other little thing on the ship.

We spent most of our sailor loot at Shore Things, so Virgin paid for our excursions. They also paid for the Premium Wi-Fi upgrade for hubby. We never spent the bar tab, but believe me, we tried.

With all that they offer, along with the quality of their food, top service, and beautiful ship, this cruise was the best value we’ve booked in a long time.

We will sail with Virgin again as we purchased the My Next Virgin Cruise Voyage while on the ship.

Other Thoughts, Pros, Cons, and Things You Should Know

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Private Pool Cabanas
  • Instead of a cruise sea pass card, you’re given a sea band for your cabin and all charges.
  • Loved the to-go containers for food in The Galley and The Dockhouse. And the fact that they are reusable and environmentally friendly.
  • Love the inclusivity on the ship and the you-do-you motto.
  • The casino on Scarlet Lady is too small and situated inconveniently by The Manor.
  • The tattoo shop is a surprising and fun addition to a cruise ship. FYI: Their spots get booked up quickly.
  • Get to the pool earlier if you want seating and a laid-back vibe. The vibe changes once the DJ starts around 1:30 p.m. Tip: Book a private pool cabana for an extra charge.
  • At The Groupie, you can find Karaoke rooms that you can book for up to 10 people.
  • If you can’t get into a restaurant, Diner & Dash always has a special meal of the night, such as prime rib and truffle mash.
  • The cocktails they offer on board are not typical frozen vacation cocktails. Throughout the ship, you’ll find more mixed and crafted cocktails.

What is the average age on Virgin Voyages?

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady’s demographic includes people in their mid-twenties to the late 60s and above, with a higher representation of adults in their 30s to 40s.

Is there a formal night on Virgin Voyages?

Virgin Voyages does not have formal nights. Instead, the cruise line promotes a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere where passengers are encouraged to express their personal style. Additionally, the cruise line celebrates themed nights such as “Scarlet Night” and “We Fancy Night,” where sailors are invited to dress in red and gold, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Is Virgin Scarlet Lady adult only?

Yes, Virgin Scarlet Lady is for adults only. Virgin Voyages is an adult-only cruise line.


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Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she's become a pro at crafting unforgettable tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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