If you’ve been watching The Bachelorette this season, you know that Gabby, Rachel, and all of their suitors are cruising through Europe (with plenty of emotional baggage in tow).
Naturally, they’re not just cruising away on any cruise ship. They’re setting sail on the Valiant Lady by Virgin Voyages, a new cruise line from Richard Branson that launched last year.
And as you might expect from Sir Branson—and a ship that doesn’t allow kids on it—it’s not exactly rated PG. Think: A “Lick me ’til” ice cream shop and a comedy show with a sex therapist. There are also over 20 restaurants, a casino, pool decks, and some rooms even have a private balcony with a hammock.
I sailed on the cruise ship recently, but unlike the Bachelorettes sailing along with their entourage, I went solo. And while there weren’t any roses given out during my trip, I can tell you firsthand that it was… a journey.
It’s Designed For The Anti-Cruiser
Forget everything you know about cruises. Each section of the ship looks like it’s right out of Architectural Digest—seriously, your social media followers will never guess that you’re in the middle of the ocean. You won’t find any buffet-style dining anywhere onboard, either. The ships are smaller and more intimate, so you won’t feel overcrowded. It’s so well-designed that when we reached our first port, I didn’t want to get off the ship.
There’s a tablet in your room that can control the lights and curtains at different settings, too. It includes a “let’s get it on” mode where the bed frame becomes illuminated with Virgin’s signature red lighting. I doubt you’ll be spending much time in your room, but if for some reason you decide to camp out in there for a day, you’ll have hundreds of movies to choose from.
There Aren’t Meal Plans Or Themed Dinners
Virgin Voyages’ motto is come how you are. You can eat without charge at any restaurant (yes, even the high-end ones). Just make a reservation on the app while onboard or try your luck with a walk-in.
On other cruise lines, fancy themed nights are the norm, but you won’t find anything like that here. There is, though, a Scarlet Night party on the pool deck, featuring drinks, dancing, and a giant inflatable octopus. Everyone wears red, naturally.
Work Hard, Play Hard Is The Vibe Onboard
I’ve never been on a ship with fitness amenities like this one. If you’re feeling energetic, opt for the sunrise yoga class. There’s also a track on the top deck, which might be the spot for the most amazing views, even if you’re not planning on doing much running.
I highly recommend hanging upside down in the bungee class for some fun and a hard workout, but definitely not after lunch. If you’d rather stay right side up, there’s outdoor boxing, meditation, HIIT workouts and even hikes at destination ports.
You Can Shake For Champagne
With the Virgin Voyages app onboard, you can get a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne from anywhere on the ship that will be hand delivered to you (for a fee, of course). All you have to do is shake your phone (AKA shake for champagne), and within minutes, a nice, cold bottle will appear. Magic!
Self-care Is On A Whole New Level
This ship is the first ever to have a tattoo parlor onboard, and the aptly-named Squid Ink sells out of appointments within hours. If you’re not craving a tattoo at sea, there’s a Dry Dock blowout bar, barber shop, and a spa. Oh, and did we mention you can get Botox, because god forbid you age a day on your week-long voyage.
Redemption Spa is a place where you lose track of time and just unwind. Massages include a hot stone to a seaweed wrap—yes, seaweed. There’s a mudroom, sauna, salt sauna, pool and if you’re feeling adventurous, an ice cold tub.
The Entertainment Is Wild
The Manor, which you may recognize the infinity mirror-style entry way from the Bachelorette episode, is a two-story space for shows and late-night dancing. One show, Never Sleep Alone, is a comedy show from sexologist Dr. A. Other shows include acrobatic theatrics, singing, and dancing with… giant graphics of a cat. Filled with WTF moments, it’s unlike anything I’ve experienced.
All told, you don’t have to be looking for love like Gabby and Rachel to galavant Europe at sea. Let’s just hope that no one goes overboard on next week’s episode, and the guys are done switching teams. Looking at you, Logan…
Image: ABC/Craig Sjodin