Another thing Virgin Voyages does differently is entertainment. Whereas the traditional cruise line approach is to offer several theatrical performances, most of which take place in the main theater, Valiant Lady takes the show on the road. Yes, the biggest productions, including Duel Reality, take place in the main theater, The Red Room. But we were smitten with the variety of pop-up performances that took place throughout the ship. It adds to the festive atmosphere, and there's a bit of magic when you're sitting enjoying a drink one minute, then watching an acrobatic performance from the ship's actors the next.
Duel Reality is the cornerstone of the entertainment. It loosely follows the plot of Romeo and Juliet, with rival gangs dancing and flipping on bars and giant seesaws. It's a visual stunner that will have you holding your breath by the end. It's immersive, in part because the setup of the theater has banks of seats facing each other.
Another much-talked about show on Valiant Lady is Never Sleep Alone, which takes place in the Manor. This one is a bit more divisive: We spoke with people who loved and people who hated it. We couldn't find a middle ground. Virgin Voyages says "it's not for the faint of heart," which perfectly sums up this playful and somewhat raunchy voyage into sexuality. Be warned: It is interactive. If you attend, you will participate.
Other nighttime to-dos include Untitled Danceshowpartything, an entertainment mash-up that is beyond explanation and built for experiencing, and a late-late-night House of Yes-inspired afterparty.
Tip: Several showings of the various productions take place throughout your cruise, so if you miss one, you'll get another chance. Still, make reservations through your app.
As busy as Valiant Lady is at night, we found a bit of a dearth of scheduled activities to do during the day. This could very well be by design: Going late into the night often means sleeping late into the morning (or afternoon).
Events are made available in your app, though a printable version of the schedule is available at guest services. Many of the activities focus on wellness: a couples' massage workshop, for example, or a nutrition class. You'll also find the occasional offbeat session, like a workshop on taking photos of food or cocktails to share on Instagram (for a fee).
Our favorite organized sessions were the trivia offerings, which were standing-room-only on our cruise, expertly led by Stephen The Gamer. Trivia was offered every day, mostly in the afternoon/evening time period.
If you're a game lover, Valiant Lady has you covered, offering a video arcade, along with free table games (shuffleboard and air hockey) and a huge card/boardgame cabinet. Grab Cards Against Humanity, Bananagrams, Clue or Trouble to play with friends while chatting in The Social Club. It's a fun dose of nostalgia.
Valiant Lady was made for the nightlife. It virtually screams party from the second you board this ship. Part of this comes from the spaces themselves: Every restaurant has a bar that is great for a pre-dinner -- or, heck, during dinner -- cocktail, which feels very boutique hotel. Other bars, like the vast and more subdued Sip Lounge, stand on their own.
But it's also just the overall approach. You never know where a party will break out, where you might stumble across a mermaid or merman leading an impromptu parade of revelry. Dance parties are a certainty, and crewmembers are encouraged to be themselves. It feels truly joyful and unforced.
Of course, you will find more prescribed nightlife as well, if you skim your app. But it's the secret, pop-up fun that had us buying into the nonstop Virgin party. Live music abounds, and an impromptu tap dance could occur. One of our favorite nightlife experiences happened truly by accident: We were invited to join a secret mystery VIP group that added an extra, unexpected layer of immersive-ness across the ship, including access to crew-only areas and learning the real story behind the ship's Scarlet Night. It was both unexpected and hilarious.
Outside of nightclubs, lounges and entertainment that lasts into the wee hours, Valiant Lady also has a fairly large and active casino, where people can hit the slots or play table games at all hours, when the ship isn't in port. For people who prefer to be their own entertainment, Valiant Lady also has three bookable (but free-of-charge) private karaoke rooms at the ship's Deck & The Groupie space. Sign-ups are first-come, first-served, and the song selection is stellar.
Tip: People tend to find their favorite spots onboard and stick with them, but the array of nightlife offerings is exceptional. Change it up because you'll likely discover new favorites every night.
Valiant Lady drinking packages do not exist, though Mega Rockstar Suite guests get a free daily bar tab across the ship, and both Rockstar levels are treated to free in-suite bar setups. Otherwise all drinks not included in your cruise fare will be paid for a la carte, unless they are part of a special experience or other situation where it is explicitly stated drinks are on the house.
Virgin softens the blow from this a bit by including self-serve still and sparkling water, a selection of juices, Coke products and tea and coffee readily available for free around the ship (which is more than most non-all-inclusive cruises offer).
Cruise Critic Valiant Lady Bar Picks
For a Craft Brew: It's rare to find a decent variety of craft beers at sea, so color us thrilled to find the Draught Haus on Valiant Lady. The menu was extensive, with craft beers from a variety of mostly U.S.-based breweries. Bonus: Try Miami-based Wynwood Brewing's Stray the Course, a red ale exclusively made for Virgin Voyages.
For VIP Vibes: Richard's Rooftop is one of the ship's only exclusive spaces -- it's only accessible to guests staying in Valiant Lady's Rockstar Suites (and their guests). The vibe here can alternate between laid-back sun lounge and rowdy bottle-popping party, depending on the time of day (or night) and who's around.
For Competitive Spirits: Things really get competitive over at The Loose Cannon, a classic nautical-themed pub. During the day, fellow sailors convene with chats over cocktails or pints, and several cruisers bring in board games. In the early evenings, this is where increasingly competitive rounds of trivia take place.
For Social Seekers: This is a social ship but two areas seemed to always be buzzing: the Sip Champagne Lounge that stretches along the starboard side of the ship on Deck 7 and On the Rocks Cave Bar, a sleek martini bar in the Deck 6 atrium (to be fair, this is where much of the night's live music went off).
Virgin Voyages has taken flack for the size of its ships' pools. And it's fair: The main pool and adjacent Well-Being pool on Valiant Lady are tiny. In cool weather, that's not a problem, but on a hot day, these will fill quickly.
The pool deck offers several hot tubs, which were busy during our entire cruise. Richard's Rooftop, an exclusive area for suite guests, also offers hot tubs.
What Valiant Lady lacks in pool square footage, it more than makes up for in sundeck space. Sundecks on Valiant Lady are abundant, and they offer plenty of options for socializing -- or solitude.
The prime spot for sunning is the Sun Club, on Deck 16. Here, you can lounge or grab a covered red beach chair (called Strandkorb), which comes with no extra charge. (A bit of weirdness here: These hooded red chairs, which fit two people, face the water. But there are multiple rows. If you're not in the "front" row, you'll gaze at the chair in front of you.)
Deck 16 also offers cabanas for rent, and there's a photo-friendly suspended catamaran net at the ship's aft, which is ostensibly for lounging but mostly used for killer Instagram pics.
Richard's Rooftop also has extensive space for sunning, again, just for suite passengers.
Tip: While the traditional sundecks are great for tanning and talk, we love the ship's many outdoor spaces, especially The Dock, a roomy outdoor bar that has the best ocean wake views.
Valiant Lady includes a variety of cool and high-end shops, with necessities, clothing, makeup, jewelry and more. The ship has turned a large chunk of Deck 6 into the swanky retail space.
Notable among the ship's services is the Squid Ink tattoo shop. While not included in the price of your cruise -- you'll pay about what you'd pay on land to get inked -- it's a popular spot among guests looking to commemorate their vacation with a new tat or piercing. So popular, in fact, that we suggest you make your appointment the very first day you board.
You won't find self-service laundrettes onboard, but you can send out items to be washed and/or pressed.
Basic Wi-Fi is included in the cost of your cruise, but it is pretty slow. You won't be able to stream anything. It's required to power the app, where you'll find your schedule, make reservations, see your wallet and book shore excursions. When the internet doesn't work, your app won't either, which can be a pain when you're trying to remember for what time you made your restaurant reservation and the like. You can buy an upgraded package; it's free for suite guests.
Valiant Lady leans heavily into the concept of detox and retox; it encourages guests to play hard, then spend their days making up for it. The ship's Redemption spa is the spot for pampering, offering a variety of massages and facials. Options are pretty typical of what you might get at any spa on land or at sea, but it's worth noting that the couples room offers a big bathtub for an optional pre-massage bathing ritual.
The nearby thermal suite is a lovely perk, complete with steam room, cold plunge pools, hot tubs, mud room and sauna. Huge marble heated loungers make up the perimeter. There's a steep daily fee for using the thermal suite, though guests staying in suites get access for free.
In a bit of a departure from the usual cruise design, Virgin Voyages opted to split off beauty and grooming services from the spa complex. You'll find a blow-dry bar, barber shop and salon on Deck 6, a floor above the spa.
Tip: Changing rooms for the spa are a bit utilitarian and somewhat public. Basically, you'll change in a stall near the check-in area. If you're shy or just want a little privacy, it's totally OK to change into a robe in your room before heading to the spa.
Fitness is a focus on Valiant Lady, which offers both traditional fitness facilities as well as a hip outdoor wellness spot, dubbed "The Athletic Club." The ship makes it fairly easy to keep fit, with included classes and a fun approach to exercise.
Valiant Lady actually has two fitness rooms, which flank part of the pool deck. One is devoted to cardio, with bikes, treadmills, rowing machines and ellipticals. The other side offers weight machines and a solid range of free weights, plus space for lifting. Both rooms feature lockers, so you can keep your stuff secure. They also feature water bottle filling stations. The cardio side is dark, with black lockers and deep-colored wood surfaces. The weight area stands in stark contrast, with bright white lockers and an airy feel. A sizable open fitness area is found in the weight side; this is where most classes take place. (On days with great weather, classes could take place at the outdoor "Perch," found on Deck 17.) The cardio side features the spinning room.
One of the perks of sailing Valiant Lady is that classes are included in your cruise fare, but capacity is pretty limited, so signing up early on the app is essential if you have an absolutely cannot-miss pick. Classes include things like bungee training, spinning, yoga and a totally hilarious VHS '80s workout, where costumes -- and Shake Weights; you remember Shake Weights, right? -- are part of the fun. We sampled a few classes, and found they ran the gamut in terms of how much you actually work out. Our fast flow Vinyasa yoga class was just OK. While the trainer clearly knows some yoga principles, he definitely wasn't a trained instructor, so those guests who had a little more yoga experience added to their own practice in some spots. The class also weirdly ended 15 minutes early. Our bungee class, on the other hand, was a blast and a great workout that left us a little sore. The winner, though, was that '80s workout, which was so fun and a good workout, too. Just be aware that the class is led by performers, rather than certified instructors.
The Athletic Club has a super vintage feel, with a boxing ring, heavy bags and benches for ab work as well as various grips for push ups. It's all outdoors, so in the middle of the day, it's hot. But we had fun trying out the equipment and getting in a more bodyweight-focused workout. Valiant Lady also offers a jogging track -- of course, it's bright red -- on Deck 17. We love this one, as the space is pretty strictly for walkers/runners, so you don't battle lounge-chair encroachment. Six laps around makes a mile.
Tip: Guests who miss a fitness class for which they registered are charged a $10 "no-show" fee, so don't sleep through your booked session.
The minimum age to sail Valiant Lady is 18, so you won't find any facilities onboard designed for families. All programming is designed for adults.