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THE PUBLICITY around Virgin Voyages’ debut sailing in Australia was off the charts (pardon the pun). But what was it actually like onboard? We sent our JENNY ROWLAND to find out.

Ahoy there from my Mermaiden cruise from Melbourne to Tassie.

It’s so very appropriate that this cruise is to Hobart, the home of Mona (Muesum of Old and New Art), the weird, wonderful, exotic, erotic, quirky, eccentric museum, as Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady has a very similar personality.

Sir Richard Branson’s trademark is all over this ship.

Quirkiness abounds but floats very happily alongside luxury, comfort and incredible hospitality.

Apologies for all the jokes but after a few days on this cruise with all the punnery, frivolity and jolly japes it’s impossible to not get caught up in it all!

Just a few examples. Onboard we have ‘Lick Me Till Ice Cream’ and you had me at Champagne bar. There’s even an ‘Extra Virgin’ restaurant. And my personal favourite: ‘You wanna pizza me!”

Sea where I’m going with this…???

As a sea-soned cruiser I’m eager to discover how Sir Richard – the great disrupter – is shaking up the cruising landscape, or should I say seascape?

In his own words: “I thought it would be a good idea to have a cruise line for under 30-year-olds, then it was under 40-year-olds, then under 50-year-olds … today, it’s the young at heart.”

Could this be the cruise of all cruises for the anti-cruiser, the ones that call cruise ships floating RSL clubs?

The Resilient Lady is more like a floating fringe festival with adults-only fun and entertainment. Some bits sophisticated, some silly, but all great fun.

The Virgin ships, of which Resilient Lady is one of three, are designed to feel like massive super yachts.

Spaces around the $1.1 billion ship were created by designers from the boutique hotel industry. Indeed, my accommodation feels more like a high-end boutique hotel room than a cabin. 

I am in a sea terrace cabin and it is luxurious, colourful (lots of signature red) and very high-tech with everything being operated by the in-room iPad.

The queen size bed is super comfy and even turns into a sofa if you require… though I am not sure why anyone would want to spend time in their cabin with so much going on outside the door!

There is a flat screen TV, a functional but smallish bathroom, plenty of hanging space and best of all a sexy scarlet hammock on my balcony in which I can watch the watery world go by.


Forget Broadway style crooners and traditional music hall style entertainment.

Think Cirque du Soleil style acrobatic, sexy, interactive dancing and shows that boggle your brain and make you laugh out loud.

Alternative and edgy comedy, drag queen hosted game shows (the hilarious Miss Behave – my absolute “had to change my knickers” favourite!)

There is never a dull moment on board.

The immersive cabaret show Another Rose is as delicious as it is wildly entertaining. It’s an alternative take on a ‘dinner dance’. Dishes like tuna bombs and sweet potato chat are cleared away so the dancers can swap the stage for your tabletop. 

Then there’s the retelling of the Greek goddess story in the amazing headline show Persephone, combining dance, gymnastics and pole dancing with an abundance of explosive high energy.

The signature ‘Scarlet Night’ is a ship-wide party that encapsulates the whole Virgin spirit. It’s a dazzling frenzy of crimson-clad crew and guests painting the whole ship red.

Pulsating music and incredible dance performances create an unforgettable party where the majority end up having a splashing time on the pool deck.


You will not go hungry on the Resilient Lady as there are more than 20 eateries to choose from and the best news is that everything is included, even the speciality restaurants.

Don’t expect fussy main dining rooms, white gloved waiters or bustling buffets. You’ll find everything from Heston Blumenthal-inspired, gastro-influenced tasting menus at Test Kitchen to ultra-creative veggie-forward plates at Razzle-Dazzle and Mexican street food at Pink Agave.

If you like Korean fare with a cheeky drinking game thrown in you have Gunbae and for the Italiano’s there’s luscious handmade pasta at Extra Virgin.

For amazing steaks and seafood head to The Wake (there is a small extra charge for the Wagyu beef). The Galley is the go-to for casual food hall dining all day long – I loved the tacos and the bento boxes.

If Mediterranean tapas and small plates are your thing then The Dock House is the place to go. The choices onboard are varied and delicious and I guarantee your taste buds will love this cruise.


With all this mega-indulgence comes the necessity to minimise the kilo damage and the onboard gym was the best I have ever seen on a cruise ship. They even provide proper cycle shoes.

It was a floating Virgin active health club and the spin class I nearly died in was epic! When I recovered, I rejoiced in the fact I had 400 extra calories to inhale at lunch.

There is a cardio and a weight training gym and a boxing ring just in case you are not getting along with your cabin mate…

The early morning meditation and yoga classes were well worth getting up for – just a shame that the government quarantine announcements droned on and on, which was not particularly conducive to transcendental contemplation – but not Virgin’s fault. Even Sir Richard couldn’t stop them.

A great range of spa/beauty and hair treatments were on offer and I had my best ever floating pedicure while watching a pod of frolicking dolphins racing the ship.


This cruise is more about the journey than the destinations but I had a lovely day in Hobart (one of my favourite Aussie cities) and a visit to the wild northwestern shores of Burnie has piqued my interest to return.

That’s one of the great things about cruising as it gives you an entrée to a place and you can return for the main course if you love the taste.

The Aussie MerMaiden voyage marks the first of 17 sailings Down Under for Virgin.

Ranging from two- to 14-nights, the inaugural season in the region sees Resilient Lady making her way through several destinations, including Tasmania, New Zealand’s fjords and Australia’s southern coast.

From the outset of the maiden voyage the sense that this was something completely different was palpable and I for one say in my terrible French accent: “vive la difference.”

I have one regret. I didn’t get a tattoo – yes, there was even a tattoo artist onboard – but the queue was bigger than at the champagne bar so the drink won over the ink!

Next time…