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In an era where cruising has become a staple for travel enthusiasts, Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady stands out as a dynamic and fun-filled experience for the young (but not too young) – and young at heart

First Impressions

As travellers ascend the gangway onto The Resilient Lady, the ship’s sleek and contemporary design is immediately apparent. Virgin Voyages has clearly placed emphasis on both aesthetics and functionality, and I receive a multifunction ‘access and payment bracelet’ the moment I step on board, which will make my entire experience throughout the voyage seamless. Large windows maximise natural light, spacious decks promise ample room for relaxation as well as socialising, and, as a 20-something travelling with my partner, the brand’s Adults Only policy suits me to a tee.

Accommodation

The Resilient Lady has been designed to provide a home-away-from-home experience. Solo travellers have the option of booking solo cabins, ensuring privacy and comfort, while those travelling in pairs or groups can select from a range of suites, each characterised by modern amenities, spacious layouts, and panoramic sea views.

All cabins are also fitted with the brand’s signature red hammock for supreme relaxation, along with a multipurpose tablet so that everything you could ever want or need while on board is attainable through the touch of a button.

Select cabins also have exclusive access to Richard’s Rooftop bar, a serene location with unlimited champagne, private hot tubs and stunning views – a luxurious addition to the experience.

DiningThe culinary journey aboard Resilient Lady is impressive. Virgin Voyages has collaborated with world-renowned chefs to craft menus that are both diverse and seasonally inspired, and each dining venue offers a distinct culinary narrative.

The Wake offers fine dining, Pink Agave, designed by Tom Dixon, is a joy to experience thanks to both the beautiful design and delicious food, and Extra Virgin along with Pizza Place offer casual dining.

The Galley, meanwhile, is a modern reinterpretation of the traditional and often-disliked buffet, emphasising individual stalls serving fresh dishes, allowing guests to customise their meals while enjoying the ambience of a bustling marketplace.

Wine tasting sessions at Sip are ideal for connoisseurs, while the unlimited offerings at Lick Me Till…Ice Cream will undoubtedly appeal to those with a sweet tooth. Drinks at The Roundabout, perfectly accompanied by live music from local artists, is the perfect way to end the night.

EntertainmentShowcasing global entertainment talent is central to the Virgin Voyages experience. The Red Room is an adaptable theatre, transitioning from a traditional stage to an immersive cinema experience, and this fluidity ensures that guests have a new experience each night. Productions are diverse, ranging from modern dance performances to classical music recitals and the talent ranges from acrobats and dancers to singers, cabaret performers and comedians.

In addition to the Red Room, The Manor offers dinner theatre experiences. Named after Richard Branson’s first recording studio, this venue combines gourmet dining with world-class entertainment. Post-show, The Manor transitions into a vibrant nightclub, with DJs playing ’til the early hours.

Every show on board Resilient Lady encapsulates a particular story in a unique way, and my personal favourite is The Miss Behave show – a comedic and interactive take on a game show with unexpected twists, comedic relief and the perfect showgirl. Words truly don’t do it justice, it’s something you need to see experience to appreciate!

WellnessFor guests seeking rejuvenation, the ship’s spa on Deck 5 offers a holistic wellness experience. Treatments are inspired by both modern and traditional practices.

Indulging in the thermal spa circling through the salt room, steam room, spa, sauna, cold plunge and mud rooms leaves you feeling entirely refreshed and revived.

The adjacent fitness centre boasts state-of-the-art equipment and offers a variety of classes, from high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to morning yoga on the ship’s front deck – an absolute must do!

Resilient Lady features a hair salon, nail parlour, barber and, in a unique spin on onboard facilities, a tattoo parlour. There, skilled artists offer a range of designs for those seeking a permanent memento of their journey, although, I can’t say I wasn’t tempted.

Virgin Voyages might have a ‘no kids’ policy, but that doesn’t stop me from finding my fair share of childlike fun on board. The Social Club, boasting a full blown arcade, is my favourite place to hang out.

It transports me straight back to my childhood and I spend hours here trying to beat my own score. The Social Club’s cuisine is suitably laid-back, with hotdogs, chicken wings and a candy bar to indulge in to tide me over while I play.

The Social Club also hosts games and trivia, and the Solo Sailors Meet Up is an opportunity for all solo voyagers to meet and socialise.

ProgrammingThe ship’s programming is carefully curated to engage a wide range of interests. The Virgin Voyages app enhances the on-board experience, allowing you to book spa appointments, order room service and even “Shake for Champagne”! With a simple shake of your phone, you can have a bottle of bubbly delivered direct to your location – wherever you are on board.

For art enthusiasts, the ship also delivers a curated art collection, with pieces from emerging artists adorning its walls. Interactive art installations and workshops ensure that guests can both appreciate and create art during their journey.

Shore ExcursionsI’m experiencing a taste of the Adriatic Sea & Greek Gems voyage, departing Athens and visiting Split, Dubrovnik and Kotor in Croatia, as well as the island of Corfu in Greece. The full voyage, which takes ten nights, cruises the most idyllic locations in the Adriatic Sea by way of Croatia’s coastline and a peppering of Greek Islands.

The most convenient way to plan shore excursions (Shore Things) onboard is to use the Virgin Voyages app, and doing so ensures transfers to and from the location are arranged ahead of time if needed.

SustainabilityVirgin Voyages has made sustainability a cornerstone of its operations. Resilient Lady employs energy-efficient technologies to minimise its carbon footprint, and single-use plastics are notably absent, replaced by sustainable alternatives.

Additionally, the ship’s waste management system prioritises recycling and waste reduction.

With its emphasis on design, dining and unique entertainment, Virgin Voyages delivers a memorable experience at sea. Rich in activities, design and programming, it does a fantastic job of awakening your inner child and encouraging you to let down your hair while in their care. If you’re looking for some good old fashioned fun, Virgin Voyages might just be the perfect fit for you.

Journey NotesThe rate includes dining at all venues, all entertainment and shows, access to games rooms and the arcade, use of the gym and access to select classes, essential beverages (water, soft drink etc.) and WiFi.

Spa Treatments, alcoholic beverages and cocktails, Shore Things (shore excursions), casino games and treatments at the hair/tattoo/nail parlour are at an additional cost.

To explore itineraries and book a Virgin Voyages cruise, visit virginvoyages.com.

Very Special News Virgin Voyages / It’s All fun & Games Aboard Virgin Voyages’ Resilient Lady / By Avaani Nandan / luxurytravelmag.com.au/ Sedat Karagoz / Istanbul,New York Travel,Tourism News Office / Jennifer Bar / Tony Bar / Janbolat Khanat Almaty Travel,Tourism News Office

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Very Special With İstanbul Guide / The 25 Best Things To Do İn İstanbul That Don't Cost A Thing / Turkey / By Jennifer Hattam

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With its lively streets layered with history, just walking around Istanbul is an attraction in itself. You can feast on street food for pocket change or visit the city’s marvelous mosques, markets and parks for no cost at all.

Here are the best free things to see and do in Istanbul, Turkey’s largest metropolis.

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Aya Sofya at morning twilight in Istanbul, Turkey

Reconsecrated as a mosque in 2023, Aya Sofya is now free to visit © DANNY HU / Getty Images

1. Step inside the Byzantine basilica of Aya Sofya

One of the grandest buildings of the ancient world, the Byzantine basilica of Aya Sofya has been free for visitors to enter since its reconsecration as a mosque in summer of 2023.

Its towering dome was the second-largest in the world when it was built in the 6th century and still inspires awe, with light filtering through its 40 windows to cast an ethereal glow on the building’s rich frescos, mosaics and multicolored marble. 

After experiencing these extraordinary beauties, how about eating a wonderful meal and then drinking a great coffee?

A wide view of people walking past the Suleymaniye Mosque on the Third Hill of Istanbul

Istanbul’s many Ottoman-era mosques, including Süleymaniye Mosque, are all free to visit © Darkdiamond67 / Getty Images

2. Head up to the elegant Süleymaniye Mosque

Splendid Ottoman-era mosques, all free to visit, top the historic seven hills of Istanbul’s Old City and adorn many streets. The elegant Süleymaniye Mosque is the finest of them all, with a grand complex of buildings around it and an impressive perch overlooking the Golden Horn. 

3. Visit the intimate Rüstem Paşa Mosque

Tucked away in the bustling market streets of Eminönü, the intimate Rüstem Paşa Mosque boasts wonderfully rich tile work. As with all mosques, non-worshippers should avoid going inside at prayer times, which are displayed near the entrance. All visitors must dress modestly, and women must cover their heads.

4. Take a picnic to Gülhane Park

Two favorite local pastimes are picnicking and promenading, and there are some lovely parks and gardens in Istanbul open to the public. With its stately old trees and winding paths, Gülhane Park – once part of the Topkapı Palace gardens – is particularly beautiful.

5. See the 4th-century Aqueduct of Valens

The 4th-century Aqueduct of Valens once carried water into Istanbul and is still an impressive sight, towering over a multi-lane roadway.

The Women’s Bazaar that sits in its shadow is a colorful neighborhood square lined with popular kebab restaurants.

6. Meander around the Grand Bazaar

Often referred to as the world’s oldest mall, the Grand Bazaar sprawls over 61 covered and maze-like streets. The best exploring is in the crumbling hans (caravanserais) along its fringes, where a few artisans still ply their long-practiced trades.

After experiencing these extraordinary beauties, how about eating a wonderful meal and then drinking a great coffee?

People shopping in the Spice Bazaar in the Eminonu quarter of the Fatih district in Istanbul.

You’ll find more souvenirs than spices today in the Mısır Çarşısı © Izzet Keribar / Getty Images

7. Shop for souvenirs and snacks around the Spice Bazaar

You’ll find more souvenirs than spices today in the Mısır Çarşısı, better known in English as the Spice Bazaar, but the streets around this Ottoman-era marketplace in Eminönü are a great place to get a taste of the vibrant local shopping life.

Along the bazaar, outdoor stalls are piled high with dried fruits, nuts and other edible goodies in case you need fuel before plunging into the maze of streets and hans behind it, full of shoppers buying everything from clothes to kitchenware.

8. Check out traditional and organic street markets

Traditional weekly street markets retain a loyal following, despite the proliferation of modern malls and grocery stores. The Wednesday Market in Fatih, which tumbles through the streets surrounding the Fatih Mosque, is among the biggest and best. On Saturdays, head to Feriköy for Turkey’s first organic bazaar.

9. Snap a few photos at the Kadıköy Produce Market

A stroll through the Kadıköy Produce Market, a lively strip of mostly open-air shops near the ferry port, makes for great photographic opportunities, with its colorful, carefully arranged displays of olives, produce, dried fruit and nuts, fish, cheese, pickles and more.

Very Special With İstanbul / The 25 Best Things To Do İn İstanbul That Don’t Cost A Thing / Turkey / By Jennifer Hattam / lonelyplanet.com/Sedat Karagoz / Istanbul,New York Travel,Tourism News Office / Jennifer Bar / Tony Bar / Janbolat Khanat Almaty Travel,Tourism News Office

    Exterior view of the white Church of St. Stephen of the Bulgars. There is a golden dome with smaller golden domes dotted along the roof
    Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars is one of the most architecturally unique sites in Istanbul © Caner CIFTCI / Getty Images

    After experiencing these extraordinary beauties, how about eating a wonderful meal and then drinking a great coffee?

    10. See the Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars

    Istanbul has a number of still-functioning Christian churches, many with great historical significance.

    Perhaps the most distinctive is the Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars, assembled from 500 tons of cast-iron pieces shipped in from Vienna along the Danube on dozens of barges.

    A restoration completed in 2018 has this cross-shaped basilica and its ornate interior gleaming.

    11. Marvel at the Hünkâr Kasrı, a pavilion fit for a sultan

    This private pavilion used by the sultan during his visits to the Yeni Cami (New Mosque) is resplendent with tiles, carpets, inlaid wood and stained glass.

    Access to the Hünkâr Kasrı is through a long enclosed ramp behind the mosque.

    12. Take in an exhibit at the Pera Museum

    Well-curated temporary exhibitions of contemporary art and a fine collection of Orientalist paintings by European and Ottoman artists are the draws at the Pera Museum, which offers free admission every Friday between 6pm and 10pm.

    A large ornate chandelier hangs in the middle of the Eyüp Sultan Mosque. There's a large red and blue carpet spreading from one end of the mosque to the other.


    Eyüp Sultan Mosque is one of the most sacred sites in Istanbul © Sanatkar / Getty Images

    After experiencing these extraordinary beauties, how about eating a wonderful meal and then drinking a great coffee?

    13. Make a pilgrimage to Eyüp Sultan Mosque

    One of the most sacred sites in the city, Eyüp Sultan Mosque is surrounded by grand tomb complexes and a leafy cemetery stretching up the hillside, affording fine views of the Golden Horn from the top.

    The mosque complex is said to be the burial place of Ebu Eyüp El Ensari, a close companion of the Prophet, making it an important pilgrimage spot for Muslims.

    14. Attend an event at a SALT cultural center

    Housed in the beautifully restored former headquarters of the Imperial Ottoman Bank, SALT Galata is a cultural center and library that hosts exhibitions and special events, including free talks and film screenings that are sometimes held in English.

    Its sister institution up the hill, SALT Beyoğlu, has similar programming and is worth a visit too.

    15. Soak up the scene at Beyoğlu’s art galleries

    Istanbul’s vibrant contemporary art scene is on display throughout the Beyoğlu district, particularly around İstiklal Caddesi and in the Karaköy, Tophane and Tomtom neighborhoods.

    You could easily spend half a day perusing a range of intriguing galleries and other exhibition spaces – including MeşherYapı Kredi Kültür SanatAkbank ArtDepoGalerist and Mixer – whose rotating shows can be visited for free.

    A large lake surrounded by trees and grass


    Enjoy a picnic or a leisurely stroll through Yıldız Park © Runoman / Getty Images

    After experiencing these extraordinary beauties, how about eating a wonderful meal and then drinking a great coffee?

    16. Stroll along the well-kept paths of Yıldız Park

    Well-kept paths, plenty of trees and some charming Ottoman-era mansions make hilly Yıldız Park in Beşiktaş a lovely place for a picnic or a stroll. There’s a stellar view of the city by the path leading down from the historic Çadır Köşkü, now serving as a restaurant. 

    17. See another side of the city’s history at the İstanbul Arastırmaları Enstitüsü

    From urban planning to street animals, the Istanbul Research Institute presents different, often lesser-known aspects of the city’s history through exhibitions that draw on its rich archival collection of photographs and documents.

    18. Learn something new at the Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations

    One of the country’s top higher-education institutes, Koç University supports research into the history, art, architecture and archaeology of the centuries of civilizations that have called today’s Turkey home.

    Some of the fruits of this research are regularly displayed in exhibitions at the Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations on İstiklal Caddesi.

    19. Get a peek at early 20th-century upper-class life at the Aşiyan Museum

    The sweeping panorama of the Bosporus may be its most eye-popping feature, but the Aşiyan Museum also offers a glimpse into early 20th-century upper-class life in Istanbul.

    Full of vintage furniture and photographs, this sweet little house-museum was once home to noted poet Tevfik Fikret.

    20. See the tulips in bloom at Emirgan Park

    Above the shores of the Bosphorus, pretty Emirgan Park (Emirgan Korusu) is especially lovely during the Istanbul Tulip Festival each April, when millions of bulbs planted around the city bloom in a riot of colors.

    The park has play and picnic areas, a jogging track and three Ottoman mansions-turned-cafes. It’s a popular spot for wedding photos.

    21. Head downstairs to see the Nakilbent Sarnıcı 

    Underground cisterns for water storage that date back to Byzantine times are dotted around Sultanahmet. The Nakilbent Sarnıcı (Nakilbent Cistern) was rediscovered during the building process for the Nakkaş carpet store and preserved underneath the shop for any visitors to see.

    The Binbirdirek Sarnıcı (Cistern of Philoxenos) on the opposite side of the Hippodrome is occasionally open for exhibitions and other events.

    People walking near famous landmarks Obelisk of Theodosius and Serpent Column at the Hippodrome in Istanbul, Turkey


    Historic landmarks dot the Byzantines’ ancient Hippodrome in Istanbul © IgorZh / Shutterstock

    After experiencing these extraordinary beauties, how about eating a wonderful meal and then drinking a great coffee?

    22. Wander through Sultanahmet’s historic Hippodrome

    Not much remains of the Byzantines’ old chariot-racing venue, but the historic Hippodrome in Sultanahmet is still an evocative place to take a stroll. From the southeastern corner of the Hippodrome, follow Nakilbent Sokak as it winds down to see the towering remains of the Sphendone.

    This semicircular end of the ancient stadium gives a real sense of how massive this structure once was.

    23. Go for a run or just chill out in Maçka Park

    Though less historic than some of the central city’s other green spaces, Maçka Park in Şişli is a favorite place for locals to while away a sunny weekend afternoon, with children’s play areas, a dog park and a small jogging track. 

    24. Gain insight into the Turkish bath tradition at the Turkish Hamam Culture Museum

    You won’t get a scrub, but you will get an insight into the hammam (Turkish bath) tradition at the Turkish Hamam Culture Museum, where bathing accessories and depictions of the ritual are displayed in the restored chambers of an early-16th-century bath.

    25. Spend some quiet time at the Beyazıt State Library

    The oldest and largest library in Istanbul, the architecturally impressive Beyazıt State Library is worth a peek for its multi-domed reading room and artful restoration blending old and new.

    After experiencing these extraordinary beauties, how about eating a wonderful meal and then drinking a great coffee?

    Very Special With İstanbul Guide / The 25 Best Things To Do İn İstanbul That Don’t Cost A Thing / Turkey / By Jennifer Hattam / lonelyplanet.com/Sedat Karagoz / Istanbul,New York Travel,Tourism News Office / Jennifer Bar / Tony Bar / Janbolat Khanat Almaty Travel,Tourism News Office

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      JANBOLAT KHANAT FOUNDER / GENERAL DIRECTOR/ REGIONAL MANAGER JANBOLAT KHANAT + 7 702 230 42 17 (whatsapp) NEWYORK 797 / 7th Ave, New York City, New York 10019, USA / TONY BAR / JENNIFER BAR Thank you very much for everything.Very nice to know you.If there is anything I can do please write for me... jk@wmwnewsturkey.com GSM+ 90 541 732 90 64 ( TURKEY ) ISTANBUL +7 702 230 42 17 KAZAKİSTAN jk@wmwnewsturkey.com
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