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Review of 11/7-11/12/21 Scarlet Lady Sailing


ociana
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This was the best cruise we have ever done and we will continue just sailing with Virgin Voyages for the foreseeable future. For context, this was our 6th cruise and our previous ones were on NCL and Princess over the past 15 years.  We are in our early 40s and are foodies and board gamers, so those are how we mostly spent our time on board.

 

Food:
The food in each of the dinner restaurants was at a level of delicious that matches our favorite local restaurants, with the addition of great plating and presentation.  By far The Wake was our favorite, both for breakfast and dinner.  Test Kitchen was second on our list, with the full experience truly being memorable and the food was delicious.  The food at the galley was good, with the Kouign Amman (labeled as caramelized croissant) as the standout winner among everything we ate there.  The salad station was also great, loved the curried cauliflower.  The poke bowls with cauliflower up on the sun deck were also a hit, although we did wish that the sushi and taco stations at the galley also offered cauliflower rice as an option.

 

Drinks
All the cocktails were priced around $9-$12 and there was no upcharge for your preferred spirit (bonus points for Aviation Gin available shipwide) or for substituting one spirit for another.  The bloody mary mix they use on board was delicious and does not have extra added sugars or fillers in it.  Most bars had tabasco, bitters and other additives right at the counter to add to your drink and all the bartenders were extremely kind and attentive.  Bonus points to the Pink Agave bar staff for making me a "skinny" version of one of their signature cocktails so it had no simple sugar added.  Four of those may have been too many, but they were delightful!  We had read menus in advance and they did not include any hard seltzers, but we discovered they actually were available on board - very happy to see that.

 

Room:
Next new ship, two hammocks.  We fought over taking turns in the hammock because it was so comfortable. My husband did bonk his head a few times though, so the placement could also use some work.  Our room was a regular sea terrace on deck 14 and it was quiet and pleasant. The bed was somewhat uncomfortable, but we have had worse elsewhere so it is not bad enough for a full complaint.  The shower was perfect and we had plenty of space for our items in the cabin. The movie selection was very limited and we had already seen everything in the genres that we enjoy.

 

Entertainment:
The trivia and Risky Business Game were great, wish they were offered more often.  Also, bingo was a lot of fun and would have been nice to have another time during the cruise.  We were very disappointed by Puddles the Clown, but the rest of the crowd seemed to enjoy him so I think that was more personal taste.  We loved the idea of Never Sleep Alone, but the show execution felt more like we were at a Multi Level Marketing Sales event with some crowd antics and less like a burlesque show.  Keep the idea, ditch the hostess.  

 

Amenities:
The board game selection on board was fantastic, although we were bummed it was just available during set hours.  We have many of the games at home and really appreciated seeing more Euro style strategy games as options to play.  There were plenty of places around the ship to hang out that were comfortable, but it was difficult to locate an open bar at times - especially during the afternoon of Bimini Beach day.  We especially liked the shaded area on The Perch where we could relax on a lounger without being a sun worshipper.  The private karaoke booths were a lot of fun, but it would have been nice to have some public karaoke times on board as well so once we practiced we could share our secret talents with others!  We did not use most of the gym equipment and did not visit the spa, so cannot comment on those.

 

Recommended Improvements:

  • Have diet tonic and other sugar free mixers available at the bars.
  • Add an electrolyte beverage like Powerade Zero or Gatorade Zero available on board. With all the exercise available this seemed to be a big miss.
  • Make getting coffee an easier process in the morning without having to pay for room service.  We went to the galley and used the carafes and trays that were there to bring it back to our room, but that meant one of us had to go out each morning to get it.  
  • Have a way to ask for more water carafes in the room - we refilled ours at the bottle fill stations on board multiple times.
  • Add a map of bottle fill stations - had a hard time locating more than the ones we found up on deck 16.
  • More time with the board games please! Make them always available and treat the pop up as a hosted game time where the staff person teaches a game to a group.  
  • More keto friendly food options in the galley.  When we asked for parts of items (like just the meat and veggies) at the taco place they said they could not do that.  Same for the sushi place, it would be great to have sashimi options.  
  • Add some more always available activities, like sudoku and crossword are on other cruises.  Would be fun for the app to have a shipwide exploration game with puzzles and clues that take you exploring everywhere!
  • Relocate the trivia games to a larger space.  The bar where it was held was just too small and there were overflow teams outside of the room for each game session.  
  • Turn down the music, or even off, on the outside decks in the middle of the night and early morning.  It was always blasting and really took away from the quiet of the sea.  Very glad The Perch was quiet.
  • Make the sleep timer button work on the tv remote in the cabin.
  • Add more movies or enable a way to access streaming services on the cabin tv (cast from device or log in with our own credentials).
  • Have at least a basic souvenir shop open on disembarkation day. We wanted to spend money and couldn't. 

 

Overall Impression: 
This was a fantastic cruise, made even better by how amazingly happy the staff were.  They clearly were being treated better than we saw on other cruise lines and we hope that continues for them.  The other passengers we met were in our age group and had similar interests, so that was a nice treat as well.  We are already booked for next year!
 

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For water in the room, you can request refills (and more ice) via the app or the tablet in the room. No need to refill those on your own. 
 

I’m also at least 80% confident the TV had a sleep timer if you used the tablet. 
 

Glad you enjoyed your trip! We are also already booked on a repeat cruise and can’t wait!

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Thanks for the great review.

 

I love the suggestions for a map of refill stations - how about a general map of the entire ship? 

The food was terrific!

 

Was your cabin serviced once, or twice daily?

The blasting music was a deal-breaker for us. Sailor services told us they had a number of complaints. We could hear the bass from our cabin 24/7.

We loved our one hammock also and had to take turns, lol!

Not sure I'd be committed to a cruise line if I felt the beds were uncomfortable. Did you leave them as a bed, or have them set up as sofas during the day?

 

Do you believe they will be able to maintain the same standard of service when sailing at full capacity?

 

How did the app work for you? Were you able to get your desired reservations for shows and dining?

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2 hours ago, sippican said:

Thanks for the great review.

 

I love the suggestions for a map of refill stations - how about a general map of the entire ship? 

The food was terrific!

 

Was your cabin serviced once, or twice daily?

The blasting music was a deal-breaker for us. Sailor services told us they had a number of complaints. We could hear the bass from our cabin 24/7.

We loved our one hammock also and had to take turns, lol!

Not sure I'd be committed to a cruise line if I felt the beds were uncomfortable. Did you leave them as a bed, or have them set up as sofas during the day?

 

Do you believe they will be able to maintain the same standard of service when sailing at full capacity?

 

How did the app work for you? Were you able to get your desired reservations for shows and dining?

 

Great questions! I think our cabin was serviced twice on sea days and once on port days, but just a guess. We did request ice multiple times but our tablet kept dying so we used post its. 

 

Our bed stayed a bed and the discomfort was actually less than our other cruises and just my hubby complained about it, I was fine. 

 

The app was hit and miss. Worked fine in advance of the trip and we booked all our dining at exactly 15 days out. Then when we checked in and waited to board we saw that all the dining reservations had vanished. I beelined for sailor services and they got us new bookings, then the next day they all showed back up so we had double. I took screenshots before canceling the extras. Many others had the same issue and there was a crowd at sailor services the first night getting it sorted out. Another app issue was that there were times it refused to load, but that only happened sometimes and it seemed worse if our phones were unsure what time it was (kept jumping to UTC). I work in IT and had enough understanding about app development to be compassionate about the situation and just roll with it.

 

The service standard is really a giant question mark to me. I do think they can handle it with full capacity, but I worry about other corners being cut in the future. Food quality, staff wages, etc all are things that could degrade over time if they are not intentional about maintaining a high standard I'm these areas. Since those are highlights of their cruise line and higher selling price, I would hope the focus (and the money) stays in the right places.  I have noticed a lot of questions about capacity for shows and dining, but it seemed those limits were tied to how many staff were on duty or concurrent activities running and not about space on the ship itself so those should scale up just fine.

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