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Valiant Lady

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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 line-up 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.

Valiant Lady Deck Plans Are Designed For Discovery at Every Turn

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 parlour 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 Cabins are Simple, Modern, Comfortable

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.

Food on Valiant Lady Is a Fresh, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure

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.

Valiant Lady Goes Hard on Health and Wellness

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.

Theatre and Shows on Valiant Lady

Another thing Virgin Voyages does differently is entertainment. Whereas the traditional cruise line approach is to offer several theatrical performances, most of which take place in the main theatre, Valiant Lady takes the show on the road. Yes, the biggest productions, including Duel Reality, take place in the main theatre, The Red Room. But we were smitten with the variety of pop-up performances that took place throughout the ship. It adds to the festive atmosphere, and there's a bit of magic when you're sitting enjoying a drink one minute, then watching an acrobatic performance from the ship's actors the next.

Duel Reality is the cornerstone of the entertainment. It loosely follows the plot of Romeo and Juliet, with rival gangs dancing and flipping on bars and giant seesaws. It's a visual stunner that will have you holding your breath by the end. It's immersive, in part because the setup of the theatre has banks of seats facing each other.

Another much-talked about show on Valiant Lady is Never Sleep Alone, which takes place in the Manor. This one is a bit more divisive: We spoke with people who loved and people who hated it. We couldn't find a middle ground. Virgin Voyages says "it's not for the faint of heart," which perfectly sums up this playful and somewhat raunchy voyage into sexuality. Be warned: It is interactive. If you attend, you will participate.

Other night-time to-dos include Untitled Danceshowpartything, an entertainment mash-up that is beyond explanation and built for experiencing, and a late-late-night House of Yes-inspired afterparty.

**Tip:** Several showings of the various productions take place throughout your cruise, so if you miss one, you'll get another chance. Still, make reservations through your app.

Daily Things to Do on Valiant Lady

As busy as Valiant Lady is at night, we found a bit of a dearth of scheduled activities to do during the day. This could very well be by design: Going late into the night often means sleeping late into the morning (or afternoon).

Events are made available in your app, though a printable version of the schedule is available at guest services. Many of the activities focus on wellness: a couples' massage workshop, for example, or a nutrition class. You'll also find the occasional offbeat session, like a workshop on taking photos of food or cocktails to share on Instagram (for a fee).

Our favourite organized sessions were the trivia offerings, which were standing-room-only on our cruise, expertly led by Stephen The Gamer. Trivia was offered every day, mostly in the afternoon/evening time period.

If you're a game lover, Valiant Lady has you covered, offering a video arcade, along with free table games (shuffleboard and air hockey) and a huge card/boardgame cabinet. Grab Cards Against Humanity, Bananagrams, Clue or Trouble to play with friends while chatting in The Social Club. It's a fun dose of nostalgia.

Nightlife on Valiant Lady

Valiant Lady was made for the nightlife. It virtually screams party from the second you board this ship. Part of this comes from the spaces themselves: Every restaurant has a bar that is great for a pre-dinner -- or, heck, during dinner -- cocktail, which feels very boutique hotel. Other bars, like the vast and more subdued Sip Lounge, stand on their own.

But it's also just the overall approach. You never know where a party will break out, where you might stumble across a mermaid or merman leading an impromptu parade of revelry. Dance parties are a certainty, and crewmembers are encouraged to be themselves. It feels truly joyful and unforced.

Of course, you will find more prescribed nightlife as well, if you skim your app. But it's the secret, pop-up fun that had us buying into the nonstop Virgin party. Live music abounds, and an impromptu tap dance could occur. One of our favourite nightlife experiences happened truly by accident: We were invited to join a secret mystery VIP group that added an extra, unexpected layer of immersive-ness across the ship, including access to crew-only areas and learning the real story behind the ship's Scarlet Night. It was both unexpected and hilarious.

Outside of nightclubs, lounges and entertainment that lasts into the wee hours, Valiant Lady also has a fairly large and active casino, where people can hit the slots or play table games at all hours, when the ship isn't in port. For people who prefer to be their own entertainment, Valiant Lady also has three bookable (but free-of-charge) private karaoke rooms at the ship's Deck & The Groupie space. Sign-ups are first-come, first-served, and the song selection is stellar.

**Tip:** People tend to find their favourite spots onboard and stick with them, but the array of nightlife offerings is exceptional. Change it up because you'll likely discover new favourites every night.

Valiant Lady Bars and Lounges

Valiant Lady drinking packages do not exist, though Mega Rockstar Suite guests get a free daily bar tab across the ship, and both Rockstar levels are treated to free in-suite bar setups. Otherwise all drinks not included in your cruise fare will be paid for a la carte, unless they are part of a special experience or other situation where it is explicitly stated drinks are on the house.

Virgin softens the blow from this a bit by including self-serve still and sparkling water, a selection of juices, Coke products and tea and coffee readily available for free around the ship (which is more than most non-all-inclusive cruises offer).

**Cruise Critic Valiant Lady Bar Picks**

**For a Craft Brew:** It's rare to find a decent variety of craft beers at sea, so colour us thrilled to find the Draught Haus on Valiant Lady. The menu was extensive, with craft beers from a variety of mostly U.S.-based breweries. Bonus: Try Miami-based Wynwood Brewing's Stray the Course, a red ale exclusively made for Virgin Voyages.

**For VIP Vibes:** Richard's Rooftop is one of the ship's only exclusive spaces -- it's only accessible to guests staying in Valiant Lady's Rockstar Suites (and their guests). The vibe here can alternate between laid-back sun lounge and rowdy bottle-popping party, depending on the time of day (or night) and who's around.

**For Competitive Spirits** Things really get competitive over at The Loose Cannon, a classic nautical-themed pub. During the day, fellow sailors convene with chats over cocktails or pints, and several cruisers bring in board games. In the early evenings, this is where increasingly competitive rounds of trivia take place.

**For Social Seekers:** This is a social ship but two areas seemed to always be buzzing: the Sip Champagne Lounge that stretches along the starboard side of the ship on Deck 7 and On the Rocks Cave Bar, a sleek martini bar in the Deck 6 atrium (to be fair, this is where much of the night's live music went off).

Pools and Hot Tubs on Valiant Lady

Virgin Voyages has taken flack for the size of its ships' pools. And it's fair: The main pool and adjacent Well-Being pool on Valiant Lady are tiny. In cool weather, that's not a problem, but on a hot day, these will fill quickly.

The pool deck offers several hot tubs, which were busy during our entire cruise. Richard's Rooftop, an exclusive area for suite guests, also offers hot tubs.

Sundecks on Valiant Lady

What Valiant Lady lacks in pool square footage, it more than makes up for in sundeck space. Sundecks on Valiant Lady are abundant, and they offer plenty of options for socializing -- or solitude.

The prime spot for sunning is the Sun Club, on Deck 16. Here, you can lounge or grab a covered red beach chair (called Strandkorb), which comes with no extra charge. (A bit of weirdness here: These hooded red chairs, which fit two people, face the water. But there are multiple rows. If you're not in the "front" row, you'll gaze at the chair in front of you.)

Deck 16 also offers cabanas for rent, and there's a photo-friendly suspended catamaran net at the ship's aft, which is ostensibly for lounging but mostly used for killer Instagram pics.

Richard's Rooftop also has extensive space for sunning, again, just for suite passengers.

**Tip:** While the traditional sundecks are great for tanning and talk, we love the ship's many outdoor spaces, especially The Dock, a roomy outdoor bar that has the best ocean wake views.

Services and Wi-Fi on Valiant Lady

Valiant Lady includes a variety of cool and high-end shops, with necessities, clothing, makeup, jewellery and more. The ship has turned a large chunk of Deck 6 into the swanky retail space.

Notable among the ship's services is the Squid Ink tattoo shop. While not included in the price of your cruise -- you'll pay about what you'd pay on land to get inked -- it's a popular spot among guests looking to commemorate their vacation with a new tat or piercing. So popular, in fact, that we suggest you make your appointment the very first day you board.

You won't find self-service laundrettes onboard, but you can send out items to be washed and/or pressed.

Basic Wi-Fi is included in the cost of your cruise, but it is pretty slow. You won't be able to stream anything. It's required to power the app, where you'll find your schedule, make reservations, see your wallet and book shore excursions. When the internet doesn't work, your app won't either, which can be a pain when you're trying to remember for what time you made your restaurant reservation and the like. You can buy an upgraded package; it's free for suite guests.

Spa and Thermal Suite on Valiant Lady

Valiant Lady leans heavily into the concept of detox and retox; it encourages guests to play hard, then spend their days making up for it. The ship's Redemption spa is the spot for pampering, offering a variety of massages and facials. Options are pretty typical of what you might get at any spa on land or at sea, but it's worth noting that the couples room offers a big bathtub for an optional pre-massage bathing ritual.

The nearby thermal suite is a lovely perk, complete with steam room, cold plunge pools, hot tubs, mud room and sauna. Huge marble heated loungers make up the perimeter. There's a steep daily fee for using the thermal suite, though guests staying in suites get access for free.

In a bit of a departure from the usual cruise design, Virgin Voyages opted to split off beauty and grooming services from the spa complex. You'll find a blow-dry bar, barber shop and salon on Deck 6, a floor above the spa.

**Tip:** Changing rooms for the spa are a bit utilitarian and somewhat public. Basically, you'll change in a stall near the check-in area. If you're shy or just want a little privacy, it's totally OK to change into a robe in your room before heading to the spa.

Fitness and Gym on Valiant Lady

Fitness is a focus on Valiant Lady, which offers both traditional fitness facilities as well as a hip outdoor wellness spot, dubbed "The Athletic Club." The ship makes it fairly easy to keep fit, with included classes and a fun approach to exercise.

Valiant Lady actually has two fitness rooms, which flank part of the pool deck. One is devoted to cardio, with bikes, treadmills, rowing machines and ellipticals. The other side offers weight machines and a solid range of free weights, plus space for lifting. Both rooms feature lockers, so you can keep your stuff secure. They also feature water bottle filling stations. The cardio side is dark, with black lockers and deep-coloured wood surfaces. The weight area stands in stark contrast, with bright white lockers and an airy feel. A sizable open fitness area is found in the weight side; this is where most classes take place. (On days with great weather, classes could take place at the outdoor "Perch," found on Deck 17.) The cardio side features the spinning room.

One of the perks of sailing Valiant Lady is that classes are included in your cruise fare, but capacity is pretty limited, so signing up early on the app is essential if you have an absolutely cannot-miss pick. Classes include things like bungee training, spinning, yoga and a totally hilarious VHS '80s workout, where costumes -- and Shake Weights; you remember Shake Weights, right? -- are part of the fun. We sampled a few classes, and found they ran the gamut in terms of how much you actually work out. Our fast flow Vinyasa yoga class was just OK. While the trainer clearly knows some yoga principles, he definitely wasn't a trained instructor, so those guests who had a little more yoga experience added to their own practice in some spots. The class also weirdly ended 15 minutes early. Our bungee class, on the other hand, was a blast and a great workout that left us a little sore. The winner, though, was that '80s workout, which was so fun and a good workout, too. Just be aware that the class is led by performers, rather than certified instructors.

The Athletic Club has a super vintage feel, with a boxing ring, heavy bags and benches for ab work as well as various grips for push ups. It's all outdoors, so in the middle of the day, it's hot. But we had fun trying out the equipment and getting in a more bodyweight-focused workout. Valiant Lady also offers a jogging track -- of course, it's bright red -- on Deck 17. We love this one, as the space is pretty strictly for walkers/runners, so you don't battle lounge-chair encroachment. Six laps around makes a mile.

**Tip:** Guests who miss a fitness class for which they registered are charged a $10 "no-show" fee, so don't sleep through your booked session.

All food on Valiant Lady is included in the price of your cruise fare, and you'll find what feels like infinite variety onboard. Overall, the quality and service is excellent, no matter the venue you pick. You won't find a traditional big main dining room on Valiant Lady, a departure from what most other cruise lines offer. Instead, the ship takes a dine-as-you-want approach, letting you pick which restaurant you're in the mood for at mealtime. This is mostly a freeing tactic throughout the day, but in the evening, it means you'll need to make reservations, which fill up fast. Your best bet is booking on the app before you even set sail.

Worth noting: One of the things we love about dining on Valiant Lady is the abundance of grab-and-go options, packaged neatly in reusable containers for you to eat where you wish. You also can order food delivered to you virtually anywhere, at an extra charge.

Free Restaurants on Valiant Lady

**Pink Agave** Designed by Tom Dixon (the same designer behind the ship's Rockstar Suites) and with a menu by Mexican American chef and activist Silvana Salcido Esparza, Pink Agave tastes as good as it looks. Big bubble lights guide guests through Sailor Services into a hip, hidden pocket of the ship featuring dishes from the Yucatan and Mexico City. Plates here are meant to be shared family style and come in three sizes: small, medium and large. Coming with a big group -- or just a big appetite -- is a great way to experience as much as possible from the menu, but don't miss out on the tuna *aguachile* and *esquites* street corn salad, *pato* roasted duck mole or the smoked pork *cochinita pibil*.

**Tip:** Start or end your meal with a smoky tasting from the restaurant's in-house mezcal bar, or at least treat yourself to one of the fantastic Mexico-inspired cocktails or fresh juices (*agua frescas)*.

**Gunbae** Valiant Lady sees the return of the line's wildly popular Korean barbecue spot Gunbae, which we found to be surprisingly good, not just for a shipboard specialty restaurant, but in general. Budget some time for your meal here, be open to trying new-to-you dishes and be prepared to hilariously fail at some traditional Korean drinking games that, at first, seem like child's play. Here, you'll get your fill and grill on with go-to dishes like the marinated galbi, side dishes of banchan, bibimbap rice bowls, spicy jjigae kimchi soup, seafood platters and savory pancakes. Dietary restrictions are well-catered for here, impressively even gluten-free.

**The Wake** While there are no formal nights on the ship, it's common for cruisers to tart themselves up a bit for meals at this steakhouse favourite. Located at the aft of the ship, the best seats in the house overlook the ship's wake, making sunset-timed dinners a sight to behold. Traditional menu items from starters from the raw bar, sizzling bone marrow and wedge salad lead into The Wake's meaty menu of lamb chops, various cuts of beef and a handful of seafood selections. There are a decent number of gluten-free items, though, as expected, not a lot on the menu for vegetarians or vegans. The Wake is also open for weekend brunch, serving a variety of eggs Benedict and bubbly -- and reservations book up fast.

**Tip:** After you descend the stairway entrance, look up at the hanging light fixtures and you'll notice the subtle nautical design nod -- they're hung in the shape of a nautilus.

**Razzle Dazzle** Dedicating a restaurant to vegetarians and vegans on board feels like it's been a long time coming, and Razzle Dazzle proves that Virgin Voyages was ripe and ready to answer the plant-based call. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, this eye-catching restaurant decked out in angled black-and-white stripes is a can't-miss while on board, even if you're normally a meat muncher. Dig into the mushroom tartare, coconut milk fairy toast (a rainbow-sprinkled crowd favourite), "fish" and chips, heirloom winter squash ravioli or even a juicy plant-based burger.

**Tip:** Plant-based isn't as black-and-white as it seems here: They've got a "naughty" meat-friendly add-on menu hiding in the back for those who know to ask.

**The Dock House** We loved this mezze-meets-dim-sum casual eatery. Located toward the aft starboard (right as you’re facing forward) side of the ship, The Dock House is *the perfect* place to grab a casual, lounge-y few bites or full-on meal, depending what you're feeling. No reservations required, just plop down in one of the seating areas, and wait for the mezze cart to wheel on by. Pick the tapas you want to try or order a larger main from the menu to be delivered. We're still thinking of the beetroot hummus, grilled Spanish octopus, and the cauliflower couscous (not to mention the chocolate hummus for dessert).

**Tip:** Come here whenever you're looking for a tasty top-up between lunch and dinner or for some light pre-dinner snacks and drinks. Live music also makes an appearance here most nights.

**Extra Virgin** An Italian restaurant with some seriously great options, Extra Virgin offers a mix of classic dishes and some fun, modern takes as well. As with many Italian restaurants, the meal is a multicourse affair, meant to be enjoyed slowly. There's an antipasto course, a stellar meat and cheese sharing board, a pasta course, a main course and dessert. Diners can pick and choose what they want if they don't think they can make it through a full five-course meal, and while we found portions to be right-sized, we cried uncle after three. If you're going to limit yourself, make sure you order the meatballs and the bucatini carbonara, with a grilled Mediterranean sea bass. The wine list here is extensive as well, and a sommelier can help you with course pairing.

**Tip:** If you're not up for the full meal, sit at the bar, sip a negroni and share a charcuterie board. You can watch chefs whip these up fresh at a nearby prep station.

**The Galley.** Valiant Lady claims it has no buffet, which is technically true, though it does have what it calls "The Galley," where guests head for quick casual bites. The approach feels like a true food hall: You order from different food stations, all in one place, offering a variety of items, so you could grab a little sushi, a bit of tacos or a nice big salad. The difference, ostensibly, between The Galley and a buffet is that all food on Valiant Lady is made fresh to order; nothing sits in massive warming trays under tepid lights. Additionally, The Gallery experience is waiter-served, a temporary COVID-19 approach that ended up being popular and stuck. The sheer variety is great, and we found favourites quickly with the sushi and spicy ramen bowls. We also loved that you could grab to-go options from coolers near the entrance, and these changed depending on time of day, so in the morning, it was fruit or overnight oats, while at snack time, you could grab cheese and meats. The Galley is open all day, and it even has a breakfast-all-day menu.

**Tip:** A number of seating areas, particularly those at the aft, feature charging stations with USB ports and U.S. outlets, in case you need to juice up while you fuel up.

**The Pizza Place:** The ship's aptly named spot for grabbing a pie offers dine in or carry out. The space itself is chill: The best part of the restaurant is actually the wonderful, shaded outdoor seating area. Many diners lingered long after their meal was finished. As with every other restaurant on Valiant Lady, food here is made a la minute, so you order your pizza and wait for your buzzer to signal your food is ready. If you just can't wait, premade salads are available in a cooler next to where you order. The variety of pizzas is fairly small: just six options, including a vegan pie. Pizza here is just OK; we weren't wowed, but it hit the spot when we were hungry for something different. It's also open late into the night, so it got pretty popular after the evening's entertainment began to wind down.

**What Restaurants Cost Extra on Valiant Lady**

You won't have to pay extra for specialty restaurants on Valiant Lady. The cost of all food on Valiant Lady is included in your cruise fare.

Dietary Restrictions on Valiant Lady

Even outside of the dedicated vegetarian-forward restaurant Razzle Dazzle, Valiant Lady offers an exceptional selection of marked menu items for vegetarians and vegans alike. Gluten-free items are also marked on most menus across the ship (and nearly every dish at Pink Agave is naturally gluten-free), though we found these were less likely to be as advertised on more than one occasion. Servers are trained on dietary restrictions via an online course, and passengers are advised to speak to a restaurant manager if they have allergies. There is no dedicated onboard space for preparing allergen-friendly meals.

Valiant Lady's modern and cheeky point of view continues with its cabins, which run the gamut from tiny inside staterooms to large suites that are decked out to make passengers feel like rock stars. Most cabins have balconies (though Virgin calls them "terraces"), and 93% of staterooms have ocean views. You'll find 46 cabins for solo travellers, mostly inside staterooms, and 10 accessible rooms across multiple categories.

The approach to most cabins is contemporary, if not a little on the simple side. They are thoughtfully designed, with an emphasis on keeping guests comfortable even when space is tight. Furniture is convertible, for example, in many cabins, functioning as a sofa during the day or bed at night. Likewise, small bathrooms still allow for a good-sized shower, sacrificing sink and vanity space.

What to Expect in Cabins on Valiant Lady

All cabins on Valiant Lady come with a queen bed that can be split into two twins. (Just know, for most standard cabins, the layout means guests in "separated beds" will be sleeping foot to foot, as the beds will be set up on an "L" shape.) Cabins also include desks, chairs, sofas -- which serve double-duty as beds -- night tables, mini-fridges, wardrobes and safes. You'll also get a big flatscreen TV, plenty of U.S. outlets and USB charging spots, and a tablet that runs the TV, lights, temperature and even curtains.

Water in carafes is refreshed each morning when the room is made up and each evening when turndown service is offered, a thoughtful touch.

Like most other cruise ships, Valiant Lady offers cabins across three basic categories: inside or interior rooms that have no access to the outside, not even a window; outside or exterior cabins that come with large portholes so you get natural light; and balconies, which offer private, walk-out verandas.

In general, cruise ship cabins are smaller than you'd find at the average U.S. hotel, and Valiant Lady is no exception. Its smallest rooms are 105 square feet, while its largest suites are 2,147 square feet -- bigger than many New York City apartments.

Suites and Balcony Cabins on Valiant Lady

Guests have plenty of balcony cabins from which to choose; there are more "sea terrace" rooms than any other type on Valiant Lady. All balcony cabins include a fairly spacious veranda, the highlight of which is a handwoven red hammock, which is surprisingly comfortable and perfect for wave-gazing.

Décor is modern, with pops of colour in spots like the pink and blue gauzy curtains and bright red stool/seat. We love the natural wood planking on the TV wall, which somehow makes it feel warmer and more comfortable. At 265 square feet, balcony cabins are comfortable and generally don't feel too compact. One minor complaint: Because the bed converts to a sofa, there isn't space to store your suitcases under the bed, as is often the case on other cruise ships. Instead, baggage has to go to the closet, which takes up some valuable real estate there.

There's no doubt Virgin Voyages invested heavily in Valiant Lady's suites. These top-end cabins just ooze cool. The suites also are the spot that feels most different from what other cruise ships have to offer. Perhaps it's the mood lighting, or maybe it's the record players, which somehow manage to feel both nostalgic and contemporary at the same time.

Virgin calls its suites "Rockstar Quarters" and "Mega Rockstar Quarters," depending on which you book, so when you show up and someone at check-in asks if you're a rock star (and they will), you can firmly answer "Yes!" Suites start at 352 square feet and come with a bevy of perks, our favourite of which is exclusive access to "Richard's Rooftop," a private sundeck space complete with hot tubs and so much lounge space, named for founder Richard Branson. Other perks include a curated in-room bar, priority booking and access, and 24/7 access to agents to help you with your booking at any point along the way. Those in the higher end suites also get a dedicated onboard agent, free premium Wi-Fi, complimentary access to the ship's thermal suite, a bar tab to use onboard, bottomless in-room bar and private transfers to and from the ship.

Cabin Bathrooms on Valiant Lady

For the most part, cabin bathrooms on Valiant Lady are pretty utilitarian: small, functional and clean. Standard bathrooms feature a toilet, a single basin and some small shelves for storing a few bathroom necessities. The shower, however, is another story. Each shower, which is larger than the average cruise-ship shower, includes a glass door, large rain shower head and a hand-held sprayer. You'll also find big bottles of Virgin-branded shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, as well as a clothesline.

Suites, of course, feature larger bathrooms with a few extras, including marble everywhere, "peek-a-boo" showers that have windows looking out into the bedrooms, and upgraded bath amenities from Red Flower.

Valiant Lady's accessible cabins offer no-barrier entrance to showers, and bathrooms feature grab rails as well as emergency pull cords. Each shower offers a folding bench. Toilet heights are raised in these cabins.

Cabins to Avoid on Valiant Lady

If you're the type of traveller who craves a serene space to lay your head, avoid Deck 8 and Deck 14 aft. Deck 8 rooms are right above many of the ship's bars and lounges, so noise from below can filter up. Likewise, aft cabins on Deck 14 fall below The Galley, which is busy with crew and passengers much of the day and subsequently can be prone to noise from above. We heard from several guests that this was an issue especially early in the morning. And check out our favourite rooms on Valiant Lady below.

Cruise Critic Cabin Picks

**Traveling Solo** Pick one of the ship's six seaview cabins designed for solo travellers. You won't have to pay a single supplement but still get killer views from the front of the ship.

**Budget** Choose a straight-up inside cabin. Bonus: Most of these cabins are located near elevator banks for easy access to the action.

**With a Group** Book a Sea Terrace that sleeps four, thanks to a pullman bed and an extra lower bed. There are only six of these cabins onboard, all on Deck 14.

**For the View** It's tough to beat the ship's Cheeky Corner suites, all located on the ship's aft corners. The higher up you go, the bigger the Cheeky Corner suites get.

**Splurge a Little** For our money, the best value onboard is the Brilliant Suite, which is uber spacious (482 square feet), has an enormous balcony (and a giant shower) and comes with the entry level of Rock Star perks.

**Splurge a Lot** Go all out and book the Massive Suite, a true suite with everything you could ever need, from a beautiful soaking tub to a ridiculously large balcony ideal for a small or large get-together.

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