If you haven't already heard of Virgin Voyages, the latest endeavor by business mogul and travel icon Richard Branson, you must not be paying attention. The decidedly different cruise line has been making waves with its "No kids, no kidding" ad spots, visions of mermaids in red and an ethos described as "Rebellious Luxe."
Virgin's cruisers, referred to as "sailors," are in for a treat -- make that a few: Wi-Fi, tips, fitness classes like aerial yoga or boxing, some beverages and 20-plus restaurants are included in the fare, along with what the company promises to be "rockstar service."
So what is there to do on a Virgin voyage? We've handpicked 11 unique activities aboard Scarlet Lady that are guaranteed to make amazing memories along with at least a few hate-likes and jealous DMs.
Razzle Dazzle is Virgin Voyages' self-described veg-forward restaurant onboard, but when guests aren't eating clean, they're getting down and dirty with a hedonistic brunch (and what brunch is complete without a serious drag show).
Riff with the ship's resident drag queen while you dig into coconut milk fairy bread or a fried chicken sandwich (one of the distinctly non-veg offerings on the menu) and chase it with -- hold onto your wig -- bottomless brunch cocktails like the Yaaaaasss Queen, consisting of hibiscus, ginger, citrus bitters, bubbles and something called "ruby red disco dust." If that doesn't keep you hydrated, you have the option to spike your green juice by adding shots to any smoothie.
You'll be yelling "Werrrk!" and forgetting about work in no time.
Redemption is the spa onboard Scarlet Lady, and during the day it offers a hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, cold plunge pools, quartz beds and rejuvenating spa treatments. But unlike most cruise ships (or land-based) spas, Redemption doesn't go dormant at night.
Instead, the space will transform into what the line is calling a "mermaid hideaway extravaganza," with DJ'd tunes. We're not sure what to expect from a spa party, but we hope it's a steamy, multisensory experience that answers the question: Can mermaids dance?
Sip: A Luxuriously Effervescent Champagne Lounge and Caviar Bar is the onboard Champagne house sponsored by Moet & Chandon. Spend $9 to $999 on flutes and bottles of your favorite vintages. (During the afternoons, Scarlet Lady celebrates its British heritage with a signature high tea.)
But you don't have to visit Sip, or even be near it, to make all your Champagne dreams comes true. Reinventing the idea of bottle service, Virgin Voyages' app will have a feature called "Shake for Champagne" that allows users to simply shake their smartphones to reveal a Champagne on demand button. Just one shake and a 750 ml bottle of Moet Chandon Imperial will soon appear in a red bucket with two glasses -- just don't shake the Champagne.
What's old is inevitably new again, and vinyl records have made a serious resurgence. Virgin Records is the label for greats from David Bowie and The Rolling Stones to Daft Punk and the Spice Girls, and you may feel a wave of nostalgia as you shop at Voyage Vinyl onboard Scarlet Lady. Walls of records make a great venue for the ship's resident DJ to perform occasional live sets. In his role as the company's "Minister of Music," DJ Mark Ronson has curated the onboard vinyl record selection as well as those featured in the ships' RockStar Suites.
After the sun sets, The Manor -- a two-story space named after Branson's first recording studio -- turns into a nightclub where merrymakers can groove to retrowave or futuristic sounds spun by members of Virgin's entertainment team called the Creative Collective. The glittering mirrored entryway is one of the most Instagrammable places we've experienced on any ship at sea.
On the topic of DJs, Virgin Voyages has secured limited residencies from Mark Ronson as well as Diplo, SofiTukker and more to perform at its private beach club in The Bahamas.
The Beach Club at Bimini is on every Scarlet Lady itinerary, and for good reason. In addition to morning meditation and evening bonfires, DJ-led pool and floatilla parties (a massive sea of Day-Glo-colored flamingo and unicorn floaties) will be at the center of the club in the afternoons. So start giving some deep consideration to whether you are Team Flamingo or Team Unicorn -- and coordinate your swimwear appropriately.
If you haven't seen Bill Murray's indie classic "Lost in Translation" wherein he serenades Scarlett Johannsson at a Japanese karaoke lounge with "This Wicked World," we recommend it as pre-voyage viewing. Not just as inspiration, but for the eerie degree of separation: The film was directed by Sofia Coppola, and The Groupie, Virgin Voyages' bookable karaoke lounge, was designed by her brother Roman Coppola. Coincidence?
The Groupie was designed as a modernist take on a Japanese-style karaoke room, and is available for belting out the hits in addition to being bookable for private gaming and hangout sessions. So assemble the crew and prepare for a gathering worthy of #squadgoals.
Outside of the bars, clubs and restaurants, Scarlet Lady will have a focus on wellness, with venues that include the B-Complex Gym, Athletic Club, Runway jogging track and more. One of the most 'grammable wellness-oriented spots just might be The Perch, a contemplative outdoor space with gorgeous 360-degree ocean views.
The secluded sun deck, intended for sunrise and sunset yoga, will be the perfect place to realign your chakras after long days -- and nights -- of letting it all hang loose. And who doesn't appreciate a good yoga selfie with a perfect sunset in the background?
Geonbae means "cheers" in Korean, so it's not a stretch that each meal here begins with a complimentary round of soju, a colorless Korean spirit, for the table.
After getting the perfect Boomerang of your glasses clinking, settle in for a hands-on dining experience -- one of the many included onboard -- as diners grill meats at the table using a specially engineered flameless grill. As the evening progresses, sailors are encouraged to participate in lively Korean drinking games. (Just one of many good reasons for a flameless grill.)
Not every activity onboard requires you to see or be seen; maybe you want to unwind and gaze out to sea. Every Sea Terrace cabin (225- to 265-square-foot rooms similar to other cruise line's mini-suites) comes with a handwoven hammock on the balcony -- unique in cruising. These custom-designed hammocks were handwoven by artisans from Yellow Leaf, a social enterprise that fosters women's empowerment and community transformation in rural Thailand, so you're doing good just by laying about.
When you shimmy inside, you'll find equally relaxing options. Beds artfully swing out to create an L-shaped sofa with plenty of extra room to accommodate company, or for just you to sprawl out. Mood lighting changes by the sun's location, so the atmosphere is always on point. Plus, the free room service -- fittingly called ShipEats -- is just like having complimentary UberEats onboard.
Signature parties on cruise lines are not uncommon, whether it's a White Night out on deck or a Glow Party with neon accents. True to Virgin's palette, its Scarlet Night will take place amid a sea of red revelers.
Conceived, designed and produced by Randy Weiner, the award-winning producer behind New York City's Sleep No More (and other shows) Scarlet Night promises music, art installations, pop-up performances and maybe even some elements of cabaret. The evening includes an after-party created by Brooklyn's House of Yes, known for their wild and theatrical nightclub.
Just in case your Instagram feed isn't a permanent enough way to commemorate your Virgin voyage, you can get inked at the first North American tattoo parlor at sea. Created in partnership with World Famous Tattoo Ink, the venue will use their signature vegan ink to create corporeal masterpieces.
Scarlet Lady will have two full time resident tattoo artists onboard, handpicked by ink industry legend Lou Rubino Jr. (of World Famous Tattoo Ink, Soho Ink and Freshly Inked Magazine). Squid Ink will also feature a line-up of guest artists including Spike TV's Ink Master star Sarah Miller, surrealist specialist artist Arlo DiCristina and illustrative specialist Jime Litwalk. (Virgin Voyages also encourages its crew members to express themselves through visible tattoos.)
Updated February 24, 2020