An Impressive Start

Scarlet Lady Cruise Review to Caribbean - Bahamas

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 7

Overall rating:

4.3 out of 5
Scarlet Lady

4 Night Fire & Sunset Soirees (Miami Roundtrip)

Sail date: October 06, 2021

Ship: Scarlet Lady

Cabin number: Solo Insider

Traveled as: Singles/Friends

Reviewed: 2 months ago

Review summary

Although there are some hiccups Virgin is a welcome refresh to the standard cruising experience. Many of the things that ruin cruises are not present here. No upcharge restaurants, no tipping (no kidding!), no photo packages, free wifi for the average user, no dress codes, "just drop by" muster drill, simplified processes and experiences. It's easier to stress less and enjoy it more. It's just a great time with no kids and offers amazing food, drink and amazing service. If all that doesn't sell you then I'll say I already booked another one in five months and I can't wait.

Embarkation

5 out of 5
This was Scarlet Lady's "Mermaiden Voyage" and the process was shockingly smooth. Upon arrival about an hour before quoted time (as directed) we completed Covid testing and were seated comfortably waiting our results. Once complete we finished check-in and enjoyed complementary champagne while we waited to board! While it was a longer process than most are used to it was well organized and stress-free.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

5 out of 5
Food is one of the areas Virgin really shines. From the restaurants (reservations suggested) to the galley where every meal is intended to look and taste its best. No assigned seats, no assigned times. Don't miss Gunbae (Korean BBQ), Extra Virgin (Italian) and the appetizers served at the dock on the back of the boat! Extra points go to the way they are handling their "buffet" and grab-and-go items in the galley. Just wander around and see what catches your eye. Then take a seat and place an order from very attentive staff who bring it to you. Also the bento boxes are a stroke of brilliance. They look amazing, alleviate concerns about cross contamination, are portable if you're headed to your room or the pool & are endlessly reusable. Other cruise lines should take a look at this. PLENTY of bars serving great drinks and cocktails with friendly bartenders and attentive staff. On the pool deck, however, I was never once approached about ordering a drink. Up there you apparently have to go get them yourself.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
There's some room for improvement here. Great activities -- if you can get in. Even with a half full ship we couldn't get reservations for any. More importantly time will tell if Virgin truly draws the workout crowd. Nearly the entire top deck is dedicated to exercise -- and almost none of it was being used on our cruise. This ship desperately needs another pool area -- possibly a quiet pool -- and more shady spots for downtime with less oontz on the top deck. Overall the top deck seems poorly thought out and I expect we'll see changes in the future.

Entertainment

4 out of 5
This too needs some tooling. Not because the shows were bad -- by almost all accounts they were fantastic -- but they are inaccessible with limited seating and showings. Many guests were frustrated they couldn't get into the few shows offered. Also Virgin has bet heavily on folks staying ashore in Bimini for the evening bonfire. This activity is **highly overrated** and not worth staying around for -- or worth a return to shore if you've baked in the sun all day. While nice (they should keep doing it at sunset) it's just a nice side thing...like a small band in the bar...not a featured attraction. When guests discovered this and returned to the ship they found no activities, closed casino and shops and minimal bars open until midnight. Soooo much lost revenue for them. I am sure Virgin will "fix" the Bimini day but for now it's a real drag. And speaking of drag we were told "she couldn't make it" so there was no drag brunch on our cruise.

Children's Programs

5 out of 5
Five stars for offering a cruise with no children. Well done!!

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Service is another place Virgin shines. Maybe it is because this was their first "real" cruise and they were excited but nearly every staff member was incredibly friendly, patient, attentive and accessible. They are everywhere onboard rather than sequestered down below which adds to the fun. It felt they were there as friends along with us rather than people hired to serve us. Not sure if it will always be this way but it was seriously Disney-level service and hopefully (even without tipping!) they can keep that good vibe going.

Ship Quality

4 out of 5
It's a new, clean and beautiful ship that's well appointed. It feels high end, adult-focused, and ready for a party around every corner. At the same time however the layout is quirky and it's pretty easy to get lost. Signage helps...once you finally start to see it. Highly recommend carrying the map they placed in your room because the phone app does just about everything EXCEPT give you a map. Four days onboard and I still never really knew where things were. The top deck needs half as much gym space and twice as much shaded relaxation and pool space.

Cabin / Stateroom

5 out of 5
The "Solo Insider" are incredible cabins if you're traveling solo and don't need a lot of space. I love that cruise lines are embracing the idea of the solo traveler -- and not gouging them by paying for a room for two. It was definitely a tight fit but room for me to be comfortable and still had a place to put all my stuff. Lightning helps it to feel less confined and the bathroom was still a great size with an incredible shower.

Ports of call

Miami, Florida

3 out of 5
Not for me.

Nassau, Bahamas

3 out of 5
Just not a fan. I never go ashore in Nassau.

The Beach Club (Virgin Voyages), Bimini Bahamas

4 out of 5
The Beach Club is solid -- love having both a pool and a beach. Food was probably the best I've had on a private cruise stop. On the downside Jellyfish in the ocean and a lack of sufficient supplies (ice, drinks, straws, etc.) plagued our trip but still it's a great stop. Everyone should know the ship is a 10 minute tram ride away from the Beach Club so plan accordingly. Lastly lots of confusion about the benefits that come with the cabanas: online says $100 credit, server said 5 drinks, another server said $50 credit. Regardless of which way the drink package goes the cabanas are super basic and not worth the price.

Disembarkation

5 out of 5
Exceptional. You don't have to leave the ship until after 10 AM! Slow and steady wins the race. No waits, no hassles, no lines.
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