We need to talk about Scarlet Lady. She’s the new cruise ship for Virgin Voyages, and she was always designed to be different.
In 2020 I spent a night on the ship and shared the following review:
There are certain things about this ship which I loved, and others where I really think that Virgin has made massive mistakes.
Virgin specifically hired people who hadn’t worked in the cruise industry before to design this ship, and it is really obvious. The ship is beautiful, but in the pursuit of style, some cruising basics have been completely left out.
I was so ready to fall in love with this ship and the Virgin brand. Unfortunately, I came away more convinced than ever that Virgin isn’t the right cruise line for me. I’m sure they’re for somebody, but it just isn’t for me.
Sea Terrace Cabin Review
We’ve got to start this video by talking about the Sea Terrace Cabin.
This cabin has been seriously controversial because it features a converting bed. By day, the cabin looks like the below:
Converting Sea Bed
By night it looks like the below:
I didn’t have any problems with the bed itself, it was fairly comfortable. I personally don’t really see the point of it converting, but I do see how others would enjoy the extra space.
It is just a lot more work for the cabin stewards, though, and I’d probably end up just asking to have it left as a bed.
I had my cabin set up as a double, but the bed can also be twins.
If you do have the bed as twins, though, you have to sleep head to head or feet to feet, and I don’t think I would wanna do that.
There are a few things about this cabin that I find very annoying.
Bedside Tables and Storage
There are no bedside tables at all, there’s nowhere to put your phone or your drink. I put my drink on the arm of the sofa, but it did feel very, very dangerous. Putting it on the floor makes it feel like you are sleeping on a friend’s sofa.
There are some plug sockets by one side of the bed, but if you’re staying on the other side, you won’t be able to charge your phone when you’re laying in bed. I know that these are small things, but I imagine that they would get annoying very fast.
I personally like the design and the look of the cabin. Many people have described it as looking like an IKEA showroom, but I do love IKEA, so maybe that’s why I like it.
I love that Virgin have tried to do something different with the cabins. I really think that Virgin Voyages are what the cruise industry needs, just to shake things up a little.
That said, I feel as though some things have been changed just for the sake of being different.
They didn’t really need to be changed, and in some circumstances, it has made things worse.
Lack of Storage
The cabin, for example, has no storage. There are no drawers or cupboards anywhere in the cabin apart from in the closet by the door.
I would like to have a few drawers by the bed, and, at a minimum, a drawer for chargers and cables over by the desk.
I pack very lightly, and I still think that I would find the lack of storage a problem.
The closet itself is a good size, there are lots of shelves and there’s space for hanging clothes.
Realistically, you’ll probably have your suitcases in here too, because they won’t fit under the bed, which is what most people do with their suitcases.
If you have a particularly small suitcase, it might fit under the bed, but anything bigger than a size small is not gonna fit, and it’s gonna have to go in the wardrobe.
Light Switch/Do Not Disturb Button
There is something interesting in the closet, though. It’s the main light switch to the cabin and the Do Not Disturb button. I had friends who stayed on this ship who actually never managed to find the button. I did, but it took me about 20 minutes.
I’ve been cruising since I was a child, and I’ve been on 29 cruises to date. I’ve never seen such ridiculous placement of a light switch. It makes no sense to me at all.
You literally have to push your clothes out of the way to find the light switch. I hadn’t even unpacked, I didn’t have anything in the closet, and it still took me 20 minutes to find the light switch.
Virgin has said that the lights will be controlled by an iPad in the room which wasn’t present during my visit.
Virgin Voyages Demographic
I’m 25, and I should be the perfect Virgin Voyages passenger, but honestly, I don’t know who I’d recommend the cruise line to.
The cruises seem to be marketed at younger passengers, but for a four-night cruise in this cabin, you’re realistically looking at at least $1,300.
This does include all your tips, all your dining onboard, basic drinks, which is really good, but I just don’t know anybody who can afford these prices. I definitely can’t.
The bathroom is very well designed and looks very modern. That said, it is the smallest bathroom that I’ve ever had on a cruise. I’ve literally stayed in a wigwam which had a bigger bathroom than this cruise ship, which is just crazy.
That said, I love the way that they’ve changed the shape of the toilet.
On all other cruises that I’ve ever been on, the toilet is exactly the same shape, and this one definitely is better.
I do worry about the size of the bathroom, though, specifically for larger cruisers. I struggled a bit to get in and out of the shower and change in this little space.
The shower has the most amazing waterfall showerhead, and it’s really, really nice when you get in there.
I did have to shower with my foot on the door, though, because it kept opening into me and the water was going everywhere.
Usually, there’s a magnet or a latch, or something to keep the shower door closed on cruise ships, but mine didn’t have anything like this.
I’m not sure if this is an example of non-cruisers designing a cruise ship, or maybe it’s just one of those little things that Virgin needs to work out.
Balcony and Hammock
This is their first cruise ship, and they’ve taken on a massive task. The cabin had a pretty big balcony compared to other cruise ships, which is definitely a plus point.
There’s also a hammock on the balcony, which I imagine is amazing in warm weather.
Another thing that I did like is that the cabins are split into A and Z. This makes it really easy to know which side your cabin is on, so you’ll have your cabin number, and then it will say A at the end or it’ll say Z.
I spent ages looking for my room, and this definitely helps.
You do have the same numbers on each side, as far as I’m aware, so this could cause some confusion with people trying to get into their room, but on the wrong side. Hopefully, that won’t happen, but I can see people making that mistake.
I do love how signs like this are labeled, though, with forward, mid, and aft. It makes it so much easier when you’re walking around the ship to know where you actually are.
Speaking of larger cruises, a lot of the chairs on board are really impractical.
I know this makes me sound incredibly boring, but things still need to be functional even if they’re pretty. There are a number of seats where you’d have to scoot all the way around, and if you’re at the back, and you wanted to get out to go to the toilet, you’re going to have to make four or five other people file out.
A lot of the seats have a very fixed design, and I’m not really even sure what to say about this one.
I think that restaurants like this do look amazing. All dining is included on Virgin Voyages, which is fantastic.
There are over 20 places to eat on Scarlet Lady, and there are loads of vegan options on their menu, which I love.
There is soda included too in the cruise fare, and soda machines in the buffet, which is brilliant.
Buffet (Or Lack of)
Virgin Voyages don’t call their buffet a buffet, but to me, it looked and acted like a buffet. A very, very nice buffet, don’t get me wrong, but nevertheless, I don’t really understand Virgin’s need to not call it a buffet.
I sat down in the buffet to eat, and I almost got stuck. I’m not overweight, but I really struggled to get my thigh through the gap to sit at the table. To get out, I had to swing my legs around and stand up this way. It isn’t a problem for me, but I definitely worry about larger cruisers.
Generally speaking, I like the design of the restaurants, the bars, and the public spaces onboard.
The Red Room (Theatre)
The Red Room is what other cruise lines would call the theater, and I loved the way that the seating is split over both sides.
We watched an acrobatic show, and because the seating was like this, we felt very close to the action. It was almost like watching some kind of sporting event.
Main Swimming Pool
An area that has received a lot of negative comments online is the main and only swimming pool on board. The below is the only pool, and it is tiny.
You would be lucky to get four people in the actual pool. The outer part does get filled with water, but this is more of a splash pool than a swimming pool.
The raised edge around the pool means that it would be impossible to get into if you’re not very steady on your feet.
I don’t really know what else to say about this, it is just tiny. Much smaller cruise ships with other cruise lines like Princess have four or five swimming pools. This one is just so small.
There are loads of amazing outdoor spaces on board, but unfortunately, I was on the ship in the UK, and all we saw was gray skies.
I love the exercise area with jacuzzi, and I’m sure the dock at the back will be amazing.
It definitely is a shame that I visited when the weather was so poor, but I do think that it’s important that spaces on cruise ships work regardless of the weather, because the weather isn’t always sunny.
Speaking of gray, the cruise ship is very gray. I’m sure it will look much better against the blue skies of Miami, but against the gray backdrop of Dover, the ship doesn’t really stand out at all.
The only parts that do stand out are the red lifeboats that hang off the edge. I think it’s very interesting to see that the lifeboats actually stick out of the edge.
On a lot of modern cruise ships, they try and kind of hide them by fitting them into the side of the ship.
Scarlet Lady’s lifeboats can be seen from most of the cabins, and some of the bars and public spaces too. It just seems like a bit of an odd choice.
Virgin Voyages Crew
The crew who work for Virgin Voyages are brilliant. They’re so friendly, they’re so happy, they’re just generally nice to be around.
This is partly why it was quite difficult to make a video like this one. If you’ve ever watched any of my videos, you’ll know I’m usually really positive about everything, but I do believe that honesty is the best policy, and Virgin Voyages just aren’t for me.
I really did wanna fall in love with Scarlet Lady. I like the general design of the ship, and there were definitely some things which I loved. That said, I didn’t feel as though the quality was there to justify the prices.
I don’t think I’m hard to please. I’ve cruised on a range of cruise lines, from luxurious lines like Viking, right the way down to really cheap cruise lines like Costa, and I’ve enjoyed them all.
If Virgin Voyages’ cruises were similarly priced to Norwegian or Royal Caribbean, I definitely would consider taking one. But at the moment, I’m not sure who I would recommend Virgin Voyages to.
Watch the full video here for more information:
UPDATE: I’ve booked Scarlet Lady! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉
Bet you didn’t see that one coming. I still agree with everything I said in this review, but something bigger has changed. I’m SO excited! Watch this video next >>