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Review - Scarlet Lady - November 21, 2021 Mayan Sol


imahistorygeek
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This was our first Virgin-brand experience.

What worked:

  • Debarkation - It was one of the easiest ones we've ever experienced.  You book your time in the app to debark (all the way into the 10 am hour). All of the time in the 10 hour were booked, but pretty much every other time was available, so if you wanted to change it the morning of, you could. You have the ability to eat a leisurely breakfast and be on your way.  Our time to debark (8 am) to the time closing the door to our Lyft on the way to the airport was less than 10 minutes.  Nothing on the ship was busy. Customs line was non-existent and you're not competing with other cruisers for a cab/Uber/Lyft.  If you want Virgin to help with your luggage, make sure you keep your luggage tags (provided with your bracelets) on your bags your entire voyage. 
  • The Food - the hype is real. This is the best food I've ever had on a cruise. You won't see any servers carrying around multiple covered plates of food. The food was fresh and delicious. Extra Virgin is a standout location.  The Galley's food is very good.  If you like ramen, their spicy ramen is excellent. 
  • At the ports - getting on and off the ship was a breeze with the bracelets.  I wasn't sure about the bracelet in the beginning, but it worked very well and wasn't bulky on the wrist. 
  • There is a lot of on-board shopping and some unique items. 
  • The ship is really beautiful. It's also very clean. The public spaces are unique and fun. 
  • Lots of great and comfortable places to relax on the ship. 
  • Beach Club at Bimini - Beach is nice and clean and there was no seaweed in the water.  The sand was very smooth in the water. There are a lot of loungers at the beach and the pool, but you'll need to get there kind of early to get a covered one. There's music all the time. The food, like on the ship, was very good. 
  • Dining room servers - they are very attentive and knowledgeable. There were new to the industry servers and experienced servers from other lines.  We met a previous server we had on Disney. 
  • Duel Reality - This is an excellent show and not to be missed.  
  • You can get a crowler (54oz pour) at the Draught House and take it with you and drink it where you want on the ship.  It keeps your beer cold.  You pay a $15 deposit and then bring it back for a refund when you're finished. You can keep for the entire cruise and just keep getting it refilled. Virgin Voyages has their own beer, which is pretty cool and it's an easy beer to drink. 
  • We really liked having a separate Thanksgiving menu that was offered on board.  Each restaurant had their own special menu. 
  • You can chat with guest services through the app. 

 

What needs some work:

  • The app - We consistently referred to it as that !@#$ app. When it worked, it worked ok.  When it didn't work, you were pretty much lost on what to do.  Everything is in that app.  What time to leave the ship at port, where to go, how to debark, etc. If you want to get choice times for reservations or book any of the shows, you have to use the app.  I'm sure you can go to guest services, but that's really inconvenient.  We fought with the app the entire cruise. There's no deck plan on the app, or at least nothing we could find.  They did provide a printed one for your room. 
  • If you booked a show through the app, it still wasn't a guarantee that you would actually get into the event. It still recommended you get there early.
  • Customer Service - This is one of the larger issues of this line.  We had a recurring issue (smoking in a nearby cabin, both cigarette and weed).  We contacted guest services a few times and they kept saying they were taking care of it.  They never took care of it. The lack of enforcement of smoking on this ship is a real issue.  You could pretty much smoke anywhere and they were not going to say anything to you about it.  I don’t have a problem with the smoking or the weed, but just don’t do it inside your cabin. That scent carries.
  • Lack of restrooms on the ship.  There were just a few around the ship and only 2 at the pool.
  • Be familiar with the layout of the ship before you get on the ship.  There were so many confused people. Rooms are categorized by A (port) side and Z (starboard) side. 
  • Scarlet Night - It was fun dressing up and seeing others dressed up, but the entertainment portion was just lacking.  There were no scheduled activities in the app, so you just kind of had to walk around to find out what was going on.
  • Bars - If you wanted something, chances were they were out of it. 
  • Excursions - Virgin needs a ticket system or something identifying your excursion.  This was very apparent during our excursion because the tour operator even mentioned it.  We had to go row by row on the bus and write down our names and stateroom numbers to have a record of who was on the excursion because there were no tickets.  This delayed our start and we came back about 30 minutes late. 
  • The Pool - What you’ve read is true. It’s tiny.  I can’t imagine what it is going to look like when the ship is running full capacity. However, the purple loungers around the pool are super comfortable.  You have to be up early to get one.  
  • Entertainment - There were long stretches of nothing to do.  During the day, don’t expect anything except workout classes. During the evening, there’s one quiz and maybe a couple of shows.  If you’re expecting action-packed evenings, you’ll be disappointed. 
  • Embarkation - Testing was very easy.  It was the waiting to board that was crazy.  Virgin wants to be cool, so instead of giving everyone a boarding number, they instead have a big room with a giant screen in the front of the room.  The screen doesn't really show anything important. When boarding begins, they call you row by row to board.  Once people started to realize this, there was a rush to the front rows. Boarding groups would be very useful here and a lot more organized.  They could also show helpful tips on the screen while people are waiting. 
  • Muster Drill - You watch the too long video on your cabin TV or tablet.  There is no demonstration on the video on how to use your life jacket.  You have to go to your muster station to do this.  Once you get there, the crew member demonstrates.  Honestly, I knew how to put on the life jacket better.  I would actually have been worried if there was an emergency and they had to tell people to put on their life jackets. They need to cut down on the length of the video. 

 

We had a Sea Terrace cabin and it was normal size for a cruise ship cabin.  However, the bathroom was just about the smallest bathroom on a cruise ship we've ever seen. The shower is nice, but the rest of it, well, you can barely turn around.  There's minimal storage space in the bathroom, specifically shelf space.  There's none to be had. There is pump shampoo, conditioner, and body wash the shower, but there is no lotion.  You can purchase that in the gift shop.  That's a jerk move, Virgin. 

 

The cabin has a doorbell along with wall controls for do not disturb and clean up service for your room.  It's only serviced once a day.  There are about 8 -10 hangers and ample shelving. The hangers are coated in plastic, so you don't hear them banging around. 

 

The bed is not really comfortable, but big.  There are outlets and usb ports on one side, but not the other. There are individual light controls on each side and above the head. The pillows are nice.  There is no top sheet, but a comforter and nice blanket are provided. 

 

There's a chair on the side next to the sliding verandah door. There's also a table with a lamp and a constant supply of water carafes.  You cannot purchase bottled water on board, but there are refillable water stations. The desk also has a tablet to control the lights and TV in the room along with plug in.  There's a really good selection of movies. There's a good chance it will not work.  Ours didn't and it was magically fixed, but I've read other accounts where the tablet didn't work. 

 

The verandah is pretty good sized and the hammock (which I previously thought was a dumb gimmick) is very comfortable. 

 

The only real issue with the room is that it squeaked when the ship was really moving.  It sounded like an old ship.  I wouldn't choose this room again just because of the squeak.  It was 13090Z (Z denotes starboard side). Of course, if you book online, you don't get to choose your room. 

 

Overall, we had a good time, but this is the first time I was actually ready to leave a cruise ship. There were a lot of things we enjoyed and would book this line again if the price was right and some of the issues were better. One of my main concerns is how is the ship going to operate running full capacity.  The pool was already overwhelmed with about 1000 passengers on board. The food was excellent, but will it continue to be excellent?  I'm also not sure how many actual paying customers there were on board.  There were a lot of travel agents and a lot of people who had won a free cruise through a contest Virgin sponsored, so I can't even say how representative of an actual Virgin Voyages crowd. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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There are a lot of things to like but the prices are significantly higher than other comparable cruise lines.  Five day cruises are higher than seven day cruises on most other lines.  Time will tell how this works out.  Looking at the advertising, the weed and smoke issues don't surprise me. LOL.

 

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Thanks for the very succinct review.  That really sucks about the smoking, sorry you had to put up with it and nothing was done to correct the situation.  If it was in another cabin or balcony seems like there should at least be a charge applied.  Did you request a change of cabins?

 

Do they have glasses you can use by the water stations or do you need your own bottle?  I heard about the crowlers, but didn't know they were insulated.  Do they have any beer bucket deals like buy 4 get 5.  Any type of daily drink specials or happy hour? Tx - BZ

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4 minutes ago, pa-annie said:

Thanks for the very succinct review.  That really sucks about the smoking, sorry you had to put up with it and nothing was done to correct the situation.  If it was in another cabin or balcony seems like there should at least be a charge applied.  Did you request a change of cabins?

 

Do they have glasses you can use by the water stations or do you need your own bottle?  I heard about the crowlers, but didn't know they were insulated.  Do they have any beer bucket deals like buy 4 get 5.  Any type of daily drink specials or happy hour? Tx - BZ

A cabin change was offered after several complaints on the day before the end of the cruise.

 

You need your own bottle unless you request a cup from a bar or go the the galley.

 

I know they have beer buckets, but can't remember if there was a deal. We didn't see any happy hour deals at all. 

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Can confirm on the smoking. Ugh, it's my pet peeve. I just want to sit on my balcony and enjoy it without smelling smoke. It was also really strong on the pool deck, somehow the smell seems to waft down from the smoking area above it more than on other ships. 

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30 minutes ago, Jasukkie said:

Can confirm on the smoking. Ugh, it's my pet peeve. I just want to sit on my balcony and enjoy it without smelling smoke. It was also really strong on the pool deck, somehow the smell seems to waft down from the smoking area above it more than on other ships. 

Agreed. I smelled it a lot on the pool deck.

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We were on this trip as well. I agree with most everything OP stated and think the review is pretty spot on. A few things I would add:

 

Pros:

Sangria carafe at the Dock is amazing!

The Manor is a very fun nightclub.

Talent onboard was great.

Overall, the kid-free experience made this the best cruise we have ever been on.

 

Cons:

Chairs on terrace are super uncomfortable. 

No volleyball at Bimini 😞

Smelled smoke while walking the track. I think the staff smoking section might be right there. Pretty gross!

Good, adult-themed comedian was missing.

 


 

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7 hours ago, cusematt4 said:

Thanks for the great review.  What’s the live music like on the ship.  Is there a reggae band, house band etc like on other lines?

There's a house band.  The only time we ever saw them was sail away and when they were working out. They may have also been playing in the atrium, but the app wasn't great about telling you where they were at.  If you happened to see them out and about on the ship, they would tell you to come see them at where ever they were playing at a certain time. 

 

The only other live music we saw were little pop up performances, but it would only be a song or two before they would move along. 

 

Music is being played all over the ship all of the time, but it's all the recorded variety.  

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7 hours ago, imahistorygeek said:

There's a house band.  The only time we ever saw them was sail away and when they were working out. They may have also been playing in the atrium, but the app wasn't great about telling you where they were at.  If you happened to see them out and about on the ship, they would tell you to come see them at where ever they were playing at a certain time. 

 

The only other live music we saw were little pop up performances, but it would only be a song or two before they would move along. 

 

Music is being played all over the ship all of the time, but it's all the recorded variety.  

 

Was on the same cruise as you. The band played at least twice in the dock house and then I think once or twice in the main atrium. We only ran into their active performances twice (saw them setting up the other times). These may have been pop up ones, like you said.

 

They did end up adding an actual scheduled performance one of the nights randomly, I think the same night as when "never sleep alone" got cancelled.

 

Side note: Was in 12022 Z and often smelled cigarette smoke in the hall walking from the mid to our room and pretty sure the smoker you dealt with was on our floor. It was REALLY noticeable for the entire week.

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1 hour ago, walkmypanda said:

 

Was on the same cruise as you. The band played at least twice in the dock house and then I think once or twice in the main atrium. We only ran into their active performances twice (saw them setting up the other times). These may have been pop up ones, like you said.

 

They did end up adding an actual scheduled performance one of the nights randomly, I think the same night as when "never sleep alone" got cancelled.

 

Side note: Was in 12022 Z and often smelled cigarette smoke in the hall walking from the mid to our room and pretty sure the smoker you dealt with was on our floor. It was REALLY noticeable for the entire week.

Down the hallway right above your stateroom on deck 13 it was fine. We walked down that way many times.  Our room was almost right off midship elevators on deck 13 and the smell was in those first few rooms.  Maybe it was just a common issue on the ship. 

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5 minutes ago, imahistorygeek said:

Down the hallway right above your stateroom on deck 13 it was fine. We walked down that way many times.  Our room was almost right off midship elevators on deck 13 and the smell was in those first few rooms.  Maybe it was just a common issue on the ship. 

Yeah past those rooms on our floor it was fine. It was really just the rooms on 12 near the midship elevators that were super pungent.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/11/2021 at 2:24 PM, luv2scrap said:

Thank you for your review we will be sailing on the Scarlet Lady in January, first time on Virgin. We are used to sailing with Princess, I am guessing this will be a big change for us.  What were the age demographics?

 

Honestly, not sure if I could give an accurate demographic.  There were a lot of travel agents.  I'd say the paying customer was 20s - 40s. This is based on observations at dinner, pool, and activities. 

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