- Richard Branson’s new line of cruise ships, Virgin Voyages, has been designed with a focus on well-being.
- I spent a night on board the first ship, the Scarlet Lady, and was blown away by the fitness and health facilities.
- There are extensive cardio and weights gyms, a spin studio, a high-intensity training room, indoor and outdoor yoga areas, an outdoor boxing ring, and a running track around the top of the ship, all with state-of-the-art equipment and epic views.
- The ship also has a beautiful spa (which turns into a club in the evening) and lots of pampering options, like a hair salon and barber.
- I was so impressed that I’d book a full cruise just so I could turn it into a wellness retreat at sea.
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Last week, I got to spend a night on board Virgin Voyages’ first ship, the Scarlet Lady, as part of a launch event for press, influencers, travel agents, and family of crew, who we were all invited free – and it felt more like a wellness retreat than a holiday cruise.
Virgin Voyages is Richard Branson’s latest venture, and he certainly hasn’t done anything by halves.
I saw as much of the ship as I could in my 19 hours on board, and though there were lots of features I didn’t have time to experience – like all the restaurants, the casino, and the tattoo parlor (yes, the ship offers tattoos, permanent makeup, and piercings) – the main reason I’m desperate to go back is to make the most of all the fitness and wellness facilities on board.
Whether you’re a boxer, spin fanatic, weight lifter, yogi, TRX lover, barre fan, swimmer, or boot-camp blitzer, there’s plenty of inspiration to get moving on board the ship – and you can recover with some pampering in the spa afterward.
Sure, you could go on a Virgin Voyages cruise and never set foot in any of the gym areas, instead spending your days lounging in the sun drinking cocktails and your nights partying in the club.
Or you could make your time into a type of wellness retreat – and a pretty luxurious one at that.
The Scarlet Lady is the first of four Virgin Voyages ships scheduled to be rolled out from now until 2023 — and she’s a sizable gal. You certainly won’t struggle to get your steps in on board.
The ship’s main gyms are called the B-Complex, which is divided into four parts: Burn, Build, Bike, and Balance. This is the Build room, aka the strength-training gym.
As a fan of resistance training, I was blown away by how extensive it was.
There were so many machines, all cutting-edge Technogym Artis, which are also sustainably crafted.
I loved how light and airy the gym was, with views out over sea on one side and of the pool in the middle of the ship on the other.
There’s a free weights section at the end of the room with an impressive dumbbell selection. Two things the gym was lacking were barbells and a squat rack, but there’s still plenty there to get the gains in, and there was a lot more than your average hotel gym.
For stretching, mobility, and your warm-up and cooldown, there are mats and exercise balls …
… plus plenty of floor space to use them (not to mention an excellent mirror for those all-important gym selfies).
Lockers, towels, and water are all on offer, too.
The second B in the complex is the Balance room, where I took part in a quick yoga class.
It’s a beautiful studio, and I imagined I’d feel even more zen when looking out to Caribbean seas while nailing a warrior pose.
The studio will also be used for barre, pilates, and even TRX workouts, and all classes are included in the price of the cruise.
Next up, I went to check out the other two Bs: Burn and Bike.
This is the Burn room, aka the cardio gym.
With more state-of-the-art equipment, I was amazed by how many machines there were.
The Bike room, aka the spin studio, looked as slick as any boutique studio I’ve visited, with the added advantage of epic views.
If you prefer to get your cardio in outside, there’s also the Runway, which is a running track that circles the top of the ship like a halo and can be used for jogging, walking, or even skating. Not a bad way to soak up the views.
By this point I thought I’d seen everything, but I then stumbled upon the Boot Camp room, which is part of the Athletic Club.
It’s been designed with high-intensity training in mind and features rowers, slam balls, TRX, plyo boxes, and more. Plus it looks super swish.
Just outside the Boot Camp room is the outdoor boxing ring, which looked amazing in the promo shot …
… though it looked more like this for me, since I was in rainy Liverpool, England, and not the Caribbean.
As well as the ring, there are two boxing bags — ideal for punching away any last ounce of stress you may have.
The Scarlet Lady also has what it calls a “Well-being Pool” — serious swimmers may be dismayed to find it’s not really conducive to getting the lengths in, but you could still boost your recovery by sipping a cold-pressed juice while chilling in the water. The area also has outdoor fitness equipment and two plunge pools.
Finally, there’s the Perch: the ship’s outdoor yoga deck. Here, sailors can take part in sunrise yoga and meditation while breathing in the salty air. Sign me up.
Since hardcore workouts require hardcore recovery, there’s the Redemption Spa.
The chic and sleek spa felt like an oasis of calm when I checked it out, and I was pretty sad I didn’t have time to enjoy it properly.
From the marble entrance, I walked down this mirrored corridor of changing rooms.
When I entered the main area, my jaw dropped (I have an expressive face).
It was more beautiful than any other spa I’d been in.
With a hydrotherapy pool, mud room, salt room, and cold plunge pools, I could quite happily have spent an afternoon hopping from spot to spot.
In true Virgin style, the ship even throws evening spa parties, where a DJ sets up shop in the thermal suite.
There are various spa treatments on offer if you want to treat yourself, but there’s plenty to enjoy free — I loved these quartz beds.
They’re heated marble surfaces on which guests can lie or sit and gaze out to sea. Yes, please.
There’s a decent-size sauna, again with epic views.
I can think of worse places for a moment of mindfulness.
I’d also like to try the salt room, mainly because I have no idea what it is or does.
For the finishing touch, the ship has a dedicated mani-pedi spa, as well as both a hair salon (the Dry Dock, below), and a barber called Stubble and Groom.
I paid the Dry Dock a visit for a blow-dry and loved how stylish it was, with the peach and aqua colour-scheme matching the Kérastase products. The gold touches added a luxurious feel.
The salon offers cuts and colour as well, and the strategically placed hair-washing chairs offer sailors views out to sea.
The prices are high-end, though — I opted for a Scarlet Night blow-out, which would have cost £109 ($US139).
As with all of the facilities, I was left impressed, though — it was a bouncy blow-dry to rival any top salon.
The fact that Virgin Voyages has decided to put well-being “at the forefront of the onboard experience,” as a press release puts it, says a lot about who the company is hoping to reach.
Young adults today are more interested in their health and fitness than ever before, and the Scarlet Lady’s many wellness offerings will no doubt appeal to millennials.
The company says this focus will be “activated through a mix of high-energy moments coupled with relaxation and rejuvenation,” and it seems to have struck the perfect balance – there are plenty of ways to look after yourself on board, but it’s not forced down your throat if that’s not your thing.
As someone passionate about health and fitness, I was genuinely surprised by what I found on board – not only by just how much was on offer but also by how well it had all been designed.
All the workout areas are as stylish as the rest of the ship, and the equipment is top-tier. When you factor in the inevitable incredible views, I challenge anyone not to feel inspired to get active (or just chill out in the spa, because #selfcare, right?)
- Read more:
- I spent the night on Virgin Voyages’ new cruise ship, and it was a millennial playground I didn’t want to leave
- Richard Branson reveals how his new adults-only cruise line, Virgin Voyages, will turn the cruise industry upside down
- Virgin Voyages CEO explains what makes Richard Branson’s new adults-only cruise line stand out from the crowd
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