Sea, sip, savour

Resilient Lady, the latest gem in Virgin Voyages’ adults-only fleet, has finally graced the shores of Australia. Eager to uncover whether this adults-only cruise lives up to the hype, Emma Jackson hops on board for a two-day voyage from Sydney to Melbourne.

As someone who’d previously cast cruising aside, the allure of Virgin Voyages' modern and playful take on ocean voyages, coupled with their glowing accolades for dining, service, and overall value, sparked a curiosity in me. Could this really be the game-changer in cruising?   

A leap into luxury  

My arrival at the terminal revealed the Resilient Lady in all her contemporary majesty, her sleek design beckoning adventurers and skeptics alike. The seamless check-in process was just a prelude to the extraordinary hospitality that awaited, starting with a warm welcome aboard from the vibrant hosts, decked out in flamboyant Virgin red, making it clear from the start that this cruise will be anything but ordinary.  

The ship’s ambiance struck a perfect balance between quirky and sophisticated, a hallmark of Virgin's innovative spirit. With its luxurious lounges and modern art installations, you could easily think you’d checked in to a boutique hotel.  

Sanctuary at sea  

My exploration began in earnest at The Dock bar, where the simple pleasure of succulent prawns paired with a cold beer set the tone for the culinary delights to come. My sea terrace cabin awaited - a haven of thoughtful design with its convertible sea-bed, tablet-controlled amenities and a private balcony with a bespoke hammock. I could quite easily stay put in this comfortable cocoon but leave my room I must.   

The sail-away party on the pool deck is a vibrant spectacle that does not disappoint. Think guests dancing in the pool, dazzled by a sequin-clad drag queen, with the enthusiastic ‘Happenings’ team encouraging everyone to get involved. Notably, there's a smartphone app allowing guests to ‘shake for champagne’ – though passengers do need to be mindful of the associated costs. They can add up.   

Relax and unwind in the wellness pool
Heading down to fine-dining restaurant, the Wake
Culinary adventures and unwinding  

Distinguishing itself with an inclusive approach, Virgin Voyages covers nearly everything on board except alcohol. From diverse eateries to gratuities, Wi-Fi, soft drinks and unlimited group fitness classes, the cruise says it “aims to provide a seamless and enjoyable experience for passengers”. And it does.   

Food options range from casual eateries at The Galley to experimental cuisine at the Test Kitchen. The absence of crowded buffets and designated dining times, coupled with sustainably sourced and made-to-order food, mark a refreshing departure from typical cruise dining.   

Then there’s the entertainment. With original productions, pop-up acts and immersive experiences, it feels like there’s something for everyone. From the lively dinner show Another Rose to the cheeky quiz Miss Behave, there’s a festival-like atmosphere on board.   

Embracing wellness and fun  

 My mornings began with the promise of activity, from a challenging jog on the top deck to exploring the state-of-the-art gym facilities, showcasing Virgin’s commitment to wellness. Unlike the uninspiring backdrop of mirrors in your typical chain gym, the gym here boasted floor-to-ceiling windows that framed the endless ocean. This breathtaking view transformed exercising on the treadmill from a mundane task into an enticing experience – where else can you keep fit surrounded by the majesty of the sea?  

After sweating it out at the gym, you may find yourself drawn to The Redemption spa. While treatments came at an additional cost, it offered a serene escape for those seeking relaxation—a contrast to the lively atmosphere elsewhere on the ship.   

A rainy day provided the perfect excuse to delve into the ship’s indoor offerings, like the retro arcade, before venturing to Razzle Dazzle for a brunch that was as playful as it was delicious - my glittery cocktail proving quite the talking point amongst other guests when it arrived at the table.  

A night to remember  

The anticipation for Scarlet Night built throughout my stay, culminating in an evening that encapsulated the vibrancy and spirit of the Resilient Lady. Despite the weather’s attempts to dampen spirits, the celebration continued unabated, unfolding as a ship-wide soiree featuring live music, karaoke, games, and pop-up performances - a testament to the crew’s dedication to guest enjoyment.   

Modern mexican at Pink Agave
Take a dip in the Aquatic Club pool
A workout with a view
Charting a greener course 

Sustainability is also a standout feature, with Virgin Voyages boldly eliminating single-use plastics and committing to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Reef-safe sunscreen for sale underscores its commitment to environmental responsibility.  

Bidding a fond farewell  

Reflecting on the voyage as I returned to Hobart, the Resilient Lady had not only met but exceeded my expectations, offering a blend of relaxation, excitement, and luxury that was truly unique. In a cruise industry dominated by family-oriented options, Virgin Voyages presents an inventive, alternative experience, boldly differentiating itself from more traditional choices. One of the highlights of my experience is the warm embrace of the LGBQTIA+ community, which creates an environment for everyone on board to express their true selves.    

For those contemplating a cruise with Virgin Voyages, the Resilient Lady represents a bold reimagining of the cruising experience, inviting guests to discover a world where adventure and luxury go hand in hand. While Virgin Voyages’ offering may not be the first choice for travellers seeking tranquility over revelry, it’s carving out a niche with its out-there entertainment and daring approach while challenging preconceptions and inviting you to see the world from a new perspective. All aboard!  

In February 2024, Virgin Voyages made the decision to cancel their remaining 2024/25 voyage season in Australia. Contact RACT Travel for alternative itineraries.