Tattoo parlour to drag queens – this ‘superyacht’ proves cruises aren’t just for over 60s

I'’d never sailed on a superyacht before. I’d never even stood on the dock next to one. But I have now sailed on the Valiant Lady, which is about as close as most of us can hope to get to living the life of a billionaire.

Forget everything you know – or believe – about cruise holidays. Whether you’re a cruise aficionado or a cruise virgin, tycoon Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages offers a completely different experience at sea.

Appropriately for a man who first made his mark in the music industry, he has ensured the adults-only Virgin Voyages ships and itineraries are curated to make you feel like an A-list celebrity on a private yacht – think pool parties, champagne receptions, Michelin star-quality food and RockStar suites.

VIP treatment

When you board the ship, you receive a VIP bracelet, which acts as the key to your room, allows you to pay for everything on board and is used when leaving and boarding the ship in port, so you don’t have to carry your passport around.

Depending which itinerary you choose, you could be stopping off in Cannes, Mykonos or Ibiza – and in a Virgin first there’s an option to stay overnight on the White Isle, so you can take full advantage of its many clubs and bars without having to rush back to port.

Onboard entertainment

There’s so much happening on board, you might not want to leave the ship at all. But forget crooners and bingo – on the Valiant Lady you’ll find drag queens, festival-style acts, incredible acrobatics and X-rated shows that would make a sailor blush. There’s even a tattoo parlour, should you decide to get an inking to mark your trip.

Scarlet Night is where the ship really comes alive. Post- dinner, the party moves to the topdeck pool, where DJs, performers, dancers and guests turn it into a club night like you’ve never seen before.

If you prefer a more private party, book the karaoke room or head to Voyage Vinyl, where you can listen to a choice of vintage or modern classics. If gaming is your thing, hit the Social Club. Or you can try your luck in the casino or arcade.

Wellbeing and workouts

If you want to relax in the daytime, there’s plenty of space where you can sunbathe poolside with the in-crowd, or escape for a more private siesta in the cabanas located starboard. Book one of the fancier suites to gain access to Richard’s Rooftop, a stunning private area at the front of the ship, featuring huge circular daybeds and inclusive sunset champagne reception daily at 5pm.

Need to earn those calories? The ship has a gym and a running track on the top deck, as well as a basketball court and boxing ring, and a schedule of classes from daybreak to sundown. Once you’ve worked up a sweat, head to the Redemption Spa for a massage or just to cool off in the hydrotherapy pool.

Fine dining

The most memorable thing about the Valiant Lady has to be the food – and unlike most cruises, there’s no extra cost for bar drinks. Take your pick from over 20 venues, such as steak and seafood house The Wake, vegetarian spot Razzle Dazzle, Korean barbecue joint Gunbae or Mexican diner Pink Agave. Don’t miss The Test Kitchen, serving lab-style cuisine that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated.

You’ll also find a burger bar, tacos and burritos, classic Italian, Japanese bento boxes, poke bowls and pastries. And for late-night cravings, try the all-night US-style diner and noodle bar. If you prefer room service, order by app.

Like all cruise ships, the cabins are compact but well-designed – unless, that is, you splash out on one of the incredible RockStar quarters, where the opulence puts any superyacht to shame.

Prices on the Valiant Lady for 2023 sailings start from £990 per cabin (sleeping two). For more information, visit


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