3 Marella Cruises Marella Discovery 2 Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - Western Mediterranean from Corfu

Our problems with Marella Cruises started just after booking: we didn't realise that when we booked through the cruise hotline we were automatically diverted to a store location (which was nowhere near us). Not only were the staff at ... Read More
Our problems with Marella Cruises started just after booking: we didn't realise that when we booked through the cruise hotline we were automatically diverted to a store location (which was nowhere near us). Not only were the staff at Stockport ill-trained, but their computer system didn't even link up with the Cruise dept. I later had to give up adding an additional week hotel reservation because they could not provide live pricing and by the time they got back to me with details, the property had sold out - this happened 3 times over! I also believe the agent knowingly misinformed me about cruise details in order to secure a sale. We booked a week cruise for 7 people over 3 rooms. Even 10 months advance booking could not secure us a family room nor adjoining rooms, meaning our 10-year anniversary cruise had to be spent in separate rooms in order to chaperone the children. We decided to take our children on our anniversary cruise because the cruise was advertised as having Kids' Club from 9am until 2am each day, so we assumed we could have a couple 'date nights'. Once aboard we learned that the nearly fully booked ship considered the October school half-term break a low season, thus cancelling the vast majority of kids club. They offered 3 awkward 2-hour sessions instead of the original promise. As for other onboard offerings for children, there was a video game room which was unsuitable for our children (mainly too young to 'get it'), a 9-hole mini golf, a climbing wall (open 2hrs per day) and 2 swimming pools. Unfortunately we were not informed the the pools were re-filled with sea water each day, including the indoor one, making them far to cold for anyone to actually swim in. They were not heated in the meantime. Is this common practice on cruises? Within 3 days, our children were bored with the pathetic offerings onboard, and not able to spend entire days out at port. We found the ship clean and the food great. The ports were amazing, and obviously these can not be faulted. That said, Marella advertises Corfu as one of the ports on the itinerary, which is false advertising as they only flew us in at 10:30pm on embarkation day, and out at 10:30am on disembarkation day. Ridiculous. I might recommend this cruise to adults travelling unaccompanied by children, but it is certainly NOT fit as advertised, as Marella's flagship 'family' option. Very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Why this Cruise? - Timing - We organised this trip to coincide with half term as one of our party is still of school age. The dates were correct for us and the relatively short haul flight to join the ship in Corfu made it viable. The ... Read More
Why this Cruise? - Timing - We organised this trip to coincide with half term as one of our party is still of school age. The dates were correct for us and the relatively short haul flight to join the ship in Corfu made it viable. The Ship - I am not complete convert to cruising, having only taken three cruises previously over a 30 year period. In that time the World of cruising has changed considerably. I did have concerns when reading reviews about this ship (Discovery 2) with some reports suggesting it was poorly maintained. Those reporting such things could not be more wrong. The ship was in immaculate condition with teams working to ensure it remained so. For those that chose to look closely there were signs that Discovery 2, whilst new to TUI did have a 22 year previous history with Royal Caribbean, but you would need to be picky. The Cabin - We considered the cost of the upgrade to an Executive Suite reasonable. The suite was large enough for two twin beds, a sofa and two arm chairs and was well presented. The balcony was large enough to accommodate one lounger, two chairs and a table. The bath and shower were comfortable and well kept. Room Service - Room Service has a limited menu, but is fairly priced. Wines are a little expensive, but the mini bar is pretty empty, and there seems little objection to you filling it with your own wine bought at each port. Dining - Dining was relaxed, with no fixed meal times and a fairly forgiving dress code. Restaurant 47 (degrees) is the nearest you get for formal dining, with a menu that changes daily. The food is well presented, and whilst the menu is not vast there is something to suit most tastes. The key alternative is the buffet which is comprehensive but a little bit samey. There a few speciality restaurants that do not come as part of the all inclusive package. We only tried one and found it a very pleasant experience. Entertainment - Some reports on this ship can be quite critical of the Entertainment on this ship, the term 'Butlin's on the sea' being a common expression. Whilst my experience of cruising is limited I suspect all ships can be accused of this to some extent. On this cruise a number of artists featured that in my opinion were extremely talented. If something does not appeal to you, the ship is big enough to offer plenty of alternatives. The ship has two pools. The outdoor pool tends to be a bit of a free for all and can get crowded, whilst the indoor pool is very quiet and filled with people who probably would prefer to be sailing under a Cunard flag. All Inclusive and Fellow Passengers - Whilst it was autumn half term in some of the UK, there were very few families (at least with children of school age). The majority of passengers would be over 40, with the highest percentage being 50 plus or retired. TUI is the dominant package tour operator in the UK, and has successfully expanded its market to include the packaged cruise. The cruise is now an alternative option to the four-star all-inclusive hotel, only this hotel tends to move about. Needless to say the vast majority are hard working people looking to enjoy a hassle-free holiday, but there will always be the odd one that sees all-inclusive as an challenge to drink the bar dry, and the odd complainer, who I am sure makes the ship's reception staff worth every penny they are paid. Be aware of the term all-inclusive. Whilst fruit juices is free, carbonated drinks such as Coke are not ,which somewhat negates the term all-inclusive in my opinion. You can upgrade for £50 a week to a higher drinks package, but this turns out to be £100 a Cabin as both parties in a Cabin have to take it. This is unfair if, as we were, one of our party is to young to drink. Unless you have real appetite for cocktails the upgrade seems rather poor value for money. Internet - not fit for purpose. Needs upgrading. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Room and facilities I had an outside cabin on deck 2 - 2026 There is much more storage everywhere - the wardrobe is a much better use of space on Marella as you have the big waste of space on most P&O ships. It is a Slightly ... Read More
Room and facilities I had an outside cabin on deck 2 - 2026 There is much more storage everywhere - the wardrobe is a much better use of space on Marella as you have the big waste of space on most P&O ships. It is a Slightly smaller cabin but is suitable. The Shower was good with good pressure. There was a Sofa in the room. I do Wish I’d got a balcony now as I’m used to them but it was sufficient. The Safe was strange - credit card to open and close it but sufficient. Towels were poor quality compared to P&O and they threatened you with a £10 charge if they didn’t come back to the room. Bed is comfortable but the bedding is not as good quality. No toiletries except a hand soap and body wash - most hotels provide this as a basic. P&O offer designer White Company in all state rooms. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, body wash and body lotion however I accept that some people want to use their own anyway but it helps with luggage. I understand there are toiletries in the better cabins on Marella. I Liked the towel animals. Nice surprise. The Bathroom is a good size with plenty of storage space. Tea coffee good but no biscuits although to be fair P&O are getting worse for quality biscuits anyway. There was No fridge! but I suppose as AI you don’t really need one. Prefer P&O rooms by far - more luxurious and better facilities. Net curtain had blood on it so asked for it to be changed. It hasn’t come back since. Stains on bed sheets. Asked for them to be changed too. Seemed to be washed in. Food This is mixed. The MDR is better quality on P&O such as Cheese boards are silver service and there is six course menu. Steak is available every night. That sort of thing. However the Buffet food is better and more varied on Marella. Buffet set out better too. On Marella I waited ages every single time I ventured into 47. No service for about half an hour. I expect it’s because we’re in at the busy time and to be fair I’ve had poor service on P&O too when on freedom dining so I expect this is a freedom dining thing. I suppose I prefer club dining. I later found out that there are only 3 serving staff per 11 tables (wow) This would explain the slow service. There clearly is not as many serving staff in the restaurants compared to P&O and this is most obvious at the bars and restaurants. The food is ok but not well presented compared to P&O but there are available everyday options of chicken and fish. I would have liked to see steak as per P&O. Marella certainly had More places to eat like gallery 47 but we had poor service there. However the food was nice. Lunch in MDR. Slow service again for ordering. Food comes out quick but drinks do not. Then I discovered the Harvester style salad bar and all was forgiven Kora la sushi - amazing and worth the cover charge. Snack shack great, love the fish and chips! Surf and turf was so nice and worth the extra money. I ate here twice. Overall the buffet and specialist restaurants win on Marella. The MDR was far superior on P&O. Staff All smiling and friendly. Most on P&O are miserable looking. However there is a hell of a lot less on Marella than P&O. Approaching the bar on P&O is a no no and you can’t sit longer than two mins on a sun lounger before someone comes round saying drinks drinks. Saying that on Marella standing at a bar I always was served very quick. Loved the pop up bars too! Winner was certainly Marella for friendliness. Entertainment Saw the Charlie Chaplin show. It was ok but like a school performance. There was no glitz or production compared to P&O. The opera singer was fantastic leaving Venice. Really made the day. The entertainment team around the pool are much better than P&O. Not just quizzes but interactive game shows too. I enjoyed splash bingo and catchphrase. Sail away parties are much better on P&O as it’s a big thing every sail away but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The comedian Phil Milbourne was very good. I loved the murder game with interactive remote. The singing dancing group in the theatre was not very good at all compared to the headliners but it was the only thing. Winner Marella Captain Chris He seems very normal. Is it normal for the captain to be so informal? I’ve never experienced this before but I liked it. Every time we docked it was a ‘Bobby Dazzler’ lol I liked that you still got invited to dine with the captain something that is missing from P&O. Winner Marella Bars All really good. I think I miss the variety of bars that P&O have such as a pub, a posh bar, a piano bar etc depending on my mood but overall all lovely places to drink. I enjoyed listening to the lay playing piano every early evening. The AI option is great for most. I personally like to choose my own wine so difficult for me but plenty to choose from if wine isn’t your thing. Winner P&O The Ship You can tell it’s an old RCI. Worn in places but in better condition than Oceana imo. For a small ship there always seemed to be a seat everywhere. Nowhere was ever too busy. Sun beds were plenty. So easy to get a sun bed. I find people moan about sunbeds when they can’t get them next to the pool. I liked the deck patrol idea but I didn’t feel like she enforced the no reservation rule very often. It’s a small ship so it’s easy to find your way around. I have been on some whoppers so this was lovely and easy. Loved the interactive boards and penguins! Never had to wait for a lift. In fact I hardly used them as everywhere was so close! Liked water dispensers. That was so easy. Hated there was no laundry room. Running everyday produces smelly washing. Ship tours are a great idea and relatively cheap. The public toilets seem to be cleaned more than P&O but general cleanliness in public areas was better on P&O. Winner Draw. The P&O ships are newer but Marella was designed better. (Laundry room is missed lol) Kids club Poor compared to P&O. Probably my most scathing review. Three 2 hr sessions per day. What a Pain. I’m not one to get rid of my kids but my boy prefers kids club when we’re at sea or on the ship because he makes friends. It’s very restrictive and the rooms are not set out well or friendly looking. The activities were the same every night and there seemed to be no Program for the week. There is no night nursery either. When I was first cruising with a small baby this was so useful to get date nights. There’s other things to do as a family like the golf and climbing wall. It’s great but wears off pretty quick and the wall was only open a couple of hours a day. There are family sessions but no one uses them and seems pointless. Seems good for young ones as the entertainment staff dress up but any older than 7 they’re alienated. There is no provision for children over 11 so then people wonder why teenagers are hanging about. Grouping together 3 year olds and 10 year olds doesn’t work and then it closes at 10 so the kids end up in the bar or parents leave early so where’s the holiday in that! P&O in comparison have kids clubs open all day and your place is booked at the beginning of the cruise. None of this pre booking rubbish! The clubs are set in age groups up to 17 year olds and it closes at 1 am. There is a night nursery with pagers with cots and beds and more staff than on Marella. There are set times when it’s closed for lunch and dinner and there’s a kids tea. I much prefer this one. No set times which suits us. He isn’t in there all day by far but at least he gets to choose as and when he goes rather than the restrictions Marella have. I think they’ve based the clubs on the resorts which doesn’t work on ships. Overall I think Marella is great value for money, the ships are very well designed and there is always a good itinerary. However it lacks the finesse and service of a quality cruise liner. What saves it is that you’re in port everyday which limits your time on board. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I would come back if the itinerary was right but I think I would look at other cruise lines before this to see if the deal overall was worth it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Marella Discovery 2 Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 3.5 3.7
Family 3.5 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.5 3.3
Service 4.5 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.7

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