Welcome to Day 3 of our Valiant Lady Irresistible Med blog/trip report; I’m still not 1005 sure what this is, but whatever this is, welcome to Marina Di Carrara.
Day 3 of our cruise was brought to you mainly by lounging and relaxing. I have mentioned this previously in previous posts, but without planning it to be that way, this sailing became a relax, and recuperate trip for us, we’d been very fortunate to travel a lot this year due to a lot of delayed trips due to COVID, and I think it all caught up with us by this point.
A slow day on the ship
Our desire to walk miles in port just wasn’t with us this trip, and we decided not to feel too guilty if we didn’t want to leave the ship, and take more time to enjoy the facilities onboard without the ship being busy.
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Sadly if you are looking for top tips when in port, this series may not be for you, but I hope it does showcase that Virgin Voyages can be whatever you want it to be. Their itineraries in the med are very port intensive, with no real sea day. That is absolutely a perk when booking onto these itineraries. But it also means there is much opportunity to really bed into the ship.
We have taken two short cruises with Virgin from the UK, one during COVID on Scarlet Lady as a “SeaCation”, and then one of the launch sailing for Valiant earlier in 2022 to Zeebrugge. Both did offer time to relax on the ship, but they were in much colder weather. Not the warmth of the Caribbean or Med, where Virgin Voyages really shines with their ship design choices with oodles of outdoor space to enjoy warmer weather.
Another thing worth pointing out is that their ships allow you to party as hard as you want, but you can also relax and unwind onboard. Virgin calls it “Detox and Retox”, and it’s very easy to do both onboard if you want, with ample space and activities for both sides of the coin.
The benefit of living in Europe, being travel agents who specialise in cruises, is that we will for sure be back here again in the future, so the guilt and FOMO were fleeting once we finally committed to not letting it get to us too much.
We had a late morning; the timestamp on my breakfast picture was 11:17, perhaps the latest we’d had our first breakfast on a ship for sure.
Before we came to the conclusion to stay on the ship, we were back and forth for about an hour on which excursion to do. A visit to Pisa, or to nearby Cinque Terre. Both are possible via local trains, taxis, or Virgin Voyages Shore Things. But we decided it was a bit late in the day to make the most of a day trip.
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Spending the afternoon at The Dock
Following breakfast in our usual spot, we went back to our room to get changed into shorts and sunbathing gear and settled in for a day relaxing on the ship. We made our way to the Dock as it’s always busy when the ship is full, so port days are often the perfect time to get one of those amazing Day Beds without having to hover over people or be up before everyone to claim your space.
I pretty much fell asleep within 30 minutes of relaxing in the warm sun with the music playing chill-out vibes in the background. There was a gentle breeze, and it wasn’t very busy; maybe 20 of us total, just lazing in the sun.
After around an hour’s nap, I woke up and felt hungry again, so I ordered some of the small mezze-style plates you can get at the Dock and Dockhouse. Make sure you plan to eat here at least once on your sailing; the food is amazing. I also enjoyed a few Rum and Gingers, telling myself the ginger was to settle my stomach. I’m far from a biologist, but they went down well.
After playing my Nintendo Switch for a bit, I decided to head to Lick Me Till Ice Cream to get something sweet to eat; it’s a short walk on the same deck from the Aft to Midship, also grabbing a coffee using some of our Sailing Club coffee credit we get each day as part of our loyalty membership.
Around 5:30 pm, we returned to our cabin; we were greeted by a plate of Macarons which were part of our Splash of Romance Package. They looked beautiful, but after countless mezze plates and a belly full of Ice Cream, I couldn’t face another bite… just yet, at least. I did call Sailor Services on the first day to let them know that Phil is Gluten Free which they had noted, so you may get alternative treats than we did.
I spent around an hour on the balcony in the hammock catching up on some work and watching Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas sail away. These hammocks are so comfortable, and 100% worth the upgrade to a Sea Terrace any day.
Dinner in Test Kitchen
It was then time to get ready for Test Kitchen, our dining eatery for the evening.
We love Test Kitchen, it’s a fantastic concept, and we love the molecular science approach to dining you get when you eat here. This year they introduced a second menu, so for the first half of a Med sailing, you get the launch menu, and then for the second half, you get the new menu.
I personally prefer the original menu as I think it’s more experimental with its presentation techniques, and tries a little harder to present something fun and different, yet still has classic flavours everyone can enjoy, but I do love the fact that there is now more than one way to experience what Test Kitchen has to offer. We did the second Menu on our French Daze and Ibiza Nights sailing, so I will share that experience once I have that written up.
I don’t want to spoil too much about Test Kitchen, as part of the fun is experiencing the menu for yourself. The pictures here are very much a spoiler, however, so view them at your own discretion.
When you arrive, you are greeted with a menu that simply lists one of the core ingredients, nothing else. Then each course is explained, but things may not be as simple as they seem.
You can also get a drinks pairing menu of Cocktails, Wine, Beer or Mocktails for $25/$35. We always get the cocktail pairing, but then we do love cocktails in general.
The food was amazing, as always, and the service was impeccable. I can’t stress enough that meals like this would easily be a $60-$100 speciality surcharge on any other mainstream cruise line.
A rare early night
Following our meal, we headed to Pink Agave for the After Party, a new event on the entertainment schedule since we last sailed.
Following meal service in Pink Agave, they set up a DJ in Pink Agave to turn it into a mini club of sorts. It’s nice to see Virgin Voyages use the spaces onboard for different events, as it helps create a sense of space and exclusivity for those who attend these pop-up style Happenings onboard.
We then headed to The Manor for BoomVang; it’s pretty much a standard night in The Manor; if there is a theme, it’s totally lost on me, at least. There’s no entertainment like Heartbeat the night previously, it’s a fun vibe, but my knees decided I needed to skip the dance floor this time; walking up that hill in Toulon will haunt me for the rest of the week, I feel….
We decided to grab a pizza from The Pizza Place and watch a film in bed, Phil was asleep within minutes. I opted to watch Morbius…. It’s the perfect film for those with trouble sleeping….