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Valiant Lady Day 1 – Irresistible Med Boarding

The time has come for our third sailing of the year with Virgin Voyages.

We have fallen in love with the premium casual style of sailing with Virgin Voyages, so when the opportunity came for us to sailings with them again this year, we decided to jump at the opportunity.

Last time we sailed on their French Daze and Ibiza Night itinerary, so this time, we opted for the Irresistible Med itinerary, once again on the newest ship to join the fleet, Valiant Lady.

We flew from Birmingham this time, mainly because flights from Bristol, our local airport, were considerably higher than usual. We also opted to fly with Vueling, a Spanish low-cost carrier that we’ve had positive feedback from customers who we had booked to fly with this year to join Valiant Lady when sailing from Barcelona.

The flight was fine, which sounds more scathing than intended, but the flight was nothing to shout about; it ran on time, and the plane was clean.

I will say, trying to find a good value meal on their menu was a pain, with nothing really making sense. Items seem to be paired together so that you can’t build a decent meal no matter how hard you tried.

After finally making our mind up to just get drinks and save the headache of working out how to maximise the value of our spend on the flight turned out to not even be a problem for us as the flight attendant never made it to us in time to actually serve us anyway, even if we wanted to order something. Good thing we always purchase water and crisps at the airport to take on flights.

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We did manage to order a few drinks. However, they were in such as rush to prepare the plane for landing by the time they got to us, they never charged us. Every cloud and all that.

Barcelona Hotel – Abba Sants

Once we arrived at Barcelona Airport, we caught the train into the city. We often choose to take a bus/train if possible rather than pre-book transfers as we are happy to make our own way.

The hotel we choose (Abba Sants) for our pre-cruise stays in Barcelona is just a short 5-10 minute walk from one of Barcelona’s main stations (Sants), so if you are happy to carry your luggage across Barcelona, it’s not that much of a hassle.

That being said, there are very few elevators, so you need to be physical enough to carry your luggage across the city.

You can see a room tour from our last stay here, we were upgraded to one of the rooms with a fantastic rooftop terrace, a lovely treat, and a fantastic way to enjoy the Spanish sunset.

The following morning we decided to skip breakfast at the hotel and head out. Seeing as Phil is Gluten-Free, it’s often easier for us to just grab something on the way.

He said he could remember a breakfast place behind the hotel that offered Gluten free breakfast… turns out he didn’t remember it that well… so we grabbed a coffee and croissant from a beautiful bakery that was just behind our hotel with Phil forgoing breakfast, and opting for a juice drink and coffee, and I had a chocolate croissant that was as delicious as it looks.

We then returned to the hotel to freshen up and pack our belongings before heading to the Metro to Las Ramblas/The Cruise Terminal. The nearest Metro is literally located outside the hotel and is a short journey to the cruise terminal; again, we had to carry our luggage, but we are fine with doing this; we like to save money in random ways on our trips.

We arrived at the end of Las Ramblas, and had a short walk to the World Trade Centre where Virgin Voyages are birthed when in Barcelona. It’s always exciting to see your ship for the first time, and Valiant Lady looks right at home in the Barcelona Marina next to all the luxury yachts.

Boarding Valiant Lady

We were able to drop our bags off without any issues. However, we were two hours early for our boarding time. Virgin Voyages do begin boarding later than other cruise lines. It can be frustrating when you are keen to start your voyage; however, trust me, you will be thankful on that last day when you don’t have to be out of bed before 9 am as you can then equally leave the ship later the last day.

Virgin are quite strict about the check-in process, most lines let you check in as and when you arrive, but Virgin will frequently check to see if it is your boarding time. That’s not to say you may not get lucky, but on all our sailings for us personally, boarding times have been kept diligently

There is a hotel next to the terminal with a bar, as well as a cafe located across from the terminal, with both indoor and outdoor seating. We decided to grab another coffee at the cafe and enjoy the warm Barcelona sun while waiting for our boarding time. We honestly didn’t mind as the weather was beautiful, and Valiant Lady offered a gorgeous backdrop.

Once it was time for us to board, we headed back to the terminal. As our documents had been uploaded to the app and then checked again when we dropped our bags, this process, was perhaps 15 minutes.

We did have two perks that worked in our favour, we were sailing this time on Virgin Voyages’ new loyalty scheme, which allowed us to use the express check-in line once inside the terminal, plus we had the Splash or Romance Package, which also included the use of the express line. You do still have to wait for our boarding slot; however, once inside the terminal, you can join the express line versus the general line.

That being said, even without these perks, the regular line looked like it was moving quickly, and I can’t imagine those people having a drastically longer wait.

Check-in was a matter of seconds, not due to unfriendliness on the check-in crews part, but as our documents were uploaded to the app, we had a card on file, and our documents were also checked before entering; it was simply a case of getting the green tick and collecting our Virgin Voyages Wearable. Once that was sorted, we were directed to the escalator and told to head to the ship.

Getting onboard and starting our Irresistible Med sailing

It felt so great to be back on board Valiant Lady; it felt a little like coming back home. In fact, Sammy, a member of the Happenings Cast, was at the entrance welcoming sailors and instantly remembered us from our last two sailings, offering us a welcoming hug and asking how we’d been. The Happenings Cast are Virgins spin on the Entertainment/cruise team; they run all the onboard activities and events and are allowed to take the time to really get to know you.

My biggest tip for anyone who sails with Virgin Voyages is to make friends with the Happenings Cast. They each have a different role, which I will cover in another post, but they are there to make sure you have the most incredible sailing, and they will offer tips and guidance on how to get the most from your voyage.

It was so nice to see members of the crew again from our last sailing and to be hugged by them as we boarded the ship really did make us feel like an extended part of the Virgin Voyages family.

Since Phil skipped breakfast, he was by this time ready for something to eat, and it has become a bit of a tradition of ours to head to The Pizza Place to get the first of many pizza’s whilst onboard. They offer a fantastic Gluten Free base, and all pizza’s are made to order. My favourite is the White Egg and Truffle Pizza, with Phil opting for Gluten Free Chicken Pesto.

The XL Sea Terrace Cabin Tour

As soon as you board, your cabin is ready for you, so we were directed to the lifts to get to our cabin. This time we decided to Level Up and bid to upgrade our cabin. Before you sail, you can choose to bid an amount to upgrade your cabin to a higher grade, we put in three bids, two for a suite, and one for an XL Sea Terrace.

Sadly we didn’t get our bid for the suite, but our bid for an XL Sea Terrace was successful, which we were equally excited about as we’ve never sailed in one before.

The XL Sea Terrace is pretty much the same as a standard Sea Terrace; however, it offers a larger bathroom set-up, which fixes my only real complaint about a standard Sea Terrace. Note, this is very much a first-world problem, but the bathroom in a Sea Terrace is only really suitable for one person at a time.

The XL Sea Terrace, however, has separate toilet and shower units, as well as a double mirror dressing area.

It’s a minor thing, and we’ve both gotten good at sharing a cruising bathroom, but the level-up was just $400, so in our opinion, it was totally worth the upgrade if you can get it for the right price.

You can see a cabin tour here.

Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady Sail Away

It was almost time for sail away after we unpacked, so we headed to our usual spot overlooking the main pool; it’s the perfect place for people watching, with the Sun Club bar nearby ready for sail away drinks. It also offers the best views of Barcelona as you sail away.

Another member of The Happenings Cast spotted us from our last sailing and came to say hi to us, We met Christopher the Hype on his very first sailing back in May, so it was nice to see him again now that he’s been in the role for a few months.

Sailaway hour kicked off as we started to sail out of Barcelona, which also meant it was Sailaway hour, a whole hour with unlimited bubbles… needless to say, Virgin Voyages are very generous, and I’m sure I had around 9 glasses in that time.

Dinner in Pink Agave

It was then to head for our first meal of this sailing, and we started with a favourite of ours, Pink Agave, an elevated Mexican restaurant onboard. I have a full guide to the dining onboard, which you can view here.

Untitled Dance Show Party Thing

It was then time to head out to Untitled Dance Show Party Thing. I ADORE this show. It’s a little bonkers at first look, but when you follow the story along, it’s a beautiful show about finding yourself and people like you, ignoring the pressures of social media, and embracing your inner rock star, a perfect welcome to what it means to set sail the Virgin Voyages Way.

Following Untiled, we decided to explore the ship, the layout of all four of Virgin Voyages Lady Ships are the same, so we know where the main venues are, but there’s always something happening in the different spaces, so its fun to explore and see what events are happening in one venue to the next.

We ended up in The Social, the games/sports venue onboard, where Ty the Gamer, another member of The Happenings Cast who looks after all the games onboard, was running Karaoke…. well drunk me was a lot more confident in his vocal ability and decided to take on really easy karaoke classics like Defying Gravity and Into the Unknown, because why not… yes I choose to opt down.

Ending our evening

We decided to skip the Manor tonight, which will be a theme for this voyage; compared to our last sailing, we took it a lot slower and only partied for one or two nights. After a busy year, we were more in the mood for a slower, relaxing sailing than a party-heavy sailing. That’s not to say we were in bed early every night, but we certainly spent longer in bed each day, and more time on the ship relaxing than we would have on previous sailings, but I’ll leave that for those posts.

For now, it’s time to curl up into the gorgeous bed and watch a film as the ocean slowly rocks us to sleep. To be fair to Virgin Voyages, we could hardly feel the ocean, but it was nice to be back at sea and facing a fantastic week onboard.

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