3 Langkawi Family Cruise Reviews

We went on the Enchanting Far East cruise on the Marella Discovery in December 2019. The cruise got off to a bad start when we fell victim to a somewhat desperate money-grabbing trick. Even though we went online to reserve seats for our ... Read More
We went on the Enchanting Far East cruise on the Marella Discovery in December 2019. The cruise got off to a bad start when we fell victim to a somewhat desperate money-grabbing trick. Even though we went online to reserve seats for our party of three as soon as booking opened, TUI allocated us seats scattered all around the plane and then demanded an additional fee for sitting near (not even next to) each other. The food in the buffet was of the usual standard. Not great, but adequate if you’re not dining at one of the proper restaurants. One thing that bothered us is the fact that they have done away with paper napkins at the buffet. These were useful for holding the tongs/ladles etc when serving up the food. If you have ever noticed the sticky residue on them you would understand why. Their disappearance is a backward step in maintaining hygiene. The meals at both “all inclusive” restaurants were a bit hit and miss but the upstairs Italian one was the better of the two. Although the portions were sometimes comically small, when it was good, it was very good, and the service was very friendly and mostly efficient. Having said that, for the second year running we gave up waiting one night and walked out before our dessert reached the table. My main criticism is that the plates in both restaurants were often greasy and finger-marked. Staff were not very receptive to feedback on the subject. All the basics are covered in the bars but the number of drinks in the “all inclusive” package has dwindled, along with the variety of cocktails available. I wonder how long they can keep calling it “all inclusive” without some watchdog picking up on the fact that it is in fact a long way from all inclusive. We found the waiter service in the bars to be quite poor. Several times we saw staff just standing in a virtually empty bar staring at the entertainment and studiously avoiding eye contact with the handful of customers. The entertainment was OK for the first few nights. Generally, though, the entertainment is aimed at older ladies and chavs. If you’re neither of those, you’re going to get very bored, very fast. Unfortunately, the on-deck TV screen was zapped by lightning early on and we missed several nights of movies as a result, although they did put on some movies indoors, which is a welcome development. Marella need to work on this – and on providing cheaper and more effective Wi-Fi – if they are ever going to attract a new generation of cruisers. The cabin crew were efficient and friendly. Some of the entertainment staff were likeable and very good at their job too (eg, George and Dean), although others were less popular with customers and need to work on their people skills. One guy at destination services – Kevin – was very helpful and willing to spend time discussing trip options. Some of his colleagues were less user-friendly. We found one or two of the reception staff to be unhelpful or outright rude; one girl in particular smirked and gave us an attitude when we were unable to book a late checkout. Most of the organised trips were expensive but enjoyable. But there were some issues. Before the engine problems, we booked a cable car excursion on Langkawi. Once on the tour bus we were told that the cable car wouldn’t be running that day due to high winds. Fair enough. That wasn’t TUI’s fault and couldn’t be helped. However, TUI knew about the cancellation before we boarded the bus and yet instead of taking us to another sight on the island, or just giving us our money back, they drove us to a very shabby, crowded aquarium. It took 20 minutes to look around, after which we had to hang around a shopping centre for two hours to await our ride back to the ship. This was by no means an equivalent to going on a cable car sightseeing trip. We were offered some money back for this fiasco but I would rather have ditched the excursion altogether. The cruise itself was marred by a well-publicised incident that led to several of the ports being cancelled. One night, the captain (who came across as somewhat aloof and unsympathetic) announced that there had been a fire in one of the engine rooms. The damage meant that the ship couldn’t make a decent speed and so three ports of call were cancelled: Cambodia, Malacca and Koh Samui. This meant additional (boring) days at sea. The incident has received some unfavourable press coverage. It turns out that the Discovery has suffered similar problems before. In addition to abandoning some ports of call, some of the organised trips had to be shortened. The timing for our Bangkok trip was rescheduled. We were told at destination services that cutting the trip by two hours would have no impact on the quality of the excursion. This turned out to be untrue. We set out at 6am and after a long journey into the city, we were rushed around a temple complex and then whisked away to a grubby restaurant on the river before being bussed back to port just in time for departure. We didn’t see much of Bangkok, some temples were missed out and there was no exploration of the canals as promised. All in all, it was a stressful and unpleasant experience. Even though they did not provide the trip we paid for, TUI have refused to compensate us. To be fair, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. The trips to Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon were all very good; the guides were knowledgeable and the restaurants in the latter two were of particularly high quality. In addition, due to the engine problem a return stop in Singapore was added, which was welcome as it is a really nice place. We managed to see a lot of the city on our two DIY trips via the metro. But it should have been the same for Bangkok, Malacca, Koh Samui and Cambodia. Along with most customers, we had booked this cruise purely because it was stopping at locations that we were unlikely ever to visit any other way. But it turns out that TUI’s policy is that they make no guarantees about visiting specific ports and they reserve the right to change the published itinerary at any point, without compensating their customers. If you think about it, this is very odd. After all, you wouldn’t pay a taxi driver for taking you round and round the M25 if you had booked him to take you to the airport, would you? The bottom line is that we did not get the holiday that was advertised and for which we paid TUI a significant amount of money. So, take this as a warning. Regardless of what cruise you think you are booking with TUI/Marella, you could end up just pootling around the ocean and not actually going anywhere! We have been offered a £250 refund but this is nowhere near sufficient compensation given the huge amount of money the holiday cost. All in all, I can’t help concluding that TUI is desperate to squeeze as much money out of its customers as it can, while providing as little service as possible. Moreover, the Marella Discovery is badly managed, prone to worrying engine problems and is staffed by some of the least able TUI employees. We’ve been on TUI/Marella cruises for many years. We know it is cruising at the lower end of the market and there have always been minor grumbles but, generally, the positives have always outweighed any negatives. After this experience, though, we couldn’t recommend them to anyone anymore and we intend to upgrade to a more professional, honest and reliable cruise company next time. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We have been cruising over Xmas and New Year for 6 years now, usually to the Caribbean but when this trip to Asia came up we decided to give it a try. Our flight from Manchester was the inaugural one and so there was a bit of pomp included ... Read More
We have been cruising over Xmas and New Year for 6 years now, usually to the Caribbean but when this trip to Asia came up we decided to give it a try. Our flight from Manchester was the inaugural one and so there was a bit of pomp included with champagne and cake. The flight itself from Manchester was good though long at 11 hours. On arriving in Langkawi there was no substantial delay in getting through the airport to the ship and the boarding process was fairly quick. Having got our ships cards we went to the cabin only to find it was not what we booked. We had booked a cabin with 2 beds and a sofa bed as there was 3 of us. We had been given a cabin with a double bed and an elevated bunk bed which is not practical as we cannot climb into a bunk bed. On complaining to the hotel manager we were told that it was impossible for us to have booked such a room as they did not exist on the ship. This was a barefaced lie as we know they do and have physically seen them. The outcome is that we had to accept another cabin for me which was a workable solution but not too convenient as it was a good distance apart and a bit inconvenient. I can live with ,mistakes being made but not being lied to. Anyway, we had to make the best of it from that point though moving cabins meant our credit card became detached for our account and we had to make 2 visits to reception to get it reactivated. We had booked excursions in advance and were very surprised to find tickets on our beds on arrival for the morning of that day which had already elapsed. A computer mistake I was told on complaining to the excursion desk and new tickets would be issued in a weeks time as the computer can only work in the current week. There were a few mistakes made on issuing excursion tickets and they had to be replaced on several occasions. The trips themselves were a bit of a mixed bag, some excellent and some not so good. The trip to the Chu Chi tunnels in Vietnam was not good as the guide spoke bad English too quickly, did not take care of her party, gave us her life story and nearly lost everyone in Ho Chi Minh city. We were very pleased to have booked the excursion in advance, as many were not available on the ship and the ports that the ship stops at are industrial dockyards up to 2 hours away from anything worth seeing. You simply cannot do much on foot on this trip. A spurious charge for mini bar appeared on my account after a few days. It took 3 trips to reception to get this removed. There is very much a computer says no regime on this ship. The good points. The ship though old is nice and roomy and clean. The food is very good in all the restaurants and New Year dinner was exceptional as was the steak house speciality restaurant. The entertainment team are very good, probably the best I have seen on a cruise ship and we had very good guest acts apart from the comedians who were very average. Service in the bars can be excellent or very poor depending on the time of day. The service in the main restaurant was exceptional. Overall the cruise was good but let down by some mistakes and it was quite apparent that this was the first time they had done this itinerary. We were definitely the Guinea Pigs on this one. If you just want a taste of the far east then this cruise is okay but I will stick to the Caribbean in future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Choice of cruise was due to the attractive rates and yearly family get together bonding. We board at around 5.30pm, warm welcome and picture taking at entrance. My Costa Mobile App is very useful to communicate on board tapping on ... Read More
Choice of cruise was due to the attractive rates and yearly family get together bonding. We board at around 5.30pm, warm welcome and picture taking at entrance. My Costa Mobile App is very useful to communicate on board tapping on cruise Wifi. There is no lack of entertainments as daily schedule was given, dancing class, Michael Jackson show by Ice, Acrobatics Show, Movies, games, tournaments, dance party, lounge singing... Lots of "lepak" places. Deck 11 Self service buffet counter serve the same dishes at Indian Corner & International corner, however the mutton is very delicious. Yummy desserts too. Experience Authentic italian pizza at deck 12 for teabreak and supper. Pools are 1.4m too deep for children. Basket balls and ping pong bats are not so "good". Shore excursions was interesting however, when return there was chaotic at the tender boat boarding. Overall crew were helpful, despite some miscommunication issues due to coming from different country. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016

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