Following months of delays due to the COVID crisis, this week Virgin Voyages restarted operations, offering a wealth of dining and entertainment options.
The new brand's first boat Scarlet Lady finally embarked on her first commercial voyage from the USA, departing PortMiami Florida on October 6 at 50% capacity. The newbuild offers its 1300-plus guests an app aimed at helping them avoid long lines by allowing for digital reservations for all dining venues, dance shows, and other activities.
However, reviews from users of the Sailor app, including people who took part in shorter test cruises in the south of England before the official launch this week, suggest long physical lines were replaced by frustrating digital experiences. The app has a 1.7 stars ratings out of 5 on Google’s Play Store, where users complained of the system failing while they were at sea.
The company said it was fixing bugs and making improvements to the app. Passengers can still check-in at the cruise terminal and ask the crew to book reservations.
The vessel is part of the Bain Capital-backed venture of Richard Branson into the cruising industry and has been designed to be an adults-only playground, with 6 restaurants, including a dining hall of a variety of vendors; a nightclub; a karaoke lounge; modern dance shows; a tattoo studio; and 6 additional bars.
The Sailor app activates the mandatory wristband that acts as a digital cabin, wallet and bar tab, and offers 24/7 customer support via chat, letting guests order food and drinks to their location, as well as make reservations, thus avoiding long queues in front of restaurants and fitness centers.