Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady first look: A sleek high-energy cruise like no other



    Think of Scarlet Lady as a village and you’ll understand its dining options – Italian, Mexican, Korean, Vegetarian – are like any that a lively high street might offer.

    There is no main dining room with set sittings but six restaurants that you can book on your ship’s app (each seat around 200) and a collection of other eating places where you just rock up for a meal.

    There is no charge for any of the restaurants, although some have “treat yourself” options for those who want something extra-special.

    One of the best is The Test Kitchen, an experimental dining room that offers set dinners of six courses paired with wine, beer, cocktails or alcohol-free concoctions (you pay for the drinks but at $35 for six glasses of different wines etc it’s very reasonable). Each course is a surprise – egg with peas works better than you would think – and there’s a vegetarian set menu too.

    Gunbae is a high-energy Korean barbecue restaurant with excitable staff who cook short ribs, pork belly, prawns and vegetables at grills in the middle of each table. These electric grills were specially designed for the ship, as were the silent extractor fans above them so you don’t get hot sitting around the grill or leave smelling of stir fry – although you might be worse for wear from drinking games set up by staff.

    Pink Agave is an “elevated” Mexican, serving unusual takes on traditional dishes, while Razzle Dazzle Restaurant is mainly vegetarian and open from breakfast onwards. You can start your day with turmeric scrambled eggs and sourdough, toasted brioche with condensed milk and sprinkles or go totally hipster and try the avo toast with gochujang pickled cucumber, watermelon radish, finger lime and toasted seeds.

    Extra Virgin is the best place for Italian meals, although you can also sit at the bar for drinks and apperitivo – small dishes such as hand-stretched mozzarella on grilled focaccia or smoked chicken liver mousse with grilled ciabatta.

    But possibly the most sophisticated restaurant is The Wake, a steakhouse at the back of the ship that serves brunch – including a raw bar of lobster, oysters, shrimp, mussels and crab – while dinner is suitably meaty.

    You can only book into these restaurants once, although there’s a wait list if you want to return, but there’s no booking necessary for other eating places. These include The Dock House, which serves mezze-style snacks and grilled shrimp, chicken, octopus, steak or goat cheese polenta on deck 7, and nearby Pizza Place – both have indoor and outdoor seating.

    Most of the other eating experiences happen in The Galley on deck 15 – not a buffet but a smorgasbord of street food including tacos and burritos, noodles, Japanese food or burgers – all served to your table.

    There’s also an all-day breakfast available, if you need a fry-up in the middle of the afternoon or after midnight, and hidden away on deck 16 is the Sun Club Café, which serves bowls of Asian-fusion fragrant rice with tuna or salmon for lunch.

    You’ll also find barista-made coffee and speciality tea to buy in The Galley or at Grounds Club on deck 7.

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