Virgin Voyages’ second ship Valiant Lady launched in March and boasts more than 20 eateries. Charlotte Cullinan stepped aboard to sample the gastronomic delights.
Whether clients want to tuck into Korean BBQ, savour fine steaks or simply grab a taco, their taste buds will be sated on Valiant Lady.
Alongside ditching buffets and dress codes, the adults-only line has shaken up cruise dining. Guests reserve a dinner table at one of the six main restaurants at a time of their choosing, and they’re all included in the fare.
Each eatery has its own kitchen, with a bar in every speciality restaurant, and there are swathes of options for breakfast, brunch, lunch and snacks. Don’t miss The Galley, a bright and spacious food hall serving a wide variety from food truck-style stands.
Chief commercial and experience officer Nirmal Saverimuttu says cuisine is a key selling point for the line, recommending agents highlight the “tremendous amount of choice on board”. He adds: “All the food is made to order, and it’s a really quality offering. The reviews [for sister ship Scarlet Lady] have called this the best food at sea. Anyone, from any walk of life, with any kind of food preference, is going to have a great time.”
Foodies can currently join the 2,770-guest ship on three-night voyages from Portsmouth to Zeebrugge, before the ship heads to its homeport in Barcelona in May for a summer of European sailings.
Here are five unmissable places to eat on board.
As the first Korean BBQ at sea, head to Gunbae for a fun (and loud) lunch or dinner, where everyone shouts “welcome” in Korean as guests arrive.
Each booth seats six and the charismatic servers introduce lively soju drinking games to get the party started. Expect small dishes, rice, noodles and stews, before a vast selection of meats, which diners cook on flameless grills in the centre of the lava stone table.
Popular dishes include the crispy chicken with pickled daikon radish, and save room for the sikhye and black sesame twist soft serve ice cream, complete with scrumptious toppings.
Described as “vegetarian forward”, Razzle Dazzle serves creative vegan and veggie brunches and dinners. Suggest the ‘fish’ and chips, where crispy banana blossom replaces seafood, the popular Impossible Burger and the vibrant blueberry and green tea vegan cheesecake. Meat dishes can be found in the ‘naughty’ section of the menu, and the Red Bar serves the ship’s most Instagrammable drinks.
The restaurant is named after the black and white striped camouflage used by British ships during the First World War, and bold zebra patterns adorn every surface, including menus and servers’ uniforms. The fun decor is matched by an energetic atmosphere.
The Test Kitchen
After a hibiscus tea palate cleanser, guests take their seat at a booth or long table in this modern mint green and silver restaurant.
With a food laboratory ethos the set tasting menus list just six ingredients, including egg, scallops and venison. These inspire innovative and immaculately presented dishes and come with a choice of drink pairings.
Chefs frequently step out from the bustling open kitchen to explain dishes, assisted by servers in white lab coat uniforms. Visit during the day for cooking classes, a mixology school and coffee labs.
Offering the ship’s most refined dining experience, The Wake is inspired by London’s The Wolseley. Clients can showcase their most glamorous outfits and make an impressive entrance down the sweeping staircase, under the modern chandelier and past the grand piano.
The chic menu focuses on steak and seafood, and headliners include the aged Tomahawk steak and salt-crusted dorade. Lobster, oysters and crab are among the delicacies at the raw bar.
It’s situated at the aft of the ship and the large windows overlook the ship’s wake. Enjoy the dramatic views over the bottomless brunch’s eggs benedict with soft-shell crab.
Diners choose a selection of sharing plates in this sophisticated Mexican-themed restaurant. Start with guacamole with pomegranate, jalapeño and tortilla chips, move on to the roasted chicken enchilada and try to squeeze in the grilled striped bass.
The restaurant has the most extensive tequila and mezcal collection at sea, so try the punchy Loca Flaca cocktail, concocted with smoky mezcal and scorpion salt.
Designer Tom Dixon is the mastermind behind the decadent interiors, with tactile seats, interesting artwork and immersive void lighting. Guests enter Pink Agave through an illuminated tunnel – perfect for a pre-dinner photo opportunity.