Virgin Voyages' Valiant Lady is nearly identical to sister ship Scarlet Lady but with minor improvements. Valiant Lady cabins have been updated to make them feel homier, sitting and lounge spaces have been added throughout the ship and a new nightlife offering in collaboration with the folks at Brooklyn, New York's celebrated House of Yes, debuted afterhours in The Manor.
Valiant Lady offers impressive variety when it comes to food, drink and entertainment, but the ship is decidedly lacking in daytime activities, and folks used to a large variety of nightlife on larger ships may find the nightly lineup a smidge repetitive. Waterbabies also might find the ship's pools small compared with other ships this size.
Still, Valiant Lady is an evolutionary step in Virgin Voyages' goal to disrupt the cruise industry by reimagining how we cruise. Swapping the buffet and main dining halls for all-inclusive food hall and full-service dining, free fitness classes, solid wellness features, excellent drink selections and a bevy of classy yet casual and top-notch venues throughout the ship puts this vessel at the top of our list.
Stepping onto Valiant Lady, it doesn't take long to feel that this ship is different from other cruise ships. The Virgin brand's experience in music, aviation and hotels all come into play on Valiant Lady and in the way the Valiant Lady deck plan has been designed. Every nook and cranny of the ship seems to be an individual space that helps to create an experience that is more than the sum of its parts.
Valiant Lady elegantly creates buzzy social spaces that flow together, making it easy for guests to move from spa to restaurant to bar. On Valiant Lady you'll find Redemption Spa and two top specialty restaurants nonchalantly tucked away on the first passenger-accessible deck Deck 5. This is also where a handful of the ship's staterooms are located.
Much of the ship's action takes place just above, on Deck 6, and it's one of only three decks where you won't find any cabins or suites. Deck 6 is the life of the party in many ways, hosting space for all three of the ship's main entertainment venues, the casino, the main atrium, onboard shops, the Squid Ink tattoo parlor and salon, as well as three of the ship's bookable (and included!) specialty restaurants. A midship spiral staircase connects atrium space on decks 6 and 7. Deck 7 is home to the bulk of the ship's bars, and lounges spread across the entire deck, filling in the nooks and crannies, some hiding around corners or tucked away.
Moving up, Deck 8 through Deck 14 is solely reserved for cabins. Mega Rockstar Suites are concentrated on Deck 15 forward, giving excellent front-of-ship views and easy access to the nearby same-deck Aquatic Club pool area, B-complex gyms and the onboard mani-pedi spa. Deck 15 is also where you'll find the Korean BBQ spot, Gunbae, and the run of The Galley down at the back (aft) of the ship.
Deck 16 is dedicated to sunbathing at the Sun Club, sports facilities and, at the front of the ship, the exclusive Richard's Rooftop lounge area, open only to suite guests. Deck 17, the highest deck on the ship, is set up to host group yoga classes and equipped with a dedicated bright-red raised jogging track -- with no deckchairs to get in your way!
While the ship is packed, it is noticeably lacking two things: a public map of the Valiant Lady deck plan to give guests an idea of where anything and everything is located, and quiet public spaces, particularly indoors, to relax, mellow out or read a book.
Valiant Lady shines with its array of cabins, with a special nod for offering cabins for solos as well as three or even four berths. Most of the Valiant Lady cabins offer views, and you'll have plenty of balcony options as well. You'll also find a fun variety of suites that feel both swanky and cheeky at the same time. The overall thread that ties all of the ships cabins together is breezy simplicity. All accommodations feel contemporary, and even the details feel well-thought out.
The most controversial feature, at least according to Cruise Critic's member reviews and message boards, is the bed design for Valiant Lady's non-suites. These cabins include a bed that can be converted into a sofa during the day. Some people love the flexibility it provides, while others say they don't love that it limits how the room can be configured. (We liked the configuration but opted not to convert to a sofa, instead keeping it a bed the whole time.)
For most cabins, you won't find a lot of bells and whistles, just modern comfort. But that's OK, as much of the action onboard happens outside your cabin. You'll be totally comfortable in a Sea Terrace (Virgin Voyages' name for a balcony cabin), especially on the veranda, which offers a cool hand-woven hammock that is surprisingly chill and comfortable. If you're looking to upgrade, consider the excellent Brilliant Suite, which comes with so much space and some fantastic perks.
If you're thinking about cabins to avoid on Valiant Lady, think about skipping those just below the ship's food hall, called "The Galley." Cabins on Deck 14 aft are right underneath this fairly busy spot onboard, and we heard passengers on Deck 13 below this dining spot say they heard noise, especially early in the morning.
Valiant Lady eschews the traditional love-or-hate it cruise ship buffet and large main dining rooms. Main dining rooms have been replaced with a specialty restaurant-only approach, giving guests an above-par dining experience that rivals the quality and selection you'd find back on land in any major city.
In place of the buffet, you'll find The Galley, a central, modern food hall-style eatery space consisting of individual vendors serving up a selection of grab-and-go, fresh-to-order and prepared items waiting to be served at your discretion. Options include building your own fresh salads, fresh-baked goods and desserts, diner-style all-day breakfast, ready-packed sushi, quick Mexican eats, poke bowls and more.
Valiant Lady passengers can choose from a mix of over 20 different eateries and restaurants onboard, all included in the price of the cruise fare. Standout spots include Gunbae, the ship's Korean barbeque restaurant; Lick Me Until Ice Cream (red velvet ice cream cones, anyone?); Pink Agave, the main Mexican spot on board; and The Daily Mix, the DIY salad kiosk.
If Valiant Lady's deck plans didn't already give it away, Valiant Lady is a ship that parties hard but takes recovery and wellness seriously. This ship makes it a little too easy to retox with over 20 spots onboard where you can fill your cup (or even slurp down a boozy milkshake). However, anyone abstaining from alcohol also gets attention: Valiant Lady's thoughtful no-ABV options are legit, not just perfunctory.
Additionally, there seems to be extra attention paid to the art of the detox, starting with the ship's free exercise classes. An accessibly priced pass to Redemption Spa's impressive thermal suite also wins bonus points, along with multiple spaces that are dedicated to fitness, from the ship's gym areas to the Deck 17 yoga platform and running track to several healthy eateries and more.
It's clear that the goal of this ship is to make you feel good in every way possible.
To find out the latest on Virgin Voyages' health and safety protocols, including those around COVID-19, visit the cruise line's cruise wellness page. You can also find out the latest on the world's major cruise lines by visiting Cruise Critic's guide to masking requirements.
● All restaurants
● Gratuities/tips (though additional spa tips are extra)
● Soft drinks, including branded soda
● All shows
● Most daily activities
● Use of the gym, including classes
● Alcoholic and specialty coffee and tea drinks
● Shore excursions
● Spa treatments
● Use of the thermal suite
● Photos and artwork
The staff aboard Valiant Lady is refreshingly diverse. From cabin stewards to servers to the entertainment team, the Valiant Lady crew feels more reflective of the real world than on any other ship, in large part because Virgin Voyages encourages its crew to be themselves and let their personalities shine.
Passengers appear to be more diverse as well, though not to the same degree, and the bulk of your fellow sailors are likely to be Americans and Europeans in their mid-30s to mid-50s. Valiant Lady is adults only, so you won't find any kids onboard. Passengers on our sailing were also considerably well-behaved and respectful to one another and staff -- and extremely social. Many fellow passengers on Valiant Lady were traveling in a group, an excellent way to experience Valiant Lady.
The ship hosts frequent LGBTQ meetups, and it is clear that both this ship's staff and passengers are on board with the idea of celebrating individuality.
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