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HeinBloed Blog from VALIANT LADY (Channel Hopper to Zeebrugge) April 2022

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The blog is back on: VALIANT LADY by Virgin Voyages.


We know the embarkation ports in Great Britain: Southampton, Dover, Liverpool, England; Greenock, Rosyth, Scotland, but Portsmouth, England, is very new to us.

With the many cancellations of BA flights, we learn to appreciate the advantages of London City Airport when one has to travel to the ports: direct train tickets to/from London are quite a bit cheaper than combined tickets to/from Heathrow.


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The ship parade begins at 03h30 MSC VIRTUOSA, BRITANNIA, and BOLETTE en route to Southampton.

And then later, she finally comes VALIANT LADY.

We use the time until embarkation to visit the Spinnaker Tower. We have often seen entering/exiting Southampton but never visited.

I haven't read much and wanted to be surprised. You will be surprised: many positives and unfortunately also a lot of negatives. I still don't know whether to love it or hate it.

A lovely reunion: Don Habets, Hotel General Manager, we still know from Holland America.

And a really great personal support on board: Suzana.

First of all: it is not a cruise ship as we know it, but a playground for adults. It's nice that there are no children on board. But a lot of adults behave like children!

I'll get back to you when the day at sea continues.


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Virgin Voyages is different. It's like when you've ordered a new toy, and you don't get started intuitively but first have to spend time reading the instructions because things work differently here than elsewhere.


And when you then discover that you come to a point: not every innovation you experience on board enriches you. But also that you are disappointed and annoyed at individual points because you know it differently and are used to it, you certainly can ruin the vacation.


I experience our trip on the VALIANT LADY as a rollercoaster ride: it goes up and down and sometimes at a pace that I just can't get over.


Let's look at Disney and Azamara as "exotics" that we like and would like to go with again but just don't fit the budget. And the higher daily budget with being different also applies to Virgin Voyages.


That leaves Cunard, Holland America, and Princess (as of May 2022), which we appreciate overall. Then it's a difference, like a day and night.


Seeing the transformation of a hotel manager from Holland America and is now with Virgin Voyages is quite incredible. But I understand him. Being part of the birth of a new brand and being able to shape it yourself makes the task very exciting.


For example, it was the first time a hotel manager could not help me: there was no lactose-free cow's milk on board. I can now rely on a standard from everyone else without being asked. I have no problem bringing my own or asking beforehand. I just didn't expect that there might not be any on board. And unfortunately, Virgin Voyages' customer service sucks!


There is so much new to discover for the first time: brunch. I only knew that from the jazz brunch at NCL. Unfortunately, there is no more. I want to go on a cruise ship and just drive off. I don't want to read the user manual, and I don't want to have to find out whether I understood the user manual correctly, and that's why it doesn't work, or it just doesn't work. If you don't want to wait or go to the serviced self-service restaurant, you have to organize your life here with the app - and damn, you didn't notice that because there wasn't enough information or the app didn't work correctly.


I am not a vegetarian or vegan. Others are welcome to eat as much vegetarian or vegan as they want, as long as my meat offerings aren't scaled back and I'm forced to try vegetarian and vegan. I decide what I want to eat. The razzle dazzle is called the vegetarian forward. I didn't want to go there, but I wouldn't say I liked the other place either. So I give it a try: I find out you can top everything with meat. And it's so good we're going a second time. Aleksandar and Katja also contributed to this, ensuring that we were at least delighted with the food, even if we didn't like the loud music there.

I later experience lunch within the brunch as an 80% dinner offer with small additional offers from noon. However, if you want a lobster, it's not free despite the high daily rate. And there are no daily specials either, but the variety consists in the fact that you change the food distribution.


I am very disappointed with the service self-service restaurant The Galley. For me, neither fish nor meat. At the self-service restaurant, I have my influence when I walk to the counter and order what I feel like. That doesn't work here, and only in very few areas.


The hammock that hangs on the balcony, which you can buy in the shop for 240 USD, is one of the fascinating things that I have become friends with.


Instead of teppanyaki, as in almost all of the competition's new buildings, there is Korean BBQ: I know it from Asia and Frankfurt, Germany, and I like that from time to time. I didn't know before that you were served here at the table and suddenly experienced service that you missed elsewhere and actually didn't expect here. Usually, I'm used to getting the meat on the spot and doing everything myself, but here it's done for you. I'm also not a fan of drinking games, especially not with total strangers. But we had charming table neighbors (Ryan, Tiffany, Melanie, and Paul) with whom we quickly struck up a conversation. Thanks to our waiters, Dewi and Tri, who explained and charmingly led the drinking game, you simply had to join in without feeling ridiculous or harmful when you were eliminated. Due to the lack of the main restaurant, there was a rush to cope with, which Mirjana and Anek managed very professionally.



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The day starts beautifully: the sun rises directly over Zeebrugge, Belgium!


Breakfast in The Galley: There's noodle soup... somehow more for women who have to watch their figure. Through meat slices, you can read the newspaper! And fruit in the plastic boxes - unfortunately, I can't get used to the idea.


In Zeebrugge, I finally get lactose-free milk. Later, Lauren makes me the first cappuccino of the trip.

There is a bit of ship spotting and delicious food with a great view of the VALIANT LADY from the Njord roof restaurant on the Cruise Terminal.


In the afternoon I meet Andy The Charmer. He explains the background of the Scarlet Night: in the evening, everything is red in red. Usually, I wouldn't have gone on the show if I knew what to expect, but since we couldn't flee, we're about to experience one of the best shows I've ever seen on a ship: Duel Reality.


In the evening, we are expected by the predator tamer Winnie in The Wake. She has to tame the hungry mouths without reservations, which are probably also desperate about the app and didn't get a reservation. We also get to know friendly neighbors at the table: Lisa and Steve. It's excellent that Don Habets is coming by to say goodbye.




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  • 2 weeks later...



The journey on the VALIANT LADY is coming to an end. I exchange ideas with a first-time cruiser while arriving: Ricardo from Portugal.


We're still trying out special requests. But if it's on the menu, variations are possible.


Otherwise, unfortunately, we also find that the housekeeping does not meet the standard of other ships.


That's why I leave the ship with a laughing and a crying eye. I certainly don't want to say never again, but not anytime soon.


It's off to London City Airport for the most horrible business class flight.


But on the way there, we stop at the Sky Garden - the "walkie-talkie" - for lunch above the roofs of London.



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