Virgin Voyages: A Very Honest Recap

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review

Hey Owlets,

I’m back with another cruise ship review today; I’m usually so excited to write these that I’m planning the article in my head before I’ve even disembarked but this one has been a bit of a struggle. Last week Virgin Voyages invited me to spend a few days aboard Scarlet Lady, their first ship and inaugural venture into the cruise industry. I can’t lie, as soon as I got the invite I was already looking at deck plans, checking out cabin photos online and planning all of my Instagram photos. I was ready to absolutely love this ship and be inspired to save every penny in order to get on board this magical ship. The reality, however, was a bit different from that. I must admit, I waited for a few of my fellow media guests to write their articles first while I wondered what to do, and maybe they also didn’t have the best experience either because while there is the odd honest review, most have stuck to listing all the ship’s beautiful features. Having deliberated for days and being told by everyone around me “don’t be too harsh” or “make sure you’re totally honest”, I think I have to take the latter option and tell you what I experienced, rather than reviewing the ship so that you can make your own mind up.

Scarlet Lady’s long awaited arrival at her first ever port of call in Dover was going to be the birth of a new age in the world of cruising.  Built specifically for passengers aged 18-35 and free from screaming kids, Richard Branson and his team threw everything “cruise” out of the window before they’d even installed one, including the team itself. Holidays are now called “voyages”, passengers are “sailors”, travel agents are “first mates”, bathrooms are “heads” (I’m going to need someone to explain that one) and the design team were specifically chosen for their lack of experience in designing cruise ships, and it shows.


*Virgin Voyages invited me on board to experience the ship for myself but I was not paid or obliged to create
 any content for them and all views are my own and entirely based on my personal experience

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review

Arriving in Dover we were stranded at the station for 2 hours when the shuttle bus should have been running every 20 minutes - we obviously don’t know who’s to blame for that but it wasn’t a good start. Following a 2 hour sit in, and having completely shattered the nerves of the poor station manager trying to quell the overcrowding we were taken to the ship and herded into security, where thanks to a technical malfunction we sat on the floor for over 2 hours. Again, not their fault but a little communication would’ve gone a long way because it took them two hours to tell us why we were waiting. Communication seems to be a huge issue for Virgin Voyages in general, as over the course of a few days I spent a huge amount of time wondering where I should be going, what I was meant to be doing and whether or not the food they were serving was going to make me ill. Granted, we were the first people ever to board the new ship so I’m hoping this will get better with practice.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Atrium Roundabout
The Roundabout/ Atrium
When we finally made it aboard Scarlet Lady we were greeted with a glass of champagne and the overwhelmingly loud thumping of techno music in the "Roundabout" (calling it an Atrium was far too ship-like) - definitely not your average cruise liner, but it was a press “voyage” so I assumed they were going to make a fuss, but it turns out that techno music in every corner of the ship is simply the Virgin Voyages way.

Having listened to a solid 5 minutes of thumping music I decided to enjoy my champagne in my room (apparently the word“cabin” is yet another on the buzzword blacklist). I have to be honest, I have mixed feelings about the cabins. I went in expecting modern luxury and the latest technology to be rammed in just for the sake of having it, having been forewarned that the cabins (sorry, rooms) were jam packed - in fact it was a little underwhelming. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Sea Terrace Balcony Cabin
Sea Terrace (Balcony) Cabin
I’ve heard a few people mention that their cabin reminded them of an IKEA showroom, and while I do see hints of IKEA in the white moulded desks,  I actually quite liked the simplicity of the cabins. A lot of the time ships are about cramming opulence into every corner, and when the rest of the ship is so in your face it was nice to have somewhere calm to come back to when the techno beats get too much, but that’s about where the pleasantries end.

In an effort to be “cool” and “edgy” Branson’s team have thrown out literally everything in a cruise ship cabin, including the bed. Rather than a proper bed you have a sofa during the day and a bed at night, which feels a little more Travelodge than high end floating hotel. I, for one, sometimes like to go back to my cabin during the day, lie on the bed and read a magazine and it doesn’t feel like you’re allowed to do that here. I feel like the cabin is where hiring inexperienced designers really shows, because there’s absolutely no storage space in the cabin. You have a small (open) wardrobe with nowhere to store your suitcase, and a narrow cabinet with two shelves already in use. I know Scarlet Lady is only offering a maximum of 5 nights per voyage, but the kind of clientele they’re trying to attract don’t pack lightly. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Sea Terrace Balcony Cabin
Hammocks on the Balcony
Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Suite Balcony
The hammock above the railing in the Gorgeous Suite and the stair-table in the Rockstar Suite
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford a balcony cabin at £2500 for 4 nights then get excited, because (for now at least) they come with a very Instagrammable hammock swing. Whether or not this is a good thing entirely depends on how well off you are, because they’ve used the same swings in every cabin, including the suites where the ceiling is much higher so you take your life into your hands because the hammock is actually higher than the railing. This is also accompanied by a table with stairs attached so, in Richard’s words, “you can dance on the table when you’ve had too much champagne without having to climb up” - great concept but yet again it throws safety out of the window and puts you above the height of the railings. I really can’t see either of these things lasting - it’s just a case of whether someone is going to stop and say “hang on, that’s not right” or someone’s going to go overboard first.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Sea Terrace Balcony Cabin
Sea Terrace Balcony Cabin
One thing you always expect on board every cruise ship is the same is the toilet, it’s always the exact same no matter who you cruise with - unless you’re Virgin Voyages. In yet another attempt to be different they had to reinvent the wheel when they should’ve just left it alone. The toilet on board Scarlet Lady is much longer than normal, which is fine in public spaces but makes the cabin bathrooms feel incredibly cramped. The shower is beautiful and much larger than normal but between that and the toilet the bathroom as a whole suffers (unfortunately the only way I could take a photo was with my wide angle lens so it looks a lot bigger than in reality). When you walk through the door you almost have to sidestep to get in because of the longer toilet, which would be near impossible in rough seas. You have a 1ft square of floor space to do everything, so you have to pivot on the spot because you’re physically not able to step anywhere. I definitely wouldn’t like to be on board if I was any larger, but then I guess that doesn’t fit the “millennial Instagrammer” brand so I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable as a plus size woman on board this ship. The “room full of tech” was also quite lost on me - I imagined smart speakers like an Alexa or, at the very least, a bluetooth speaker so you can listen to your music in your cabin. I also expected wireless charging to be built into the desk (something I’ve seen in a lot of hotels) but that hadn’t happened either. In reality a “room full of tech” was just an iPad to order room service, change the lights, control the TV and close the curtains - it felt like they’d missed the mark, yet again. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Public Lounges
One of the Public Lounges on Board
Back downstairs, the public spaces are beautiful and, as predicted, aren’t what you’d expect if you’ve been on a cruise before, but yet again they’re plagued by the inexperienced design team and a lack of understanding of their customers. Looking around the ship (are we allowed to call it a ship?) you can almost hear a board room of over 50s saying “yes, this is definitely what millennials like” as they make yet another poor design choice. In fairness, they have done well in some places - the whole ship has an air of paired back luxury, it’s modern and comfortable without having the “dripping in gold” feel that can make traditional liners feel dated, but they’ve more than made up for the odd good design choice with a plethora of own-goals. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Pool
The Only Pool
If you’ve been following the ship’s launch anywhere online then you probably already know what I’m going to say - “WHERE’S THE POOL?!?!?!”. The only outdoor pool has absolutely no space for swimming - it’s a plunge pool the size of a double bed, and you’d be lucky to fit more than 6 people in it at a time. I’d be disappointed with the size of the pool even on the smallest cruise ships, let alone a vessel designed to hold nearly 3000 guests. It really does conjure images of middle aged men in a board room agreeing that their guests only want a pool as a background for their selfies and to lounge next to in their designer swimwear. You’re sailing the Caribbean, your guests are going to want to get in the pool.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Pink Agave Mexican Restaurant
Pink Agave Mexican Restaurant
Turning your attention to the restaurants, there are over 20 places to dine with each restaurant having a different theme, and despite Virgin Voyages being adamant that there’s no buffet there definitely is, although it’s called “the galley” now. Every restaurant is included in your cruise fare which really is a welcome change from the traditional cruise line offering. The theatre is yet another place where they’ve ripped up the rulebook, replacing the traditional style venue with a huge multi-use space. We were treated to two shows on board - the first was called Duel Realities, which was a poorly thought out and even more poorly rehearsed acrobatics show. When you walk in you’re given a colour which informs which side you sit, and you’re pointed in the right direction. I was vaguely waved towards a seat on the front row, so I sat there - in hindsight this should come with a warning, because you’re pretty much part of the performance. I had one of the performers sat either side of me, who started shouting and swearing at each other across my lap when the show started which made me feel very uncomfortable (one of them kindly reassured me part way through that this was part of the act, by which point it was too late to move seats). 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Duel Realities Show in the Red Room
Duel Realities Show in the Red Room
They didn’t tell us there’d be no space to put our things, but part way through the show another blogger’s camera was smashed when they knocked it to the floor as they were hurrying into the performance, and because everything was so close to the action it wasn’t long until someone had cut themselves on the remains of the poor girl’s lens. 

Part way through the performance the tempo slowed down and this time I had a female performer sat to my right. As she slowly moved back onto the floor she slid her hand down my leg, and while I know this was part of the performance I have a serious issue with this. With no history of trauma in my past I felt very uncomfortable, so what would happen if someone was sat there who did? I shouldn’t have to go to a performance on my holiday and be worried that I’m going to feel sexually harassed, or that someone who’s experienced abuse in their past is going to be triggered by a show that actually choreographed a performer touching someone without their permission. Of everything I’d experienced so far, this was the thing that really had my head in my hands thinking “what the hell is going on?!”. Part of a performance or not, this should never be acceptable and I’m actually disgusted that this was planned.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Duel Realities Show in the Red Room
Duel Realities Show in the Red Room
The ludicrousy continued when, towards the end of the performance, the people in the middle of the front row were asked to stand up and their chairs were moved onto the edge of the performance space (but still on stage) so they could bring in ramps. I had to laugh because in their haste to set up for the next part of the show they gave the girl’s camera another beating, this time with a wooden ramp. At the end of the performance they all stripped down to their underwear, handed one of the girls a mic and she started singing a sickly-sweet ballad, the likes of which you’d expect as part of traditional cruise entertainment and pulled anyone who accidentally looked in their direction onto the floor to dance with their barely-clothes colleagues. It felt like they’d suddenly decided they’d gone too far and put a bit of tradition back in.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Red Room
Untitled Dance Party Thing in the Red Room
Having survived one performance, I didn’t plan to go back for the second show but I decided to give it a go as I was only on board for two days. When you walked in for the second performance all of the seating had been taken away and it was set up more like a gig with a stage in the middle, but as soon as the performance started it was clear it was basically a rave - and no, I don't know what the whale was about. Yet again, more dance and techno music started, along with a countdown to the performance. As part of the performance they started by poking fun at different types of millennials which was fine to a point but, as with everything I’d experienced, they had to take it too far. There was a segment that made jokes about influencers and while I’d be quite happy to laugh at myself if it was relatable and actually funny, it felt more like they were tearing apart the very people they’d invited to promote the ship for them - painting all influencers as shallow, materialistic and self obsessed sell-outs. It left a bad taste in my mouth as well as a lot of others, and it’s at this point I noticed a lot of people leaving. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Sailor Services
Sailor Services
That bad taste in my mouth is something that I noticed a lot across the ship - there were traditional press and influencers on board and I found myself constantly being asked which side I was on and being treated differently according to my answer. In fact when I boarded my cabin door wouldn’t close, and when I went down to reception I was asked for my job title then asked who my “handler” was and told to wait to one side. When one of the PR team arrived she spoke to the same person I’d been dealing with who’d already forgotten - it’s at this point that they took my card off of me, saying I’d probably be moved but they’d come find me later. I ended up with no idea where my luggage was, unable to shower or change out of the clothes I’d travelled across the country in until 10pm, by which point I felt so gross I just wanted to shower and put pyjamas on. The real kicker was that the person behind me was from a newspaper and was instantly dealt with and looked after. It shouldn’t matter who you write for, a guest is a guest and you should be looked after in exactly the same way. Are they going to start doing the same depending on your cabin grade too?

I totally accept that it just sounds like I’m salty from being pushed aside, but honestly I just found it funny because it shouldn’t have mattered and, to me at least, showed that they were helping because they wanted a good review from the people who they thought mattered, rather than genuinely helping because you’re a guest and they want you to have a good time, but it seems that traditional service qualities had been thrown out across the board.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Razzle Dazzle Restaurant
My Starter at Razzle Dazzle
I was told I couldn’t go to dinner until 8:30pm but there wasn’t anywhere to get gluten free food on board, so having not eaten since 7am I turned up ready for dinner to be told I didn’t have a reservation. Eventually I got a seat and while the food was decent, the choices of gluten free food were incredibly limited (2 main courses and one dessert), the crew were unwilling to make any small changes to a dish in order to allow me to order something outside of those two choices and the food was just OK, when I expected the standard on board to have me saying “that was amazing”. The thing that baffles me with it being a ship specifically catering to millennials is the issue around dietary requirements. A study by OnePoll found that 57% of millennials in America (where the ship will be sailing from) have some form of dietary restriction (either by choice or for medical reasons), but the catering for dietary requirements on board was laughable, from lack of provision, to lack of effort and lack on knowledge. There were no gluten free substitutes on board yet, which was fine because we were the first guests on board, but even without GF products there were barely any options for me. I was hungry later on in the night so went to the “not-buffet” and when I asked around there were barely any gluten free options, and if it wasn’t immediately obvious (if it wasn’t pasta or bread) then the crew didn’t know, and were unwilling to check if something was safe for me to eat so there was no danger of me putting on weight on this cruise (sorry, voyage).

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review Manor Nightclub
The Manor Nightclub
After our thoroughly satisfying meal we went to check out the evening’s entertainment, but like the rest of the ship this too was underwhelming. There were a multitude of bars but every single one was plagued by a DJ playing techno, house or dance tracks that all sounded like the same monotonous beat all night, played so loud that the sound was distorting. I can understand that some people might like that type of music (I certainly don’t expect the usual 60s-80s soundtrack that comes with traditional cruises) and playing that makes sense in the nightclub, but when you have so many bars why wouldn’t you make use of it? Stick to the “millennial soundtrack” but have techno in the nightclub, have a bar that plays pop-punk and rock, one that’s known for R&B etc etc. I know you’re trying to rip out every tiny thing that makes a cruise a cruise, but there’s a good reason that every other line has different music in different bars, it’s because it works! It’s at this point that I noticed basically everyone had given up and gone to bed, so I walked around the ship to take my photos while it was empty then went to bed.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review The Wake restaurant
Entrance to The Wake restaurant
The next morning I got up, hoping in vain that things would’ve improved after the crew’s first day dealing with guests- spoiler alert, it hadn’t. I went to breakfast, only to be told that I’d have to wait at least 20 minutes for a table. While waiting I got a text from my friend that she was inside so I went to join her to save the wait, only to find that they were letting people in ahead of me and the entire restaurant was empty. As I sat down I was offered a coffee then the waiter left, and my friend actually called him back after 10 minutes to ask for a menu for me, at which point he handed it to me and as soon as I opened it he said “what do you want?” when I’d not even had a chance to read it, so he huffed a little and walked away again. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady ReviewThe Wake restaurant breakfast
My Breakfast at The Wake
The breakfast menu was impressive, filled with a huge variety of great options if you can eat everything - for me however, I was going hungry yet again. The only two things I could eat on the menu were prawns, and a polenta and red pepper bake (I hate polenta and peppers so this was a definite no go). I asked the waiter for eggs Benedict without the bread, and he came back a few minutes later and said “no, you’ll have this”, pointing to the polenta. When I explained I didn’t like it he shrugged and offered no alternative, so I ended up with 5 prawns for breakfast and nothing else. I could almost understand the crew’s reluctance to help if it had been busy but the restaurant was practically empty. He could’ve offered me a plate with bacon, spinach, avocado and poached eggs, which was already being used to create the other breakfasts so wouldn’t have been an issue, but they actually preferred the option to have their guest go without breakfast than put in any sort of effort. I was genuinely shocked, and at this point totally gave up and accepted I wasn’t going to eat until I got off the ship. We did go to brunch later which was a minor improvement, but the waiter there came back to tell my friend they’d sold out of vegan cookies so he’d ordered normal ones for her instead. It stands to reason that if the rest of the meal she’s ordered is vegan, there might be a reason for it and perhaps they should check with her first? But apparently good customer service was thrown out of the window with everything else you expect on board a cruise ship. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review

This bad customer service is ship-wide and really makes me question Virgin’s hiring process. When I was leaving the ship I walked past the man from guest services who was quite unbothered by my laptop and passport being in an unlocked cabin the previous day sat on the stairs talking to a colleague. As I turned the corner I heard him say “here’s the list of the influencers we’ve managed to get rid of”- I wish I could say I was shocked but after 24 hours of the worst service I’ve ever experienced on board a ship, I barely even raised an eyebrow. I realise that this is an issue specific to the press event, but I wanted to share it with you because these are the same people who will be looking after you. There’s normally an expectation (not one that I agree with) that if someone knows you’re there to review their workplace they make more of an effort to look after you, so if this is them making an extra effort I shudder to think how they’d treat paying guests.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review
The outside space with the "Wellness Pool"
I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly upset to be leaving the ship. I was tired, hungry, fed up and glad to be going home - not feelings that I’d typically associate with a luxury experience. In all honesty I’m just a bit confused, both by the design choices and the experience in general. At the time of writing this for a 5 night cruise you can expect to pay upwards of £800 per person for the lowest cabin grade available (average is around £100 per night), so the pricing puts this firmly in the premium category. They’re expecting to attract millennials but most people my age couldn’t afford to sail with Virgin, so they’d be attracting the people who have grown up in a fortunate environment, yet it doesn’t feel any more luxury than a standard cruise ship so isn’t premium enough for that kind of client. I really don’t know if there is a market for this ship yet - I guess time will tell. The ship is hindered by terrible design choices that reflect both the inexperience of the team who designed her, and a lack of understanding of the type of person they’re trying to attract. 

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review
Cabanas on Deck 16
I know that Branson and his team wanted Scarlet Lady to be unlike anything else available right now, and while I’m pleased something is shaking up the industry I don’t think they’ve done themselves any favours by throwing everything even remotely related to cruising out of the window. When I was debating what to write one of my friends helpfully quizzed me, asking if it would be something that someone who hasn’t been on a cruise would enjoy, or something that the typical Magaluf party goer would like, but even if you’re adamant you don’t like cruises you can still expect good service, a safe and comfortable environment, and to be able to eat without worrying you’ll get sick, so it’s still a no. The typical Magaluf regular most likely wouldn’t be able to afford to sail with Virgin Voyages either so I really don’t understand who this ship is aimed at.

Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady Review
The entrance to The Manor
In all honesty I’m just really confused; even taking a week to think about it before trying to write hasn’t helped. I have to liken Virgin to “have a go heroes” - they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing but they’re going to try it anyway, and in my opinion it hasn’t paid off. At the end of the day, whenever I’m reviewing something my final question to myself is “would I spend my own money to go?” and the answer is most definitely a no. Again, this is just my personal experience and we were the first guests on board so maybe it will improve with time and experience, but I’m not sure I’d be willing to give it a second chance. Now you know everything I can leave you to make your own mind up.

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜 
You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest

33 comments:

  1. This is a truly excellent review, and thank you for being honest. I think Virgin have made a serious mistake here with how they treated you and the other influencers - I couldn't afford this sort of thing anyway, but even if I could you wouldn't get me on that ship if you paid me. I hope they learn from this!

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and comment, I really appreciate it!

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  2. I was there and you're spot on. Well done for telling the truth. Everything you say is correct (and I wasn't at the show but am horrified to read about your experience.) x

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    1. Thank you so much for the support! As I say, it definitely made me uncomfortable so I worry about how others would handle it x

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  3. Excellent, detailed and honest review. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you!! I really appreciate you taking the time to read it

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  4. Wow. I've seen a few reviews & posts about this new ship and they've all been positive or just focussing in on other aspects of the ship. This one definitely seems to have missed the marks on so many levels in comparison to other cruises you've been on which you've returned to time and time again!
    I would always appreciate an honest review Becky so thanks for this! Cruising isn't something I'm particularly interested in but if i was i would want to know what to expect on board and if it was going to be value for money!!
    Honesty and integrity are what we build our reputations on so I ak so pleased to read this.
    Thanks so much Becky, I am just sorry you had to suffer this. 💖xoxoxoxoxoxo

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article and comment, I really appreciate it! I took a lot of time to read other reviews before I wrote this which is why I really wanted to forget about it being a "review" and just focus on my personal experience, and I'm really glad you liked it. Thank you for your support :) xx

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  5. Thank you for being so honest. I have read other reviews and I feel that Virgin have really lost the plot. I am one of the older bloggers etc and yet to cruise on an ocean vessel. I have done quite a few river cruises in Europe and have been with younger passengers who have enjoyed the luxury that goes with river cruising. I too am gluten free, fish free and peanut free and honestly I think I would be starving. As you were. I find it all to be confusing as you would think they would treat you all with respect love etc. After all your writing about your experiences and they are not doing themselves any favors. Each cruise I have been on I have had more than enough food - only once I was offered a salad of lettuce tomatoes as my main. Only once! I protested and the chef sorted it and from then on I had no problem. All bloggers who write about their travels are influences whether they are sponsored or not. Im truly sorry that you were treated like you were a second class citizen ...just so wrong on so many levels. (i blog as 3sistersabroad.com) just in case you were wondering lol...

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    1. We're opposites, I've never done a river cruise but I'd love to! Who would you recommend sailing with? I must admit, I was surprised too - I've never gone hungry on a cruise ship! They told us when we boarded that there were no gluten free substitutes on board yet which is fine as they weren't due to serve paying guests for over a month but I don't really use substitutes at home apart from the odd bit of GF toast, I just eat whole foods like rice, potatoes, veg etc, so I was surprised with them being so health conscious that there wasn't more of this around. I've had a few *interesting* experiences on board different cruise lines! I have an article about Cruise and Maritime Voyages coming out in a few weeks which talks more about that. I was going to post it last week but then this post blew up and I didn't want people to think I just like a moan because I was 100% honest in both articles, so Im holding back to publish it!

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  6. I was onboard in Liverpool and completely echo your sentiments. I left feeling confused and completely underwhelmed. I was so excited for this epic sea change. It's a definite change, but it's certainly not epic.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my article :) I'd love the link to yours if you've uploaded one (you can DM me on Twitter or Instagram if you're not comfortable leaving the link on this post). I was the same, I was so excited to board and expected it to be amazing. Hopefully things will improve as they get more experienced!

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  7. Wow. I've never been on a cruise so have nothing to compare this to but it sounds like a really horrible experience all round. Like you said, hopefully some elements will improve with time, but I won't be bothering.
    Thanks so much for being open and honest as well, I know how hard this can be when an experience has been gifted.
    Abi | https://whatabigailsays.co.uk

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my article, I really appreciate it :) It definitely wasn't easy to write - I think I wrote about 4 drafts across two weeks before I finally hit publish!

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  8. A really interesting an honest article - it's been so refreshing to see people being so honest about this launch, although it seems some of us had quite different experiences and some different thoughts on aspects of it.

    I didn't get the whole heads for bathrooms thing either, though I love the vocab they've been using.

    Interesting that we also had problems boarding in Liverpool - they first told us it was because of weather but then they told us it was because of wifi for checking in - we ended up waiting for around 3 hours though luckily in a Crowne Plaza near the terminal with free drinks!

    Agree on the storage not being great, I think the lack of suitcase space is the biggest issue there.

    Good spot on hammocks being above railings in suites - I hadn't noticed that at all!

    Interesting and super valid comments about consent during the shows - one of the things I'm most intrigued about on VV is the Randy Weiner shows Another Rose and Scarlet Night - having been to Sleep No More in New York I know there are moments in that where the performers can get very in your space and touch you - I went to it before being assaulted, something that has left me quite jumpy so I can see how such an experience could potentially put their passengers in very comfortable and even distressing situations

    Interesting that you had the same cabin door problems as us - we went all night with door not locked and next morning - we reported it twice but it wasn't fixed

    Sorry to see you didn't have great experience at dinner - I managed to speak to one of the food & bev managers who gave me some info on what would be in place for gluten free once sailing athough he did sheepishly admit they weren't at the right stage yet. (there's a bit of detail on my blog at glutenfreehorizons.com)

    It's a shame you had such a truly crummy experience. I found it to overall be a good night although the ship does have her problems - as you say though it doesn't feel like a premium product, I hope the pricing changes past the initial launch period!!

    Francesca xx

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    1. thank you for taking the time to read my article :) yours was actually one of the ones that I read before writing this! I'm pleased you managed to find someone to speak to about the food situation- I think because we were on board the first night everyone was really busy and stressed. I can't believe you had to go all night though, I don't think I would have slept! Glad you had a better experience, from what I've read I think it was all a very mixed bag xx

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  9. Have you written to Virgin and complained by the way you were treated and what you overheard they need to know what’s going on.

    If these people carry on treating people like that they will totally destroy any image they are trying to get across it’s going to be difficult enough for them to try to find a place in the market with out them dragging it down

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    1. I spoke to a few people on board about the issues I was having but I think everyone was just stressed and busy so nothing really came from it and after a point I gave up and stopped mentioning anything. By the time we got to my 5 prawns for breakfast I think in my mind I was like "I'll be back in London in a few hours and can go to my favourite cafe for lunch". Virgin have been in touch with me regarding this review, but of course I'm keeping that conversation private

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  10. With all the hype everyone was carrying on about with Virgin Voyages previous to your experience this review doesn't surprise me. I knew (guessed might be a better word) that there was going to be teething issues however it appears that this is far more than teething problems. I also didn't realise that their cruises would be restricted to 5 day cruises. That in itself is a crazy idea. The design of the public areas including the cabin needs a major rethink. Yes, I am not a 18-35 year old but I used to be one and if I had experienced what you have done I would have been very upset. Thanks for the review. Hopeully Branson will read some of these reviews, as yours is not the only one that has reported negative impressions of this ship.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my review :) To be fair, I was also one of the ones hyping it up because I was so excited to see such a massive change to the industry - I really wanted to love it (the poor boyfriend can attest to that, I didn't shut up about it from the second I got the invite!!) but I was so disappointed. I think it was a combination of teething issues, poor design choices made by an inexperienced team and high stress where we were the first people on board so it was a perfect storm for things to go wrong. I heard someone mention that they thought the idea would be that you spent a few nights in Miami first to make it a week-long holiday (but that didn't come from Virgin, it was just someone's speculation) which makes sense, but I know I'd rather have a longer cruise than a part-land holiday!

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  11. Maybe they haven’t hit the mark as yet but, having been involved in many ship launches - start up for any new product is tough. Crew members can make or break a new product and it would appear that they are not quite ready as yet and haven’t found their form. I am pretty sure, as we have experienced with Virgin Atlantic when they get it right, the product, execution and guest experience will be a game changer. That said, your honest review is refreshing. Hardware is what it is, crew members shape the product proposition.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my review and comment, I really appreciate it. This was my first experience of the Virgin brand unfortunately (I haven't done many flights yet!) so I had nothing to compare it to. I agree with you about the launch - it's not just a new ship but a new cruise line too, so doubly tough. I'm hopeful that things will improve as they gain more experience, but there are some things that they can't change (the major design choices that haven't worked so well). I've heard people that are still very excited to go, and if I could have afforded to book I probably also would've been one of those people, but my experience has definitely put me off for now

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  12. Virgin should look at 'Ocean Village ' The cruise for people who don't do cruises was their Mantra ,excellent!! Unfortunately they moved to Australia, GB's loss!!

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  13. An excellent balanced honest review well done.As an older person it sounds like "hell at sea" but the shortcomings of which there are many poses a lot of questions which Virgin need to answer and address very quickly!

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review, and I really appreciate your kind comments :) I'm 23 so in the target age range but it definitely wouldn't be for me, I just didn't "get it". Hopefully they can iron some of the issues out in her maiden season - there are definitely some people who love the concept so I think it's a case of waiting to see what happens, who books and what (if any) changes they make

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  14. Really great review. Thank you.

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  15. Excellent. as you say the prices are Premium like Cunard who provide excellent service and food for all tastes
    So many folks in your age range and like my Son-in-Law (40's) who is Gluten Free and Diabetic 1 on a longer voyage this would be a disaster
    I just cannot fathom where Mr Branson is coming from in terms of the way the staff treated you in food and cabin and basically your profession.
    You are not the only experienced cruisers who just did not like overall service
    They have a lot of issues to deal with starting with staff and cabins
    They might not like it ,, but you all are passengers not sailors
    All the best // Rob ask RobBar

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my review and comment, I really appreciate it! Personally access to safe food and good service are really important to me when booking a cruise so I know where you're coming from! If your son-in-law enjoys cruising then hands down my best ever experience on a cruise was P&O, they were incredible at looking after me and I always felt safe (I have a serious allergy to squid too which is actually more of a struggle than gluten!). Another reviewer said that once they get going they'll do the usual filling out of forms the night before so hopefully the issue with dietary requirements will improve with time, as will hopefully the crew's willingness to help when they have more experience, so the reviews should improve with time. For now at least I wouldn't pay to go on board because I had such a bad experience, but I don't think it's for me anyway even though I'm the target market. Give me a cheesy 80s disco any day!

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  16. A floating Magaluf but not quite as classy !
    Not in a millennial million..

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  17. It must be that Virgin Voyages is experiencing some growing pains. We just returned from the crossing and spent 10 nights aboard. The cabins were very comfortable for 2 and the sofas/beds made them even more so. I spent several afternoons stretched out on the sofa, covered with a blanket, reading a book. While we don't have the dietary restrictions you do, the food was delicious. I would imagine the lack of options for you would be frustrating. I did hear that would improve. We attended one show and while not exactly our taste it was fun nonetheless. I understand there may be changes in that area also. I hope so. The best part of our trip was the crew. They must have received some extra training since your experience because they made us feel so welcome. They genuinely seemed happy to be there and went out of their way to make us feel that way too. It is not like every other cruise line but does offer a unique experience. Is it perfect? No. Is it a whole lot of fun? Oh yes!

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  18. Thanks for your post. I would have expected more from Virgin.
    Surprised Richard Branson decided to launch a cruise line. The most polluting for of travel in the world.

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  19. This review is fantastic. The detail that you have gone into here is incredible. How refreshing to read something actually honest.

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