Ahoy Sailors! I recently had the opportunity of joining Valiant Lady for the Mermaiden voyage from Portsmouth to Bruges (and back). I was really interested to see how Virgin Voyages’ has continued to make waves and evolve as a brand since I last experienced Scarlet Lady in summer 2021 (you can read all about it here (2021) ). So, let’s get to it.
Valiant Lady is a near identical sister to Scarlet Lady. So, if you’re familiar with Scarlet you’ll know exactly how she’s laid out and what to expect.
In truth, not much has physically changed between the two – mostly, there are little tweaks here and there, but the majority of people would not even notice these. They have considered certain spaces and reworked the flow slightly. The biggest small change I noticed was around the Social Club Diner where switched and expanded the seating space to the main thoroughfare and put all the games to the lesser walked spaces further inside the diner. On top of this some of the shops and associated spaces have been reworked, so on Valiant Lady you’ll find a sunglasses shop where the Mac store is on Scarlet.
I generally like the layout of Valiant and Scarlet Lady, with anchor venues surrounded by a ecosystem of other venues to manage flows and how busy it is. Areas like the Roundabout work really well as an epicentre for activity, with pop-up entertainment, lots of live music and lots of different bars (to appeal to different drinkers) as well as shops and other venues, such as the record and DJ booth.
I love art on cruise ships, and Virgin’s playful approach to art and design has been artfully applied to Valiant as much as Scarlet in order to bring out her own personality. From things such as the eco-art created by Volume Creative, to the giant melting ice creams around the pool deck – it all helps elevate the playfulness of Virgin.
Arguably, the most change on Valiant Lady is around the Cabins. Earlier in 2022, Virgin announced that it would be tweaking the cabins on board Valiant and Scarlet Lady from feedback they’d received to date. The result has been to create warmth by adding natural and wood elements to the rooms, adding more practical storage around the room and more art. While these are relatively minor changes, I liked the evolution of the space.
We’d chosen to book an oceanview room for this trip to see what they are like. When we got on board we found out that this was actually a bow facing oceanview room, directly overlooking the front. This is really cool in theory. My only quarm is that outside the window there’s a huge amount of disused space which could be used to create some really interesting oceanview rooms/windows (like you find on other lines like Princess and Celebrity Cruises). Other than that, the room is as you would have expected with Virgin, including the comfortable convertible sofa-bed, mood lighting via tablet, and plenty of USB and power outlets.
The range of food options on Valiant Lady are the same as on Scarlet – and that’s no bad thing at all. The food on Virgin Voyages really is something else, especially when you consider that it’s all included. When we got on board, I made a beeline straight to The Dock to enjoy a wonderful feast of mezze. Honestly, it’s the only way to start a Virgin Voyage.
During our trip we tried a number of venues in the evenings including The Wake, Extra Virgin and Razzle Dazzle. We also had brunch in The Wake and Razzle Dazzle.
I am a huge fan of The Wake – the steak and seafood restaurant on board. From the gorgeous design to the actual food on offer, especially if you enjoy steak. It’s a big win for me and a must if you’re on board. The food was exceptional, and I couldn’t fault it in the slightest. The same goes for when you visit The Wake for brunch, it’s a delightful way to start the day (and they have such good bloody Marys) – You must, must, must try the crepe cake.
I would say if you’re looking for a genuine alternative to the Galley area (which is the ships version of a buffet), then head to Razzle Dazzle for breakfast or brunch. There’s such a good selection of delicious breakfast options here. While it’s a vegetarian-forward restaurant, there are quite a few ‘naughty’ meat options on the menu as well.
As well as this, there are of course a wide array of more casual options on board including the pizzeria which I recommend (especially as it’s open really late and only just situated off of the roundabout).
In terms of bars and lounges on board, these are identical to found on sister Scarlet. There’s a nice range of different bars on board to suit different styles and tastes. And the bar staff really are amazing at putting together a craft cocktail – whatever bar you are in.
You can read our full Virgin Voyages Dining Guide here.
Entertainment & activities
If you sailed on board Scarlet Lady in 2022 then you will be familiar with the majority of the entertainment and activities on board. Now, this maybe because it was a short UK sailing, but I was just a little disappointed there wasn’t a bit more variety and new to showcase. That’s not to say what was on wasn’t really fun, including things like Never Sleep Alone with the resident sex therapist on board. I would also thoroughly recommend watching Duel Reality, an acrobatics take on Romeo and Juliet. It’s such a good show and worth taking time to watch.
When I was on board in Dover in 2020, I had the opportunity to see UntitledDanceShowPartyThing. And it was good to see it makes its return on Valiant Lady. This is an all-standing eclectic show that features giant cats, an inflatable octopus, a dance rendition of Titanic and some incredible dancing. It’s hard to describe in honesty, but it’s a lot of fun. What I enjoy about Virgin’s shows is that they are so different – they’ve really tried to think outside the box and I can’t help but applaud it.
Staff & Service
The service on board Virgin Voyages really is amazing. They have sought to get such a calibre of crew across the board and it really shows wherever you are in the ship.
Whether that’s the entertainment staff with Abi The Hostess, Stephen the Gamer, Jake the Foodie, Andy the Charmer, The Diva or Glen the DJ. They’re all such talented people and really make such a difference to the feel of the ship throughout the day. Side note, I really adore the ‘persona’s’ they give the entertainment staff on board and the overall quirkiness to the approach to entertainment – it’s truly unlike anything else on any other line or ship.
Learn more here
You can learn all about Virgin Voyages here
My reviews of Scarlet Lady can also be found here (2021) and here (2020)
Are you booked to sail on board Virgin Voyages? Let me know in the comments and across social media. I cannot wait for my next adventure with Virgin – watch this space!