Cruise ship review: On board Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady

The promote is basic Sir Richard Branson. ‘Virgin cruises are for people who hate cruises’ is without doubt one of the traces trotted out on board Scarlet Lady.

It could possibly be one other means of claiming that the goal is to carry down the common age of these on board by a superb two or three many years, though the corporate says it’s about attracting ‘the young at heart’.

Frankly, as the primary journalist to board Scarlet Lady this week at Portsmouth, for a four-night cruise across the Channel, I used to be sceptical. Can a 17-deck leviathan costing £500 million — which can normally host round 2,700 passengers — actually supply an edgy, adults-only expertise?

Behemoth: Scarlet Lady, a 17-deck cruise ship costing £500 million, will usually host around 2,700 passengers

Behemoth: Scarlet Lady, a 17-deck cruise ship costing £500 million, will normally host round 2,700 passengers

The cruise-liner, which is the first of four Virgin Voyages ships, is designed for the 'young at heart'

The cruise-liner, which is the primary of 4 Virgin Voyages ships, is designed for the ‘younger at coronary heart’

Jane described the decor in Scarlet Lady's 'comfortable' cabins as 'a mix of Ikea and 1970s Habitat'. Pictured is a bedroom in a 'rock star' suite

Jane described the decor in Scarlet Lady’s ‘snug’ cabins as ‘a mixture of Ikea and Seventies Habitat’. Pictured is a bed room in a ‘rock star’ suite 

The adults-only ship is being marketed towards people 'who hate cruises'. Pictured is one of the bathrooms adjoining a suite

The adults-only ship is being marketed in direction of folks ‘who hate cruises’. Pictured is without doubt one of the bogs adjoining a collection 

Yes and no. Boring buffets have been nudged apart by greater than 20 eating places and bars, many curated by Michelin-starred cooks (at no further price — all meals, barring unique extras corresponding to a dollop of caviar, is a part of the deal). 

A ‘festival-like line-up’ of leisure means it’s farewell drained outdated cabaret and hi there aerial-combat circus and saucy sexology exhibits.

Wellness is massive, with a boxing ring, basketball courtroom, spin courses, ‘bungee yoga’ and a wrap-around working monitor. There’s even a tattoo parlour and document store.

Wellness is big on the ship, with a boxing ring, basketball court, spin classes, and an outdoor swimming pool (pictured)

Wellness is massive on the ship, with a boxing ring, basketball courtroom, spin courses, and an outside swimming pool (pictured) 

The 'rock star' suites, pictured, feature a turntable, a rider of only-red jelly bears and a bevy of guitars on the wall

The ‘rock star’ suites, pictured, function a turntable, a rider of only-red jelly bears and a bevy of guitars on the wall

Jane wasn't impressed by the shower in her cabin, feeling shortchanged after she saw the 'rock star' suite version, pictured

Jane wasn’t impressed by the bathe in her cabin, feeling shortchanged after she noticed the ‘rock star’ suite model, pictured

The complete expertise is managed by way of the Virgin Voyages app, which must be put in prematurely. It saved crashing and, after I got here to e-book eating places and exhibits, all the good things appeared to be bought out. I wasn’t even on board and I used to be already grumpy.

Fair sufficient banging on concerning the boutique expertise, however Scarlet Lady, the primary of 4 Virgin liners, is a behemoth. Dwarfing the buildings at Portsmouth, and even the Navy’s largest plane provider, it seems to be like an enormous concrete automotive park with a vibrant crimson boil on high.

But inside it’s a special story. There’s a grand twist of a Hollywood staircase and glamour and glitz within the champagne and caviar bar. Turn a nook and it’s Miami pop artwork; spherical one other and also you’re strolling by way of a tunnel of lights to a Studio 54-esque nightclub. It’s playful and creative and I began to heat to the ship.

‘We’ve been on greater than 60 cruises and that is positively completely different,’ stated Julie, in her 60s, from North London. ‘It’s quirky.’

All the crew had been carrying masks, however in all probability solely round 20 per cent of passengers. Not everybody felt the crowded nightclub and health courses had been smart, and a few folks expressed disquiet on the enclosed sizzling areas of the spa.

When it comes to dining, there is so much choice, says Jane, mostly served in American-style portions. Pictured is Razzle Dazzle Restaurant

When it involves eating, there’s a lot alternative, says Jane, principally served in American-style parts. Pictured is Razzle Dazzle Restaurant

Amenities include a tattoo parlour, a boxing ring, an aerial-combat circus and several shops (pictured)

Amenities embody a tattoo parlour, a boxing ring, an aerial-combat circus and a number of other retailers (pictured) 

Every restaurant aboard the Scarlet Lady has its own decor, lighting, music and mood. Pictured is The Wake restaurant

 Every restaurant aboard the Scarlet Lady has its personal decor, lighting, music and temper. Pictured is The Wake restaurant 

I used to be anticipating fireworks in my cabin however, whereas snug, it didn’t make waves — the decor was a mixture of Ikea and Seventies Habitat. The hammock on the balcony was a pleasant contact, however the rest room was tiny. 

Poking my nostril into the ‘rock star’ suites, I felt a bit short-changed. Where was my turntable and bevy of guitars on the wall? I needed a rider of only-red jelly bears, and by heck, I actually needed a bathe I might get into with out having to suck in my abdomen.

Or perhaps I simply wanted to shed just a few kilos. The health amenities are spectacular and you may get into most of them with out an excessive amount of problem. 

Buffets have been nudged aside by more than 20 restaurants and bars on the Scarlet Lady. Pictured is On The Rocks bar

Buffets have been nudged apart by greater than 20 eating places and bars on the Scarlet Lady. Pictured is On The Rocks bar

All food, barring exotic extras such as caviar, is part of the deal. Pictured are diners at the Korean-themed Gunbae restaurant

All meals, barring unique extras corresponding to caviar, is a part of the deal. Pictured are diners on the Korean-themed Gunbae restaurant 

The crew all put on uniforms, from vibrant crimson tailor-made attire to relaxed Virgin T-shirts and slacks, or metal gray boilersuits.

Morning yoga was properly paced and appropriate for all ranges of bendiness, however the star flip was the VHS exercise. 

Held within the nightclub, we donned neon leg heaters, headbands and scrunchies for an Nineteen Eighties-inspired danceathon. Loved it.

High energy: The ship’s entertainment has left cabaret far behind. Instead, passengers can watch acrobatic dramas unfold

High vitality: The ship’s leisure has left cabaret far behind. Instead, passengers can watch acrobatic dramas unfold

TRAVEL FACTS 

Scarlet Lady is working ‘cruisecations’ (with out stops) out of Portsmouth till August 24 from £499. It will launch five-night Caribbean cruises from Miami on October 6 from £525. Prices embody meals, ideas, most delicate drinks, the vast majority of leisure, group health courses and (very patchy) wifi (virginvoyages.com).

It’s a superb job there’s train obtainable as a result of it’s nigh-on inconceivable to not over-indulge — there’s a lot alternative, principally served in American-style parts. Every restaurant has its personal decor, lighting, music and temper.

The first evening I attempted Test Kitchen. Its six-course tasting menu seemed fairly and got here with theatrical thrusts (the trusty dome of steam), however the flavours didn’t actually sing. On the opposite hand, Extra Virgin, the Italian restaurant, was a revelation — a few of the finest Italian meals I’ve eaten outdoors Sicily.

Entertainment is predominantly free. My jaw hung open for a lot of the Romeo & Juliet-inspired acrobatic drama Duel Reality, in a mixture of awe and terror that somebody may die. 

I missed the interactive sexologist present, however a 70-something couple stated it was ‘quite something’, earlier than wandering off hand in hand.

The ‘young at heart’ line seems like a good suggestion, not least as a result of the overwhelming majority of company had been {couples} between 40 and 70.

‘The shows are good,’ stated one seasoned cruiser. ‘But some of it is a bit wacky for me. I had to hide the sex kit in our cabin from my wife!’ 

He’s referring to the discreet black field in each cabin, referred to as Time To Play. It’s a far cry from goodies and towel artwork.

Branson likes to shoot for the celebs and his first ship definitely is a novelty — however is it too completely different for seasoned cruisers, and never completely different sufficient to draw a brand new era?