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Semi-Live: Valiant Lady, January 7th to January 13th


Ripheus
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DW (@Moochi) and I have sailed exclusively with Celebrity since we've been together. We wanted to give VV a try, so we did the natural thing of booking the Brilliant Lady's maiden voyage. When Brilliant was delayed, we were disappointed but that disappointment quickly turned to elation when we saw VV's replacement offer. We quickly transferred that cruise to the Scarlet Lady TA later this fall. Then we booked this trip to scratch our cruise itch now, while my work is slow. 

 

Both DW and I will be posting here to document our experience. We've been researching (watching YT) and think we know what to expect, but we'll see. 

 

This review will likely include:

1. This entirely too long introduction

2. Pre voyage and first day (when we're trying really hard to be good)

3. Lots of pictures of food and, especially, drinks

4. DW's assessment of the drinks

5. A critique of the available drinks and my thoughts on how well they align with both what I think VV's target demographic is and with me, if different. 

6. My thoughts on Bar Tab and how much we actually used and/or went over.

7. My thoughts on the Casino experience, from an amateur perspective

8. Things I wish I knew at the beginning of this review. 

9. Post voyage and final thoughts

 

Of course, if any of you have any questions or comments, please do let us know. We'll try to keep questions in mind during our trip. 

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Yesterday, @Moochi and I finished packing and headed to DCA for our flight down to Miami by way of FLL. We typically fly JetBlue since their seats are the most comfortable economy for a big guy like me. We've also found their DCA service to be quite reliable. 

 

We were expecting some significant delays, as the forecast has been calling for some snow. Fortunately, we only saw freezing rain. That was especially a relief for me. I'm a landscaper, so my winters are generally slow. But when it snows, work gets frantic quickly. 

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This is also the 2nd annual cruise for Virgin's top 100 agents.

If you decide that you'd like an agent to help you book in the future and get a slightly better deal, you're in luck!

I think you'll find the booze selection in the various bars interesting. Just know that some spirits are only available at certain bars.

 

Enjoy your cruise!

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When we arrived at FLL, I quickly regretted my decision to wear that flannel shirt. We collected our bags, which were thankfully the first ones out and headed on to catch a Lyft to the Hyatt Regency Miami. I had been tracking the prices for rides for the past week or so, and was happy with the $45 price to get us all the way downtown. We got checked in and settled in the nice but almost sterile looking room.

 

After charging our phones for a bit, we searched for a place to grab a bite. We settled on Baby Jane's Cocktail House and Noodles for a post flight drink and some ramen. We'd highly recommend this spot. The cocktail I had (Back in Baby's Arms) and the Ramen were both tasty. I will say this is not the place to go on a Saturday night for a quiet bite. DW and I were sitting maybe two feet from each other and couldn't hear each other over the very loud music. 

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Lol that picture of me looking pissed off. I was trying to see what ingredients were in the ramen bowl under the very low light, while greatly annoyed by the super loud music, the two guys next to me vaping onto my face, and the uncomfortable bar stool. The ramen turned out to be very enjoyable. The noodles had right consistency, the broth was rich and creamy, and the toppings were tasty too. 
 

 My drink was a Modelo with a light squeeze of lime. In my opinion a light beer is the best choice for rich Japanese style ramen.

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Boarding Day

 

we are currently waiting outside of the terminal after being checked in. 
 

After checked out from the hotel at 11, we decided to head out to the terminal early. Uber fare was $36 for the less than 2 miles drive and Lyft showed $15. Lyft it was. We requested the ride, and no driver was accepting it in a few minutes. Finally a driver from 20 minutes away accepted the request. I found the situation a bit odd, but didn’t realize what was going on. While we were waiting to be picked up, someone from the roll call group posted about the traffic being a mess heading to the terminal. He was not wrong. There are 7 ships in port today and it took us 35 minutes for the 2-mile ride. After giving the Lyft driver a big tip, we started the boarding process at 12:10.

 

We went through the door that has the Splash of Romance and Sailing Club sign. There was a lady checking everyone’s name from a printed list. After getting the DBE blue wrist ribbon, we were allowed inside to check in and get our wrist bands. Then we were asked to wait outside by the people who checked us in. Wait outside? Where outside? We came outside and there’s no sign or anything. We asked a gentleman wearing VV uniform. He told us there are shuttles taking us back to Bayside Marketplace if we want to shop and we were not allowed back in until 1:30. We thought it was too risky to go in and out of the port in an hour so decided to just wait outside, standing. Then we saw people started forming a line. It was the DBE and SOR line. We got in the line, hoping to get in to sit down very soon. It has been over 40 minutes. The line is getting longer and everyone is still standing outside. Both hubby and I are not very happy at the moment. He has some leg issues that makes it painful to stand for too long. I can see him struggling there, although he was leaning against a wall.
 

I understand we got here before our boarding time. But we had to check out the hotel at 11. What does VV think people are going to kill one hour with luggage’s? 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Moochi said:

understand we got here before our boarding time. But we had to check out the hotel at 11. What does VV think people are going to kill one hour with luggage’s

I’ve always left luggage with the front desk or bell services of the hotel, then return to the hotel an hour before the boarding time to get a Uber/Lyft to the terminal. 

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6 hours ago, Ripheus said:

DW (@Moochi) and I have sailed exclusively with Celebrity since we've been together. We wanted to give VV a try, so we did the natural thing of booking the Brilliant Lady's maiden voyage. When Brilliant was delayed, we were disappointed but that disappointment quickly turned to elation when we saw VV's replacement offer. We quickly transferred that cruise to the Scarlet Lady TA later this fall. Then we booked this trip to scratch our cruise itch now, while my work is slow. 

 

Both DW and I will be posting here to document our experience. We've been researching (watching YT) and think we know what to expect, but we'll see. 

 

This review will likely include:

1. This entirely too long introduction

2. Pre voyage and first day (when we're trying really hard to be good)

3. Lots of pictures of food and, especially, drinks

4. DW's assessment of the drinks

5. A critique of the available drinks and my thoughts on how well they align with both what I think VV's target demographic is and with me, if different. 

6. My thoughts on Bar Tab and how much we actually used and/or went over.

7. My thoughts on the Casino experience, from an amateur perspective

8. Things I wish I knew at the beginning of this review. 

9. Post voyage and final thoughts

 

Of course, if any of you have any questions or comments, please do let us know. We'll try to keep questions in mind during our trip. 

Have a great cruise.  Looking forward to  your comments/review.

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After what we thought was a not-very-clear check in embarkation process, we're happy to be on the ship. We saw our room, charged my phone for a bit, and headed to the galley. Perhaps it was just because it was so packed, but wifey and I were disappointed in both the quality of the food and the service. DW ordered a drink that never came. After an hour, we left. She had a bento box and the ramen and didn't like either. I had a turkey panini. I was happy with it, though I was disappointed for DW. 

 

We're at the dock house now. Just ordered the tapas and a couple of drinks. DW is much happier now with her aperol spritz. 

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We are at the Gallery for lunch. More on the boarding process later.

 

We walked around to see the options. There are 7 stations: salad, burger, sushi roll, ramen, breakfast food, taco, and paninis. Each station looks clean and neat, but there are less options than a typical cruise lunch buffet. The ordering process confuses me. I see people standing in the line ordering, buzzers on the countertop, and there’s the flag thing at each table. I didn’t know what’s the correct or preferred way so flagged someone to ask. The server told me I can either order from the stations directly, or order food and drinks though him to skip the line. So I ordered an Aperol Spritz and a ramen. 

 

I was starving so went to the bento station and grabbed a sushi roll to-go box. It was…not great. The rice was mushy and smashed. The texture was so off that I didn’t even pay attention to flavor. 
 

Then the ramen came. It was not great either unfortunately. It tastes like Top Ramen with slightly thicker broth and dressed up with some nice toppings. The noodles were wrong kind and mushy, broth didn’t have enough fat emulsified, and the egg was too soft boiled that the white was not even completely set. It didn’t taste bad, just was not a good bowl of Japanese style ramen.

 

then the problem was the drink. The server came back to ask about our room number but never showed up again to deliver the drink. We waited for about 45 minutes and eventually left.


During the waiting time, we say customers come and go, but no one stopped by to tidy up the tables.

 

My rating for the galley? I don’t want to rate it until giving it another try. It is the turnover day. Customers are new and everywhere. Staff members are tired. We will try again on another day and report back.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Moochi said:

Boarding Day
 

I understand we got here before our boarding time. But we had to check out the hotel at 11. What does VV think people are going to kill one hour with luggage’s? 

 

 

VV has always had a policy of not allowing people into the terminal until 1pm.  The late boarding is the trade off for allowing a late, more comfortable disembarkation and often avoiding the mess at the terminal--most other lines are thru their process before VV people are supposed to arrive.

What are you supposed to do?  We asked for a late check out at our hotel and it was available until 12 at no additional charge.  Alternatively, you can go to the terminal and check in luggage, then take the shuttle to Bayside.  There is also a small cafe near the terminal in MIA

In Barcelona, there were several options when VV was able to use the WTC terminal.  Now that they are at the big terminal, the options are luggage check in and a shuttle out of the port area...or just show up at 1.

Another big advantage to VV is that we have always had access to our room immediately after boarding and our luggage has arrived about 15 minutes after we did.  We have always had Sailing Club priority boarding on each of our VV cruises.

 

 

Edited by cantgetin
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Your Galley review posted while I was typing my response to your boarding.


We've had favorite and less favorite items fromThe Galley, but everyone has his/her own preferences.  My embarkation "go to" is the turkey/swiss panini and a chicken caesar salad.  We opt to come in, sit, and order.  On our first cruise the beverages we like were not readily available--our server went elsewhere to get them for us!

 

At this point, I have 43 nights on board....and still haven't tried everything.  But I'm with you--the ramen isn't great.  The bento boxes vary, but not overwhelming in many cases.  Still, there are some good things available that way and I like having the option.

Ordering in The Galley is a bit confusing now.  Many people didn't understand the "sit down and raise a flag" system, so they are now using a dual system to allow you to get your food however you choose.
 

I don't know how long your cruise is, but we have often had nightly specials in The Galley that were excellent.  These were in addition to the lunch specials.  One night they had Beef Wellington--we canceled our Gunbae reservation and ate at The Galley.  It was amazing.

Overall, I find The Galley OK but not great.  I can get better salads and sandwiches at Panera Bread on shore.  But I don't go away hungry from The Galley and both the lunch and dinner specials can be exceptional.  Another thought for lunch--Razzle Dazzle (not on Bimini day) and The Wake are great.  On Bimini day, we were told that the Razzle crew goes ashore and does the food there.  What we know is that we had a totally different crew than normal--people we'd never seen before--and they didn't know what they were doing.  Both the food prep and the serving was a mess.  But RD normally  has a great brunch.

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1 hour ago, cantgetin said:

Your Galley review posted while I was typing my response to your boarding.


We've had favorite and less favorite items fromThe Galley, but everyone has his/her own preferences.  My embarkation "go to" is the turkey/swiss panini and a chicken caesar salad.  We opt to come in, sit, and order.  On our first cruise the beverages we like were not readily available--our server went elsewhere to get them for us!

 

At this point, I have 43 nights on board....and still haven't tried everything.  But I'm with you--the ramen isn't great.  The bento boxes vary, but not overwhelming in many cases.  Still, there are some good things available that way and I like having the option.

Ordering in The Galley is a bit confusing now.  Many people didn't understand the "sit down and raise a flag" system, so they are now using a dual system to allow you to get your food however you choose.
 

I don't know how long your cruise is, but we have often had nightly specials in The Galley that were excellent.  These were in addition to the lunch specials.  One night they had Beef Wellington--we canceled our Gunbae reservation and ate at The Galley.  It was amazing.

Overall, I find The Galley OK but not great.  I can get better salads and sandwiches at Panera Bread on shore.  But I don't go away hungry from The Galley and both the lunch and dinner specials can be exceptional.  Another thought for lunch--Razzle Dazzle (not on Bimini day) and The Wake are great.  On Bimini day, we were told that the Razzle crew goes ashore and does the food there.  What we know is that we had a totally different crew than normal--people we'd never seen before--and they didn't know what they were doing.  Both the food prep and the serving was a mess.  But RD normally  has a great brunch.

 

Well definitely give the galley another shot. For now, I'm chalking our experience up to first day confusion. I was happy with the turkey and swiss panini. It wasn't spectacular, but it still hit the spot. I'll probably get the burger next. We'll see how that goes. 

 

I think the thing that has been most confusing so far is that there's very little in the way of instruction for first time VVers. Nothing is complicated or hard once you know what to do, but there's not really anything to tell you what to do either. 

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After the Galley, we stopped by the Dock House for my Aperol Spritz and more food.

 

Knowing myself, the quickest and easiest way to cheer up is to have some good food or drink, or both! I’m upset at myself to be disappointed at the experience at the Galley, and I wanted to fix it! So the Dock House we went.

 

The Spritz was good. The bartender was not skimpy on the cava. 
 

We order one of each of the 5 options on the food menu. The chicken, the octopus, the no meat thing, the shrimp, and the steak. I ate all the shrimp and octopus, split the chicken with hubby, and tried his steak and no meat thing (I can’t remember what it was called). They were all tasty with shrimp being my favorite. It was tender, flavorful, with a little bit of char.

 

While having the food, we had a few more drinks. Hubby ordered two Dark n Stomy, and I had a Med G&T. My drink was very tasty with a very nice aroma or thyme. Is there room for improvement? Yes. I would olive oil wash the gin for more flavor and viscosity. But I still enjoyed the drink a lot.

 

how do I rate Dock House? 4.8/5. The reason it didn’t get a 5 is because paper straw tastes weird and they are a bit too long for the Collin’s glass. 
 

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the G&T that I really liked

 

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the food

 

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the Aperol Spritz that I was so determined to order

 

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Cocktail menu. It was printed a bit funny. You need to be drunk to read it without getting dizzy 

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@cantgetin thank you so much for your tips! This is our first time on VV, a 6-night Caribbean cruise. We have a longer TA booked later in the year, so this one is the perfect learning opportunity to figure out the new cruise line. 
 

I will definitely go back to the Galley to try different food. 

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Here's another tip for you guys.

 

Try Ship Eats (in room dining). It costs $8 or something, but is free if you order a beer (or anything what is a bar tab charge).

 

I know that at some point on the cruise, I will order a beer, so this just saves me a step and makes the ship eats free.

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1 hour ago, Moochi said:

They were all tasty with shrimp being my favorite. It was tender, flavorful, with a little bit of char.

 

We love the shrimp so much, I started making it at home.

It's a quick and simple treat!

 

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I will try to post more today until alcohol takes over of my thumbs. 🤣🤣

 

After the Dock House, we went back to our room to unpack. We met with our room attendant and let him know that we would like to have the room configured as a small bed and a couch during the day. We will see how it goes tomorrow.

 

The room attendant was very nice. He showed up the room controls via the tablet and  let us know that there’s a sail away partying from 5:30 to 6:30 and free drinks are offered. I do not miss free drinks, with or without drink packages. 🤣
 

What a great party! The staff was very engaging, and seemed like they were having lots of fun too. When the shop horn sounded, there was a lot of emotion and excitement in the air. Boy they kept the free sparkling wine flowing. I might have had 5 or 7, or maybe 9. Who knows.

 

We say the ship slowly pulling away from Miami, then headed out to the Wake for dinner, hoping to see the gorgeous city sky line. 
 

we were seated at a table near the window. Not right next to the window but close enough to see everything. Wasn’t the view fantastic!

 

The bread service was way above our expectations. It was warm brioche with herb butter. Both the bread and butter were very good. I really appreciate the fact that the butter was soft and spreadable. Yes, I’m talking about you, celebrity Luminae butter that is hard as rock. 
 

DH had clam chowder for appetizer and I ordered bone marrow the chowder was very tasty. If I have a chance to go back to the Dock, that what I would order next time. The bone marrow was meh.

 

aAfter the appetizer, I had some time to look around. The restaurant was tastefully decorated. It reminds me a little bit of Eden on Celebrity E class for the wake view and the staircase, but with less green. 
 

Hubby got NY strip for main and I got lamp chops. Both were perfectly cooked and well seasoned.


From what we have read online. The Wake is not the best restaurant onboard. If the “not best” restaurant has such performance, we are really excited to try others in the coming days. 
 

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Bone marrow app, good flavor but the bread was too greasy.

 

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lamb chop with mushrooms 

 

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DH’s old fashioned. Better than a lot of chain restaurants on the land

 

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my boulevardier

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We've seen tremendous variation in quality in The Wake among our cruises.  The steaks have improved somewhat.  THe service on our second cruise was so slow and bad that we canceled our other reservations there.  On the next cruise, service was quite decent.  No, not as good as most upscale steak houses on other cruise lines, but quite decent recently.  Fingers crossed for our next cruise.

And yes to the tip about ordering something with a charge if you get room service (sailor eats). No delivery charge if you order any item with a cost.

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