On the second day of our four night Virgin Voyages cruise aboard the Scarlet Lady, I woke up around 9:30am, and heard . . .nothing! Absolutely nothing but quiet silence! We had already docked in Key West earlier in the morning, but I didn’t even feel the ship docking, and better yet none of those annoying shipboard announcements informing passengers where to debark and to remember a photo ID etc.
In adding to my last post of the Cons, Pros, and tips when sailing Virgin Voyages, I’ll add two more differences in Virgin vs most other cruise lines:
- I mentioned this in the last post, but it’s really significant: No announcements are made over the PA system, except for emergencies (which we didn’t have fortunately), and we heard only one announcement on the final morning of at the end of the cruise. Instead, signs around the ship and even on the elevators provide information about the ship’s port times and debarkation decks.
- There is no ship photographer chasing you around the ship or port area for photographs. Debarking the ship in port is always a photo moment on other cruise lines, as passengers would inevitably be coerced by the ship’s photographer for a quick photo they could purchase later. Everybody has a cell phone these days so they can take their own pics and selfies for free.
Steve (DOS) and I have been to Key West several times, so we were not in a hurry to get off the ship right away. Instead ,we went to Brunch, which was served in The Wake Restaurant where we had dinner last night.
After Brunch, we debarked the ship, which was conveniently docked right in town near Mallory Square. On some of our previous cruises, the ship was docked at the Old Navy yard, which was a bit of a walk and shuttle ride away from town, so today’s docking was very convenient and close.
We first walked around the port area of Key West for awhile, taking a few photos along the way, as we headed into town.
Later we took the Key West Conch Tour Train, which we rode for 3 of the 4 stops, taking a little over an hour for the island tour. The train-shaped tram operates like a Hop-on, Hop-off, type bus, but we chose to stay on for most of the trip as it provided a great overview and history of this tiny but lively and historic island.
We had a great driver, who narrated the tour with some great background information about the island over the years, while also pointing out landmark sites. We even had a selfie taken with her at the end of the 3rd stop when we got off the tram and told her how much we enjoyed it, with a tip of course.
We passed several familiar sites on the tram tour, including the infamous mile marker zero statue everyone poses by for a photo, as well as Hemingway’s House (a bit of a line for that), several churches, historic buildings and homes, accommodations ranging from tiny B & B’s, to luxurious hotels, distilleries, and of course scores of restaurants and drinking establishments. The tram tour was a nice ride thru the city without having to walk much on this super hot summer day.
In Key West, we usually go to one of the pubs for a token drink, but today skipped the beverages and headed back to the ship in the early afternoon after the tram tour. We did get a photo, of course, of the infamous Sloppy Joe’s Bar. We’ve been there before for a drink, but it was a bit too early for a brewski and it was so hot as well, and we were much more comfortable back on the ship.
We sailed from Key West around 4:30 pm or so, and while we didn’t go to the sail-away party up on deck, we could hear it down below on our 14th floor balcony.
In the evening, we went to the pre-dinner show, “Duel Reality”, which was a Cirque du Soleil type show, performed with music and dance, with a theme similar to a modern day West Side Story or Romeo and Juliet type romance. It was a fast paced show, and while the props were few, the choreography was amazing and precisely timed with so many performers on the stage at once. The RED theater, with its stadium-type seating, provided excellent views for everyone, and also the smaller theater size provided a more intimate and close-up view of the show and the performers. For this show, the theater was split in half, with one side given red wristbands, and the other side given blue wristbands, which would play a part in the show. The stage was actually in the center between the two sections for this show, and changed depending on the production being performed each night.
This evening was Scarlet Night, which is the equivalent of a “formal” or more recently “dress your best night” on other cruise lines, but as Virgin Voyages is ultra casual, it is actually a “wear something red night” instead. DOS and I both wore red shirts, and it seemed like most everyone on the ship wore something red as well. The red would definitely be most noticeable later at the 10:30pm “Scarlet Night Pool Party”, which is shown later on in this post.
For dinner, DOS and I went to Pink Agave, which was a Mexican-themed restaurant, but with a twist and a flare. They did not have the traditional Mexican dishes such as Tacos and burritos; although they did have an enchilada for an appetizer. We loved the main course with a unique cheese covered ribeye with some type of sauce, that was delicious!
Of all the restaurants onboard, Pink Agave seemed to be the smallest in size, and while there were several large groups at big tables, most of the seats were for two people. The seats for two were arranged close together, which made interacting with your fellow diners on other side of you a given. As I’ve already said many times: Virgin Voyages is a very social cruise!
For dessert we had the chocolate tacos; not tacos in the traditional sense, rather chocolate shaped taco shells, with delicious creme inside. Quite an unusual but tasty dessert!
Finally, the highlight of the day was the Scarlet Night pool party! Like the Pajama Party from last night, it seemed like the whole passenger load of fellow sailors was out and about on deck for this massive and lively party! The pool was center stage, and the surrounding deck area soon became a huge dance party. The music was loud, the colors and special effects were stunning, and the red clothing shown brightly into the night!
Virgin Voyages really knows how to throw a party, and the cruise activity staff, along with some of the entertainers from the circus show entertained the crowd in the midst of some serious dancing by the crowd of fellow sailors. Here’s a short video from the Scarlet Night Pool Party.
We stayed on deck until a bit of after midnight before heading back to the room.
So this concludes our second day aboard, and Virgin Voyages has really put on a great show so far!