Virgin Voyages is the latest cruise line to make waves in the industry, bringing a fleet of ships targeted at a younger-than-typical cruise market. Emerging in early 2020 with the first ship, Scarlet Lady, and – after the delay caused by the pandemic – the cruise line has now re-emerged with a second ship in tow and two more in production.

It’s clear to see that the line is set to shake up the industry with a new offering; adult-only ships intended to offer all-inclusive dining, quirky accommodations, hi-tech novelties and a wellbeing focus.

In May 2022, my partner and I spent a week’s holiday on-board Valiant Lady, Scarlet Lady’s sister ship, while exploring the West Mediterranean. Read on to see what we thought of our first-time onboard Virgin Voyages.

Arriving to Valiant Lady

The week-long itinerary started in Barcelona, Valiant Lady’s homeport for summer 2022. Arriving to see the ship docked right in the heart of the city was certainly a sight to see. The red branding and sleekness of the ship set amongst the palm-fringed roads and blazing sunshine made for an inviting setting that I couldn’t wait to step aboard and start our holiday!

Valiant Lady docked in Barcelona

The itinerary we booked was the French Daze & Ibiza Nights, with calls in Marseille, Cannes, Olbia and Ibiza. In Cannes and Ibiza, the ship docked overnight, so you had plenty of time to explore. The full itinerary was as follows:

  • Day 1 – Departing Barcelona (6pm)
  • Day 2 – Marseille (8am to 8pm)
  • Day 3 – Cannes (8am through overnight)
  • Day 4 – Cannes (leaving 2pm)
  • Day 5 – Olbia (8am to 6pm)
  • Day 6 – Ibiza (7pm through overnight)
  • Day 7 – Ibiza (leaving 6pm)
  • Day 8 – Returning to Barcelona for embarkation

This was my partner’s first ocean cruise experience too, so I was looking forward to seeing what he thought of Virgin Voyages’ approach and its target market.

Want to sail this itinerary? Take a look at our latest Mediterranean Virgin Voyages deals online here!

What were the health and safety protocols for Valiant Lady?

Previous to embarkation, Virgin Voyages ask you to complete your check-in and health questionnaire in their app, as well as COVID test within 72 hours of boarding. This was straightforward and easy to follow, ending with an option in the app to select your embarkation time to help ease the flow of the crowd. Ours was 3pm, so we had a bit of time after flying into the city to relax before stepping aboard. You can drop off your luggage beforehand at the terminal so you aren’t taking it with you as well and the crew will take this to your cabin ready for you.

What is The Band with Virgin Voyages?

Once you’re ready to embark, your test result confirmation and passports are checked, and you’re given the Band – a bracelet device which is your go-to for purchases made on-board, checking out and back in on the ship, as well as unlocking your stateroom. This is an adjustable bracelet that you can wear round-the-clock, including in the pool and shower. It’s very handy for scanning into your room and ordering drinks without rummaging for your key card all the time too!

The Band shown as a bracelet

From the moment you’re on-board, you can get straight into holiday mode. A champagne sail-away out of Barcelona started what seemed to be shaping up to be a memorable sailing.

Settling into the Sea Terrace

Sea Terrace cabin on-board Valiant Lady

We headed to our cabin to freshen up and settle in before the evening. Our luggage was ready for us when we arrived at the cabin after dropping it off earlier. We were staying in a Sea Terrace for our time on-board, which is Virgin’s version of a Balcony. The lights flicked on automatically upon the door opening and our curtains were open to bring in the sun from our terrace. Since the launch and during the development of their additional ships, Virgin Voyages have reviewed its cabin décor and design to bring a modern take on a traditional cruise accommodation.

What’s included in the Sea Terrace with Virgin Voyages?

As you enter your Sea Terrace, there’s an open wardrobe for hanging items, as well as above storage and a closed unit with drawers, a safe and towels. The opposite is your bathroom with a roomy shower featuring two shower heads including a rainfall type. In here, there’s a large mirror with lights on either end, storage space beside and below the sink as well as rails and hooks to hang your towels and clothes.

Bathroom in the Sea Terrace cabin

In the main area of the cabin, you can find a desk equipped with a lamp and a tablet – this is your control for the TV, curtains and lighting. There’s also a mirror above the desk as well as plenty of plugs so it’s ideal for getting ready! Below the desk sits your complimentary water, a bin, a small stool and a mini-fridge.

Desk area in the Sea Terrace cabin

A full-length mirror sits in the corner as well as a chair, while the full-size bed is beside the balcony window. Each side had a small hard surface where you could rest a drink or your phone, with one side being able to pull away from the bed and move around the room. Our suitcases also fit easily underneath to tidy them away.

Bedside surface in the Sea Terrace cabin

On the terrace, there were two chairs and a small table as well as a hand-woven hammock which stretched out long enough to lie down in!

Amenities include plenty of towels including facecloths, hand towels, a shower mat and bath sheets. In the bathroom, there’s a small bar of soap, loo rolls, tissues, as well as body wash, shampoo and conditioner in the shower. The room also includes a safe, complimentary water with glasses, and a range of plug sockets for EU adaptors, USBs and US adaptors.

Balcony area in the Sea Terrace cabin

I loved the cabin and its style, which was simple and modern. The cabins are classed as ‘clever cabins’ by Virgin as the lights and air conditioning automatically switch on and off when you enter or exit the room, conserving energy when not needed. The products available to use, such as the bathroom amenities, are also all created to be eco-friendly, and the hammock has been hand-woven from recycled materials.

Do you get room service with Virgin Voyages?

If you’re planning room service this is available 24 hours and comes with a small $5 charge, unless you order drinks then this charge is waived. This is perfect for those late-night burger cravings or movie night snacks. We ordered drinks one afternoon while getting ready and they came in quick time, wrapped in a bag which kept them secure. You just place it back outside your room to be collected by staff.

Exploring Valiant Lady

Outside the cabin and throughout the ship, the décor changes depending on the bar you’re in or restaurant. This gave a feel that there’s somewhere for every mood and vibe. The centre of the ship – The Roundabout – is where a spiral staircase leads to various entertainment and dining venues, as well as boutique shops, Squid Ink (the ship’s tattoo parlour), hairdressers and the casino.

The Roundabout on Valiant Lady

What food is included with your Virgin Voyages cruise?

With over 20 eateries to indulge your appetite, there’s a great choice when it comes to dining from morning to evening on-board. You can pre-book your reservations for selected dining venues via the app, which I did for a few that I didn’t want to miss out on. While sailing, you can also change, cancel or add more reservations but there is a limit on how many times you can visit the same restaurant, depending on your duration. There’s also the option to walk in, which is fine if you’re a two or three, but larger groups are advised to book ahead.

Selection of food in The Galley on Valiant Lady

Walking through the ship, there was a buzz of excitement as we sailed out of Barcelona to our first port of call. The ship wasn’t at full capacity which is typically 2,700 passengers, but it was busy enough to create an atmosphere in the bars and dining venues. We didn’t struggle to find seats or tables in most places we visited and I didn’t feel like we waited long to be served or seen to by staff.

Virgin Voyages Foodie Highlights

I could talk about the food on-board Valiant Lady in detail as it was the best that I’ve ever had on a cruise ship. Virgin Voyages made it part of their culture to offer incredible foodie experiences that are as tasty as they are diverse, and they certainly lived up to expectations. From steakhouses and Korean BBQ to international food markets and late-night pizza, no matter your mood there’s something for every appetite. Here are a few of our favourites from our time on-board.

Extra Virgin

Extra Virgin offers Italian fare which is elevated to bring a five-course menu packed with traditional favourites and freshly prepared dishes. The venue has an understated Italian influence with lots of seating, neutral tones with pink and green highlights creating a relaxed venue to sit in.

Extra Virgin

 Antipasto starters feature smoked mozzarella and pancetta meatballs and beef carpaccio, followed by a chef’s selection of cheeses and cooked meats. Pasta dishes and mains come next with options including pappardelle al ragu, grilled sea bass and bucatini carbonara. You can round off the meal with a selection of desserts and a choice of homemade gelatos and affogato prepared tableside as well as a chilled limoncello to toast.

Antipasti course in Extra Virgin

The Wake

The Wake is the ship’s steak venue, and it offers a menu as grand as the setting. Stationed at the back of the ship with window views out to sea, the Wake serves up seafood, steak and sides aplenty while you enjoy the ambience.

View from The Wake on Valiant Lady

We tried clam chowder and roasted bone marrow to start, followed by filet mignon and New Zealand lamb chops with sides of mushrooms, creamed spinach and twice-baked potatoes, as well as tarragon salsa verde and bone marrow bearnaise. This was rounded off with an indulgent hazelnut chocolate tart.

Hazlenut tart served in The Wake

We also visited here for brunch during the cruise, which is served between 8am and 1pm. Poached shrimp, steak and eggs, brioche French toast and a range of eggs benedicts are some of the menu items available. There’s also a bottomless brunch available for $25pp with bottomless pours of selected wines, mimosas, bloody Marys, beer and cider.

Brunch served in The Wake

Razzle Dazzle

Veggie-forward and bold in design, Razzle Dazzle offers vegan-friendly menus with creative surprises. The venue is bright with black and white stripes mixed with the bright red of Virgin branding. The menu continues the cheeky vibes with a ‘naughty’ and ‘nice’ side, sectioning out the plant-based dishes with the meats and sweet options.

Razzle Dazzle on Valiant Lady

Visiting for dinner, starters include mushroom ‘tartare’ accompanied with tarragon salsa verde and house-made crostini or nutty gazpacho with roasted garlic croutons.

The Impossible™ burger in Razzle Dazzle

Mains featured heirloom squash ravioli and the Impossible™ burger, plus the fried chicken and pork schnitzel from the ‘naughty’ side. Staff also shared the secret menu with us when ordering, which features items not included in the typical menu including butter chicken curry and NYC strip steak.

Pink Agave

Mexican meets tapas, Pink Agave is a street food-inspired venue which also plays home to one of the largest Mezcal collections at sea. The venue is designed with deep blue and pink hues, brightly lit with the quirky entrance and golden colours of the tequila bottles on display.

Pink Agave on Valiant Lady

The menu is split into small, medium and large plates, the first two of which you are encouraged to share amongst your fellow dinner guests while ordering a large plate all to yourself.

Dish served in PInk Agave

These include guacamole, grilled corn, seared shrimp and roasted chicken, as well as roasted duck, smoked pork and ribeye steak. Desserts included a chocolate taco and capirotada (bread pudding with rum raisins).

Mezcal collection in Pink Agave

Test Kitchen

Part laboratory, part eatery, Test Kitchen marries experiential foodie delights with deliciously unique dishes for a memorable experience. Sitting right at the edge of the production line, watch chefs create and serve each of the six-course menus in great detail.

Staff in the Test Kitchen

The venue is inspired by Auguste Escoffier, providing an educational experience for all to enjoy. The menus rotate between two or three options, including a vegetarian option. Each menu is just a simple one word per course: corn salmon, beetroot, lamb, asparagus and strawberry; which leaves much to be imagined and adds to the surprise.

Menu in the Test Kitchen

I won’t go into much detail on what to expect for each course as it adds to the experience, but it was one of my favourite venues of them all!

The Test Kitchen on Valiant Lady


The most sociable dining venue, Gunbae is Virgin Voyage’s answer to Korean BBQ. With guests grouped together into groups of six, the venue is great for hands-on grilling, fun and games. Circular tables keep the conversation flowing while the centrally fitted BBQ hot plate offers the chance to roast, grill and sear your food.

Dining in Gunbae

Menu items feature crispy chicken and short ribs, accompanied by stir-fried vegetables, rice, seaweed, and noodles. Kimchi stew was a favourite of mine alongside the kalbi (marinated beef short ribs).

Shots of soju shared out during games in Gunbae

One of the stand-out novelties of this venue is the drinking games the staff teaches you at the start. Designed to be played with a shot of soju – a popular Korean beverage – each game is a great way to break the ice and make new friends at the dinner table.

The Galley

If you’re not feeling like visiting a restaurant or want a quick bite before starting your day, the Galley is great and offers a wide range of options for breakfast, dinner and afternoon. There’s plenty of seating where you can access the QR code at your table.

View down The Galley

While similar to a buffet in terms of food counters each offering different dishes, that’s where the similarities end. Staff will appear to take your order at the table and bring it to you, saving you circling the food court wondering what to choose and overloading your plate!

Food options in The Galley

Options include a dedicated bakery and pastry shop, paninis, a burger grill, a taco shack, a sushi bar with bento boxes, a noodle bar, a soup and salad stand plus a 24-hour American diner. My favourites were the smoked salmon and cream cheese on rye and mozzarella, tomato and balsamic panini from Hot Off The Press and the French toast from the Burger Bar.

Hot Off The Press in The Galley

The Dock House

The place we revisited time and time again while on our sailing was the Dock House. The outdoor space was completely relaxed with a live guitarist most afternoons and early evenings.

The Dock House on Valiant Lady

Situated on a low deck at the very back of the ship, the sea views and relaxed Mediterranean vibes made for a great spot for a pre-dinner drink!

Kebabs served in the Dock House

If you’re hungry, you can indulge in small bites from the mezze cart or grill including grilled shrimp, roasted chicken thigh and hanger steak.

Late Nights and Lounging aboard Valiant Lady

Aside from dining – though there is a lot of it to be had – the entertainment and nightlife on-board Valiant Lady is one-of-a-kind. Immersive and interactive, enjoy modern takes on comedy, cabaret and karaoke for show-stopping entertainment to enjoy each and every night.

What is the entertainment like with Virgin Voyages?

Venues include the Manor which is a two-storey space with bars, a glittering entrance and a 70’s vibe. Here you can enjoy the cheeky ‘Never Sleep Alone’ for an intimate, tongue-in-cheek look at romantic relationships as well as ‘Cocktails with the Diva’ where the resident drag queen stars in a show packed with cabaret, interactive games and cocktails.

Show in The Manor

The Red Room is the theatre space, which is the first-ever transformational, multi-form venue that is flexible to the show you’re seeing. During our sailing, we watched award-winning comics and the ship’s acrobatic retelling of Romeo & Juliet, ‘Duel Reality’.

‘Duel Reality’ in the Red Room

Other elements of entertainment include live music throughout the numerous bars on-board including a blue band, acoustic guitarist and the house band. One of the stand-out evenings for entertainment was the Scarlet Night where the entire ship is transformed into flash mobs, unexpected pop-up moments and interactive fun for all. This ended with a pool party where staff and guests are encouraged to let loose, kick off their shoes and jump into the pool – certainly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

‘Scarlet Night’ on Valiant Lady

For those seeking a more relaxed time, there’s also a casino where you can enjoy roulette, blackjack and poker. If you’re a shy singer who wants to enjoy a song battle with friends you can visit the Groupie for private karaoke booked exclusively for you and your fellow Sailors.

The Social Club and Arcade also offer go-to spaces to relaxing with casual games like air hockey, shuffleboard, foosball and board games aplenty. The Arcade is free to use and kitted out with nostalgic games that will send you back to your childhood with a smile. If you’re thirsty or peckish, there are two bars here: The Loose Cannon and a diner where you can find alcoholic milkshakes, hot dogs, popcorn and pretzels to make it feel like you’re at the fair.

The Social Club bar

What activities are there to do in the daytime on Virgin Voyages?

In the daytime, activities on our Valiant Lady sailing centred around wellbeing and fitness. All group workout classes are included in your cruise fare which included sun-rise yoga, meditation, HIIT workouts and bungee classes. These can be reserved in the app so you can guarantee a spot on the fitness you don’t want to miss out on!

Bungee class on Virgin Voyages

There’s also a state-of-the-art gym available to use, complete with weights, rowers, treadmills and more to continue your exercise regime – or even be inspired to start a new one! Personal training sessions were available if you wanted one-on-one attention to help get started.

Aquatic Club on Valiant Lady

For those seeking a more chilled day, the Redemption Spa is the place to go for massages and mud rooms, while there is also a barber, and a hair and nail salon to get you looking glam.

Other activities included a basketball court with dodgeball, a jogging track, a tattoo studio – Squid Ink, two pools and multiple hot tubs around the ship, as well as quizzes, bingo, live music and numerous themed social gatherings in various settings and venues.

Sunrise yoga class on Virgin Voyages

How do you use the Virgin Voyages app?

One of the ways Virgin Voyages keeps up with the digital times we now find ourselves in is through its innovative app. You can download the app before you set sail and use this to upload all the pre-embarkation information required, as well as book your dinner reservations and shore excursions.

App on Virgin Voyages

When you’re on-board, you can navigate the ship’s agenda and see what’s going on throughout your sailing, as well as check you’re account, message fellow passengers and order Ship Eats (the cruise line’s name for food and drink deliveries).

Is Virgin Voyages good value for money?

After seven nights sailing across the Mediterranean with Valiant Lady, I’d say it is great value for money.

In addition to our cruise fare, we pre-paid for our Bar Tab which included an extra $100 for every $300 we loaded, taking our total value to $800 for all our drinks throughout the sailing. We mainly drank cocktails ranging from $9 to $14; beer which was around $8 and spirits with mixers which were about $10, so it lasted us nearly all cruise.

We also spent $30 on a laundry service to get a full five days’ worth of washing cleaned and folded, as we had a short stay in Barcelona after our cruise. It was great value as it meant we had all our clothes cleaned and ready to wear again.

Exterior view of Valiant Lady

What is included with Virgin Voyages?

The food is the best I’ve had compared to any other cruise line and with over 20 eateries alone to choose from, that’s an incredible value already! As for drinks, soft drinks, water, teas and coffees, plus non-pressed juices are available for no additional fee.

On-board activities include the use of the gym, fitness classes (only group sessions), and access to the Athletic Club complete with a training zone where you can enjoy outdoor yoga, a boxing ring, a jogging track and a well-being pool. For the evening, enjoy nightly entertainment at your leisure with theatre, interactive shows and live music to pick and choose from depending on your mood.

There are also some basic inclusions such as Basic Wi-Fi and gratuities on all services, even spa treatments.

I felt that, for those on a budget or who aren’t into drinking too much, the cost was competitive and offered good value for what I got in return and I’d be more than happy to sail with the cruise line all over again!

What isn’t included with Virgin Voyages?

While there is over $600 of inclusions already covered in your cruise fare when you book a Virgin Voyages sailing, there are some things which aren’t included:

  • Alcoholic drinks, speciality coffees and other hot drinks, smoothies and milkshakes: These aren’t included as standard and prices vary depending on what you order. You can pre-load a Bar Tab which is Virgin Voyages version of a drinks package to spend on these drinks while you sail.
  • Spa treatments and access: These need to be purchased also, with treatments including massages and facials for that perfect bit of ‘me time’.
  • Some fitness classes and workouts: While the group sessions are included, some classes are an added extra for you to experience
  • Tattoo parlour: Yes, Virgin Voyages has its own tattoo studio on-board! But, if you’re planning an appointment ensure you book early as it can fill up early.
  • Shore excursions: Exploring ashore with Virgin Voyages will cost you extra too, with these ranging from experiences such as walking tours to tailored unique packages only available with the cruise line. These can be purchased before boarding through the app.

My top tips for cruising with Virgin Voyages

  • You can take alcohol on-board to help save money – Each cabin is allowed two 750ml bottles of wine which must be in your carry-on luggage, not your checked luggage. This is great for those getting-ready drinks or evening tipples on your balcony.
  • Pre-book your dinner reservations – Even if you’re only a small group or a couple, if there are venues you really don’t want to miss out on then I’d recommend you book as slots for popular times can go quickly.
  • Read your ship’s agenda for the next few days as soon as you board – You can only make new bookings after boarding when you’re on the ship and certain shows or fitness classes go fast! Look out for what you like and try to book soon as you can so you don’t miss your chance.
  • Different venues offer different cocktails – When you’re exploring the ship, some venues offer cocktails which are exclusive to them so it’s great to try them while you’re there. I highly recommend the Bees Please from the Dock House – it was one of my favourites!
  • Pre-purchase your Bar Tab – To keep your costs in check and even gain some extra $s, pre-purchase your Bar Tab. Virgin Voyages sometimes offer between $50 and $100 extra ‘loot’ to spend for doing so and you can start spending as soon as you board.

If this sounds like a cruise you’d like to experience first-hand, take a look at our latest Virgin Voyages sailings on our website here. Or, give us a call and speak to Virgin Voyages experts to find out more about this cruise line.

Emma Smith
Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

One Response to “A Valiant Start for Virgin Voyages: A review of life on-board this brand-new cruise line”

  1. Ian Hughes

    Adults Only but no mention of the typical passenger age range. How suitable is it for two octogenarians?


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