HomeCruise NewsAhoy, Sailors! ITTN Aboard Virgin Voyages' 'Valiant Lady'

Ahoy, Sailors! ITTN Aboard Virgin Voyages’ ‘Valiant Lady’

New kids on the block, Virgin Voyages, is finally launching in the Irish market – much to travel agents and cruise enthusiasts’ delight!

Virgin Voyages launched its first ship, Scarlet Lady, in 2021 and social media was flooded with British travel trade professionals’ photos and videos, tantalising the Irish travel trade.   

From a non-cruiser’s perspective, these ships looked to be offering something completely different to the market, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to experience the stunning Valiant Lady in October 2023, on Virgin Voyages ‘Irresistible Med’ itinerary. A child-free, adult-only cruise around the Mediterranean was just what the doctor ordered, as we desperately tried to hold on to the last of the summer sun. 

Embarking from Barcelona’s convenient World Trade Centre Terminal was a breeze, having completed check in on the Virgin Voyages app prior to arriving. Within five minutes, we were walking up the gangway to the ship, with nervous excitement building – not knowing what to expect. As soon as we boarded the ship, we were met with a vibrant energy and genuine excitement from the crew as they prepared for their last Mediterranean sailing of the season, although something tells me they bring the same energy to every sailing!  

A lively DJ and energetic dancers welcomed us onboard Valiant Lady, as we took it all in. A quick glance presented us with the modern, sleek Draught Haus bar – perfect for a quiet drink (on any day, other than embarkation day!), an ice-cream bar comically named ‘Lick Me Till Ice-Cream’, comfortable outdoor seating and a large, contemporary spiral staircase that led to the sultry ‘On The Rocks’ bar. I already knew I was going to love this cruise!   

We eventually made our way to our cabin – a plush Central Sea Terrance on Deck 13. The cabin was spacious with a comfortable transitional double bed, large 43” flat-screen TV, modern bathroom with rainforest shower head and, of course, a spacious balcony with a handwoven hammock – red, of course! We settled in and acquainted ourselves with the technology in the room, which allows guests to control the lighting, ambiance, choose TV shows or movies, and even opening and closing the black out blinds, from the comfort of the bed, using a tablet.  

Central Sea Terrance Stateroom

Storage in the cabin sits behind a neat pull-across curtain and allows guests to hang clothing on a rail, on shelves and in drawers, with plenty of space to store luggage – even bigger suitcases. There are also some hooks near the bed which are convenient for hanging coats.  

After settling in and unpacking somewhat, we set out to explore this amazing ship and all it has to offer! It was clear from the offset, that there is a big focus on both wellness and fun on these ships, which was perfect for our Autumn getaway. Virgin Voyages offers its guests, or Sailors as they are whimsically referred to, over 20 eateries for dining (all included in the voyage fare), free WiFi, unlimited fitness classes, essential drinks and included gratuities, making them great value for money and a fantastic option for those young-at-heart cruisers.  

What surprised me most, was the diversity of the guests, or should I say ‘Sailors’ onboard. North Americans dominated the demographic, followed closely by British guests, and the age profile varied wildly, from groups of twenty-somethings to retirees with a zest for life, and everyone in between! At a guess, I would say the average age onboard was late-forties, and there was a variety of couples, solo travellers and groups. As Virgin Voyages expands into new markets in 2024, this demographic is sure to change and I have no doubt Irish holidaymakers will be excited to try out this new cruise offering. 

On a day-to-day basis, the health and wellness line has so much to offer, meaning guests who choose not to get off the ship on port days, can fill their days with informative talks, energetic classes, early morning spin sessions, sunrise yoga or a workout in the fully-equipped gym on Deck 15. Personal training sessions, a basketball court, boxing bags, multiple jacuzzis, two outdoor pools and a running track are also available for those who wish to burn off the calories from the delicious food and drinks available onboard!   

Valiant Lady also plays home to Redemption Spa for relaxing spa treatments, while Dry Dock Blow Out Bar and Stubble & Groom are available for those wanting a fresh cut or curly blow dry and The Tune Up is where guests can avail of mani/pedis or even Botox and fillers! For those who wish to return home with a more permanent souvenir from their cruise, Squid Ink Tattoo Parlour has them covered.  

The dining options on Virgin Voyages far exceeded my expectations, especially given the fact that all restaurants and eateries are included in the voyage fare – just remember to book early as reservations fill up fast! Sailors can enjoy everything from Korean BBQ, steak & seafood, hearty Italian cuisine, modern Mexican dishes and lots more. Dietary requirements, especially vegan/vegetarian and gluten intolerant, are really well catered for throughout the ship, and guests are asked for allergies or intolerances before ordering, in each restaurant.  

I could ramble on forever about the delicious food options available, so stay tuned for a deeper dive into all the wonderful restaurants and eateries onboard Valiant Lady.

Entertainment is abundant on Virgin Voyages ships ensuring your customers will never be bored, with options ranging from dance-parties, variety shows and interactive games-shows to live bands, solo singers and comedians in the various bars and venues on Valiant Lady.   

Virgin Voyages also host two fun-filled nights where participation is encouraged, but not mandatory. Playing on their light-hearted and whimsical nature, night one kicks off with a fun PJ Party which sees Sailors don their finest nightwear and party until the small hours in absolute comfort! 

Sailors are encouraged to wear red for Scarlet Night, as every inch of the ship is turned red, and a different party awaits guests around every corner. The crew wore extravagant costumes, there were vibrant pool parties decorated with giant, inflatable red squid and lively DJs spinning music from every genre, dance parties at On The Rocks bar, amazing music from the various bands onboard, all culminating in one magnificent party at The Manor nightclub. It’s difficult to describe the vibrance and excitable energy onboard during Scarlet Night, but one thing is for sure… it is a night not to be missed! 

The Ship Show at The Manor

When it comes to alcoholic beverages, Virgin Voyages do not offer a drinks package, but instead allow sailors to pre-purchase a ‘Bar Tab’ for $100, $200 or $300USD, and Virgin will give a bonus bar tab for use on your cruise. We opted instead to pay for drinks at the end of the cruise and were very pleasantly surprised with the price of drinks onboard Valiant Lady. My tipple of choice is usually a rum and ginger ale, and these were priced at $8USD (€7.50), which is better than my local! A beer will set guests back $8USD, wine was approximately $10USD (€9) per glass and a basic cocktail made with premium liquour was also approximately $10USD. Virgin allows guests to bring two 750ml bottles of wine per cabin, however beer or liquor is not permitted onboard in luggage.  

Valiant Lady has bars dotted around the ship, catering for all tastes and moods, whether it’s an evening filled with lively music, a quiet drink accompanied by some board games, a laid-back beach party vibe with magnificent views or a sultry champagne bar oozing with sophistication and opulent décor.  

Valiant Lady also boasts some larger event spaces such as the aforementioned Manor Nightclub with its spectacular mirror and light filled entrance, which allows for the perfect holiday photo to induce envy in those at home. Inside the nightclub – which also seamlessly transforms into a show venue – large ceilings, a sizable wrap-around bar and a large dancefloor awaits those eager to dance the night away.  

The Manor Entrance – simply stunning!

The Den is another event space that transforms from show to show, whether it’s the Miss Behave interactive gameshow or the Untitled Dance Show Partything that will delight Sailors with some contemporary, high-energy choreography! 

The Groupie is a private karaoke room where Sailors can wow friends with their commanding rendition of ‘My Heart Will Go On’ or ‘Yellow Submarine’. Pre-booking is essential!  

While not an entertainment venue, The Net offers Sailors an exhilarating, yet relaxing space to take stock and be mindful. Boasting a thick red net and located at the back of the ship on Deck 16, The Net is suspended high over 7 decks and is sure to get the heart pumping and make for a great photo.  

The Cabanas can also be found on Deck 16 and offer Sailors a private lounge area to bask in the sun. The Cabanas can be booked with Sailor Services on Deck 5 once onboard the ship and rentals are for 10-hour durations.  

As a first-time cruiser, I can wholeheartedly say I thoroughly enjoyed my week cruising in the Mediterranean on Valiant Lady, and this will definitely not be the last time I step foot on a Virgin Voyages cruise. Virgin Voyages offers the perfect blend of health and wellness, exciting itineraries, balanced out with superb nighttime entertainment and late-night dancing. If your customers are young at heart and enjoy delicious food, contemporary surroundings, wonderful destinations, energetic entertainment and great value for money, then Virgin Voyages is a wonderful option for them. I am already dreaming about my next Virgin Voyage! 

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into the dining, food, entertainment and health & wellness offerings over the coming days and weeks… There was far too much to fit into one article! 

Carrie Day
Carrie Day
Carrie started her career in the travel industry in 2014 and has worked in various roles such as Travel Consultant in Canada & Ireland, Business Development Manager and later Industry Sales Manager EMEA at an international tour company. She is also a trustee for the ITAA Benevolent Fund since 2021 and proud member of the AWTE Ireland. Conversations around sustainable travel are welcomed and encouraged!

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