1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got ... Read More
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got there,but our steward did let us hang my wife's dresses in 2 dress bags,& our coats up on the wall hangers,to save carrying them around for an hour or so,When we returned an hour later,the dresses had gone,the cabin steward denied ever letting us in,then couldn't understand what we were trying to explain that 6 dresses had gone from our cabin,On our way to reception I just happened to glance into the cabin stewards room (which was open & ajar) & there was all the dresses & coats,dumped on the floor,To say that we were unhappy is an understatement to say the least,We went for a cuppa to calm down before go to reception,After we did calm down,We decided to let the matter drop,We didn't want to see the poor steward getting into trouble,or worse.There are 2 bands on board Rhythm who are very good,Girl sounds like Stevie Nicks,The Beats also very good,guest acts were very good with the exception of the "Comedian" who was absolutely dire,Got to be the worst I've ever seen,I couldn't believe the amount of people who walked out of the theatre,Don't know how he makes a living from it,BUT he can certainly hold a note,What a singer.Theater cast were also excellent.Surf & Turf & Kora La are well worth that little bit extra for a different dining experience,Not worth the extra for premium drinks as all we wanted was the all inclusive menu,Which ends at 02:00 hrs,But they did announce it in the club,The silent disco is a MUST,Hilarious. Overall a good cruise & good itinerary. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a smaller ship . We are a fit and healthy couple in our late 40s and early 50s and travelled as a solo couple, no children or friends with us..although we made plenty of friends on board. I am very surprised on reading the reviews on here how negative some people are about the Explorer and its staff. We embarked at Newcastle and didn't have to wait too long before boarding, and I would say we were probably there at peak time. There were seats to sit on and drinks to be had , we merely had to wait for our number to be called. The same goes for disembarkation, which went very smoothly and was very well organised especially when you consider the amount of people Marella has to disembark from the ship. We were told a time slot and that was in fact the time we disembarked, with time to have a farewell breakfast in the restaurant beforehand. The ship was bigger than the last one we went on and at first we weren't sure about it. The layout is a little confusing but once we were used to it we found our way about pretty well. I would say we were amongst the younger people on the ship although we are not young, the passengers were predominately older than us, in our late 40s. Our cabin was very quiet but we never bother with a balcony , just a window, and we were on deck 4 in the middle. We didn't pay extra for a specific cabin and I think were lucky as some passengers we spoke to did suffer with noise in their cabin. We did feel a very slight bit of vibration when the engines were put to full power, but the Captain also mentioned they were having trouble with a clutch on one of the engines. In my opinion engine noise on a ship is perhaps to be expected, it' isn't a hotel on dry land, it's a moving ship powered by engines on the ocean! Our cabin was very stable in the high seas, and the North Sea did get a bit turbulent on our voyage! Space wise, we thought our cabin was big enough and it had a lovely big window We had drop down bunk beds too so I think it may have been family cabin. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers...always a big plus in my book! Hairdryer worked well, there was a kettle and cups and teabags/coffee/milk were replenished at least once a day. Toilet rolls were also kept topped up by our steward so we had at least one in reserve and usually more! Seating....I am amazed that people have mentioned a lack of seating. Both us, and other passengers who have been on other Marella ships, thought there was plenty of seating to be had, and in addition a plethora of sun beds...which pleased me as I hate having to worry about getting a seat/sunbed. We could always find seats somewhere...might not have been your first choice but again, as I say, we were there for the itinerary and voyage, not for a good seat in the lounge, We had a nice cabin to sit in too, with a television. Other people who had been on different Marella ships told us some of them DO suffer from a lack of seating, particularly those with a very large central atrium, which might look impressive but takes away from seating areas. We didn't use the pool but it's a reasonable size for the ship. The leaving party could get a bit loud, so loud it was distorted at times, but again, you could get away from it on other decks with sunbeds and it only lasted half an hour. We did watch one outdoor film in the pool area one sea day and as it was a bit nippy on deck a couple of members of staff came round with fleece blankets. Now that's personal customer care! Other areas such as the Squid and Anchor , Bar 53, the Lounge, Indigo were all nice areas to sit in. If you couldn't get a seat in one you could get one in another. Cleanliness of the ship.....the staff were always cleaning on the stairs which have glass sides. In fact they seemed to clean all the time, although our cabin steward could have vacuumed our cabin perhaps a little better....but he did keep us topped up on tea bags, milk and loo rolls as I mentioned so that is more important to us! Public toilets in the ship were always clean as was our personal one. Food...the food was excellent, top notch. We didn't bother paying for the additional restaurants such as the Sushi or Surf and Turf but friends did and raved about them. For us the food in the dining room where we ate every evening was excellent. Service was pretty good too. Someone commented there were more tables for 2 than on other ships, although you could choose to share bigger tables. The dining is flexi in the main restaurant as it you turn up and sometimes wait a few minutes to be seats, but in the Italian, Vista and the Tapas you have to book but it was easy to do so and provided you did it in advance there was plenty of choice. You could turn up at the |Italian and book but might have to wait half an hour or so in the bar with a buzzer, which went off t=hen the table was free. We ate in the Tapas bar, the Italian, the main restaurant and the buffet Market place, although didn't eat in the latter in the evening. Portions were just right, everything was hot and water and wine were kept topped up as needed. If the water was a bit slow to be refilled at busy times (this happened only once) you only need ask a waiter and it gets topped up very quickly. When you consider the amount of people they are serving they do a simply amazing job. Again, it is a ship, and if the food in the Market Place is a bit samey, it's still good and a lot of it is baked on ship. They don't re stock with food and ingredients during the trip, it is all taken on board at Newcastle. Staff...the majority of the staff were lovely, happy, polite and willing to go the extra mile. There was the odd one or two which weren't, I can only agree with other reviewers on that, compared to the other Marella ship we went on where all the staff we encountered were bouncy, happy and friendly. However, it is a new ship to the fleet and a lot of the staff were very new so perhaps not a very tight team yet and have yet to settle. We found the odd...and I do mean odd in a large team, waiter perhaps a bit terse, and there were a couple staff on the security team as you go in who were a little terse and rude, one woman in particular. I realise they are on security but the security staff on our other ship were always smiling and customer friendly A please and thank you and a smile is just natural courtesy, although to be honest it could be a culture difference too. So...onto a couple more negative points about the ship which hopefully will get sorted our and certainly wouldn't put us off travelling on it. Air con...far too strong especially in the cabins. Was actually making people ill , and I suffered dreadfully from a dry throat, a bad chest , a stuffy head and dry hair and skin. Many people complained of this and there didn't seem to be a way to turn it down as the controls didn't seem to make a lot of difference. The shows were disappointing compared to the shows we had seen 3 or 4 years ago on a Marella cruise. Then they were West End quality, now more like school show, although some of them were better than others. Again, new staff, new troupe and I was told a different (cheaper?!) company supplying them so not as polished and together as they could be. Also in some shows we felt it was done on the cheap, lack of costumes and stage back drops and equipment. The best shows for us were the Rock one, the Soul one (which I didn't think I'd like..although Id have to say I didn't think all the songs were soul but who cares) the songs from the Musicals and Cogs. I didn't really understand Cogs...it was a very loose story, but the costumes and general stage dressing was fabulous and the songs pretty good. Although Marella, please sort out your sound and mikes....they are on too loud and are distorted...the balance is wrong! Cost of the excursions is ,as usual, a little high but on a par with other cruise companies. We tend to research before we go and do our own if possible. Explorer...you need to increase the cycle tours as they were very popular and difficult to get on to. We managed to do one as someone cancelled and we were on the reserve list, it was fabulous, good knowledgeable guides, easy pace for us and for those who didn't cycle there was the option of the amazing e-bikes (with a motor to help pedalling) We didn't use Marella for any excursions except the bikes and went with TJ Travel for St Petersburg, a 2 day tour. Talking to others we definitely did the right thing as there was no queuing for us, local guides, a better itinerary and a smaller group equipped with the hearing boxes and ear pieces. We notice Marella don't give you much advice about where to catch buses etc now when you land somewhere; they used to the day before on the cruise news. Probably because they would rather you did an excursion. however, as we had researched before going it didn't really affect us. Finally, be aware that although Yoga etc is advertised, it is available but you have to pay for it. The gym however is free and pretty good for a ship. It's certainly an experience on a treadmill in a rolling sea with 50 mile an hour winds! Finally, although yes there was origami and water painting to be done it was self led, not tutored, So all in all we liked Explorer, it is a reasonably priced cruise ship if you want to cruise and see places you may not have done otherwise and we certainly wouldn't hesitate to use it again, particularly if Marella tweak the areas I've mentioned! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to ... Read More
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to make a special mention to 2 members of staff who did go that extra mile to make our cruise special Putra our cabin steward was exceptional in trying to sort out our many problems that we incurred and secondly Gregg from the Bar staff who was entertaining, friendly, full of happiness and good fun to be near. 2nd The bad points. We entered our cabin and found we had a paper thin mattress that when you just touched it with slight pressure you could feel through to the bed frame. 2 wooden boxes with sharp edges protruding from the space in the headboard where our heads went. Another wooden box protruding from the wall near the access to side of bed. Safe not working. Fridge not working. Air conditioning not working. welcome to marella explorer. after complaining we were told that it would all be sorted out and not to worry. the reception staff ended up coming down to cabin as they seemed not to believe what we were saying and took photo's. we were informed that there was no other cabins available and they would put an extra mattress on the bed and pillows to cover boxes on headboard, 3 days later safe is replaced, refrigerator is replaced, air con is fixed(ish). We were told that the protruding boxes would be removed the following day, 2 days later we were informed that the protruding boxes could not be moved, a sorry was issued in the form of a scribbled note on a bottle of prosecco with 6 chocolate strawberries and we would have to make do! ships layout is not great if you are in the theatre and want a drink you have to walk 3/4 the length of the ship then que for 20 minutes by which time the show is finished Also if you want to participate in the evening entertainment and watch the evening show you cant as they overlap by 15 minutes so you either miss the end of the entertainment or the beginning of the show .... very poor planning Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of ... Read More
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of which have been fine and we thought good value for money. This was why we booked with their new branding 'Marella' and we were looking forward to going on the Explorer. The advertising and videos looked fine, and the Baltic was an area we had not cruised in but had been to independently previously. The port itinerary was great, Copenhagen, Warnemunde, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Klaipeda, and Fredericia. We had visited Tallinn and Riga both previously. The cruise did what it said on the tin, and destinations were not disappointing with no problems visiting the ports. All through the cruise, we were blessed with sunny weather and mainly calm seas. From this aspect, the voyage went well. Embarkation was good, as it was at the ports, and at the end of our cruise; well organised by the ship and no issues. Same in Russia, where good advice was given by destination services on procedure etc. There was enough time to organise and plan your own trips/activities if you had not booked ship ones, and what excursions we did take were reasonable and good. One issue which a number of people raised was the point that Marella no longer provides port maps in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and help the planet. Fine, but a lot of people were not happy accessing an online map version on the ship, and some are not IT savvy, so its a cheap cost-cutting exercise in our view. You can in most places get a 'hard copy' map from the cruise terminals at the ports you visit for free anyway. In Stockholm, we went to the ABBA museum and a walk around the old town. Probably as cheap to do this with the cruise ship excursion than independently. In St Petersburg, it was, as always busy but the Panoramic Tour we did with the ship excursion was very good. Our trip to the Ballet was also good. The second day we visited the Yusopov Palace and had a canal trip. It was somewhat chaotic due to road closures ( not Marella's fault ), and our guide was somewhat confused and our experience of Yousopof was marred by rude staff. The disembarkation from our canal cruise via an unstable and unsecured gangway was downright dangerous and a major health and safety issue, which we reported to Marella, and which they need to take up with the operator before someone is injured or worse. A number of passengers were phased by this incident on our trip. Those were the only organised trips we took, apart from a shuttle to enter Helsinki which Marella charged £5.00 return for. I am not sure if in the past with Thompson these were free. They are not now. However, now to comment on the onboard experience., the good and not so good. Let's start by saying the staff were polite and good-natured, and worked incredibly hard. Any queries we had were dealt with promptly but we had a number of issues. ( See cabin report ). From getting on the ship the hard sell started. I was asked almost straight away if I wanted a premium drinks package. We don't drink much, so it was of little use to us. The all-inclusive was fine, as there is no shortage of the stuff either !. I drink mainly wine, and the white, red and rose were perfectly acceptable, but cocktails are invariable too sweet ( depends on taste though ) and lacking in alcoholic 'punch'. Spirits were not of great quality. I suppose our biggest disappointment was food and service in the dining room. We felt that the quality of the ingredients had gone down from previous 'Thompson' cruises, and some of the meals over salty ( again, personal taste ). There was certainly less choice on the evening menu, and some of the meats were fatty ( lamb ) and poorly presented with bland and repetitive vegetables. The Latitude 53 dining room was very hit and miss. The evening meal was 3 courses, fine for us, but a few people were not happy, The Market Buffet was essentially the same with little change. There were no specific theme nights, a feature we have found on other cruises. The Italian option Vista was quite good, and the Tapas evening restaurant OK. The major issue was service, so much so we complained and met the catering manager. In Latitude 53 we waited one evening 3/4 of an hour to obtain our starters and the next evening 1hr before receiving our main course, and we were not alone. A gentleman at the next table waited with us, only to be served cold soup after the wait. My wife is on medication before meals and needs to eat within a reasonable time after taking it, and such a long delay made her feel ill. Often the dishes were presented lukewarm. The catering services manager responded quickly and admitted there was a 'communication problem'. He offered us a complimentary meal in a premium restaurant, which was nice, but not the object of our exercise !. We did try both the steak restaurant and the oriental one and they were both good and worth the extra money. Over and above communication however, there seems to be a cost cutting exercise in staffing. The same issue was evident in the bars, where there was a lack of waiting on staff and it could take quite a while to order drinks from the bar areas. It got to such a state that we often ate in the Market Place Buffet where we were able to serve ourselves and eat in time for the first show in the evening which we liked to go to. That said, entertainment in the theatre was varied, and unfortunately, again not as good as on our other cruises. The entertainers were enthusiastic even if at times the quality was lacking. The theatre has good sight lines and is comfortable. The acts engaged were OK. A comedy duo and singer. We had an individual comedy entertainer ( forgot his name ) who we did not enjoy. The musician in the venues were Ok, apart from the piano player who was an expert at being out of tune. Sea days dragged ( there were not many, and we normally like them ). However, the activities were not well organised. No, I don't want to learn how to fold a towel or napkin. There were no talks or lectures as we have had on other cruises, only the destinations talk by the crew who were out to hard sell excursions. Such a shame as the lack of activity was commented on by more than ourselves. The gym was busy though and I got time to read two books !. The onboard cinema was a great idea if they had put more films on and not used it most of the day to flog acupuncture treatments and consultations with the onboard acupuncturist. There was such a lot we could have learned about the Baltic, and it was an opportunity missed. So of all the Thompson 'Marella' ships this has been the most disappointing in the entertainment offerings, surprising as Thompson were widely praised for their cruise ship entertainment in the past. The usual hard sell from the cruise ship shops was evident, but that happens everywhere. They were even trying to flog Bridge Tours at just under £10.00 !!. Did we enjoy the Baltic, yes the ports were fine and the trip went very smoothly As we said the staff were fine, but in our view, the management need to take a long hard look at the training and support they give and the quality of what they are delivering. Standards have undoubtedly dropped as prices have risen. It's a competitive market and people will not pay good money for 3rd rate cruise experiences. Would we cruise Marella again ??? I doubt it if this is what they are offering. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in ... Read More
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in the evening gets very ful, if you miss the theatre you will get a seat, the indigo exactly the same packed especially after the shows are finished as for the Mediterranean during days at sea, worse than tying to get a sunbed in a note,, simply packed with oldies sound asleep taking up space, my opinion if you want to sleep all day you have a cabin, let someone else enjoy the comfort and have a drink.the food overall was excellent nothing to complain about in that department, tries attitude 5e a couple of times and felt satisfied but I prefer the buffet, in the buffet I had to have a word with the top guy regards condiments always empty, its simple enough for someone as part of kitchen/restaurant duties to go around every other day and check each condiment, simple organisation. The staff through out the ship are excellent they work such long hours but are always laughing and joking Ben and Marabell in the lounge, perfect all the lads and lasses in Indigo excellent to many to mention, days at sea entertainment, pathetic the entertainment staff are getting paid on those days for nothing, the only ones that seem to be doing anything are the quiz masters in the Sqiud n Anchor. Resident singers, not bad but not perfect seen better on other Marella ships. Overall experience, my wife and I , sister in law and brother loved it now thinking of booking August in Norway cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked ... Read More
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked after and cleaned by the cabin stewards. Food as always was excellent in both Latitude 53 and Vista, as well as the lunches in The Market Place. The entertainment by the ships enetertainment crew was generally good except that we had seen most of the shows before so in some cases we didn't get to see a show. The guest artists, The Harper Brothers are still performing the same act as we have seen 4 times before and well worth missing and Ricky K was also poor and reminded me why I don't watch Britains Got Talent, because blatantly he didn't! There was a guest crossover singer (sorry forgot her name) who was excellent however although only allowed one show! The 2 Crew shows were excellent and show a wealth of talent, in fact in our opinion the best Crew show ever! We did our own thing as regards trips except for the occasional port shuttle bus. In most ports we used the HOHO bus's and Canal/River trips sometimes combined to get a better deal. In St Petersburg we used Alla Tours who were beyond excellent and I really recommend them as opposed to the ships offerings as for about the same price you see more, are in groups of a maximum size of 16 comfortable mini bus's. The guide (ours was Marina) was excellent and spoke great English. All in all an excellent cruise on a super ship with great staff! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I have to say they were the best we've ever done. All the tour guides were informative, interesting and fun, yes even in Russia!! We chose to have a balcony and had cabin 10000 which was a great location. It's the last cabin before the bridge on deck 10 so you only have a few staff members going past the door. Plus when you arrive or leave a port you can watch the captain and his amazing staff maneuver the ship when on the balcony. Also in this location you weren't anywhere near any of the music entertainment, which suited us well. Our cabin stewards were superb and so helpful, they were unobtrusive and kept the cabin nice and clean. We only ate at the Market Place as that's our preferred way to eat. I don't want a waiter fussing over me, I'm quite capable of getting my own food, putting a napkin on my own lap and able to eat without being asked if everything is ok. The food was amazing and so beautifully presented and with such choice. As I said all the excursions were so good and well worth the money. It's fascinating to find out how other countries run themselves and their history. As I have limited mobility I found that after 2 reasonably active excursions (I thought I'd chosen ones with little walking, but it was more than my knee could stand easily) that I couldn't face a third so went to destinations just to see if it was possible to exchange to a less active one. They were so very helpful and with the say so of the boss we were allowed to do this, for which we were very grateful. We went on a river cruise instead so hardly any walking and it was a superb way to see Stockholm. The entertainment wasn't as good as other Tui cruises we've been on and I think they got the age demographic a bit wrong. But the performers themselves tried their hardest and we didn't miss a show. Getting on the ship in Newcastle was a bit of a shambles, but getting off went very smoothly. It's hard to exit nearly 2000 people at one time, so we thought they did a good job. ALL the staff are so friendly, polite, happy and courteous and as all tips are included its not like they are trying to be friendly so they get tips. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole event apart from some rather rough sea coming back over the North Sea, but that's Mother Natures fault, no-one else's! Other than a bit of seasickness that afternoon the rest of the cruise was wonderful and we've already booked our next one and I wouldn't call ourselves typical cruise people! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We wanted to experience the beauty of Norway and the Midnight Sun Cruise fitted the bill perfectly. Port of Tyne is only a 60 min car drive away from home so it was very convenient for us. First time with Marella (TUI) having been ... Read More
We wanted to experience the beauty of Norway and the Midnight Sun Cruise fitted the bill perfectly. Port of Tyne is only a 60 min car drive away from home so it was very convenient for us. First time with Marella (TUI) having been P&O cruisers before. Overall a good experience and we would recommend this cruise, especially for beginners. But don’t expect to meet young people on this cruise. We would have scored this a 5 if it not for the very poor embarkation process. The best part of this cruise was the whole crew, they were absolutely fabulous. Friendly, fun, engaging wherever you were in the ship, and whatever they were doing. They are a credit to the company and made the cruise for us and the main reason we would return. Captain John was a particular delight despite some unforeseen berthing changes resulting in more use of tenders than planned. His Q&A session was one of our highlights. The ship is a good size but sometimes felt like there were a touch too many passengers as queues for dinner were a regular feature (Latitude) and securing a seat in the Lounge for a drink in the evenings or a table for breakfast in the Market Place (buffet) often a challenge. We had a balcony cabin on deck 10 mid ships, a little tight on space and storage and a little tired here and there but fine for our needs. It was clean and very well maintained by our steward. We wouldn’t choose this deck again as we were below the running track and could hear some over enthusiastic joggers early in the morning (at 6 on holiday?) stomping their way around. We had an all inclusive package which worked well for us. The food ranged from superb (Dining Club, Kora La and Surf and Turf - additional cover charges), very good (Latitude and Mediterranean) acceptable (Market Place buffet). Best place for drink quality was The Lounge where the bar staff were brilliant. For me the entertainment was mixed. The Broadway Show Lounge shows were either very good or a little working mans club. Some really good singers.dancers and some not so good singers.dancers. I’m sorry but I thought all the resident bands were poor. However, the crew show in the theatre was excellent entertainment. We purchased the Spa pass, which was good value for the money as we were able to come and go as we pleased for the whole cruise. A good place to unwind and relax. The Horizon Sauna was excellent for watching the world go by and recommended for departures. They keep numbers down to a manageable level so you had good room to use the facilities. One morning they didn’t have some of the rooms switched on as we were in port, a little annoying but a really pleasant place with friendly staff. No complaint at all about the service in the bars, restaurants or cabin all very attentive and we had so much fun with the staff they were brilliant. Excursions we went on gave us exactly what we wanted, a real experience of the stunning beauty of Norway. They were well managed, had a good variety of interesting visits and locations and the guides were excellent. One of the tours was too rushed with a 15 minute visit to a beautiful waterfall and only 20 minutes to eat a 2 course meal as we had a ferry to catch. Disembarkation was fine, made easier for us as we were in the last group to leave the ship. That was a pleasant experience seeing most of the public areas empty and quiet. Embarkation was terrible and poorly organised. You park your car then have to walk your cases up a steepish car park, dodging the cars that were parking to a big queue outside a marquee at the top of the car park. Unlike Southampton, they wouldn’t take any hand luggage like suit carriers/flight bags. Then onto a bus for a 2 minute ride to the terminal, where more queues to collect paperwork and then across to the other side of the terminal to another queue to collect tickets and go through security to another coach that took 15 mins to load for another.2 minute trip to the ship. Anyone with some logistical/organisational skills could make this process so much easier, come on Marella sort this out its dreadful. So to summarise, first class crew, pleasant ship, functional cabin, good food, good soda, ok entertainment, superb service, good excursions, beautiful county, older passenger demographic, terrible embankment and better disembarkation.....would we go with Marella again, yes but mainly for the crew and to explore the Baltic. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
After many cruises with Thomson on Emerald,Celebration and number one Spirit, we decided to see what a “new “ ship was like. One out of 5 is good. Newcastle was waiting for 2 hours after 4 hours of driving. (We were lucky- others much ... Read More
After many cruises with Thomson on Emerald,Celebration and number one Spirit, we decided to see what a “new “ ship was like. One out of 5 is good. Newcastle was waiting for 2 hours after 4 hours of driving. (We were lucky- others much longer. This is not the first time - see reviews. Access to ship far too steep - why not a lower deck? Outside cabin ok but continual noise all night as ceiling panels vibrating so noisy - new ship? Seatings a problem everywhere - lounge, market place, indigo and theatre. Food fair in market place and 53. Found vista for last 2 days - much better. Staff in restaurants don’t seem to be allowed to be part of your holiday - Spirit was fun- Explorer dead pan waiters. Shows poor quality- team worked hard but material terrible - what was cogs all about? Far too loud-too much visual effects and flashing lights. Oh, Spirit was 10 out of 10. Did not participate in any of the daily activities other than walking ourselves around the deck! Days at sea were dead - why no speaker - why no play by show team? Met some of our old Spirit team - Spirit is still their ship- no further comment required. Out of control is the “show your appreciation to the magnificent crew” - how many times were we asked to applaud? Leaving the ship was just as bad. Group 8 had 1000 leaving at same time to queue, get transfer bus and finally find luggage. WHY not make groups of 300 max. So view of Marella is that they have totally lost the Thomson “spirit” that made cruising so enjoyable. Sorry Marella but it’s goodbye from us Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise ... Read More
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise lines do trips into the Arctic Circle. First the good points - some people are a bit sniffy about Marella (Butlins at sea etc) but loads of positives for us. First the size of ship, we prefer the smaller ones and the Explorer we found to be light and airy, especially the Mediterranean lounge which houses the fab tapas restaurant and the pizza/pasta in the evenings at no extra cost with spectacular views. All in all, the food we ate was certainly on a par with any other ship we have been on. The extra cost Surf and Turf and Kora Lai were top notch, as were all the staff (and we include the fabulous quiet bar 'Aperitif staff' just outside these venues as well - our bar of choice - mainly because you could get Fever tree tonics and Bottega processo on the premium upgraded all inclusive which for us at just over £7 a day we considered good value). The regular staff (bar staff, cleaners, cabin staff ) all great. Now the Marella entertainment and customer facing staff could take a few lessons from the regular staff. Even spoke to Calvin James (head of staff?) ref some points but even he didn't give us much eye contact and generally didn't give the impression that he was being very attentive to our conversation. The entertainment from our point was very ' samey' - silent disco brilliant but mix it up abit and theme it eg have a soul theme v the 80'st,lost is novelty after a few times but with a few changes it could be so much better, you have the staff. Again some of the staff seemed to turn their smiles on and off. And only so many times you can watch Bohemian Rhapsody........And a bit more variety on the at sea days would be good, as we were in the Arctic Circle it is hardly sunbathing weather. But we did have a concern with the comedian that was flown in and thanks to head of entertainment that met us to talk about our issues. Thank you for that. If you do this cruise next year just be aware that as it a one off cruise , go with an open mind. Weather etc can affect it - we were blessed with the most fab weather. But some of the ports required us to tender when originally we were due to be harbourside, so if you have mobility issues, be warned. Also when we did use the destinations staff, on a few of the trips it was very poorly arranged. Alot of waiting around in the cold, and we were one of the youngest on board (we are 58!) . No wonder we choose to do our own thing in port if we can, not good value at all. Cabin was great, proper shower door and huge balcony, had a hammock, sunbed and 2 chairs and a table (extra large balcony cabin!). Maybe a few funky toiletries would be nice and the towels could have been a lot fluffier! But all in all, no issues. So would be cruise Marella again? If the itinerary was right, yes we would. As an ex - Tui member of staff, I know you can do much better, it won't take alot to sharpen up staff attitudes and better organised excursions, lets give the big boys a run for the money! And please keep the middle sized ships, they can get into all the smaller ports that those monsters can't! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Everything about this cruise was awful. The embarkation in Newcastle took hours, shuttle buses overcrowded and we spent so much time queuing for everything. Once on board we were advised to upgrade to premium drinks package and after ... Read More
Everything about this cruise was awful. The embarkation in Newcastle took hours, shuttle buses overcrowded and we spent so much time queuing for everything. Once on board we were advised to upgrade to premium drinks package and after sampling the all inclusive drinks it was obvious why! The same applied to the quality of the food! We pre booked two excursions for when we were in St Petersburg and only did one because the first was such a let down. The overall standard of this ship is at best 2 star. We visited our local Tui branch to give our feedback and were told it couldn't be compared with the likes of Celebrity but this was not reflected in the price!!!!! We contacted the Tui post cruise help line 3 weeks ago and have not had a reply, we also tried calling but nobody picked up the phone. Absoluty disgraceful! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad ... Read More
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad decision. Must say the cabin is spacious and well furnished BUT the inescapable element is constant noise from the deck above. We noticed it initially during the first day, noise of furniture being moved and scraped along the deck. The first night we were woke at 5am, then at 1.30am second night. It appears the deck was being cleaned which needed furniture to be moved. Formally complained in writing, no one responded and had a third night of disturbed sleep. Altogether had to complain 3 times to the “hotel manager”, not impressed at all with the response. The cruise was spoiled by the noise as it is a constant irritant when in the cabin, even during the day. A number of other issues occurred such as on embarkation we were told there was an IT problem which meant long queues while dropping off luggage in the car park and within the terminal building. Luggage was not unloaded on time from the ship after disembarkation, again huge queues in the car park whilst fork lift trucks were coming and going delivering suitcases. The food generally in the restaurants is adequate, not of a high quality. Got the feeling that some of the crew were very inexperienced, and required further training. Overall, it is downmarket, it was a bad experience and will not be going anywhere near a Marella ship again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We found the arrival very easy,straight off the plane on a bus and on to the ship. The ship itself was not my favorite, not easy to navigate around. The seating in some of the public areas was very uncomfortable( the brown sofas in the ... Read More
We found the arrival very easy,straight off the plane on a bus and on to the ship. The ship itself was not my favorite, not easy to navigate around. The seating in some of the public areas was very uncomfortable( the brown sofas in the Squid and Anchor need throwing over board!) The resident entertainment was very good.Some of the guest shows on the other hand went from excellent to awful. The ship was kept very clean and all the staff worked very hard and were very friendly. The food was lovely, we always managed to get a seat or table without any problem. Plenty of places to sun bath ,either quiet or lively by the pool. The cruise itinerary was the reason we choose this particular holiday. We decided to stay on from Southampton to cruise up to Newcastle as it was easier to get home from Newcastle. WERE WE SORRY!!!! From what we heard 600 passengers disembarked, and 400 Tui reps and their family's embarked.( Bearing in mind the average age on the cruise was about 65 and the new passengers where younger ) the lovely cruise was spoiled by the new passengers. They were on for one thing, to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible, resulting in us not being able to get served for over half an hour at some of the bars and having to suffer drunken behavior from quite a few on them. Not the staffs fault I mite add, purely how fast they where drinking. there were scuffles in the disco and security had to be called. People where also inconsiderate when returning to there cabins.The result was a lot of the original passengers where not very happy. This has ruined the memory of what was otherwise a lovely cruise. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
5 weeks before sailing the cruise was on offer at a good price.Got off to a great start when allocated our outside cabin which was huge! (9006) After that things went downhill a bit. First let me say the ship itself was hit and miss. Great ... Read More
5 weeks before sailing the cruise was on offer at a good price.Got off to a great start when allocated our outside cabin which was huge! (9006) After that things went downhill a bit. First let me say the ship itself was hit and miss. Great theatre with good sight lines. A decent sized cinema.But as a cruise experience did not live up to the standard we have become accustomed to with P@O. On sea days the main pool area was a no go for us,with its loud music,that was not even catered to the average age group of around 65 (it was an adults only cruise).Felt like we were back at Butlins.For anyone who likes to dance the Indigo disco with its small dance floor and no seats was a waste of time.What would on other ships be known as the crows nest was a strange layout and doubled as the casino.It was difficult to get a seat in the squid and anchor pub which was incredibly noisy and consisted of mainly childish game shows.And finally the food.Again hit and miss.as was the service.We finally cottoned on to two excellent waiters Maiko and Benjie one in the vista and one in the latitude restaurants. Service in the tapas and pizza restaurants was good.The staff were more multicultural than on any of our 18 or so other cruises.Some of the entertainment in the evening was good some not so good.Very little in the way of entertainment during the day,no lectures or talks just films in the cinema that tended to repeat.Spoke to people who had cruised on Discovery and much preferred it.All in all,in my opinion a long way to go to match P@O. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Was going to give them 3 stars for a cheap and cheerful cruise but you have to give TUI an extra star for the help and support we received from their staff. We took 3 kids, one only 8 months and most of the airplane and ship staff were ... Read More
Was going to give them 3 stars for a cheap and cheerful cruise but you have to give TUI an extra star for the help and support we received from their staff. We took 3 kids, one only 8 months and most of the airplane and ship staff were brilliant. Positives: - Drop bags at check in and don't see them again until you're at your cruise ship cabin - Great airplane staff who can't do enough for you - Decent food and service on plane - Coach Transfer to ship waiting upon arrival and you're whisked off without going through all the hassle of the airport - OK sized cabin - Well stocked buffet with nice fresh (mostly) salads and plenty of choice, although does get a bit samey by end of 2 weeks - The free A La Carte restaurants of decent standard with good service - the paid-for ones were OK but you wouldn't miss much if you didn't visit those - Informal dresscode which was great (wish I knew this before I lugged a tux and a suit halfway round the world lol) - Impressive refurbed show lounge with comfy seats not-bad acts - Good selection of beers wines and spirits included - Great housekeeping staff who cleaned our cabin TWICE a day! - Friendly Captain who is often seen mingling with the passengers on the ship and enjoyed his morning announcements with the odd pun thrown in for good measure - No tips Negatives: - The staff must get commission for upgrading you to premium as they are on you as soon as you order your first drink. However, there's a decent selection of drinks included anyway and I reckon I only really made my money back on the premium drinks I had - Coffee from the machines on the ship is a bit naff but there is a coffee shop where you can get decent coffee for a premium. This is supposedly included if you have paid for premium however if you go before 10am you still have to pay! Come on TUI you must have a £billion turnover you can do without this penny-pinching - Watch out for the Narcissistic Cruise Director. Loves himself so much he even has his own TV channel featuring himself mainly, along with staff from different areas on ship. You'll just be starting to relax by the pool when his face will suddenly appear on the big screen and he'll be trying to flog you some SPA treatments or some other product they are finding difficult to shift - If you go to Indigo Bar give yourself plenty of time to get a drink. In fact take a drink with you from another bar to drink while you're waiting to be served a drink. They offer ridiculous cocktails like a 'Bathtub' that is a mini porcelain bathtub filled with spirits and mixers for 4 people - however only the head barman knows how to make it and it takes him half an hour. They call themselves the 'bar wizards' - Harry Potter morelike Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We’re experinced cruise holiday makers and feel qualified to make comparisons to previous cruises . Marella explorer is not a beautiful ship on either the outside or the inside . To my way of thinking she looks like a ferry. The ... Read More
We’re experinced cruise holiday makers and feel qualified to make comparisons to previous cruises . Marella explorer is not a beautiful ship on either the outside or the inside . To my way of thinking she looks like a ferry. The advertising suggested looking for a lean contemporary look but my feeling is they run out of money and didn’t have sufficient to buy artwork sculptures or anything that would inspire or and wander for the pain guest . if you are looking for a value for money package holiday experience then probably Marella explorer fits the bill however if you are looking for a value for money special experience in line with the amount of money you are paying then choose an alternative cruise line . I’m gutted to have to say this about this ship as in the past we have sailed on Thompson spirit and the now departed Emerald both of which had a certain level of sophistication and certainly charm but this was without doubt lacking in this new bath tub of a boat. I sense the amiable courteous and highly present captain is slightly disappointed by his crew as he asserts at every opportunity they are the happiest crew afloat and the best crew and one in which he is extremely proud to sail alongside our experience is that the majority of staff from all departments were indeed courteous but there were a significant number of waitresses in particular in latitude 53 the main dining restaurant who clearly have never ever been taught the slightest about customer courtesy in fact it became a bit of an in joke amongst our crowd to see if we could elicit a smile from one in particular . on the subject of the food one of the reasons my family and I started to cruise was because there is vegetarians in our party we were always able to have excellent dining experience however on Marella explorer dining experience was either exceptionally good in the Vista restaurant or at best average and below par at other times we were very disappointed with the cuisine overall . whoever is responsible for booking the lounge bar pianists needs to have a rethink about who is a book whilst it is without doubt the pianist could indeed play the piano they banged out the tune at maximum volume and sang so loudly it wasn’t ever a relaxing experience to go and listen to them in fact I claps the loudest when they eventually stopped . The theatre on-board explorer is magnificent with very good sightlines pretty much where ever you sat but what a shame none of the singers in the show cast can sing; they can shout but they cannot sing. the dancers were good but not great and the choreography repetitive . We did however thoroughly appreciate the room we had on deck 8. our balcony cabin 8099 had excellent storage facilities, was very clean and our steward was always willing to help. the balcony was bigger than average and actually was one of the pleasing parts of the ship. In addition The Champneys spa is an absolute gem and staff there are certainly extremely welcoming I enjoyed the Marella explorer massage which was wonderful; I highly recommend it - especially if Alex is peoviding the treatment. I also enjoyed a very very good pedicure by Angela which was very pleasing and has lasted well. The ports of call were excellent and some of the tours and excursions offered by the ship as a family we all thoroughly enjoyed particularly the best of Barbados which took in the wild Orchid farm and the Sunbury house plantation I would highly recommend both of these we also enjoyed the zip lines in Saint Lucia. I wish Marella Explorer well but hope the people that hold the budget pump in some cash to put some much needed style on this vessel and appoint a cruise director who has more than four ‘jokes’ in his repotoire. If the jokes could be funny that would also be great. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
If you are looking for a formal 5 star cruise on a traditional decor ship with excellent food , west end shows and quiet relaxed surroundings then this cruise is not for you. If you are looking for an informal all inclusive 4 star ... Read More
If you are looking for a formal 5 star cruise on a traditional decor ship with excellent food , west end shows and quiet relaxed surroundings then this cruise is not for you. If you are looking for an informal all inclusive 4 star cruise with modern decor , good food , a lively friendly atmosphere and great staff to look after you then this is the one you should book. Flight on TUI dreamliner was very good both ways and really liked that your luggage was delivered straight to your cabin from the airport on arrival and collected from your cabin and sent to the airport on departure. Large balcony cabin had lots of storage space and walk in shower and was kept very clean by cabin staff who always went above and beyond to ensure that you had a great experience.It was my wife's birthday whilst on board and they decorated the room with banners,balloons and a special card from all the staff. Every time you passed a member of staff they were always friendly and polite. Food was good but was excellent in the ones where you paid a supplement and well worth the extra,we bought a trio deal which was good value. Drinks choice was very good with all the popular beers and spirits included so no need to book the premium package. Service at the bars was very quick and you did not need to leave your seat if you wished as drinks waiters were constantly available. Entertainment was not west end standard but was varied and entertaining and always a great night in the sqid and anchor pub. We visited 10 different ports with the tender used only once and saw some great islands. We booked some TUI excursions and did some others ourselves and although ship excursions were not overpriced think doing it yourself via local taxis is better value and a better overall experience. On the down side TUI need to get their act together on their systems as this is having a detrimental effect on the booking experience. If you pay for a certain cabin then you should be allocated it or be able to cancel or get substantial compensation. We went with another couple and it took us ages at the store to book cabins next to each other which we paid extra for only for our friends to be told 2 days before we went that they had been moved to a different cabin due to double booking. On talking to other people on board this had happened to a lot of people. Think overall and especially on board it was a great, good value holiday experience and we would go again but please TUI get your act together and update your systems. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Everything was perfect, You walk off the plane and onto a coach where you’re taken straight to the ship where our bags were waiting for us at our cabin. On return you see the immigration officers onboard, the queues move very fast, ... Read More
Everything was perfect, You walk off the plane and onto a coach where you’re taken straight to the ship where our bags were waiting for us at our cabin. On return you see the immigration officers onboard, the queues move very fast, no standing still. Then we were taken from the ship to the airport and our cases were sent to the plane ahead of us so we didn’t have to carry them around with us, they will also look after your hand luggage for you from when you leave your cabin until you depart the ship, they give you clean towels and an option to use a cabin to freshen up before your flight. Completely hassle free. Cabin was very comfortable and quiet, spotlessly cleaned twice daily and the cabin stewards were so friendly and kind. Fantastic staff, so attentive, friendly and really make you feel valued. Delicious food with plenty of options. The restaurants were very nice and in the buffet you have tons of options, you have fresh food cooked to order including omelettes and create your own stir fries, pastas and pizzas where you can choose exactly what ingredients they put in your meal. The fresh salad bars were so good too with freshly made potato salads, coleslaws and bean salads to name but a few. They had branston like pickle, piccalilli, chutneys and all the usual condiments including HP sauce, Branded drinks and a great choice of cocktails. Even without the premium drinks upgrade. Twinings breakfast and Yorkshire tea and many other kinds of herbal teas, delicious fresh sweet pure orange juice. The snack bar by the pool had freshly prepared salads (Caesar, Greek, Asian, curried chicken, avocado, salmon and more) sandwiches, wraps and burgers, hotdogs, fries etc to grab and go. Excellent entertainment with so many different options to choose from each day and night, something to do whatever your mood. The Collective were absolutely fantastic and got everyone rocking! Plenty of fun, lively areas with great music and entertainment and also calmer areas if you want some peace and quiet to just chill out and enjoy the moment. Didn’t feel at all overcrowded, even at the busiest times there was always somewhere to sit in the shade or in the sun. You can dress to impress if you like which meant I got the chance to wear some evening dresses but if you don’t feel like dressing up you don’t have to. You’re treated beautifully whatever you wear. Unlike other holidays I’ve been on (where drunken idiots have spoiled it for everyone else with their bad behaviour and they’ve been allowed to remain in the hotel and carry on their behaviour for the whole holiday) if someone gets out of hand they are promptly removed from the ship, they have zero tolerance of violent or abusive behaviour, Brilliant! Like staying in a 5 star hotel where the view changes daily. I can’t see how they can improve this ship and it’s staff. We don’t know how they manage it but even on a ship with so many other people on board you are made to feel special, the staff remember you and treat you very well. We will definitely be booking with TUI / Marella again. Everything really was perfect. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We"d never done a cruise before and wanted to do something special for our silver wedding anniversary so we decided to book a cruise around the Caribbean. We also booked to renew our wedding vows and we'd just like to say a very ... Read More
We"d never done a cruise before and wanted to do something special for our silver wedding anniversary so we decided to book a cruise around the Caribbean. We also booked to renew our wedding vows and we'd just like to say a very big THANK YOU to Amanda Hudson the social host and our captain Peter Harris for sorting everything out so that we could do it on our wedding anniversary. We had a lovely day thanks again to Amanda Hudson for everything that you did to it happen it's very much appreciated. The ship is lovely all staff very friendly and work very hard food lovely as well will definitely be coming back. All the staff are really friendly and work hard food was excellent we had an invite to join the captain at his table as well which was lovely couldn't of asked for a better 25th wedding anniversary cruise we've got lots of wonderful memories and photos Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise after a good cruise on the old Thompson Spirit. We have cruised a few times with many cruise lines and saw this trip in a local agent .not a cheapo late deal so planed out 9 months in advance. My wife was real looking ... Read More
We chose this cruise after a good cruise on the old Thompson Spirit. We have cruised a few times with many cruise lines and saw this trip in a local agent .not a cheapo late deal so planed out 9 months in advance. My wife was real looking forward to trip. Perfect start great to leave luggage at Gatwick and see it next in our cabin. I do have limited mobility so arranged an adapted cabin which turned out good ; Sorry down hill from here on THIS ship and MOST of staff are not aware or interested in the disable / less mobile customer. The ship has NO disable seating in restaurants or bars and you are on your own with getting help from staff to get seated . the stock reply seems " we are busy ", " try another restaurant " ; Try another time. The theater is not a lot better . Yes there are a few disable seats but so poorly signed again it is free for all, so do not expect to get one unless you get to show about 45 minuets early. We did eventual get the welfare dept to put out some signs in the Cafeteria just 8 seats which considering the amount of wheel chairs/ scooters ect on board was no where enough . To cap it all I was told by a manager in the Theater he could not ask people to move from disable seats and I should walk down the stairs to front . The shows in all are ok not up to a professional standard more a good local theater group. The excursion ok but again not good for less mobile , we invested in a special light weight wheelchair so I could enjoy the trips but nearly all the trips state on the day that no wheel chairs or buggy's can be accommodated so yes got on the trips but did not see much of the sights except from the transport windows . Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Previously cruised on the Royal Clipper (twice) and Norwegian Star (not the best experience), so we have been on small and larger vessels. Tui package holidays have always been consistent for quality, so it was interesting to try their ... Read More
Previously cruised on the Royal Clipper (twice) and Norwegian Star (not the best experience), so we have been on small and larger vessels. Tui package holidays have always been consistent for quality, so it was interesting to try their cruise option. Flights - very good, the system of leaving luggage at Manchester airport and not having to handle it again until it arrived at the cabin worked extremely well. The Dreamliner is an excellent aircraft, in our opinion better than Airbus offerings. Apart from some slow service on the plane (don't think there were enough cabin crew) and not much variety in inflight entertainment all went well. Very comfortable flights both ways. The ship - excellent all round. Large balcony cabin has plenty of storage and well laid out. Didn't find the small number of power points too much of an inconvenience, we always seemed to keep our smart phones and iPad charged. No other reviewers have mentioned a super innovation on this ship - the Navigate app. for smart phone or tablet. Much better than reams of paper daily news letters cluttering the cabin. Reception service was excellent, always attended to quickly and with a smile. Not many children on this cruise, almost adults only. No issues with food and drink on board, mainly used Lattitude 53 for breakfast and dinner and the Market Place for lunch. Tried Vista one night, the only time we had to wait for a table, but no real inconvenience, the food was worth the wait - the Parpadelli Carbonare was superb! Visited Surf and Turf once, again a real treat, the fillet steak and lobster combination was to die for, well worth the extra. Generally the food was far superior to Norwegian and on a par with Royal Clipper ( a totally diffent cruise experience). Didn't bother with the Premium upgrade, didn't spend anywhere near the £100 it would have costs, the standard offerings were fine. Service was always quick and efficient, we had no problems on this cruise. Entertainment was good, with enough variety for us. No problems with sunbeds as we don't like being too near the pools (too noisy). Always found a quiet spot, the Veranda wasn't all that busy and we could retreat to the cabin and the large balcony if we wanted. Just a mention for Alan and Linda - you've stirred my interest in ballroom dancing and am looking to take some lessons ashore, many thanks. Shore excursions - only tried two. St. Maarten got off to a bad start, over 30 minutes late starting and the tour didn't show off the island in its best light. We walked into the town in the afternoon and we saw a much better side. The Tortola land and sea exclusion was in total contrast, gave us a real taster for the BVI. Otherwise we did our own thing at the other ports (have been to St.Kitts, Antigua and Bequia on previous holidays, so knew our way around). All in all an excellent holiday, Marella must be doing something right as we are about to book another cruise on the Explorer 2 next March to see some other islands we haven't yet visited. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose the cruise to celebrate some special birthdays somewhere hot and sunny! We have previously travelled with Marella on their other ships and with P & O. Embarkation was super quick - off the plane in Barbados, straight on a ... Read More
We chose the cruise to celebrate some special birthdays somewhere hot and sunny! We have previously travelled with Marella on their other ships and with P & O. Embarkation was super quick - off the plane in Barbados, straight on a coach and to the ship. The Explorer is a nice ship but lacks any wow factor. There is no central atrium which other ships have and we found this ship awkward to navigate as you have to go up/down a floor to get to some areas and remember what colour staircase you need to take! All areas of the ship were kept clean. Staff were always friendly and polite. Food in the dining rooms was absolutely lovely with a good variety and waiters were friendly. Only niggle with dining in the main restaurants was if you had to have a pager and wait for a table to be ready you could only wait in a small bar area as we were told the pagers would not work further away. This was crowded at times with very little seating so mostly standing while waiting for a table, so not overly comfortable. We have no problem waiting for a table but on other ships you could take the pager anywhere, so not all herded together! The Market Place was often really crowded at peak times (breakfast) and not always easy to find a table but food was generally good. Our balcony cabin was comfortable and kept really clean by our cabin stewerd who was always ready with a greeting and smile. The shows were very good but a little 'samey'. Felt there had been more of a variety on other ships. We booked some excursions through Marella which were as described and we were happy with what was offered. At some ports we took taxis which were a lot cheaper than a Marella excursion. Overall Marella offers really good value, you can do as little or much as you like, all staff generally seem happy and we would definately book again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We booked this cruise on the back of many great cruises on the TUI Celebration as our celebration of 40 year of marriage. We took our only son with us as it was a family celebration. The whole trip including excursions was over £10k ... ... Read More
We booked this cruise on the back of many great cruises on the TUI Celebration as our celebration of 40 year of marriage. We took our only son with us as it was a family celebration. The whole trip including excursions was over £10k ... this would made one think it would have been 4 star at least in my eyes. The food in the main restaurant was inedible, overcooked and hard to eat. It was so bad we decided to use the Market buffet the rest of the holiday. There were specialist restaurants but they wanted upwards of £30 per person per visit ( after having paid for food i felt the cover charge was over the top compared with being able to pay on the Celebration a sum of £10 per person to upgrade the main meal in the dining room to steak or lamb chops etc ) On speaking to people on the ship, nobody thought the specialty restaurants to be be good value. One of the nice things about a cruise is coming back to your cabin at night after dinner and finding your cabin news containing the details of the next days itinerary and a little bit about the ship and crew... nice bedtime reading and handy to take with you the next day on shore excursions as it always had the telephone numbers of the port authority etc in case you have any off shore difficulties etc. This is currently being replaced by an APP you must load on your phone and use the ships WiFi When I inquired if we could have a paper copy delivered to my cabin as before ( these are still available if you rush to reception in the evening) i was promptly and firmly told NO... i even offered to pay to have this and it was ignored. The APP is terrible only some of it is on the phone APP others and again not all are on the TV. The only way you could get the menus of the restaurants was from the flat touch screen terminals at the lifts (these sometimes lost the WiFi and didnt work either). It really ruffled my feathers when every day there was a channel on the TV where the Cruise Director would go over the highlights of the days activities and did it from the paper copy of the cruise news!! The ship is poorly covered by entertainment at night and it doesnt flow properly like the Celebration or other cruise ships i have used.. things finish in the middle of other items you may be interested in and you find yourself walking in on a half completed piece of entertainment upsetting the guests that managed to be there on time for it to start. The bars are mainly all too loud and mainly served by piped music with occasional live music... it seemed to be done on the cheap or not utilised properly. Staff on the ship are mainly unhappy and it shows to the customer. The biggest concern on the ship, i have left till the end.... the number of people i seen drunk in the early afternoon was high ( never before have i seen this on a cruise) between afternoon and evening it looked like the ship was a BOOZE CRUISE ... im certainly not impressed with the Explorer or Marriela / Tui.. and wonder if the Celebration is now been changed to feel and look the same... ( this was my favourite ship in the Tui fleet) It looks like we will need to use our other favourite ships like the NCL ( Jade/Pearl etc) In Conclusion .... if i was offered another week on the Explorer, i would decline it!! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Previously cruised with TUI in the Med & decided to branch out to the Caribbean for a 14 day back to back cruise. We flew from Manchester on the very impressive TUI Dreamliner where the flight went very smoothly due to attentive ... Read More
Previously cruised with TUI in the Med & decided to branch out to the Caribbean for a 14 day back to back cruise. We flew from Manchester on the very impressive TUI Dreamliner where the flight went very smoothly due to attentive crew & FOC meals/refreshments. The transfer from the airport to ship was also very smooth & embarkation quick & efficient. Our luggage was with us within the hour which allowed us to explore the ship. The ship, as many people have mentioned, is merely new to Marella & is about 20yrs old. That said, the fact that she is not a new “block of flats” on a hull adds to the appeal & we were very impressed with the look, feel & layout. Yes, there are a few signs of age, but on the whole one could have no complaints. Word is she is going back into dock late this year to have further improvements made which shows the investment & faith TUI have in her. We booked a cabin with a large balcony & I have to admit that the hammock, sun lounger & chairs were well used, especially for an afternoon nap before food & drink! The cabin was spacious enough with plenty of storage space. The bathroom was far better than experienced on the Dream, with walk in showers a bonus. We experienced no issues with either the toilet or A/C & the cabin was kept spotless by Romric, a gem of a cabin steward! Make use of the plug for the kettle & take a double European adaptor, it helped a great deal when charging phones & i-pads through out the night! The food & drink on board was bountiful, lets say that, & to a very high standard in general, especially Vista, the Mediterranean tapas & Italian pizza & pasta eateries. The breakfasts in the self service buffet were outstanding, but where the previous contributor, LHMS, got his fresh, sweet orange juice from remains a mystery to me & my wife! The service in the MDR was sluggish at times with portions a little on the slim side, but no real issues. We tried all the surcharge restaurants & found them all excellent. Take a tip, if you are on a 2 wk cruise, book 3 for £75 & save!!! We upgraded to premium AI during the second week, mainly for the Coffee Port (which is excellent) the gin & whisky bar (in the Squid & Anchor) & for my fix of Strongbow Dark Fruits (sad!). There was no issue at all with the choice or service of the standard AI, in fact, the attitude & enthusiasm shown by all the bar & waiting staff could not be faulted, especially in S&A & Indigo. Yes, some fellow cruisers over-indulged & perhaps were a little loud & irritating, but so what, they are allowed to & i didn’t have their headaches the following morning! We attended 7 shows in the Broadway show lounge during the 2 weeks & thoroughly enjoyed all but 1, which is a pretty solid hit rate. I’m not sure what previous contributors expect for their money, the West End it isn’t, but they are great ways to spend an hour being entertained. The ports of call were all diverse, especially the difference between the volcanic ABC islands & the more traditional Caribbean islands of BVI, St. Kitts & Genada. Every island was welcoming & we were never over-hassled by the locals selling tours, when haggling over price is half of the fun! We always booked when we got off the ship. It’s cheaper & less “sanitised”! The whole experience was topped off by Captain Peter Harris. The guy has the driest of wits, is very approachable but there is no doubt he is in charge. Very re-assuring. 5/5 the Explorer isn’t, but she is a lot better than a 4 & we will be booking the Far East or Cannaries for 2020. One last plea. TUI, look to a loyalty scheme. Other lines are moving more towards the offer Marella exceed at & are becoming increasingly attractive!!!!!! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was our first cruise for our silver wedding anniversary & certainly won’t be our last. After arriving in Barbados we were put on a coach straight to the ship, embarkation was fantastic. We were greeted by a steel band & ... Read More
This was our first cruise for our silver wedding anniversary & certainly won’t be our last. After arriving in Barbados we were put on a coach straight to the ship, embarkation was fantastic. We were greeted by a steel band & given rum punches, got our room cards, photos taken & all done & dusted in minutes. Our cases arrived outside our cabin about an hour later. Entertainment was fantastic, we particularly enjoyed the shows in the theatre, they are young but work their socks off to give fantastic performances which last approx 45 minutes & drinks are served to you throughout. The entertainment around the ship & in the Squid & Anchor by the bands The Beats & The Collectables were fantastic also as were the games in the Squid & Anchor, really good fun if you want to partake or just watch. A must is the silent disco which was on twice a week, again you can partake or just watch. The entertainment is run by cruise director Cameron & he & all involved really do a good job to cater for everyone’s taste. There is always something going on somewhere if something in particular is not to your taste. There is a cinema & outdoor cinema, casino, library, gym, coffee port, scoops ice cream, snack shack, Champneys Spa & Salon, Broadway shops, 2 swimming pools, 3 jacuzzis, running track, mini golf, 10 restaurants to name a few so there is something for everyone. Sea days are a nightmare to get a sun bed as people put their towels down early, come at 8am & you’ve no chance. Staff do put tickets on them if they are empty for 45 mins but we saw loads of ‘reserved beds’ empty for longer, we never saw any towels being removed for people wanting a sun bed. We did a few tours with Tui which were amazing, one of these tours started an late so inevitably we arrived back late for the ship which thankfully had to wait for us because it was a Tui excursion. We did the trikes in Aruba (independently booked from home) submarine tour, catamaran & Pitons, Champagne & lobster catamaran & a few more independent ones off shore. All trips were fantastic, all the locals were extremely friendly towards us & we never felt intimidated anywhere. We picked up some WiFi with the price of a drink in certain bars. We were lucky enough to have our wedding renewal on our anniversary with thanks to Amanda the social hostess. This was something we couldn’t book back home at our Tui shop or the many phone calls by my husband. We were fortunate enough to get hold of Amanda’s e-mail & arranged it the week before we went, it was absolutely amazing & they couldn’t do enough for us. Captain Peter performed the ceremony on the bridge & it was wonderful, we had the silver package for £200 & it was perfect. We also purchased all the photos taken which was set to music & have it on a usb stick, also included was 16 photos which are professional photos taken by the lovely photographer team. All the staff on board are extremely polite & friendly & work such long hours to ensure we have the best time possible, they have a few hours off here & there but not days off. In order to receive a full day off they have to be mentioned in reviews so it’s very sad & darn right rude when you see people clicking fingers at them for service or moaning because they have to wait a short time for a table in one of the restaurants. Unfortunately I can’t remember all their names who made our holiday but a shout out goes to Gladys, housekeeping on deck 9, Roman who refilled our drinks on the deck pool, Vicky & Elizabeth entertainment staff, Captain Peter & Cameron for their daily announcements & Amanda social hostess for making it possible for us to renew our wedding vows. A few necessities to take with you, towel pegs or bands as it gets very windy in the Caribbean ( if your towel blows off or you lose it you will be charged £10 per towel). As I’ve said it gets quite windy & for us girls it is very unkind to our hair. 5 mins after drying my hair it went frizzy & after a few days very dry, my heat protection spray wasn’t strong enough for the Caribbean wind so I purchased Ghd protection spray from the Broadway shops which cost $13 but so worth it, this spray is expensive but I would not be without it for future cruises. I never felt the need to wrap up in the evening so didn’t wear the wrap I brought. Definitely bring looser fitting clothes for your second week as despite my good intentions not to over indulge it’s very hard as the food is delicious & plentiful. We also never used the euros as all islands accept usd, we used ours to pay off part of our bill on leaving. On the day of disembarkment you have to leave your cabin by 8am. You can pay £35 for a late room check out subject to availability & only till 1.30 or you can pay £14.95 pp for a day pass in Champneys Spa. We did this & it was amazing, we got our travel luggage in the lockers, provided with robes, towels, refreshments, showers & you can still use the ships facilities. For any disabled people wanting to cruise there were plenty of guests in wheelchairs & mobility scooters, incidentally the ship has plenty of lifts. We had an absolutely amazing time aboard the Explorer & are already looking for our next cruise - yep we’ve got the cruise bug. All the negative comments we read about before embarking on our first cruise in our eyes are unfounded but that is just our opinion, everyone has different expectations, experiences & are entitled to their own opinions. A holiday is what you make it & my husband & I have made many memories visiting 12 islands on one holiday. Read Less
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0

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