Pre-trip & Day 1

Virgin Cruise "The Freebie" Sept 2022


Written by Tam

So how did the title come about you might ask. Well it all started in early August 2022. We retired from the company we had both worked in for a combined total of some 55 years in June of 2022. However, I was still working 2 days a week for them on a consultancy basis. It was on one of those days that I returned from work and Kev said to me – how do you fancy going on a week’s Virgin cruise that we don’t have to pay for. Well obviously this piqued my interest and I asked how come. [Kev - I'd never piqued her interest before, I'd assumed it was one of those things that was frowned upon in polite company.] Well to cut a long story short, many moons ago Kev had to travel to China for work a few times and each time he was lucky enough to fly with Virgin business class. This therefore resulted in a large number of Virgin loyalty points being amassed. In the early days you still had to keep adding to them to ensure they stayed live or you lost them. The rule has changed in recent years. Due to the large quantity we had, we ensured we kept them live however we could, buying Virgin wine amongst the methods we employed. The plan was always to use them one day for a long haul flight and for us to fly business, as to date this is something I’ve not yet experienced. Anyway the opportunity never arose that we could cash them in for that purpose so fast forward to 2022 and we still have the points in our account just begging to be used.

Kev explained that on the website I subscribe to - Head for Points – (which explains amongst other things how to maximise Avios points, Virgin points and other travel deals) that there had been an article on how Virgin cruises were offering a great deal: for 115,000 Virgin points you could enjoy a 7 night European Cruise on their new ship Valiant Lady for 2 people. The cruise was full board, to include all meals, soft drinks, entertainment and tips.
[Kev - the other big factor in its favour - adults only!]

This deal sounded just too good to be true and the fact that there was an itinerary that really appealed to us, as it went to ports we hadn’t previously visited, sealed the deal. The redemption of the points for a voucher to enable us to book was straightforward and we chose The Irresistible Med itinerary leaving on 18th September out of Barcelona. The ports visited would be Toulon - France, Marina di Carrara - Italy, Ajaccio – Corsica, Cagliari - Sardinia, Ibiza for an overnight stay before returning to Barcelona.
Luckily we managed to get a relatively cheap Easyjet flight from Gatwick to Barcelona to leave on 17th September and return on Tuesday 27th September, which would allow us a couple of days in Barcelona to explore after the cruise.

Day 1 Friday 16th Sept 2022

It was a bright sunny September afternoon when we left on the train from our local station to Gatwick. The journey was uneventful with the normal pain of changing at Reading to get on a smaller train for the stop start journey to Gatwick. However, as we are staying the night there’s no particular rush. We’ve a room booked at The Premier Inn so check in and ........ [Kev - er ... something happened. We're both vague as to what that something actually was. I blame Tam, she's supposed to be the note taker on this holiday, it could be a very short trip report at this rate. I'm fairly sure we had a meal at the hotel and a fairly early night. Still, it can only get more interesting from this point.]