Marella Celebration Cruise Review by Technoman2
- Sail Date: December 2017
- Destination: Caribbean
Some useful information first.
1. If you are just doing the cruise for one or two weeks without a hotel stay you do not have to pay 10 Dollar entrance or 20 dollar exit from Dominican Republic.
2. There is a charge for the safe in the room which is £15 for one week or £25 for a two week cruise.
3. Do check in early online to get seats together. On previous flights we were only allowed to check in 7days before but on this trip you could do it a month before.
4. The flight out from London Gatwick took 8 hrs 30 mins and back just under 8 hours. Food served around 2 hours into flight going out and a free drink and wine with dinner. Flight back we had Chicken Pie and veg with wine and Breakfast 90 mins before landing.
5. Transfer time from La Romana airport to the ship is 15 minutes then you queue outside for about 30-40 mins to check in and get your room cards and safe keys. Baggage gets to your room about 2 hours later. Suggest have light clothes for arrival as it was 29c when we got there.
6. Wifi is expensive on the ship in my opinion £7 for one hour or £15 per day. I think you can buy a weekly package if you need to use it a lot.
The ship is dated 35 years old but the staff are constantly cleaning and maintaining the ship. Whilst we were aboard the captain invoked enhanced santitation which meant you could not serve yourself in the buffet not even coffee or tea. This caused delays which some passengers got frustrated with. This action was taken because a few passengers went down with tummy bugs and they did not want it to spread. Also there was no access to the Saunas, Jacuzzi, or laundry/ironing rooms. It was fine with us. A couple of things that did irritate us were the inconsiderate passengers that gathered in groups and wanted to chat through the shows. Go to the bar or coffee shop if you want to chat. Secondly there is a noticeable engine vibration that feels like a worn prop shaft and you shake in your seat in some parts of the theatre or Lido buffet.
The food was ok, always found something to eat some of the starter portions were miniscule like 5 pieces of calamari or the potatoes with blue cheese were just two tiny spuds cut with a bit of blue cheese in the middle. One chap on our table ordered this as a main course and got 4 potatoes on their own no garnish. One tip here is that if you don’t fancy the soups there is a tomato and basil option that is not shown on the menu. The fish was overcooked on a couple of occasions particularly the salmon. The food in the Lido was ok, the sweets and jellies were a bit repetitive but we enjoyed what we chose. A good selection of herb teas and decaff coffee was also available. There are two speciality restaurants, one that serves indian cuisine and costs £17.95 per person extra or the other ala carte which cost £19.95 per person.
The main entertainment was in the Broadway Theatre for the shows or in Liberties for the Quizzes or Mr and Mrs evening. If you do participate don’t get caught cold with the answer to the question ‘What unusual place have you had amorous relations’ i.e back of an Austin Alegro or in the sea at the resort!. It is a bit of fun and Gavin the cruise director does a great job at comparing this show. Tarin, Amy and Taylor The Milky bar Kid are also great fun. The two must see shows in my opinion are The Man in The Mirror Michael Jackson tribute and Cameron Classics with a fabulous Les Miserable Finale. The show team were excellent . A couple of the shows were shown twice in the two week cruise. Queen Tribute and Cameron Classics. Andre the Magician was good but Kamika the male/female duo reminded me of a pub act although the guitarist was good with his Eagles rendition.
The first port of call after leaving La Romana is Road Town Tortola. The island is just getting back on its feet and some devastation is still there to see but the people are so friendly and welcoming. The ship is only in port for 4 hours we just walked into the town and had a look at the shops but the second week we visited Pussers Bar ‘ Serving cruise ships since 1979’ looks nothing from outside but do go inside and have a look at the art deco, nautical bric a brac and tiffany lamps. Also an exclusive (expensive clothes) shop at the rear of the bar.
Next Stop was St Martin, we got a water taxi over to the beach 7 dollars return 15 dollars for two sun beds and brollie some vendors were also offering 5 bottles of beer for 10 dollars. Nice beach and plenty of shops to browse.
Off to Granada next, here we did a Tui tour Highlights of Granada £36 each which was 2 hours long with a 20 minute drink stop halfway through at a nice bar in a lovely location. Drink included in cost interesting info from Driver/Guide.
Then onto Antigua where we took a Tui tour Sun and Rum £34 each to the Beach which was called Mistic beach. This was very nice two sunbeds and free unlimited Rum Punch ( be careful because after 3 you start to feel tipsy) Fruit punch is another option. You do have to pay an extra 10 dollars if you want a sunshade. I was impressed they had 3 life guards on the beach. Sea a little rough pm so no good for snorkelling.
Castries St Lucia next and this was the only place we felt unsafe and hassled. Water Taxi to the centre was $5 return from the berth we were berthed at. As you approach the Water taxi booths choose the one on the right for the nicer boat transfer. You can walk to the nearest beach which is about 20 mins but as a policeman told us be vigilant and keep your eyes open. Do not wear any bling as one guy had his necklace ripped from his neck. Suggest maybe do a tour here but not the little train around the town reports were not good.
Back to La Romana where we booked the Altos De Chavron and Boat trip. Supposedly where they filmed Jurrasic park but the tour guide told us that was 100km away! It was a nice tour but the cost is £55 and if you don’t want to do the boat trip part then you can get a courtesy bus to the replica 16th century village for $8. The boat trip 30-40 mins was nice and free drinks on board and sandwiches but all there is to see are a couple of expensive houses palm trees and maybe some Iguana. We enjoyed it.
After a second visit to Road town we went onto Bassetere St Kitts. A free shuttle bus takes you to the centre and there are lots of shops a nice town to pootle around. There are also local tours available here at a much cheaper price than the tours on the ship. Also if you are looking at Jewellery and are serious about buying push for an extra 10% off their offer price. As you walk out they may accept your offer!.
Martinique was the next port of call with a large port promenade area where you can either pick up a ferry to the beach for $7 or just have a walk around to the castle and around the shops.
Bridgetown Barbados is about a 30 minute walk to the centre and it is worth paying $2 each way for a taxi. We docked on a Sunday and the shops do not open until 10am. In the afternoon we did the Beach Transfer to Carlisle beach with Tui which included sunbeds and shade and a free drink. A busy but nice beach cost of trip £24 each.
Last port of call was Kingstown St Vincent. Now just to be clear The Botanical gardens are walkable from the ship 30-40 mins at a stroll but last 800m is up hill so do it early in the morning. Price of entry is $2 and $4 dollars extra if you want a guide. We were told by the rep it was a 20 minute taxi ride and $20 dollars entry (not true). In the afternoon we did the Tui Caribbean Pirate Sailaway which was a 3.5 hour trip along the coast to see where Pirates of The Caribbean one was filmed. Rum Punch and soft drinks served on board and one hour stop for snorkelling Not cheap at £55 each but a very enjoyable afternoon.
In summary we had a lovely time, the room on deck one was fine, our cabin steward Adang was amazing. As we were at the front of the ship Room 802 there was a couple of nights when the ship was sailing into a headwind and as the waves hit the ship you could hear a loud thud. We took earplugs for situations like this.
You have to vacate your room at 8am but you can ask to keep your room til noon for £25 or there is also a courtesy room available for a 20 min shower, key at reception.
We met some lovely people each night at dinner and hello to Carol and Chris and Len and Karen whose company and chat we enjoyed.
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