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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was our third Caribbean cruise with TUI but the first with Marella. The first two were on the Dream and the Celebration. Marella have brought a more commercial side to TUI which is not necessarily for the best. A sense of greed has ... Read More
This was our third Caribbean cruise with TUI but the first with Marella. The first two were on the Dream and the Celebration. Marella have brought a more commercial side to TUI which is not necessarily for the best. A sense of greed has crept in which is a shame. Having said that, we still enjoyed our one week cruise very much and have booked again for next year. In this review, I aim to review each element briefly with areas where improvement is necessary highlighted. Flight Departures and transfers - all very easy. The bus we were loaded into at Barbados to take us to the ship was too small for the passengers and luggage being transferred. MARELLA ISSUE. Flight out - very comfortable, good service and food Return Flight - I was in seat 27C. This should be removed. I was bashed at least 100 times during the night flight, therefore no sleep. The breakfast was horrible. Embarkation at the Port - very simple, takes a while. Met by Captain and senior crew. Drink available and Bajan music being played. Toilet nearby if required! Once you are through this process, you can go straight to your room. Our luggage arrived quickly. Ship generally - the Captain advised us that it is a vessel, not a ship! The Explorer is in good condition generally with some areas in need of refurbishment soon. Overall very pleasant. Crew generally - all very polite, courteous and helpful. The Captain was very informative and told dreadful jokes. We didn't take to the Cruise Director. Reception - generally very helpful. One lad never gave us a straight answer to any question which became a bit annoying. Wifi - if you wish to contact relatives about your safe arrival, do this before you get on board. Wifi charges when we were on board were absolutely disgraceful. MARELLA GREED. Cabin - we had an internal cabin on Deck 5 - it was a very good size with excellent storage and a really good shower. Electric sockets were poor - ours worked intermittently which we reported. Our cabin steward was very polite, helpful and thorough - a very clean room throughout the cruise. Water - there is a water point on each floor. You have a carafe in your room which you can use to fill kettles, bottles etc All inclusive package - totally adequate unless you like speciality drinks. Unless you have the Premium package, Marella seem to have made getting a coffee more difficult than necessary. Some bars will make you one, others won't and the Mediterranean bar wouldn't make us a coffee but would make us an Irish coffee???!! Bar staff were in short supply at times at all the bars but with the exception of one barman in the Squid and Anchor who took exception to me asking him regularly to reduce the amount of ice he used in cocktails, they were all very polite and helpful. Restaurants The Market Place (buffet) - great for breakfast with hot and cold options. The cumberland sausages and bacon warrant specific praise. Lunch and Evening Meals were not as good and seemed to lack choice, imagination and quality. We used the Snack Shack for lunch if we were on the the ship. Latitude 53 and Vista - less quantity, better quality, excellent service. Our favourites. Mediterranean Tapas - one specific meal carries a cover charge. Other than that, the food was delicious but did lack quantity. This was the only meal I left hungry. Service was excellent. Mediterranean Italian - nice food but service was below the standard of the other restaurants. The staff never really made an effort - they seemed aloof. Other restaurants - carry a cover charge of circa £25. Entertainment - as we have specific involvement in Song / Dance, we will limit the comments in this section. The main Auditorium is sizeable and well designed but will need decoration soon. The rake of the seating does mean a tall person can block the view of those behind quite badly. The professional dancers are very good, the female singers are better than the male ones but need to stop "screaming". The comedians (Harper Brothers) were excellent. There are other singers etc in various bars during the day. None of them left us wanting more. However, we really enjoyed The Collective, a Bajan Band who mostly sang during the day by the pool. Bingo - expensive, short games and poor prizes. We only played once. Photographers - pains in the backside!! Swimming Pool and Sunbeds - as would be expected, the pool is small but well used. There are a significant number of sunbeds over 4 decks with only Deck 11 offering shade. Despite this, the sunbed hogs are out early to stake their claim and keep them with limited use. However, the crew do make some effort to remove towels where beds are unused for 45 minutes. A good start but needs to be more stringent. Like the bars, you can have drinks served to your table / sunbed. Excursions - generally Marella try to pack you into small buses. MARELLA ISSUE. Curacao - we went on the Sea & See Island Tour. Beautiful Island with a stunning Town. The tour took us around the island to a Liquor Factory followed by a trip on a boat with a hull that makes you think you are in a submarine. You see a lot of smaller fish BUT this is NOT for those who suffer with sea sickness or claustrophobia. The bus we were in was cramped. There is an ice cream shop near the ship - excellent ice cream. Tour 7/10 Bonaire - we went on the Palm Beach Reef Snorkel. These comments are based on the fact that we don't know what Bonaire beaches are generally like. We were driven in a multi coloured children's bus, with no legroom at all, by a suicidal version of Lewis Hamilton and no guide, to a "Building Site by the Sea". There, we were dropped off and left with the people who run the snorkelling, the leader of whom was not exactly a people person. The sunbeds available offered no protection from the sun and the entry point to the water was across rocks and stones unless you were lucky enough to find the odd sandy patch. The only saving grace was the lady guide who took us snorkelling - she made every effort to ensure we enjoyed it. The fish we saw were only small. This tour was poor. From a snorkelling perspective, this is for novices only. Tour 2/10. Grenada - we went on the Highlights of St George's Tour - other than again being cramped in the bus, this was a very enjoyable tour with an excellent guide. Tour 8/10 St Lucia - we went on the Ultimate Sea and Land. This was an expensive and long but interesting tour of which 5.5 hours were spent cramped on a bus followed by 2 hours on a cramped catamaran (4 bus loads got on it). We had to stand for the first half an hour. The food at lunch time was at best average with water dispensers offering warm water!! The highlights were a visit to the Sulphur Springs and the chance to have a swim off the catamaran. Tour 5/10 Transfer to our Hotel - well organised other than a lady in the Port who seemed totally confused about everything. You are required to take your suitcases from the port building to the coaches for transfer to your hotel. Would we do it again? - Yes, we have already booked. We just hope that Marella improves some of its current failings and penny pinching. Read Less
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.7

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