Adults Only Virgin Voyages is Bold, Snazzy, Distinctive and Red!

The top deck of Scarlet Lady on Virgin Voyages has a full running/walking track. Photo by Susan J. Young.

When Virgin Voyages launched with the 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady back in 2021, many industry observers felt that this adults-only brand would attract mostly a younger crowd of guests. It promised an emphasis on nontraditional cruising and some edgier, bolder elements.

So, many thought that Generation X, Millennial and Generation Z guests would likely love it, but not necessarily Baby Boomers or mature travelers. Testing out that theory, this Baby Boomer boarded Scarlet Lady for a seven-night roundtrip sailing from Barcelona in May 2024.

Here are a few observations about our voyage, and whether we as a Baby Boomer would go back.

It’s Bold, Flashy and Red!

The shore excursion desk, called Shore Things, is a bold red color. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(The shore excursion desk area, called Shore Things, sports a bold red table. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

Red is the brand’s signature color. While it’s tastefully incorporated, red graces everything from the hull and funnel of its ships to the shiny, curved surfaces of the reception desk (called “Sailor Services”) and the shore excursions area (called “Shore Things”). 

Atop the ship, you’ll also find a red running track wrapping around the deck and a red boxing ring with punching bag. Our stateroom had a red stool at the desk/makeup area and a soft, comfortable red throw.

Outside on all Sea Terraces as we had, guests will find more two chairs and a small table. Most notably, we had a red hammock on our private balcony.

Our balcony stateroom on Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(Our balcony stateroom on Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady had touches of red including a comfortable throw on the bed and red stool. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

Scarlet Party

One top draw is the Scarlet Party atop the pool deck. Guests don red clothing and prepare to party hearty. Many, as we did, posed in front of a huge blow-up red octopus occupying one end of the main pool deck.

The event is a frenetic one and we observed adults of all age groups including Boomers and mature guests. The common denominator? It’s having fun.

Entertainers line the pool's edge to dance the night away, encouraging guests to join in the fun. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(Entertainers line the pool’s edge to dance the night away, encouraging guests to join in the fun. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

Front and center are a team of entertainers who perform in all shows. Pre-party as we sipped on drinks in one lounge, they appeared in the central corridor gyrating to the music played over the PA system.

Then they navigated as did we to the pool for dancing along the pool deck surface. Guests rock to the beat of the music and dancers encouraged them to join in. Yes, some moves were edgy, but we loved the Scarlet Party event.

Dancing at the pool on Scarlet Night. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(Dancing at the pool on Scarlet Night. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

That said, this and other activities are, of course, strictly voluntary. Guests were free to do other activities elsewhere around the ship or just relax in their stateroom or suite.

It’s for Adults Only

Upon boarding, we didn’t really think much about the line’s adults-only approach onboard. But on our second day aboard, we suddenly sensed that something was different.

In particular, within the restaurants and at the pool, we noticed a different aura. Yes, people were certainly talking, but there were no screaming babies, toddlers having a meltdown, or just the normal chit-chat of children in the house.

We should note that we’re not “anti-kid” in nature, and love seeing families having fun together on cruises. But we also have to admit, Virgin’s onboard experience was decidedly different with no kids, tweens or young teens aboard.

The ambience was definitely adult, as witnessed by the edgy moves of dancers in the corridors on the night of the Scarlet Party (see photo below).

Dancers move throughout a lounge during Scarlet Party night. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(Dancers move throughout a lounge during Scarlet Party night. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

Guests must be 18 to sail. Travelers of any adult age who prefer a kid-free ambience will find that on Virgin Voyages.

We met several Generation Xers who had left the kids with grandma or grandpa; they were truly enjoying their vacation as a couple’s experience.

Dining with a Unique Slant

One section of the Pink Agave, one of 20 diverse dining experiences on Scarlet Lady. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(One seating area within The Wake, one of 20 diverse dining experiences on Scarlet Lady. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

Yes, many facets of the Virgin Voyages cruise experience are a bit different. Guests are called “sailors,” for instance.

Plus, as guests leave the ship on the morning of disembarkation, a huge photo of Richard Branson greets them on the elevators’ electronic screen. He tells sailors that he hopes they’ve had a fabulous time. ime.

One of the most noticeable differences from many cruise ships involved dining. No, there isn’t a big main dining restaurant. Nor are there two or three main dining rooms that are a bit smaller.

And while there are specialty restaurants, none carry a per-person dining fee.

20+ Diverse Eateries – No Cover Charges

Instead, Virgin offers at least 20 diverse dining experiences on Scarlet Lady, all complimentary and open to all guests. That said, reservations are recommended as some get booked up quickly.

Most items on the menu for appetizers, soups, entrees and desserts are free. A few higher charge entrees of specialty drinks do have added cost.

One night, we opted to splurge at $55 for a “Treat Yourself” labeled entree. Called Pescado Zarandeado, this gluten-free dish consisted of succulent achiote halibut, lobster and bay scallops (see photo below).

This yummy seafood dish with lobster, scallops and fish had an extra charge for those wanting to "Treat Yourself." Photo by Susan J. Young.
(This yummy seafood dish with lobster, scallops and fish is a “Treat Yourself” option carrying an added charge. That said, most dishes on Scarlet Lady’s menus are complimentary. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

Culinary Diversity

Overall, we loved the ship’s culinary diversity. Boomers who are foodies will find everything from Gunbae (a Korean BBQ restaurant) to Razzle Dazzle (covered in a previous blog).

Razzle Dazzle serves up both healthy/vegan/vegetarian fare, plus “naughty” items including caramelized bacon and other meats.

We also very much enjoyed Gunbae with the server ladling raw veggies and meats into the cooking area in the center of our table. We also enjoyed the better-than-average pizza restaurant with made-to-order pies. Fellow guests told us they loved The Test Kitchen and Pink Agave.

Plus, instead of a traditional casual buffet restaurant, the line had a food hall with separate diverse stations. These spots served up everything from all-day breakfast, to grill fare, salads, ramen noodles, pink champagne and much more.

Oh, and once aboard your Virgin Voyages ship, if you shake your phone (yes, you heard us correctly — “shake your phone”) soon a server will deliver a bottle of Champagne on ice and two flutes to wherever you are on the ship.

Spa Concept That Splits Venues

The pedicure area of Scarlet Lady had fantastic ocean views. Photo by Susan J. Young.
The pedicure area of Scarlet Lady had fantastic ocean views. Photo by Susan J. Young.

We booked a pedicure on one afternoon. En route to the venue, though, we suddenly realized that it wasn’t part of a humongous spa complex as on many cruise industry ships.

Instead, this smaller manicure/pedicure venue was nestled in a totally separate area mid-ship. That created a more intimate aura for the venue.

Best of all, while seated in our pedicure chair with our feet in the warm whirling water, we looked through floor-to-ceiling windows to the ocean. The expansive views extended to the edge of the horizon (see photo below).

The previous day guests having a pedicure spotted dolphins. On our day, we essentially felt “at one” with the calm seas. The tranquil state enhanced our relaxing, pampering pedicure experience.

Multiple exercise venues are also separate from the spa, by the way.

Technology: Wristband and In-Cabin Tablet

Many guests are familiar with Princess Cruises’ Medallion as well as similar devices for other lines or key cards that open cabin doors. Well, Virgin has a sailor wristband that wraps around and secures itself with a tiny anchor.

Not only did it open our stateroom door, but it was used for all bar tabs when a drink is order – one just taps it to the server’s techie device – or other services.

While in our stateroom, we also had a handy electronic tablet. It did everything from adjusting the stateroom’s lighting to checking indication buttons for the cabin host to see from the outside corridor (showing that we wanted the stateroom cleaned or instead, privacy.

And, of course, it also controlled our wall-mounted TV’s info-entertainment system. Separately, our Virgin Voyages app on our phone also was helpful in navigating what to do on the ship, view our account and so on.

Parting Thoughts

The above information is just a small snippet of feedback. Can Baby Boomers find happiness on Virgin Voyages? Our perspective is a solid “yes,” if guests are open-minded to new experiences and nontraditional cruising. Then, they’ll likely love it.

We were among “sailors” (not guests per Virgin) enjoying many unique activities and options during our cruise.  We loved the nightly entertainment including the DJs and the small combo musical groups. One favorite was the Slam Allen Band with superb live blues music.

The theater — with its unusual configuration convertible for several different types of entertainment and shows — was also a fun spot. Performers were skilled acrobats, dancers, actors and aerialists.

Amazing aerialists perform in the ship's multi-functional theater. Photo by Susan J. Young.
(Talented aerialists perform in the ship’s multi-functional theater. Photo by Susan J. Young.)

One atrium bar area had adjacent “record players,” something totally unique on a ship. A library of vinyl records was also available. So, guests could pick out their favorite musical group from past decades and it could be played on the old-time equipment.

Frankly, we can’t wait to go back and sail again on the adults-only Virgin Voyages. For more information, talk with a professional travel advisor by following the contact information below.

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