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Scarlet Lady Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
578 reviews
1 Award

Virgin Voyages, very different but too different.

Review for Scarlet Lady to the Caribbean
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DoctorSAB
10+ Cruises • Age 90s

Rating by category

Cabin
Family
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: Oct 2021
Cabin:
Me.

This is a belated (and lengthy) review of our Scarlet Lady cruises

of October 20th and 24th. We booked back to back since we seldom

if ever cruise less than 2 weeks. I didn't want a third cruise since

Cabin Review

Cabin was OK, nothing special. Lacking in storage space.

Port Reviews

Bimini

This is a belated (and lengthy) review of our Scarlet Lady cruises

of October 20th and 24th. We booked back to back since we seldom

if ever cruise less than 2 weeks. I didn't want a third cruise since

one of the stops is DR, a port we pointedly avoid.

Please bear in mind that our perspective is that of veteran cruisers

in their mid '70s. Those two factors definitely affect our opinions.

Let me start with the boarding experience in Miami. All in all it worked

rather well, though we did have to walk a lot. We opted for the 3 PM

boarding but since we had to check out of our hotel by noon, we

left then to cab to the terminal.

Our experience with other cruise lines has been that

boarding time assignments are estimates and suggestions and are rarely

adhered to.

In the past whenever we'd arrive early, we board early. On October 20th

our boarding experience was pretty much like that. Their outdoor crew

saw us approach at 12:30. At that time there were few fellow passengers

so the crew just waved us in. Kudos to them!

The COVID test I should say was minimally invasive in the sample

taking process. When I say minimally, it was more like a wave of

the stick in the general direction of my nostril. After my wife and I

left I commented that no one could possibly flunk that test!

We did have to wait about 40 minutes in the "post test, pre board"

room in the terminal. We boarded soon afterwards, found our

cabin easily enough with one of our bags waiting for us. The other

arrived about 15 minutes later.

Our cabin (12-170) was the run of the mill veranda and we found

it acceptable, with a few Cons mentioned below.

The safety video was a silly execise of someone's idea to make the

needed facts sound hip to young folks. I understood hardly any of

the musical narration. I blame my old age and lack of "hip-ness."

A short time later we went down to the bar area for our personal

Mae West demo, a nice personal touch.

Now for the shipboard experience over 9 days, Pros and Cons.

Pros first:

The food quality and preparation in all the venues is excellent,

on par with the best of the other lines we've experienced. The

coffee at the Galley and from room service was quite good, better

than many cruise lines we've experienced. We did not sample the

coffee-at-a-price Starbuckian shop. I would have if the free coffee

wasn't good but didn't have to. Kudos to their coffee prep.

Room service was more prompt that any ship we've ever sailed on.

I actually had warm food! I was amused by the 5 pound duffel bag

and heavy duty containers that protected the food. It looked like

it was designed to be dropped from a plane.

The "grab and go" spots are an excellent idea. Other ships should copy.

The Wifi is (by cruise ship standards) quite good. It did cut out at

times, but over the 9 days it functioned well enough to stream TV

from back home. These days robust Wifi is a must on ships since

people are streaming entertainment and checking the home

security cameras. Scarlet Lady did OK. Kudos.

The App has been maligned by many but my only complaint was

lack of content. More ship information could have been contained

there. Were that the case the newletter (well hidden in Sailor Services)

would be redundant. It would be nice to have the paper newsletter

delivered to our room nightly.

Note: The app worked well on my iPhone 12pro. It never locked up

and I never had to delete/reinstall. Not so much with my spare phone,

a Samsung with less processor speed. Speed suffered, occasional

lockups occurred.

The Galley (think of a mall food court) is a nice place with lots of

options right there conveniently. It's also a nice place just to sit

and look out the windows. I chastise Virgin for claiming 20 multiple

"eateries" in their marketing. They're more like multiple kiosks in

The Food Court.

Despite what's advertised, they're are "Main Dining Rooms", multiples

of them. They're not called that but they sure look like MDRs.

Call them what you will, we enjoyed them but did not do the Korean place.

We enjoyed visiting different venues every night. We picked varioius

seating times 6:30 to 8:15 and the rooms were never crowded. More on

that later.

Service everywhere was excellent (with a glaring exception). The young

folks were eager, fast, efficient and smiling. I admit to having trouble

understanding various accents after the mask changes them to a muffled

mumbled. I usually had to ask for 2 or 3 repeats from the folks. All

smilingly complied. I wish I could have seen faces to build raphor. Instead

I memorized name tags.

The beach experience in Bimini was nice. We dined with fellow peasants

and the food was OK. Again, service top notch it's a nice place and we

went there twice.

Our cabin was the run of the mill veranda and all in all acceptable. We

wanted nothing special and it was OK. I criticize the architect who could

have made a larger bathroom and a larger closet by using some empty

space outboard. The bathroom, for its tiny dimensions was serviceable

enough. We did not use the soap dispensers. Never would. Looks like

a cheap motel set up.

The bracelet I didn't care for initially but grew to like it. Unlike the usual

ship's credit card, it's hard to lose. Mine did fail several times, once when

checking back onto the ship. Fortunately the crew recognized us and let

us board. I guess we didn't look like pirates LOL. Other ships shold copy.

The fridge in the room was a good idea, though we had to stock it

ourselves. At this price level I expected at least soft drinks and water.

The B2B experience went smoothly, simply walk off the ship into the

terminal, then walk back on.

The disembark experience was smooth and uneventful. Kudos.

Now it's time for the CONS:

The dining experience in the MDRs is unpleasant. Things happen way too

fast, there's no time to finish a cocktail or a glass of wine before appetizers.

Given the timing of the reservations it appears that the dining experience is

designed to be completed in 30 minutes! I hope that's not so but we had

to be especially emphatic with several waitstaff to slow down the food

delivery. Second courses and entrees arrived before we could finish the

appetizers.

We even resorted to ordering appetizers, then nothing else, just

to stall for time. The waitstaff were all hell bent to serve family style to

the 4 of us. Several also brought food we didn't order. Sadly went to waste.

I speculate that this technique is unavoidable on a full ship but our October

20 sailing had 850 passengers. I can't imagine their service technique

will scale up at double or triple that number.

As with the Galley, the server's mask complicates the experience. We only

established a raphor with a couple of waitstaff.

The most serious criticism of the MDRs is lack of menu variety. With the

short quickie cruises this would not be an issue but we had thought of

booking the 15 day re-po. That wouldn't work for lack of menu variety.

I should note that some foods ran out midway through the second voyage.

Apparently the ship wasn't restocked on October 24.

Other random dining related CONS:

The Test Kitchen was a bizarre though mildly interesting experience. We

tried it twice, the second dining was the veggie option. Each time I was

tempted to go upstairs to the Galley for a cheeseburger afterwards.

We had to instruct some bartenders how to make some drinks.

The hot dog place had a tiny variety of adornments for their hot dog.

I'm from Chicago where the hot dog is a sacred food icon.

The same criticism goes for the Pizza place, lack of variety. They do a

good crust and it's hot and tasty, but again I'm from Chicago..........

The Dock on the aft deck has a nice snack menu and is a nice hangout

but for such a nice venue it would be useful to have more food options

there. Several times we wished to go there but didn't want to repeat

the food choices. It's the nicest outdoor venue of the whole ship.

Non-food CONS:

Please don't say "free Wifi", "Tips included", etc. Oldsters know full well

it's built into the ticket price.

We didn't attend any shows or other entertainment because we could

coordinate their times with our dining schedule. No regrets, the shows

didn't sound like our cup of tea. We're not prudes, but we expect something

more interesting and traditional

We wished for more outdoor common areas. The Dock was best, others

not so much. Nowhere did we find comfortable furniture.

Signage in the ship's interior is woefully inadequate.

The hammock is a silly gimmick. I'd have preferred good chairs and a

table big enough to hold a small meal for 2.

Throw away all the furniture and start all over. Don't buy from IKEA.

The cabin chair is uncomfortable and the bed is hard as a rock. Is

Virgin reminding me I bought the basic cabin?

The bed is too low, suitcases don't find under.

The tablet is a hassle to control the TV and lights. Also, why isn't their

app on the tablet?

Toilet stool is too low (old people thing).

Summation:

We won't sail Virgin again, certainly not the quickie 4 or 5 day boat rides

around the Caribbean. They wanted to make it different experience

and it became just too different. I can't imagine how it would scale up

to longer voyages (maybe they don't plan to !! ). I also can't imagine how

the ship's architecure and its crew will scale up to full capacity.

We did enjoy the 9 days as far as it went. The food was spectacular,

asterisk to the Test Kitchen. We enjoyed the crew, for all their

foibles and lack of experience, for being eager, smiley and helpful

Looking back during the plane ride home I felt that the Scarlet Lady

was more of an amusement park than a traditional cruise ship.

Maybe there's a market out there for young folks,

especially those who have never cruised before,

to enjoy this type of cruise experience. It's just not us.

After the holidays we're going back to tradition,

3 weeks on the Azamara Quest in January.

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