The Tales and Travels of Taylor Made PA – Virgin Voyages Pt.2
Valiant Lady Voyage
A few weeks ago I shared with you about my visit to see Valiant Lady in port in London in March as she preparpared for her Maiden Voyage.
Last month I took the first proper week off since setting up my Business in 2018 and headed off on a week long Voyage to experience her in full for myself. Leaving the laptop behind and my clients in very capable hands with one of my fantastic Associate Team.
I was on the fabulous French Daze and Ibiza Nights Voyage. Chosen mainly for its beautiful itinerary as well as a convenient date. It took in the South of France, which was somewhere new for me. Sardinia. And one of my favourites, Ibiza. My friend who I travelled with had actually stayed in Ibiza for a week the last time we travelled together back in 2016.
After Covid, we started our trip in style and upgraded our flights to Business Class using our Avios points! Such a lovely way to start. Sitting in the lounge. Sipping, well Coffee, but it could have been champagne! And watching the sun rise over the airport.
Making the most of the trip, we flew out a day early and stayed overnight in Barcelona to make the most of the beautiful embarkation port.
I am a huge fan of Melia Hotels. And we have used them on many previous trips. This time we were in the Barcelona Apolo Affiliated by Melia. Set in a great location. A short walk to the Port area and La Rambla.
Although we had originally booked a balcony room due to local renovations we downgraded before travel to a standard room for a discount. But the service we received on arrival more than made up for it. The front of house team were first class. Despite arriving before lunch, they had ensured our room was ready on arrival. We were met personally by the Front of House Manager to again apologise for the inconvenience. And in our room was complimentary sparking apple juice on ice along with chocolates.
But we were quickly on our way out again. Stopping at reception to buy discounted bus tour tickets. We were off to explore Barcelona. Making use of the hop and off buses to maximise the 24 hours we had available.
Having spent the day exploring the city and walking the sites. We opted for a quiet night. What should have been starting the night at the Grand Central Hotel and their beautiful Roof Top Bar. Also ended there!
The next morning after a quick breakfast. And the Melia Hotel breakfasts are vast! We headed back into town to see the last of the sites on our list before we headed to the Port for the main event!
After a very short taxi ride to the Port. Too much luggage to walk! We were dropping our bags off and joining the queue to embark. The process was quick and easy. Having completed all the pre requirements on the App including a health questionnaire. And Lateral Flow Test that was provided by Virgin Voyages. We headed into their check in area where we had to show the certificate of our negative tests. And then we were given our Interative Bands. They become your ID, Room Key and Wallet throughtout the duration of your Voyage.
Then within 30-minutes of dropping our luggage we were onbaord and sat by the pool with a drink in hand waiting for our luggage to arrive. After a short time around the pool. We headed down for a wander and orientation of the ship. Stopping at the Gallery for some cakes and coffee before heading down to the Cabins to change and get ready for the departure from Barcelona.
We decided to celebrate the departure from Barcelona in the beautiful Dock House. At the back of the ship with Bali Beds for lounging and seats to watch the world go by. We took full advantage and laid back on one of the Bali Beds with some of their gorgeous fruity Sangria and then they brought around Champagne as we departed. Bliss!
Day 1 Dinner – The Wake
With Barcelona fading in the background. We head for Dinner. The Wake is the modern and chic Seafood and Steakhouse.
The menus are small and perfectly formed. But everything served is beautifully presented and normally delicious!
Emma opted for the waiter recommended Clam Chowder whilst I was opted for the Bone Marrow. Served alongside the most amazing fresh from the oven Brioche Loaf served in the pan. We got through almost 2 pans!! It was that good.
For main Emma opted for the Fish and I had the Filet Mignon. Both served perfectly. And tasted great too!
It was so good and we ate so much we actually declined on dessert. Although we had really had dessert earlier up at The Gallery!
After dinner we headed into the Red Room, the versatile show space, for “Dance Show Partything”. An interactive dance show where you are at times encouraged to join in and the space changes and evolves around you.
Day 2 – Marseille
After breakfast in The Gallery of French Toast and Blueberries, we headed for a quick wander of the ship. Our tour to Marseille didnt leave until the Afternoon.
Deciding to take advantage of a bit of cloud cover we headed into the Redemption Spa for a couple of hours of relaxation. Soaking in the Plunge Pools. Relaxing in the Sauna and Steam Rooms. And having a Mud Bath in the Rasul.
Thankfully by the afternoon the sun was shining and we headed into Marseille for an Afternoon Tour which included a visit to the Notre Dam Basilica. Set up on the hillside overlooking the town. With around 170 to the base! Thankfully it offered fantastic views from the Basilica. Accross to the Town and Beach. Which was definitely made up for the steps!
Hading back into the Port. We had free time to wander. Walking along the port we stopped at one of the many bars overlooking the harbour. And sat down for an afternoon coffee and crepe. And to watch the world go by. Well when in france and all that!
But before too long it was time to head back. With a quick walk through the lovely artisan craft stalls lining the port road. Selling everything from Breton Tops. Lavender Soaps. Craft Beers. Wicker Hats. Intricate Jewellery. And much more.
Day 2 Dinner – Gunbae
Tonight dinner was at Gunbae. Meaning Cheers in Korean. Gunbae is a Korean BBQ restaurant.
Seated at shared tables of 6 for smaller groups. And a defintely party vibe. Gunbae!
I started with a cocktail. Served in a glitterball and popping candy!
Gunbae is a show in itself. And the servers are there to serve, guide and entertain. The evening starts with a drinking game! Gunbae!
The food is designed to be shared. or not. I was desperate to try the Korean Chicken to start. Which I has sampled onboard Scarlett Lady back in 2019. I followed this with a Pork Belly Broth. With a main of BBQ Cooked Steak. Cooked by the server at the BBQ built into the centre of the tables. And served with Rice and Veggies.
Gunbae is loud and entertaining. My only disappointment was the dessert. Korean spiced black ice cream. But with so many sweet treets available accross the ship it really didnt matter.
After Dinner we headed into The Manor. With its stunning lighted entrance way. It was time for “Cocktals with the Diva”. Taking you around the world in 80-minutes. A fabulous Drag Queen. With songs from the 80s to today. Mixed with entertainement and areial acrobatics. Washed down with an 90s inspired “Sex on the Beach” cocktail.
Day 3 – Cannes
We awoke in the port of Cannes. Set out at Sea. But overlooking the famous Film Festival which was taking place in the port area of town. With Tenders needed to get into shore.
We had an early start. So we ordered “Ship Eats” the Virgin Voyages equivilant of Deliveroo! And had fresh coffees and pastries delivered to the Cabin whilst we got ready to head out on our “Shore Thing”.
On shore our first stop was the beautiful town of Nice. Just about a 30-minute drive from Cannes. With wide promenade running the length of the beach and cobbled back streets. Our fabulous guide. A North London Native. Who has lived in the town of Eze for almost 30 years (next to Bono no less!). Siggested we start by walking through the back streets along to the Flower Market. The beautiful cobbled street lined with pavement bars and cafes is everything you may have imagined. Then stalls selling not only flowers. And stunning Peonies. But fresh cheeses. Olives. Salami. And like in Marseille more Lavendar Soaps. And artwork.
Leaving the back streets behind we wandered along the wide promenade. Stopping at a small Beach Club. For morning coffee and fresh french pastries. Served with freshly squeezed orange juice. All whilst sat in the sun overlooking the water.
From Nice we carried on up the coast to the Principality of Monaco. A country in its own right. Only the Vatican City is smaller.
Parking up just outside of the centre. Due to road closures because of the Grand Prix. We were walked into the centre where we could easily make our way to the sites accross Monaco and Monte Carlo.
Excited. As it was somewhere I had always been keen to visit. I headed up the many steps (it was becoming a theme!) to the top of the hill that led to the Palace. Set off a beautiful cobbled square the views from outside the palace were incredible. From the Palace I headed down towards the Cathedral. This is where the former actress Grace Kelly wed the then reigning monarch Prince Rainier.
I carried on walking back down the hill. Past the Aquarium and down towards Monte Carlo. Past the open Air Pool. I headed back up the hill again and towards the famous Monte Carlo Casino. The sun was shining and it was hot! So arriving at the Casino. I grabbed a cold drink from the bar and sat down to take it all in. The Casino is huge and so beautiful. Ornate ceilings. Plush carpets. Wall Panellings and Antique Paintings. It was amazing to see.
And then it was time to head back to meet our guide for the trip back into Cannes to get back on board.
Day 3 Dinner
After a long day in the sun. And with no dinner reservations made. We decided to grab a quiet dinner up in the The Gallery.
We opted for the American Burgers with fries and a side of Bacon.
And rather than go back into Shore. Which was tempting with the Film Festival on. But with a lot more planned to see and do we opted to stay in with a Film instead.
So after grabbing some fudge and popcorn from the sweet treats at the Sports Bar we sat back with a movie in the Cabin.
Day 4 – Cannes
Early the next morning we headed back into Shore to see something of Cannes before we departed after lunch.
Having seen them whilst we were in and passing other french towns. We opted for the Tourist Train. Taking in all the main sites of Cannes on a round trip. Past the festival with its red carpets and paparazzi and Hotels made famous by the Film Festival. As well as the back streets full of tourist and high end shops.
Heading back to the ship for lunch. We opted for the Dock House. More of their gorgeous Sangria. And some of their Mezze for lunch. Chicken and Steak Pittas for me. Delicious!
After lunch we headed out to the Pool for some relaxation and maybe one or two frozen cocktails. Including their Skinny Pinas with Strawberry!
Day 4 Dinner – Pink Agave
This is the one I was waiting for! I had been lucky to eat in Pink Agave when I came on board in March. And I couldn’t wait to try my favourites again!
We started by sharing the Potatoes with Chili and Chorizo, Charred Corn with Lime Alioli and fresh Guacamole with Corn Chips.
For main Emma had the Chicken Enchiliadas. I had to have my favourite. The Pork Pibil served with Corn Wraps. Still as good the second time!
And for dessert again I opted for Chocolate Tacos. Filled with Dulce de Leche. So good!
And after dinner we stopped by “On the Rocks” for a quick drink. Before it was bed and looking forward to the next destination.
Day 5 – Sardinia
Waking up to the picturesque coast of Sardinia. We had another early start. But we started the day once more with coffees delivered to the Cabin from Ship Eats.
This mornings tour. Which was meant to be a tour of a local town and church followed by time as the beach. Turned out to be slightly disappointing. Virgin Voyages were badly let down by ground handlers who didn’t deliver what was promised. So we didn’t see the town. Or the Church. But we did see a lovely and very picturesque boutique shopping resort. But the guide also didn’t manage the timings well so we also had less than an hour on the beach in the end. But the hour by the sea was well received.
But I have to give credit to Virgin Voyages. They refunded part of the trip cost before I even spoke to them. And were already in talks with the ground handlers to find out what happened and to ensure it didnt happen again.
Back on board. Having consumed a lot of coffee and ice cream on shore. We didnt worry about lunch. And headed to the pool to relax for the afternoon in the sun.
Day 5 Dinner – Extra Virgin
Seeing as though we were in Italy we opted for Dinner at Extra Virgin.
But not only that tonight was Scarlett Night!
Whereas on traditional cruises you have formal and themed nights. On Virgin Voyages you have Scarlett Night.
So dressed in my red maxi dress we headed for dinner.
I sadly have an intolerance to cheese. So our fantastic waitress had her work cut out. With so many options not on the table. She started me with the most amazing Charcuterie Platter. Served with fresh Focaccia. Pasta was taglitelle served with a simple tomato sauce. Then for main the highly recommended Pork Cheeks served with Crispy Pork.
The food was so good. We almost. Almost. Couldnt fit in dessert. But the waitress persuaded us to at least have the Affogato. Well it would be rude to say no!
I could barely walk to the Scarlett Night celebrations!
Scarlett Night started off at “On the Rocks” with music and flash mobs with dancing and areial acrobatics. We then headed into The Red Room for the “Tales of the Octopus” telling the Legend of Scarlett Night.
The evening then heading up to the Pool. With Dancing performances around the pool and finally in the pool. Dancers and Sailors alike!
An incredible night.
Day 6 – Voyage into Ibiza
After a rocky night and high winds we awoke to light rain and clouds. So we headed to The Wake for Brunch.
Served in 3-courses. We started with Breakfast Pastries servied weith Coffee and Orange Juice. Then for “main” I had the thickly cut French Toast served with maple syryp, caramalised banana and pecans. With a coconut Pana Cotta for “dessert”. Not a bad way to start the day!
With the high winds subsiding as we left the coast off Menorca behind. We headed up to the pool to relax and wait for the sun. The cloud cover stayed as we cruised past Mallorca. But the closer we got to the White Island of Ibiza the better the weather became. And by the time we were almost in dock, the sun was shining and the pool was full of people.
With the sun shining we were reluctant to leave the pool. But with plans for an early dinner to take advantage of being in Ibiza, we headed inside to shower and change.
Day 6 Dinner – Razzle Dazzle
For dinner we headed to the Vegetarian Forward Razzle Dazzle. Which also features a number of Meat Options to cater for everyone.
Emma opted for the Plant Burger but I couldnt resist I had the Fried Chicken. Which was a huge portion and delicious. Our server insisted we try dessert and highly recommended the Toffee Cake. And it didn’t disappoint! But even I couldn’t finish the whole thing.
With dinner finished we headed for shore to spend the evening in Ibiza Town. We hadn’t been on our previous holiday. And we were keen to see it. The old town had a mix of small lanes, pretty squares and cobbled streets mixed with boutiques and high street branded stores. With Tapas Bars, Cocktail Bars and Restaurats.
We headed back to the port area for drinks. Sitting in a bar overlooking the harbour with a glass of Sangria. Or two.
With coaches back to the ship on demand we were back on ship just before midnight. Just as the many of the crew headed into town for a well deserved break!
Day 7 – Ibiza & Formentera
This was the day I was looking forward to the most. Having been to Ibiza before we decided to spend the day visiting the neighbouring island of Formentera. The tiny island is just a 45-minute ferry from Ibiza Town. And oh my goodness. I’m so glad we did.
As the ferry draw into the port in Formentera. You could see the crystal clear waters and turquoise seas. Again I have to pay credit here to the Virgin Voyages “Shore Things” team. We had booked the “tour” of the Island but they contacted us to say they didn’t feel the tour offered the best value and would suggest we just book the ferry package and get around the island ourselves. They changed the tour and arranged a refund for us too. We still had a guide that came with us on the ferry. They took us to the information point to collect any information we needed on arrival and then left us to the day.
We decided to start the day at one of the most popular beaches on Formentera. Ses Illetes. The beach is remote but once we walked up the main peninsula to the beach was one of the most beautiful i’ve seen in Europe. With sea in all shades of turquoise and so clear you can see your toes. And the fish swimming around. Whilst the sand had shingle. It was so picturesque.
The sea was so beautiful I had to head straight in. The waters were calm and shallow. It was stunning!
After an hour enjoying the waters here we headed up to Es Pujols. One of the main towns in Formentera. It also didn’t disappoint. Another stunning beach with turquoise seas and a sand and shingle beach. Along with a few shore side cafes. We stopped for a quick coffee at the Italian Cafe. Before heading back into the water. It was so beautiful I didn’t want to leave the water.
But after a couple of hours we headed into the next cafe for a late Tapas Lunch. I love Tapas! We feasted on Pan con Tomate, Jamon Croquettes, Salted Padron Peppers and of course Patatas Bravas. Served with a jug of Sangria naturally. It was amazing. Fabulous food. Incredible View. Just the best day.
We were sad to leave it behind. It was so beautiful. And the perfect last day of the cruise.
Formentera captured my heart and I’m sure I’ll be back.
Day 7 Dinner – The Test Kitchen
Somehow it was the last night already. And tonight we had dinner booked in The Test Kitchen. I had been aprehensive about this one. The Menu is experimental. And is a fixed set menu served in 6-courses. You know the main ingredient and allergies are checked and catered for. But other than that you are served.
Our 6 dishes were;
It was in all honesty, so much better than I anticpated. And so beautifully presented. It was michelin star quality.
Personally the Salmon was probably my favourite. So fresh. Smoked and served with lemon and cucumber and minuture herbs. The corn was too creamy for me. And the beetroot just ok. The lamb was lovely. But the Asparagus. Was well odd. But the strawberries were lovely. Although I did pass on the wasabi cream.
With dinner served we headed to deck for the sunset. Ibiza has some of the best sunsets. Certainly in Europe. It was magical. Sitting on deck and watching the sunset on a fabulous day. And an amazing holiday.
From the deck to “On the Rocks” for a last drink watching the house band. A Soul covers trio. But before all to long. It was time to call it a night and pack to leave.
There was just time for a pitstop at the Pizza Place for a late night snack. And The Sweet Place for some last fudge.
We finished packing eating our Pizza and watching a movie.
What a fabulous week!
Having packed the night before we had time in the morning to swing by The Wake for a last luxury brunch. Where again I “dined” on French Toast and Panna Cotta.
Then sadly it was time to disembark and start the journey home.
But first. With 5pm flights and a 10am departure from the ship there was time for a last treat.
Puro Beach Club
Having thought about how to use the time. I had explored the Beach Clubs of Barcelona. And booked us into the Puro Beach Club.
Located in the Hilton Diagonal Mar Hotel in the East of Barcelona. It was a short 10-minute taxi ride to the modern Hilton. Leaving our luggage with concierge. We headed pool side. Although classed as a Beach Club. It’s actually a Pool Club. But it was beautiful. A small pool surrounded by big white Bali Beds. A bar and restaurant. And a chilled area with outdoor sofas.
We were guided to our pool side Bali Bed for the day with our Puro Beach towels. A server soon appeared with our welcome tray of water and smoothies.
The sun was shining. And it was the perfect end to a fantastic holiday.
The beach club is available to book for around 80 euros per guest including the bed and lunch credit. And I highly recommend it!
But before we knew it. The phone was ringing and our driverwas there to take us back to the Airport.
Having thrown shorts over damp swimwear. We headed to the Business Lounge at Barcelona once we dropped our bags to change for the flight.
So, if you didn’t think cruising was for you. Then Virgin Voyages may be the one for you.
I was so impressed. I am already thinking when I may be able to go again!
Adult Only by Design. With the feeling of being on a Luxury Yacht.
ALL meals. Chef-curated experiences at 20+ eateries
ALL essential drinks. Drip Coffee, Tea, Water, Sodas and non-pressed Juices
UNLIMITED group fitness classes
And STAY connected with WIFI
So is it time to book your own Voyage?
Drop me an Email firstname.lastname@example.org or book in a time for a call using this link.
Until next time!