Marella Explorer Cruise Review by Ollie and Rachel
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Norwegian Fjords
Everything about this sailing was fantastic.
The itinerary (Kirkwall, one day at sea, Akureyri, Isafjordur & Reykjavik, two days at sea, Flam, Bergen, Eidfjord, Haugesund & Kristiansand, one day at sea) was obviously well thought through and every port of call was like a picture postcard, rain or shine.
Our inside stateroom cabin on Deck 4 was very peaceful, allowing for plenty of sleep. The room was also kept spick and span by cabin steward Majol who like many other cabin staff on board was also an expert at creating animals/roses out of towels.
The excursions we took all had informative guides and were great value for money.
We ate in The Market Place buffet most nights, switching to The Mediterranean Italian restaurant (included in the price of the cruise) for two others. The food in both was tasty, of good quality and varied.
The variety of all inclusive alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks was also impressive with a range of beers, wines, spirits, cocktails and mocktails.
Having been on two previous cruises (with Celebrity and another Marella ship) the nightly shows on this ship were by far the best. The production of each one was of a professional standard and some of the singers (especially leading lady Rianna) wouldn't have sounded out of place in the West End. The guest entertainers (Bryan Adams UK tribute & stand up comic Josh Adams) were also worthy additions to the line up.
Other entertainment on board included regular films on the pool deck or indoor cinema, quizzes and gameshows in the Squid n Anchor pub, lectures in the theatre, a decent gym, Playstation gaming and a range of small sports facilities.
For £50 per person per week (£200 overall for me and the wife) we also bought a cruise pass for the onboard Champneys Spa. With all things considered (including 2x saunas, 2x steam rooms, foot spa, heated bench, hot & cold showers, a blue relaxation room, thermal garden and relaxation lounge complete with double beds looking out the front of the ship) this was unbelievable value, especially if used most days.
The spa also offers a range of consultations (including food intolerance tests and beauty treatments) at reasonable prices.
Special shout outs go to Sophie, Michelle and James in the Bike Tour team. Having ridden with Sophie on last years cruise in Skiathos, we rode again in Kirkwall and Kristiansand this time around. Sophie's routes ensure you get a comprehensive tour of the place you're in. These rides cater for a range of abilities and ages with the team ensuring no one gets left behind with plenty of encouragement given. Just expect a few hills and distances between 12 to 25 miles with regular drink and photo stops on the way. We would recommend these tours to anyone with a reasonable level of fitness and met some lovely people (Allan and Leslie if they read this) from these tours.
Overall, it was a holiday of a lifetime and incredible value to boot . With the cost of everything in Iceland and Norway (where a standard pint of beer costs around £10 to £12 in each place to use a typical British financial comparison) if we went everywhere the cruise took us on our own steam, we would have paid thousands and thousands of pounds more.
In fact the only gripe we had at all was with some other guests on board, especially those of a certain advanced age. Complaint after complaint after complaint, none of which were warranted. The kind of people who try and get a chef sacked if the consistency of the mashed potato isn't exactly to their liking or wake up every morning itching to find anything to moan about.
As Marella seem to be doing this itinerary again in 2020, just go for it. During our two Marella cruises we have wanted for nothing on board and cannot fathom how anyone can gripe about anything.
100% recommended to all ages!
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