Virgin Voyages is officially sailing, so what can guests expect when cruising with this distinctive new cruise line, and how is Virgin Voyages working with travel agents?
Few lines have created the buzz that has surrounded Virgin Voyages since it signalled its intention to disrupt the cruise market with a new style of cruising. Despite a delayed introduction caused by the global suspension in operations, the anticipation never faded.
That anticipation has now been sated, with first ship Scarlet Lady cruising from Portsmouth on a series of ‘summer soirée’ itineraries.
Cruise vloggers, Richard and Helen Chalu, known for their popular Visit With Us YouTube channel, were some of the first to step on board the ship in August. Here, they explain what guests can expect to find.
Accommodation and ‘quirky’ venues on Scarlet Lady
Scarlet Lady is a delight with plenty of small, often hidden venues to discover. Each has been beautifully and individually designed, thoughtfully and comfortably furnished, with as much attention and variety applied to the open decks, which are generously furnished with cushioned day beds and oversized loungers.
The quirkiness is also reflected in the cabins, with everyone containing a tablet which controls the curtains, mood lighting, temperature and TV, including the option to activate ‘cinema mode’ when watching a movie.
The standard Sea Terrace bed is reassuringly comfortable given that it can upon request be set up as a sofa during the day.
The balcony is much deeper than many of the new larger cruise ships and the hammock, which might be thought of by some to be a gimmick, is a genius addition. Once in, it’s hard to summon the energy to get out while listening to the waves and enjoying the gentle sway.
As for the entertainment, the choice is vast. From trivia, cocktail singers, jazz bands, solo guitarists, pool parties, comedy, an incredible acrobatic show, a signature scarlet night, stargazing, pyjama parties, guest bands and DJs – there really is something for everyone.
Guests can book main shows through the app and all are included in the price, but equally interesting happenings occur when we’re least expecting it.
Whether it’s a comedy skit or musician popping up to perform then melt away back into the scenery – Scarlet Lady is full of surprises.
Wellness and dining with Virgin Voyages
Scarlet Lady is not all about the late night festivities, however. For those who prefer to focus on wellness, every day is filled with a range of complimentary fitness classes, from meditation and yoga to spin classes and HIIT sessions.
There are six speciality restaurants and many smaller outlets offering delicious and varied food, which is a highlight of the Scarlet Lady experience, and all restaurants and food are included.
According to Virgin Voyages, The Galley is not a buffet. Rather, it’s table service, so food ordered from any of the kiosks is served directly to us.
Like a traditional buffet, the food is instant but avoids bottle necks and wandering around trying to choose what to eat.
All in all, Virgin has created a unique cruise experience that will appeal to clients who appreciate great food, eclectic entertainment, live music, and a good time.
The Virgin Voyages Seacademy
Virgin Voyages’ commitment to transform the experience for its guests is equalled by its determination to work with the trade. At the forefront of this is its Seacademy programme.
Available to First Mates (agent partners), this is a one-stop-shop and resource tool, designed to help agents learn about the finer details of the brand.
“Seacademy is packed full of inside scoops and bitesize modules,” says the line’s associate vice-president international sales Shane Riley.
“Throughout the last 12 months… [we have] seen 5,000 Seacademy courses completed, and 1,400 UK First Mates will be enjoying a free Seacademy voyage in the months ahead.”
By digging deeper and completing the learning modules, agents will also see that Virgin is not simply a ‘party’ cruise line. It is multi-layered, with many areas agents can focus on to help clinch a sale.
“We’ve purposely created a differentiated experience, setting sail the Virgin way means sailors can enjoy a premium experience free from the stuffy formalities often associated with cruise,” Riley explains.
“Our voyages offer a festival of choice with more included. It’s important to focus on the on-board value – with more than 20 eateries, wifi, fitness classes, soft drinks and much more included.”
New Virgin Voyages ships
Scarlet Lady is due to be joined by its fellow sister ships, Valiant Lady and Resilient Lady – expected to sail next year – and an unnamed fourth ship.
Valiant Lady’s inaugural, pre-summer voyages for 2022 are now on sale. The ship will hit the water in spring, sailing from the UK to the most gorgeous islands and cities in Europe, including late-night and overnight stays in Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, the Canary Islands, and Lisbon.
“With Valiant Lady coming to the UK, agents can be sure that we’ll have big plans for our First Mates, so watch this space,” says Riley. “Resilient Lady will be sailing from Athens, so we do absolutely plan to bring First Mates to experience these epic itineraries.
“Over the past 18 months we’ve laughed together and cried together but more importantly, we’ve stuck together.
“The trade is performing exceptionally well for us. We’ll also be hitting the road later this year to meet even more agents to educate them on what it means to set sail the Virgin way.”