Virgin Voyages Live Blog (Day 4): A Must-Have Meal & What’s the Final Verdict on Virgin?

From being adults only to including things like gratuities and wi-fi into your fare to even getting rid of the buffet and main dining room, Virgin breaks the mold in cruising.

But what’s it really like? I recently booked a four-day cruise aboard Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady to see just exactly what’s so different about the line and if the new style of sailing is worth it. You can follow along as I experience what the trip is like as I sail for the first time on the line.

You can read other days of the cruise here:

Making the Most of a Cloudy Day at Sea (Including a Must-Have Meal)

Pool on Scarlet Lady
A cloudy, overcast day at sea didn’t keep passengers from hitting the pools on the final day of the cruise.

Ever have one of those days where the weather makes it feel like it’s about 9 a.m. all day long? On the final day of this Virgin cruise, that’s exactly what happened. The entire trip has been playing dodge with clouds and rain. In general, we’ve been lucky in that any rain has been relatively short lived. And today it didn’t even rain at all.

That said, it has been gloomy and overcast. So with the idea in mind that I was going to spend a bit of time during the last day of the cruise working on the tan… well, sometimes it just doesn’t work out how you planned.

That’s not to say that the pool deck was empty. In fact, many people seemed to just not care if it was cloudy. The pools were definitely busy and that made me realize Scarlet Lady has a design quirk.

With the gloomy weather, lots of people stayed inside the ship. Even so, the pool area was packed with all the chairs taken. I can’t imagine what it would look like on a sunny day at sea.

Walking around the ship a lot of people were actually inside, despite it being the only sea day on the cruise. Bars and lounges were relatively full. Even so, both pool areas were also full and loungers around them were just about all taken. If the weather were actually nice, I’d can only imagine what it might look like.

As for myself, I took advantage of the day to just enjoy myself before heading back to the real world. I grabbed a mojito and sipped it overlooking the pool where the people watching was fantastic. I caught up on a movie in the cabin (something that I never get to do with work and a kid at home), and even upgraded the internet to stream some college football on this Saturday. Basic internet is included with the cruise and has worked great. However, if you want to stream then you have to upgrade for $15 per day.

During the afternoon I caught a show in The Red Room (one of the theater spaces on the ship). Ben Price is a “mentalist and comedy entertainer” that has had multiple shows during the trip. It wasn’t until today that I was able to catch it, and it was a lot of fun. The act itself was good, including him pulling off some jaw-dropping tricks. It was his humor, though, that was the real star of the show.

There was a mid-day show of mentalist/comedian Ben Price. Quick-witted and with some clever tricks, the show was a great way to spend an hour.

He was extremely quick-witted and since the cruise is adults only, he could slip in some off-color comments that had people rolling. The production of the act could use a little work, but I’d suggest catching it if you have a chance.

Now on this cruise I’ve mentioned the issue of getting dinner reservations. But tonight, I simply headed to a spot I’ve wanted to try since I boarded — Pink Agave, the upscale Mexican restaurant. The app mentions there are some spots kept for walk-ins, so I figured it was worth a shot. To my surprise, the staff didn’t bat an eye despite the restaurant filling up and seated me right away. Lesson learned: Even without the reservation on Virgin, head to the restaurant anyway.

Pink Agave is one of the sit-down restaurants on Scarlet Lady, and I think it’s a must-visit spot. The grilled shrimp in particular were amazing.

I ordered four courses ranging from guacamole to camaron amarillo (grilled shrimp), cochinita pibil (smoked pork tacos), and capirotada (bread pudding). I’ve eaten plenty of great food this trip, including lobster pizza in Key West and a plate of perfect fried chicken the night before on the ship. This meal topped all of them. Perfectly cooked, lots of flavor, and hands down one of the best meals I’ve had on land or on a cruise.

It was an apt end of what’s been a great cruise.

My Final Thoughts of Sailing Virgin Voyages

My first cruise on Virgin Voyages left a big impression of just how different it is from other cruise lines.

Now that the trip has wrapped up, what’s the bottom line on Virgin Voyages?

I’ll admit, when I first booked this cruise I was a little anxious that it wouldn’t fit me. There was a lot that piqued my interest, but so much of the marketing seems geared toward being trendy, sexy, and hip. I am… um… not that.

I will say that the ship and the atmosphere has a lot of trendiness. The cruise, however, isn’t full of hipsters and Instagram models. The crowd definitely skews younger and a bit more vibrant than most cruises, but it’s not overly so. If anything, it feels fairly inclusive. Everyone is here to have a good time and is friendly. I can’t really think of anyone who wouldn’t fit in.

When it comes to being adults only, some people may see not having kids around as a big plus. To be honest, kids have never really bothered me, so I’m indifferent about that aspect. What I do like about it being adults only is that it changes the atmosphere onboard. Entertainment can be a bit more risque. Food options don’t have to cater to kid tastes. Activities and amenities also don’t have to revolve around catering to families. It simply makes the whole cruise more interesting.

To me, the changes made by Virgin — beyond just being adults only — are home runs. I hope that other lines implement some of the changes, both big and small.

More than that, the changes that Virgin has made to traditional cruising are home runs. Having things like wi-fi and gratuities included are great touches. All the food is included, so you don’t have to worry about that either. In fact, outside of alcoholic drinks and shore excursions, there isn’t really anything where you have to shell out extra. It’s nice to feel more like a guest and less like a customer to be sold to on the cruise ship.

What I’ve noticed, however, are a lot of little differences that don’t get talked about. Combined, they add up to make Virgin stand out to me, although the changes may not be for everyone.

A lot of kitschy things are axed from this cruise. There is no belly flop contest onboard. There’s no cruise director constantly coming on to make announcements; in fact, there are no shipwide announcements at all outside of safety issues. Formal night? Nope. No photographers asking to take your picture when you board. There’s no art auction, either.

In a nice touch, there’s water supplied in your cabin instead of having to buy a bottle or head to a bar to get a drink. And if you want a beach towel, there’s no checking one out. You simply grab one. Even the music is better in my opinion (how often do you hear the Rolling Stones on most cruise lines?).

That’s not to say everything is perfect. There’s a lot of space dedicated to fitness areas — such as an outdoor boxing ring — that I’ve barely seen used on this cruise. The entire system of reserving restaurants and shows is a pain if you don’t do it days in advance. I’d also worry about space around the pool on a sunny day.

Still, there’s so much that I’ve liked.

Not everything that Virgin Voyages does different can — or should — be replicated by other lines. And not everyone wants this style of trip. But at the end of the cruise, I’m finding myself wishing that other lines would adopt some of the things seen on Virgin Voyages.

Just make sure you don’t get the room above the nightclub.

You can read other days of the cruise here:

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