A Grown-Up Caribbean Getaway on a Virgin Voyages’ Adults-Only Cruise

The all-inclusive, child-free paradise of the Scarlet Lady will help you tap into your childlike sense of curiosity.

Brunch at the Wake aboard Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady / Photograph by Scott Grummett, courtesy of Virgin Voyages

It was a very “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!” moment — stepping out of the airport into the sweltering Miami heat and an Uber hooked up with flashing red party lights. And for the next five days, the wonder didn’t stop. 

From our room at the lively InterContinental, my best friend and I were initially stunned only by the city’s glittery skyline. But in the morning, the main attraction became much more visible: a hulking silver­ cruise ship with a bright crimson stern standing 17 decks high in the port across the water. It was the Scarlet Lady, which we boarded for the “Dominican Daze” voyage to the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. Think grown-up summer camp at sea. 

After settling into our XL Sea Terrace room — complete with a waterfall shower, mood lights, and a balcony with a cozy hammock in which to watch the waves on days at sea — we capped off the night at Gunbae for dinner. There, the KBBQ grill masters taught us sam-yuk-gu, a Korean counting/drinking game.

En route to the islands, we wandered the massive ship. We awoke at the Wake, a glamorous mid-century modern spot with brunches of brioche French toast and eggs Benedict. We stumbled up to Richard’s Rooftop, a private members lounge dedicated to “rockstars” (passengers who book more exclusive rooms). We ambled into the Redemption Spa, where for just $39 we treated ourselves to a detoxifying mud soak, dips in the hot tub and cold plunge pool, and, finally, marination in the salt and steam rooms. 

But if you’re itching to experience new terrain, the island days are for you. Off the ship, we discovered mountainside adventures, loafed on sandy beaches, and joined cultural learning expeditions. For our day in Puerto Plata, we zip-lined over the ocean. By the time we got to the Bahamas, we opted for an afternoon simply soaking in rays and snacking on sticky sweet ribs with cassava at the Beach Club at Bimini, a short tram ride from the pier. 

Two words: Try. Everything. When in child-free paradise, embrace your childlike sense of curiosity.

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Published as “The Grown-Up Getaway” in the September 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.