Are you thinking about sailing on Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady but worried that the cruise ship might be too different? Well, we have returned from a 5-night Mayan Sol cruise on Scarlet Lady and are ready to share our honest evaluation of this new ship. Find out how the ship compares to the competition with our exclusive Scarlet Lady Cruise Ship Scorecard Review.
Scarlet Lady Cruise Ship Scorecard Review
One of the new cruise line’s differentiators is late embarkation and disembarkation. Embarkation does not begin until later in the afternoon, around 2 pm. For disembarkation, the last timeslot is 10:45 am.
Prior to our sailing, we had heard fellow travelers reporting embarkation processes taking anywhere between 90 minutes to two hours. Unfortunately, we waited even longer than that on our sailing.
Between COVID testing at the terminal and waiting in queue to check-in, our embarkation took over 3 hours.
Luckily, our disembarkation process was much smoother.
Signing up for a departure time slot, we were able to sleep in a bit and grab a quick breakfast before heading off the ship around 9 am.
While this later disembarkation is nice, we definitely prefer the earlier embarkation and disembarkation protocols of other cruise lines as we feel like we missed most of day 1.
At 110K gross tons, Scarlet Lady is a good-sized ship. So, at first glance, the fact that the cruise ship has two pools might seem appropriate. Unfortunately, once you see the pools, you realize that is not the case.
The main pool offers only about half its dimensions for swimming. The circular well-being pool near the aft was often packed as well.
With that being said, if you don’t actually want to be in the pool, there is plenty of space for lounging.
Yes, the coveted daybeds surrounding the pool fill up quickly, but there were plenty of lounge chairs on the pool deck and other open air spaces for lounging and tanning around the ship.
Decks 16 and 17 aft offer plenty of outdoor space. The aft-located Athletic Club was almost always empty, even though it had great furniture and a bar. Above it was the yoga Perch with loungers, which was never busy either.
In addition, guests staying in RockStar suites have a private sundeck known as Richard’s Rooftop. This area does not have a pool though. It does have private whirlpools, along with plenty of unique seating options, and its own bar.
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Technically, Scarlet Lady has a sports area on Decks 16 and 17 aft. This area on Deck 16 is the Athletic Club.
Like most mega-ships, Scarlet Lady features a basketball court. Although, this court is not full sized. There is also a halo-like jogging track on Deck 17. This track is completely separate from other areas of the ship, so you will not need to dodge lounge chairs during your morning run.
Additionally, Scarlet Lady offers an outdoor workout area. This “circuit” area on deck 16 portside contains several unique fitness elements like see-saws and a boxing ring. On the starboard side, there are games like foosball and lawn chess. Unfortunately, these items seemed under-utilized and took up valuable deck space.
The service on Scarlet Lady if very different than other cruise ships.
The crew are certainly more relaxed, and it shows with service that feels more personal and less rigid. For me, it was a welcomed change.
Many of the crew with whom we talked expressed that they felt more comfortable in their roles and genuinely seemed to enjoy working for the new cruise line.
Getting coffee from the Grounds Club felt like a hometown coffee shop. We got to know Juan, our regular “barista” from Brazil, quite well. These friendly interactions seemed more natural and casual than our experiences on other cruise lines.
Further, at each of the ship’s specialty restaurants, it felt more like an intimate dining experience on land and less like a busy cruise ship main dining room.
Related Post: What You Need to Know Before Cruising on Virgin Voyages
In trying to separate itself from the competition, Virgin Voyages has abandoned most of your expected daily activities. So, this is one area where the cruise line does fall short for us.
Instead, the daily activities focus on fitness and well-being. Scarlet Lady has two separate gyms, one with cardio equipment and one for strength training. There is also a separate spin class room, group fitness classes, and the previously mentioned sports deck equipment.
All of these classes are included in the cruise fare, and reservations can be made in the Sailor app.
Further, Scarlet Lady does not have your typical cruise director and activities staff. Instead, there are a number of “happenings” cast that oversee many events. The “hostess”, Abi, is perhaps the most visible.
Throughout the ship, “pop-up” performances occur. I liked the Phantom Folktales. These short musical skits were fun, even if they were redundant each day.
There are also a few table games like shuffleboard and air hockey in the Social Club.
Besides that though, there was not much else to do other than lounge in the Bahamian sun. Which for many is an ideal way to spend their vacation.
You can’t have a Scarlet Lady cruise ship scorecard review without talking about all the great food. The best part is that all of the dining and restaurants on Virgin Voyages are included in the cruise fare.
When it comes to casual dining on the ship, the focus is on snacks.
This forward-thinking cruise line features multiple venues serving smaller menus to help diffuse crowds.
For pizza lovers, the Pizza Place serves up freshly made-to-order pizza on deck 7. It ranks in our top three for cruise ship pizza.
The grill at the Dock features skewers with shrimp, steak, and more. These are a must-try and my perfect midday snack.
Also on Deck 7 is the Social Club. This venue features specialty hot dogs, fresh popcorn, and hot pretzels. In addition, this retro soda shop is home to sweet treats including spiked milkshakes.
The gourmet gelato and flavored waffle cones at the onboard ice cream shop were a big hit for us as well.
Finally, there is The Galley, Scarlet Lady’s food court.
While not a true “buffet”, the venue has 10 food stations serving up made-to-order options. I was a fan of the taco stand for both breakfast and lunch. The Burger Bar was another good choice.
A nice touch was the option for “grab and go” items found here and at the Dock. These pre-made sandwiches, snacks, and salads made it fast and easy to grab a snack.
At night, cruisers can choose from 6 different restaurants all included in the cruise fare. When compared to contemporary cruise lines, each restaurant on Scarlet Lady served up specialty restaurant quality meals.
Our dinner at the Wake included a perfectly seared medium-rare filet mignon. Coupled with sides like sautéed mushrooms and creamed spinach, it was equivalent to an American steakhouse on land.
The calamari, antipasto, and homemade pasta at Extra Virgin felt more like a true Italian restaurant.
Further, the tapas and equally impressive drinks at Pink Agave offered authentic Latin-inspired cuisine and service.
There is also the Korean BBQ, Gunbae, which makes for a lively feast with friends and the Test Kitchen. Perhaps our least favorite restaurant was Razzle Dazzle which featured many vegan menu items.
Sailors are allowed to make one dinner reservation at each venue using the app (either pre-cruise or once onboard the ship). After dining at a restaurant, you can choose to go “stand-by” at your favorite venue again if capacity allows.
For us, Scarlet Lady shines when it comes to dining!
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Another way Virgin Voyages distinguishes itself from other mainstream cruise lines is the entertainment and nightlife.
Scarlet Lady’s main theater is the Red Room. This transformational space featured two shows during our cruise. Our favorite was Duel Reality.
This cirque-style performance was a modern take on Romeo and Juliet. Incorporating acrobatics, jugglers, and strength performances, without the fancy costumes and stage props, Duel Reality was a well-choregraphed and equally captivating show.
The Untitled DanceShowPartyThing was a more immersive performance. Part social commentary, part dance party, this 50-minute interactive show features a cast of dancers who deliver a high energy performance from beginning to end.
The third signature production on Scarlet Lady is Never Sleep Alone, an adult-themed show that occurred in the Manor. It is essentially a one woman burlesque show featuring audience participation.
While not as outrageous as some made it out to be, it is certainly the most R-rated show we have ever seen on a cruise ship. If you are not willing to partake in the risqué show, find a seat away from the stage.
When it comes to other nighttime activities around the ship, Virgin Voyages falls short. While there is a nightclub and plenty of DJs, there is a surprising lack of live music around the ship. There is no piano bar, no acoustic guitarist, and a live band that only performed a few times during our sailing.
Due to weather, the highly talked about Scarlet Night deck party also did not occur on our sailing.
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In our opinion, the ship could have used more diverse nighttime entertainment. Perhaps a sports bar with televisions would be a good addition as well.
Bars and Lounges
Scarlet Lady has a number of bars and lounges, many with signature menus. Some of these bars are easier to find than others.
At the heart of the ship, the Roundabout, you can find On the Rocks. This deck 6 lounge had live music, signature cocktails, and was one of the more popular indoor bars.
Up one deck from On the Rocks was the Draught Haus. This craft beer location was a much smaller venue and never really busy.
The chic Sip champagne lounge is another go-to spot for drinks on Scarlet Lady. This menu features a few signature cocktails along with a wide selection of wine and champagne, as well as afternoon tea.
Unfortunately, the Loose Cannon bar is tucked out of sight. In fact, you have to walk through the Social Club to get here. While pretty small, we both liked the décor and vibe of this nautically inspired location.
Another standout bar for us was the Dock. The upscale resort vibe of this area made it our favorite spot onboard the ship. Not to mention, it housed two of our favorite drinks, the orange blossom and blackberry sangria and the grapevine cocktail.
The only downside to having all of these specialty drink menus is that Virgin Voyages does not currently have drink packages. While most cocktails are reasonably priced, the costs can add up quickly!
Our Scarlet Lady Sea Terrace Cabin, #10070A, was on the portside of the ship. The room was ideally situated in the middle of the public areas on decks 5, 6, and 7 and the outdoor decks 15 and 16.
The stateroom offered an adequate amount of space and comfort, along with some bonuses that you don’t normally find in cruise ship cabins.
The cabin featured a transformational sea bed, which we kept in the bed configuration for the entire cruise. There were USB outlets on each side of the bed which were extremely useful for charging devices.
The desk offered the wife enough room to get ready. Likewise, the chair and multi-use table served as a suitable work station when in the cabin.
Thankfully, there were additional outlets and USBs on the desk, as well as a tablet. This tablet controls the lights, curtains, and temperature in the room. It also allows for sailors to request stateroom service. Certainly, we appreciated these 21st century technology upgrades.
While the closet appeared on the smaller side, it did offer enough storage for our 5-day cruise.
While the overall bathroom space is small, the highlight was the rainfall shower!
And perhaps the best part of the Sea Terrace cabin was the balcony, complete with a hammock. The balcony was surprisingly roomy, allowing for two upright chairs, a small table, and the hammock.
While there have been many negative reviews on these cabins, we have to disagree. We found our stateroom more than adequate for a 5-day cruise.
Of course, our Scarlet Lady cruise ship scorecard review would not be complete without assessing passenger flow. Since the ship was sailing at 50% capacity, it is difficult to truly evaluate crowd control. Though, we very rarely encountered crowds.
As previously mentioned, deck chairs were plentiful around the open-air decks. Other high traffic areas, like the buffet, never felt overwhelming.
Arriving at venues 30 minutes prior to showtime, we were able to get premium seats. Though, it is highly recommended that you book reservations as soon as you are on the ship’s WiFi.
Booking our dining pre-cruise, we were able to secure reservations at our desired restaurants at reasonable times. Although, going stand-by at a restaurant seemed more challenging. So, definitely secure your reservations early.
We did not participate in any of the fitness sessions, but reviewing the app, many of them did fill-up, so book early.
Given the layout of the ship and the smaller, more intimate venues, we are interested to see how the ship manages crowds on full capacity sailings in the future.
Related Post: Everything We Loved (and Didn’t) About Scarlet Lady
Beach Club at Bimini
All Caribbean and Bahamas cruises on Virgin Voyages include a stop at the cruise line’s private resort, the Beach Club at Bimini.
This private resort is a short tram ride from the pier, with continual shuttle service to the resort throughout the day.
The Club is sectioned off into two large areas, with a third separate area for suites. The North and South sides feature the same amenities. Each have beach space, a pool, a restaurant, and a bar.
The Beach Club offers a well-manicured shoreline with plenty of loungers, umbrellas, and other comfy furniture for an ultimate day of relaxation.
There are also two large lagoon-style pools with a more upbeat atmosphere. This is where we spent most of our day.
The island restaurant serves snacks throughout the day. Albeit a smaller menu, we both agreed that the food was certainly better than a typical private island barbecue.
We suggest arriving at the Club early to secure your ideal location.
While smaller than other cruise line private islands, we really enjoyed our time at the Beach Club at Bimini.
Scarlet Lady Cruise Ship Scorecard Review Recap
As traditional cruisers, we were unsure if a cruise on Scarlet Lady would be too different for us. Luckily, we can report that was not the case.
From the onboard complimentary restaurants to the casual fare around the ship, we continually raved about the dining options on Scarlet Lady.
While often smaller menus, the food was fresher and more thoughtfully prepared. The venues were also more intimate and comparable to dining at a restaurant on land.
The service too was more personal and casual.
While we both appreciated the more dynamic entertainment spaces, I did like the shows more than the wife. She still enjoys the traditional cruise productions.
Another upgrade on Virgin Voyages is the technology. We appreciated all the stateroom enhancements and charging stations as well as the wearable band. Further, the WiFi was some of the best we have had on a cruise ship.
Still, there were some areas where Virgin Voyages missed the mark for us. The ship’s layout is one of those areas. We feel it is a bit maze-like. While it is great to have multiple and more intimate venues, some venues go unnoticed like the Loose Cannon bar.
Also, we would have liked more traditional nightlife. Live music in venues like the Dockhouse would have been nice. The Social Club also seems underutilized in the evenings. Perhaps even some “headliners” in the Manor, like comedy shows or featured performers.
Overall, Virgin Voyages offers a modern and unique cruise experience. While we might not be the cruise line’s target audience, we still enjoyed our cruise on Scarlet Lady.
In fact, we just booked another sailing with the cruise line for 2022!
Do you agree with our Scarlet Lady Cruise Ship Scorecard Review? Do you have plans to sail with Virgin Voyages? Drop us an anchor below to share your thoughts on this new cruise line.