I'm back in the good ole United States after a whirlwind month abroad. Crazy, I know.
15 different cities.
A whole lot to recap!
I started this month off by adventuring with my sister and going on my first EVER European cruise. Because when presented with the opportunity to go on a beautiful ship and see Spain and the South of France... you go, right?
I was lucky enough to work with Virgin Voyages as a content creator and spend a week on their Valiant Lady ship. As someone who is not normally a cruise girly, I didn't know what to expect with Virgin...
But I was absolutely blown away.
Yes, it was a sponsored trip for me - but I wasn't required to do a travel blog post about my experience. I wanted to write this because I genuinely loved every second of this cruise and highly encourage you looking into it! Hopefully I can break down my experience and answer any questions you may have if you are also wanting to do a 'lil European cruisin' in the future.
Here we go.
My sister and I chose to do the "French Daze & Ibiza Nights" cruise (linking it here) and left out of Barcelona. Here was our itinerary:
Palma de Mallorca
Palma de Mallorca
Beyond the insanely cool itinerary, let's talk about the ship because while you do get off the boat each day (which is optional, by the way)... you do spend quite a lot of time onboard.
The Valiant Lady is unbelievable and Virgin Voyages truly does a great job at making it aesthetically pleasing and very modern + "Instagrammable". To put it simply... they understood the assignment. Everywhere you looked was a different bar, lounge, restaurant, and gorgeous spot to snap a photo... a content creators dream. It definitely has a more modern and "young" feel than any other cruise ship I have seen.. which is probably why I liked it so much.
My favorite part of this cruise was that it was ADULT ONLY as well. Look, I love kids as well but when I am on a boat for a week, I definitely like the idea of there not being children running around (that's just me).
Pro tip: Make sure you pack RED for the 'Scarlet Night' onboard. It's seriously so much fun and you won't want to miss it!
Some features on the ship included:
- A spa + salon
- Multiple gyms (the gym was MASSIVE and probably one of the nicest gyms I have been in while traveling)
- Basketball courts
- An outdoor track + workout area
- Workout classes (spin, HIIT, etc)
- Pool, hot tub, lounge chairs
- Richards Rooftop - this was a private lounge that you had to pay extra for to get access to. At first I wasn't sure if it would be worth the upgraded package + extra $$$ (full transparency, this was given to me as an influencer), but after seeing it... it is absolutely worth it. This rooftop area is separated from the rest of the ship/pool area and includes a private bar, food options, hot tubs overlooking the ocean, massive cabanas, couches, lounge areas, etc. It wasn't crowded at all and it's where my sis and I spent 90% of our time while onboard. We loved it!
When you think of a cruise ship, I feel like you think about tiny cabins the size of a closet and that is not the case with Virgin Voyages. I did my fair share of research and I was pleasantly surprised that even the most basic rooms seemed very spacious. I ended up splurging a little bit for an upgraded room (I think I bid an extra 500$ to do this) and we got the XL sea terrace - worth every single penny.
Our bathroom had two sinks, which was great for my sister and I. Plus the closet had so much room for use to unpack, hang clothes and there was even space UNDER the bed so we could store our suitcases! The bed was huge and there was free space throughout the room so we could walk around and we weren't stumbling over each other. Beyond that, we had a massive balcony and hammock to hang out on and enjoy the views. I believe most sea terrace rooms have a hammock, we just got more square footage with the upgraded, XL option (Again, I do think it is worth the extra cost).
What makes Virgin Voyages so luxurious and elevated is dining options, in my opinion. I feel like when you think of cruise ships, you often think of big buffets and fried food (or maybe that's just me?) but with Virgin, they have actual restaurants onboard the ship so every night you get something a little different! You are able to make reservations via your app once the cruise starts (don't forget to do this because they DO fill up very quickly) and some places take walk-ins as well. Here is where we ate that we loved + recommend:
- The Wake - Steakhouse
- Gun Bae - Korean BBQ
- Pink Agave - Mexican
- Extra Virgin - Italian
If you are wanting yummy food + a lively time.. Gun Bae. Get the disco ball drink!
There's so many more options, but these were the ones that we tried and loved.. We even ate at Pink Agave twice. Get the corn and thank me later.
Beyond the restaurants, there are so many other food options. Salad bars, taco stations, bubbles & dessert carts, pizza parlors, coffee shops... You truly won't want to leave the ship, I can promise you that.
Greetings from Valldemossa!
What makes Virgin Voyages so amazing (from what I heard when talking to other people onboard who have been on many cruises) is that you get so much time at each destination you go to. On our trip, we stayed overnight in Mallorca and Ibiza so not only did you get a free night to explore (or party), but you got the majority of the next day to enjoy off the ship as well.
You have an option to add on excursions through your Virgin Voyage app, but we ended up just exploring on our own for each destination. There are some really great tours and activities that Virgin offers, but keep in mind they are pricier and you are with other travelers. For us, we wanted to make the most of our days in each spot and see AS much as possible, so we planned our own itinerary.
Here's some highlights of what we did at each destination:
Marseille: We took an uber from Marseille to the town of Cassis (around 30-40 minutes) the morning we got off the boat at our first stop. We wanted to hike down to Calanques D' En-Vau after reading about it online. HIGHLY recommend doing this if you are wanting to see probably the most beautiful destination I have ever been to. Insane.
Pro tip: bring LOTS of water, sunscreen, a towel and change of clothes in a back pack. The hike is pretty long (around 1.5-2 hours to get down) and there's no where to get food and water once you start, so definitely make sure to grab a sandwich or lunch and pack it with you! I promise you will want it once you get there. If you are smart (we weren't), you'll grab some wine to bring with you as well to reward yourself after a strenuous trek.
How to do this hike linked here.
Cannes: La Mandala beach club. Cannes is known for shopping and beautiful beaches... and that's exactly what I would recommend doing. I would make a reservation for a day bed at La Mandala ahead of time to make sure that you get a good spot. If not, they do allow walk-ins! We ended up lounging all afternoon, ordering lunch by the water and consuming quite a few Spritz' before doing some shopping. A perfect day, if you ask me.
Mallorca: MY FAVORITE CITY! We had the longest time off the boat here, so you can take advantage of seeing alot of what Palma has to offer. Here are my musts:
Palma Cathedral. The most famous landmark in Palma and one of the most breathtaking churches I have ever seen. You can't go to Mallorca and NOT go in... you do have to buy a ticket but they don't seem to sell out, so don't worry about needing to do this ahead of time.
Rivareno Gelato. Ranked in my top 3 gelatos I have EVER had. There's a couple different locations in Palma and get the banana flavor! WOW.
Botanic for dinner. Truly a beautiful spot and one of the best dinners I have ever had. Make a reservation ahead of time!
Day trip to Valldemossa. We took a taxi from Palma to Valldemossa and it was relatively cheap and WORTH IT. The main reason I chose this cruise itinerary was because it allowed me to make my way back to this fairytale city. It's around a 30 minute drive and absolutely worth seeing if you have the time. There's a bus option from Palma or you can rent a car, but we were tight on time because of the cruise ship leaving that afternoon so we chose to just grab a quick taxi. I recommend going here for lunch, walking around and enjoying the views before taxi-ing back. Pro tip: ask you taxi driver if you can schedule a time for them to take you back to Palma so you don't have to stress about finding another one (they can be sparse).
Ibiza: Basically all you do here is club and party. Prepare yourself. We went to HI Nightclub and loved it. Make sure to get a ticket ahead of time and note... NO ONE goes until at least midnight and drinks are incredibly expensive once you are inside. It's even better is you can go on a night when a big DJ is playing but prepare to be in a very crowded room that can get claustrophobic. I wouldn't recommend arriving after 1 am if you want to have room to stand.
Overall Cruise Thoughts:
If you are looking to go on a cruise, I would highly recommend Virgin Voyages. Many people asked if I would recommend going on this cruise as a solo traveler and my answer is... absolutely! It definitely is majority couples, but we did meet a few people who were there by themselves and everyone was SO friendly and welcoming to new friend.
I loved the lively, party environment, the modern aesthetic, the many restaurant options and the amount of time you got to spend off the ship. If you are a big "show" person (we didn't have time), they also have plenty of nightly shows and onboard entertainment you can book through the Virgin Voyages app. Honestly, I can't think of anything I would critique - which is rare for me. All in all, it was an unbelievable trip (I'd say this sponsored or not). I'm already looking into my second Virgin cruise so...
Where to next?