The LONGEST 30 Minutes of our LIFE!
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Because EVERYONE wants to know how the newest Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages is managing the Embarkation Process, that includes showing a proof of vaccination, and Covid Testing at the pier!
Embarkation was swift! We were assigned a time to show up via the VV App - so we showed up then. Novel concept right? I mean MANY MANY came early - and it got them exactly nowhere - they looked like a head of cattle, corralled in a fenced area, marked with a sign, with “their assigned time”. There is alot of chatter online - to come early or not - I recommend DO NOT!
We however, were immediately admitted to check our bags, and proceed to the COVID Testing area. on the way there we filled out forms on our phones to register for the test. My iPhone worked better than Robs android in this instance - yes they are still getting the bugs out of their system. A very sweet girl fully covered in PPE - gently swabbed my nose, and sent me on.
The embarkation pathway looped back around outside, likely to kill time where we were able to hand OUR PHONES to a security guy that snapped our photo in front of the AHOY sign. This was the FIRST indication that there are NO paid photographers in your face on a Virgin Voyage, something we fully realized later in the cruise. Guest all shared the responsibility of photographing each other - a nice ice breaker!
We basically kept moving the whole time, until NOW - ”the waiting game” A large room filled with masked people waiting for their test results.
It was the longest 30 minutes of our life!
Rob was communicating with a friend who was already on the ship . The friend suggested he check his email instead of waiting for a text. It had been about 30 minutes and Rob discovered right away that he had negative results in his email. He jumped up and headed for the check-in desk - but I was still searching my email and didn’t have my results yet! so I said “Rob - are you going without me?” he looked surprised, almost like yes, of course he was... And then he snapped right back to reality and was looking around for the Virgin representative. He found a helpful guy quickly, who agreed to go look up my test results. Moments later the rep emerged with paper confimation of my negative test results - and directions to proceed to the Embarkation line! I got a paper document pictured below and Rob recieved a pdf in his email.
We were given the go ahead to stand in the check in line!
Hurrah! WE MADE IT!
At check-in Virgin Voyages check our vaccine cards, test results, and activated our "wearable technology" made with ocean plastic! It takes the place of your "cruise card" and it's actually cute! People who book Rockstar Suites get a different color.. ooooh... Beyond check in there was one more security checkpoint (I actually walked through it with a Margarita in my cup) and then a very long hallway that lead to the gangway! Once you reach the gangway you know you are on THE HOME STRETCH!
Let me tell you - this company knows "Branding". It's really amazing to see - anyone with any "Virgin Brand" awarness at all, was wearing RED for Embarkation! Yep - Rob paid full price for those red converse shoes! And in that back-pack was a beautiful bracelet that he would reveal just moments later when we reached our stateroom! Not red but, he had it custom made by Luis at Zavius Jewelers, the same guy that made our wedding rings. Embarkation day was our 25th Wedding Anniversary!
SOUND ON - and you can hear the mood of relief in the Elevator, as we zoomed to Deck 14 where our beautiful room was waiting. The bubbles are in the rear panel of the elevator car. I think this was almost the ONLY time we were on an elevator with someone else. I think they have it set to take you directly to the floor you select without stopping along the way and picking up other people. SMART!
Generally - guests ran around the ship maskless. We had the assurance that we were all VACCINATED, and COVID free (at least on day one). Crew is required to mask in public areas, and while at work. We did learn that crew is tested for Covid every 2 weeks, which was a dissappointment. Seems to us like they should be tested each time they turn over the ship. I do commend Virgin Voyages for requiring crew to mask - as this policy is an admission that the crew is the weak link in the chain of transmission. They live together in close quarters, and serve all of the guests. Having said that crew has the potential to be the super-spreaders, why not test them MORE OFTEN!
Check out our room review post at Belles Firm of Architecture's blog.
We booked a "Sea Terrace" with a view of the Bridge. PRO: The shower had a "rain head" that was just fabulous, and there was even room in there to get out from under it, or you could conserve water and simply turn it off without losing temperature because they did not cheap out on the shower set faucet! CON: It was really hard to photograph the room before "junking it up". Not many places to put stuff away. See my reflection in the mirror? I loved all the USB ports, and THAT CHAIR!
Someone with an un-educated eye had complained about the stateroom chairs that "looked like they were from Ikea" I am here to tell you - these are very HIGH QUALITY chairs! Likely the leather is hand cut and stitched. Whomever made them was gifted the project deliberately, as much of the ship furnishings are obtained to empower people and promote sustainability. You should be able to follow Virgins money, to discover all the good that it is doing.
For Example: The hammock production gig was awarded to Yellow Leaf Hammocks on Shark Tank! Yellow Leaf Hammocks' is Spreading relaxation around the globe & empowering artisans to rise out of poverty. Do Good. Relax.
We got settled in that beautiful room and Rob presented me with the wonderfully wrapped gift. I was so excited that I didn't photograph the wrapping... After opening Rob shared with me Luis's sketch, wax model and then dirty jewelers hand holding my bracelet that he received in a text - to announce that it was DONE!
WOW - I was speechless... The Tsvorite stone is set in gold mounted on the Silver band. Tsvorite is the world's rarest Garnet - is believed to be the gemstone that helps one discover the beauty within themselves and others. It is also the gemstone for a 25th Anniversary. Yep nothing about us is "simple" or "ordinary". Of course, I put it on immediately!
Next on the Agenda? Exploring the Ship.... But I'm pretty sure that BOTH of our phones died, because there are only a couple pics.
Deck 16 Aft Bar - Chris from Brazil! You can tell what our priority is, right?
Well Being Pool - Deck 15 - midship. We never got in it, but many others did...
We Razzle Dazzled for Dinner! The food was good, not great, but good. There is NO dining dress code on this ship so I felt like we sat next to people who had not showered today.. Ugh. I ordered a GF Cheesecake from the Menu for Dessert! Isn't it beautiful? I devoured it. Unfortunately it became a topic for a whole new post! It WAS NOT Gluten Free! Don't worry - I will spare you the details, but I will teach you HOW TO get Gluten Free food on the Scarlet Lady, so stay tuned.
We recuited another guest to take our picture in the glitter hall.. it is the entrance to an alluring nightclub called "The Manor" where a couple of Adult Only Content shows happen... or maybe they didn't happen.. You have to cruise to find out. We enjoyed the shows, but prudish people might take offense. Personally I can't think of a better or more romantic way to spend my 25th Anniversary! Thank You ROB!
Tomorrow is a Sea Day..... Sea you there. Probably with less clothes on!