169 Marella Cruises Marella Explorer Cruise Reviews

I chose this cruise as it was smart casual as we dont like getting dolled up every night , we paid £3500 for 14 days in a balcony cabin , the service we got on board was excellent ie cleaning cabins bars and restaurants, even though we ... Read More
I chose this cruise as it was smart casual as we dont like getting dolled up every night , we paid £3500 for 14 days in a balcony cabin , the service we got on board was excellent ie cleaning cabins bars and restaurants, even though we paid £1500 more than people with an inside cabin wegot no additional perks ie premium package was £100 each for 14 days extra all trips were extra we worked it out if you went on a trip every day for your trip you would pay between £1000 and £1500 extra for your holiday . there was no advice on trips that you could do yourself without paying for the trips out , which we thought was unbelievable we asked about a tourist attraction which we thought we could walk to and was pointed in a direction 1hour walking later we asked a local and it would have been impossible only by a car to get to and would take 4 hours. as for the ship there was only 1 bar you could get a proper coffee and that was after 1pm all other bars was coffee in geezers which was absolutely awful even with breakfast we used the free sachets of nescafe that we got in our room to make a decent coffee at breakfast no sachets available in the restaurants .. food and drink was excellent there was a 4 all inclusive restaurants all fab. as for the northern lights well the captain only mentioned once that they had made an appearance and wouldnt broadcast this in the cabins as somepeople didnt want to be disturbed at all so what was the point of going on anorthern lights cruise hence i was in the shower so couldnt hear the announcement. when we did go on deck 11 there was no bar open outside no seating people were just stood outside with a member of staff serving hot chocolate out of a machine in paper cups, its as though the "northern lights" cruise was secondary to being just on a cruise to norway we were extremely disappointed with this , it was just rubbish. the ship is good creaks in the cabins abit but as a ship it is good . we cant say anything about the shows as we didnt go to any as we only got out of restaurant at 9.45 . would have been lovely to go to Stavanger at night instead of sailing off as it looked great for a night out as being on aship for 14 days can be very mononotous all in all it was good but not upto our expectations for the money we paid out , we shant be going on another cruise personal choice for us . Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The itinerary and time of year are main reasons we chose this cruise and it did not disappoint. The crew and staff all so kind, helpful and humorous and most importantly skilful whatever their role. Special thanks to Willy and his team ... Read More
The itinerary and time of year are main reasons we chose this cruise and it did not disappoint. The crew and staff all so kind, helpful and humorous and most importantly skilful whatever their role. Special thanks to Willy and his team who kept our spacious room so tidy and clean and yes the monkey towel sculpture hanging from a mirror did make us jump. We enjoyed our meals in Latitude 53 and the Market Place for snacks. The Italian restaurant Vista came highly recommended by other guests but we only had the chance to visit once as so popular. Embarkation and security checks took a while but disembarkation was straightforward. The only disappointment was slight problems with most of our trips but they did not spoil the enjoyment of the trip...for us but did for some . Plenty going on throughout the ship and we especially enjoyed the evening shows but they did come over as very loud and the music was all very much the same whatever show they were performing but nevertheless, some very talented musicians and dancers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very good.We travelled to Southampton with Inter cruises who were very professional with no problems,but on arriving we had to queue to receive the luggage tags then again to get port side ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very good.We travelled to Southampton with Inter cruises who were very professional with no problems,but on arriving we had to queue to receive the luggage tags then again to get port side with only one desk open even the ladies on the desk were complaining then again to get checked in where there was a "technical" problem with the computers-it took over 2 hours to get on board and it's the last thing you need when you've been travelling for 5 hours. We liked the ship with lots of space it was bright and clean.I booked our cabin 8004 as it looked bigger and we weren't disappointed it was huge.With Steward Prasetyo and team we were well looked after and nothing was too much trouble and surprised us with amazing towel sculptures. We had breakfast and lunch in the buffet and there was a good selection to please everyone,evening meal was in the main dining room and the meals were well cooked and beautifully presented again we were well looked after by Noel,Freddie and Vladlena? "The A Team" Entertainment was varied with something for everyone and we enjoyed going to the cinema a few times as well. Our favourite place for a drink was the Lounge after the show -a special mention for Alice who was a star. All the staff we encountered greeted you with a smile and they're all a credit to the company.We enjoyed daily announcements by Captain Peter -he's certainly got a sense of humour especially when explaining that we'd just got through a severe storm but now it 's just a storm-we were on deck 8 and the waves were hitting our window!! We enjoyed all the ports of call on this trip but again we were plagued with the dreaded queuing getting off and back on the ship Disembarkation was a breeze thank goodness very well organised We will certainly cruise with Marella again if the ports of call are what we want. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
As stated above ,this review is of 2 different cruises ,both from Newcastle ,to the Baltic sea on the 10th of August,with an immediate turn round on the 24th for another week around the Norwegian fjords,so if its overly long apologies in ... Read More
As stated above ,this review is of 2 different cruises ,both from Newcastle ,to the Baltic sea on the 10th of August,with an immediate turn round on the 24th for another week around the Norwegian fjords,so if its overly long apologies in advance. First of all,embarkation at Newcastle was not the perfect start for us. We arrived for the first shuttlebus from Newcastle station at 1145, to be told it was already full and the next one would be in an hour ,as there was a bus "missing".. Once at the port, checking in our luggage was fairly straightforward, there then followed a 50metre bus ride to a larger building where we waited a long time for our number to be called for boarding. The journey from our home in Sheffield took less time than all this. Our first impressions of the ship was that it had been partially, not fully, refurbished. The Atrium,shops and reception area were all brightness and bling, elsewhere the dominant colour was brown ,usually varnished wood, including most of the old furniture in the public areas, and the fittings in the cabin. We chose these cruises for their itineries, and in this case we were not disappointed. We had beautiful weather throughout the Baltic cruise, usually sunshine with low 20s temperatures, so in the majority of cases we did our own thing, eschewing museum visits and concentrated on outdoor activities .In Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki we took local boat trips with great city views. Marella provided a (good value) shuttle into Gothenburg ( which was mainly closed due to our early arrival and departure) and at Warnemünde we hired bikes to try and burn off some of the pounds gained on board. Along with most reviewers ,we felt St. Petersburg was the highlight, there we took a private tour for 2 days , very exhausting but well worth the money, with the advantage of a canal /river trip and early entry into various museums.This was specially good as otherwise we would have been queuing for hours! Our only disappointment was Tallinn, but this was because we were sharing the port with 3 other ships, all of which arrived simultaneously ,and the small capital was overwhelmed. So to the food.The Marketplace buffet had all the trappings of a cross-channel ferry, with a scrum and race for tables at breakfast time , but the quality was ok. The MDR (Latitude 53 ) had more or less the same menu but with waiter service and better wine. The menu changed each day. Best of all was the Vista Italian , only 2 different menus throughout the cruise , but top class, The only problem was that this soon became common knowledge and there was always a wait of up to an hour.. We found the Mediterranean Italian and Tapas both disappointing, and didn't try any of the speciality restaurants so can't comment there. Regarding entertainment and enrichment, this is where we felt Marella fell down and thought certain activities were inappropriate. The cruise was blessed with beautiful sailaways past islands and through archipelagoes. Was it necessary to have loud music and films on deck at these times? There was plenty of that to be had in the bars and cinemas, we would have preferred to sail away in peace and quiet, like in the sail -ins we usually missed due to early morning arrivals! Having said that, the music and games in the evening in the bars were fun, but the entertainment in the Broadway Show lounge (with the exception of the crew show) a bit so-so. We also felt Marella should have included lectures on board regarding the history and culture of the ports we were visiting, but all we got were talks about Baltic royalty, and a couple of shallow presentations from Destination Services who were simply trying to sell excursions. The staff were magnificent, and we'd give them 6 stars if we could. From the cabin staff, always there to help,bar staff serving drinks quickly and efficiently,to reception organising our transition from the 1st to the 2nd cruise.. There was only a slight problem in the restaurants, where service could sometimes be a bit too slow, or after a late start in Vista having 3 courses served in a gold medal winning time of 20 minutes. The 2nd cruise to the Fjords was only a week, but it was lovely to have the ship to ourselves in the 2-3 hours before the next group of passengers boarded, especially in the untypically warm Newcastle weather. There were more families with children this time, with pool safety regulations often being ignored, and bizarrely people who just wanted to drink all day ,which was a bit mystifying given the landscape. 2 of the ports here were tender ports, and Marella ,to our chagrin, always tendered people who had booked their excursions first. This meant in Olden, we arrived ashore too late to book anything locally. We used the ship's excursion in Geiranger, which was a long day, beautiful scenery but an amateurish guide.Not a patch on St.Pete. However, here the Norwegian authorities banned noisy sailaways. so instead we had classical music accompanying the fjord exits, which we found far more applicable. Indeed ,on one occasion we took our evening meal up on deck with us as the fjord slipped serenely by. Disembarkation back at Newcastle was a piece of cake compared to embarkation, and we got a train home an hour earlier than anticipated. Would we cruise again? Difficult to answer after all the adverse publicity the larger floating hotels have had, but Marella seems to pollute less than others, so its a possibility. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Just returned from two week Baltic cruise on Marella Explorer (10 th Aug19). Never having cruised before, we were unsure what to expect, but the itinerary was exactly what we wanted. Apologies in advance for the length of this review, I ... Read More
Just returned from two week Baltic cruise on Marella Explorer (10 th Aug19). Never having cruised before, we were unsure what to expect, but the itinerary was exactly what we wanted. Apologies in advance for the length of this review, I know it's going to be a long one We sailed from Newcastle, so no flights involved for us which was a huge bonus, mainly as no luggage restrictions ( so long as each case weighed no more than 23k each) but also being able to avoid the chaos of airports in summer. We stayed overnight the night before in Premier inn at the port( not the best, will review separately on trip advisor) . We drove to the car park at 1130 which took all of 30 seconds from the hotel, dropped off our luggage in the marquee as instructed, where our cases were tagged with our cabin number - didn't see them again until we were on board. Then taken by bus to the check in area where we were given our cruise cards and information. We waited no more than 10 mins to be called to have passports checked, and after another very short bus ride we embarked. We were on board by 1215 - really efficient, smooth process, greatly appreciated by us as we had no idea of the process. We had just had lunch by the pool when an announcement was made at 130 pm that cabins were available and our luggage arrived around 330 pm , really efficient service. We explored and attended muster drill which was obviously very busy, but it was well organised and lasted no more than 15 mins. Unfortunately the weather was poor for sail away so I believe a sail away party was held indoors. We stayed on deck in the typical British summer weather to watch us sail away instead. We had a sea day immediately which gave us time to explore all the ship had to offer. Two pools, which were bigger than we expected. Three generous hot tubs too. Poolside bands when weather allowed, and twice daily films by the pools. 10 bars, 10 restaurants , a kids area, a teenage area, table tennis, mini golf, cinema, show lounge, champneys spa and gym, basket ball court, adults only sunbathing area, library with table games, shuffle board, quoits a huge English style pub with lots of quizzes and bands. Great value shops, I'm sure there was more but am at a loss to remember Entertainment was on in the show lounge twice nightly and the few we saw were good. They had a guest comedian who was really good - so good we went to both his shows , one being a late night version Service on board really was with a smile. Every member of staff without exception was friendly and polite. Everyone of the staff worked so hard and gave the impression they loved what they did. Our room stewards were fab and we appreciated the turndown service in the evening. Our cabin was kept very clean each day. Hygiene was important throughout the ship, with hand sanitiser everywhere and gentle reminders in the daily cruise news . Exiting the ship at each port of call was easy and smooth. , no long lines , and the same getting back on after each port. The sail away party after each port was great and after our two day stay in St Petersburg we were welcomed back with songs and dancing from all the crew on the dock side - really nice touch. Another nice touch was a BBQ by the pool on a rare sunny day after we visited Copenhagen . Food is subjective and I'm sure you can't please everyone. But we didn't have a meal we didn't enjoy on board. From the buffet to the steak house, all really good. We tried them all, including the ones with the supplement except for the Dining club, purely as its not to my taste . There were no tender ports on this itinerary , but a few of the ports were a little way out of town. TUI did provide shuttles for these at £5 each which we used. Only in Stockholm was the shuttle useless. It dropped us in a busy part of town difficult to find again for the return. We made our own way back to the ship, but guests were complaining the shuttle picked up in a different part of town that people weren't made aware of causing some to have to get taxis back to the ship We didn't use TUI excursions at all, we researched before and either did our own thing or booked privately with no issues at all. Besides the price, the fact that TUI use full size coaches for excursions put us off. The privately booked tours used 16 seat mini buses, making it easier to see the sights quickly with a guarantee of not missing all aboard time We didn't know wether we would love or hate the cruising experience, but can safely say we are hooked ! Thank you captain John , you have an amazing crew, you should be very proud, but you need better jokes ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise for it's itinerary as the Baltic was somewhere we had never been before and were keen to experience. St Petersburg was the highlight but we enjoyed the other ports of call too. Embarkation/disembarkation ... Read More
We chose this cruise for it's itinerary as the Baltic was somewhere we had never been before and were keen to experience. St Petersburg was the highlight but we enjoyed the other ports of call too. Embarkation/disembarkation was very well organised with no issues for us. We thought the dining was excellent, especially Vista Italian, the Pizza/Pasta Italian and the Mediterranean Tapas. The quality and choice at Latitude 53 was also very good. Market Place was always busy but had a really good choice all day and we especially enjoyed afternoon tea. We didn't try eating in any of the places where there was a cover charge. On the whole, we also really enjoyed the onboard entertainment. The show cast are a very talented bunch and certainly work very hard. All the staff were smiley & friendly. We thought the wifi was expensive at £25 for 3 days. If they do have to charge then surely those 3 days needn't be consecutive? Couldn't the system at least recognise when you're off the ship and therefore couldn't possibly be using it? Obviously there were one or two other things that could be improved upon but you can't please all the people all the time and overall the ship, cabin, dining entertainment & service were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We picked this cruise for a number of reasons. The dates fitted in with dates I had booked well in advance (without knowing what we were going to do in the summer) to please my work, the itinerary, and by reading several reviews that the ... Read More
We picked this cruise for a number of reasons. The dates fitted in with dates I had booked well in advance (without knowing what we were going to do in the summer) to please my work, the itinerary, and by reading several reviews that the line was good for families and kids. 14 days is a long time for a 10 year old to be onboard so it had to be fun for him too, which I am happy to report it was. Embarkation was smooth enough but as we had a few smaller bags rather than a couple of big bags they insisted that we took on the "hand luggage". Disembarkation was not so smooth and Port of Tyne were making a hash of it and being rude with it. Ramming as many as they could on the car park shuttle buses for example and siting on the quay for 10 mins while they could have got a full load to the car park and back in this time. Ship was lovely. Nothing too fancy but very clean kept and run throughout. She is big enough to have plenty on her but you will still only be meeting people for the "first" time it seems on the day you are leaving which is the down fall of larger ships. Food was excellent and plenty of options without having to go the areas that you had to pay more. You can pretty much have something different every night and you can choose between sit down service at several restaurants to having a quick buffet which is ideal if you have had a busy port call and you just want good food quickly with no fuss. The choice overall is excellent. Drink we took the premium all inclusive which was little extra at booking and meant you could have any drink on the menu included which made things very easy. There are no hidden costs really and the end of the trip we had about £100 to our account for a couple of transfer buses and photos. Cabin was a little small (Deck 10 aft) when the sofa bed was out. Nice size of balcony though and staff were superb. Very clean and plenty of storage etc, worked very well. Entertainment was generally very good, decent show on each night and plenty of other activities around the ship and did not see half of it so always something to do. Plenty of live music around the bars etc. Overall making for a great feel. The entertainments team work very hard to get a good feel and it worked well, sail away parities etc were really upbeat and enjoyable and a real informal feel with lots of laughs. There were 2 formal nights, one of which we took part in and the other we chose to go the buffet (Market Place) so there is no pressure. Ports were superb. Some of the cities there was not enough time but this is cruising, a day in Stockholm, Copenhagen, etc is never going to be enough so you have to see these as giving you a taste. There was a full day (2 in Russia) so the line worked hard to give you the best time available in what is a tight itinerary to pull off overall. We only took the excursions in Russia as it saved getting a visa and also taking advantage of the Moscow trip. Both days in Russia the excursions were very good. In the other cities we took 2 laid on transfers (Gothenburg and Hellsinki) which were very hand. We enjoyed followed our noses to explorer the cities and if this is what you want (I.e. see a bit of the place and enjoy a coffee etc) there is no need to take pre planned excursions. It would have been nice if there was a transfer laid on at Copenhagen as it was a good walk from the city and the public transport did not seem logical although there were hop on/off buses at the quay. The Children's "M Club" was superb. We made our 10 year old go to the first session (he did not want to) and gave him the options if he wanted to go back or not, he hardly missed one after it. He made some great friends and got on really well with the staff which went out of their way to make them feel welcome and make sure they had a good time. Overall there was only very minor things we thought could be better (Coffee Port was slow for example) but nothing major and we really did not want to get off the ship. We would definitely go with Marella and the Explorer again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
This was my second time on this ship and was very much looking forward to exploring the places round the Baltic’s. The trip exceeded all expectations from start to finish. The embarkation was a breeze having parked the car it ... Read More
This was my second time on this ship and was very much looking forward to exploring the places round the Baltic’s. The trip exceeded all expectations from start to finish. The embarkation was a breeze having parked the car it literally took 1/2hour to get in the ship by 1200 I was sipping champagne in the Mediterranean bar outside looking out to sea. We opted for the same junior suits as last year and it was amazing large balcony with hammocks, sun loungers and table and chairs. The house keeping staff were beyond fabulous and kept the room spotless and were very attentive. The food was amazing in the ship in all areas - we mostly dined in Latitude 53 but treated ourselves to the dining club twice and Kora la my 15 year old son thought he had died and gone to heaven with the waiter service and innovative food staff could not do enough for you - the staff really looked after us. I upgraded our drinks package which was great as branded soft drinks , coffees for my son and lovely selection wines, spirits etc. It meant we could use the quiet Aperitif bar before dinner where we were treated like royalty, we also preferred hanging out in the Mediterranean bar where the service was great too and the bar staff were a hoot. The places we visited on the trip were beyond amazing especially Stockholm St Petersburg and Oslo and the sailing between places the scenery at time was amazing so special. The only disappointment was Gothenburg I really did not take to the place but our tui trip there was rubbish. We used tui for every trip and the tour guides were so knowledgeable and helpful apart from Gothenburg. I was very disappointed by some of the British peoples behaviour at the concentration camp in Berlin - taking selfies seriously not appropriate my feeling is photography should be banned as a sign of respect for the site and only take photos of the monument I was disgusted by some people behaviour laughing and joking. We took part in wine tasting which was very good, cannot really comment on the entertainment as not really our thing. It was just a fabulous holiday so much more I could say, I just do not know how anyone can complain there is so much variety of places and things to do on the ship. Can’t wait to book again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
As a first time cruiser, I was attracted to Marella’s package given it included not only food, but drinks also. I was initially nervous, having read mixed reviews online. The ship is fantastic. There’s loads to do at all hours. Our ... Read More
As a first time cruiser, I was attracted to Marella’s package given it included not only food, but drinks also. I was initially nervous, having read mixed reviews online. The ship is fantastic. There’s loads to do at all hours. Our cabin was clean, comfortable, well maintained and offered plenty of storage space. The food was fantastic. The main fine dining restaurant, Latitiude 53, was good, albeit hit and miss at times. However the Vista restaurant was faultless every time and was some of the best food we’ve ever eaten. Mediterranean Italian was also superb and the buffet restaurant offered a great choice, whilst also maintaining a high quality. The organisation of the embarkation and disembarkation was very smooth and faultless. All the staff were beyond superb. I cannot put into words how they made the cruise. Will definitely be cruising with Tui again- already looking at the next one! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Never again will I sail with Marrella, from day one the drains stank and had to be treated daily, this permeates around the ship. The food in the main dining room and the cafe is substandard cheap rubbish, I've never sent a meal ... Read More
Never again will I sail with Marrella, from day one the drains stank and had to be treated daily, this permeates around the ship. The food in the main dining room and the cafe is substandard cheap rubbish, I've never sent a meal back on a cruise until this one. My wife got sick on day 7 with diarrhea, probably something she ate. I caught them replacing the premium ingredients of the premium all inclusive drinks menu with cheap alternatives. The entertainment is pretty much the same every day, singing and dancing with the same group of dancers, it's OK but after a week it's too much, too repetitive. Be warned if you sail from Newcastle with parking your car it takes two buses to get to the ship and likewise on return, this needs simplifying. The baltic itinery is great, however the tours are not so great, save yourself some money and spend it on a better cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The ship and the holiday The ship has limitations compared to others in the fleet or on other lines. We missed a promenade deck and also found limitation in the number of seats available. Good places of call and all excursions were ... Read More
The ship and the holiday The ship has limitations compared to others in the fleet or on other lines. We missed a promenade deck and also found limitation in the number of seats available. Good places of call and all excursions were well organised despite tender trouble in Stornaway. Excellent Captain who kept us well informed throughout – often very humerous The embarkation procedure needs attention. We had to queue for luggage labels despite our disability and that we had booked our cabin. Need more than 3 checking in We have some limitations on mobility and asked for help with our luggage when we arrived by taxi. None given - just a shrug. I am unable to lift luggage but able to walk with a stick. We are not wheelchair bound both but have difficulty walking. It appears that we are unable to get assistance unless we take to a wheelchair. Other cruise lines offer very much better assistance Staff worked very hard and were always pleasant with a smile. However, we learnt from one of the very good cabin staff that when he started 10 years ago he had 12 staterooms to oversee. Each now have 28. No wonder they were tired and used periods off to catch up with sleep Newcastle a good port for cruises for almost everyone we spoke to. However Marella need to sort the embarkation procedure out better as well as disembarkation Dining Dining was very slow initially in Latitude 53 but TUI did respond to complaints and service much improved after 3 nights Menu in Latitudes not as wide as in earlier years and sad to say the quality of the food was poorer which is different to my views on earlier cruises- More cost cutting? Had foul smell in shower room when we returned from a function - attended to 3 times but reappeared - was told that it was due to the ship being on rocky seas and the foul water was swishing into shower water - surely not on level 9 - as this means that both foul water and washing water are the same - this would be a very dangerous health hazard Entertainment We had a very good speaker and very well attended Broadway theatre full for 4 of the 5 talks (well done!) despite some issues not of his making. Entertainment apart from the talks was very poor - not aimed for all the generations on board. The shows were given by a well-trained and enthusiastic group of singer dancers. Mostly it was pop. However as someone commented, if we were watching on TV at home, we would switch off. Just one comedian in 14 nights – no other speciality acts. No classical music at all. The scheduled deck games were not hosted or hosts did not appear at all. Note to Marella - The limitation of some of these games issues could be overcome by utilising the space adjacent to the putting area as well as enforcing what we were promised. Also unhosted Bridge etc was scheduled at breakfast time. Tis did nt take place. The library (the Attic) was much better than on Explorer 2 although 3 of the 5 bookcases were emptied within 24 hours. Many more games provided compared Explorer 2 but no playing cards (unless they were taken by guests) The games were needed in view of the poor entertainment available. A request failed to see them arrive. However the Attic was a lovely quiet spot Scheduling was erratic – we did not see or meet the captain until the last night as it clashed Overall We felt that everything that could be cut financially, had been with the result that the cruise will appeal to a limited market covered by other cruise lines. We have cruised with Tomson/TUI/ Marella about 10 times but probably not again despite the convenience of the port Suggestions for Marella 1. Use the sheltered deck area adjacent to part of the putting/golf area. No doubt used for ship storage etc But consider adapting for eg quoits when not in use (it was not used throughout the cruise) 2. Can we have cards provided 3. Can you afford hosted bridge and whist etc as on other cruise ships 4. Can you afford hosted arts and crafts as many would follow this- On P & O, the number on the watercolour class filled the lounge Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We are a young couple having just been on Marella's inaugural 'Land of Fire & Ice' cruise. Everything about this sailing was fantastic. The itinerary (Kirkwall, one day at sea, Akureyri, Isafjordur & ... Read More
We are a young couple having just been on Marella's inaugural 'Land of Fire & Ice' cruise. 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! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, wanted to see the north of iceland and fjords of Norway. This two week cruise from Newcastle was ideal. We had read of issues with embarkation at Newcastle with past Marella cruises so were ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, wanted to see the north of iceland and fjords of Norway. This two week cruise from Newcastle was ideal. We had read of issues with embarkation at Newcastle with past Marella cruises so were prepared. We arrived (having spent the night in Newcastyle) by Taxi at about 12:00 noon and were dropped off as instructed by port officials at the 'red terminal building' with our cases. We waited in a queue for maybe 5 minutes before leaving our cases and recieving an envelope from the staff on duty, ,walked outside to the suttle bus and were taken to the main port terminal. We were then given cruise cards and asked to wait until called. We were priority so did not wait however those with us at that time 12:15 did not wait long before being processed and re-bussed to the ship. Our friends who were self drive and park took ages to get on board, they arrived at the parking at 13:00 and did not get on board until 15:00. So I would suugest arriving earlier to avoid a long wait. Disembarkation was easy. We had cabin 12031. Really good, modern and clean. Food on board was fine. Long waits for tables in Vista (italian) at peak times, paigers given out however they only reached as far as the adjacent bar, no issues if you could find a seat. This is a small bar with liuttle seating. Vista was good. MDR had no real wait but some queueing. Plenty of tables for two if needed but all (most) were very close to each other, Food here was hit and miss as was service, service at times in certain sections was very slow, sometimes without a smile however generally waiting staff tried hard and worked hard. We tried Surf and Turf, Asian Fustion and the Dinning Club , Surf and Turf was rushed and ordinary, steaks were OK but the atmosphere was lacking, we had so many waiters it was hard to keep track, Asain fusion was OK. Marco (in charge of this section) is so good and deserves a special mention. The Dinning Club although the most expensive was really really good, the night we ate there the food was to die for as good as any restaurant we have dined in over the last few years. Wiat staff on point, explained everything to you, service was not rushed. We met Stanley the chef and gave him 10 out 10. Its expensive however if you have special event on board just try it. We up graded the drinks package as we like real coffe ( no charge at the coffee pot), really enjoyed the whiskeys and gins in the whisky and gin bar and the fact that Fever tree tonic comes with this package, as does better wines and proper canned drinks. We were less keen on the lay out the ship-it did not flow from aft to stern. There is no bar near the Show lounge so unless you want the bottled beer or pre-poured wines you had to remember to get your drink befotre the show-no table service either in teh show lounge. Drinks were a little inconsistant-in indego some were good some were not as different mixers made different cocktails, some cokctails on the pool deck bar were undrinkable.Never had a real problem in delays getting served. Seats in the Indego lounge were at times hard to find as this was a cold weather cruise lots of people 'camped' for the day inside in an area to read not caring that others wanted to sit and listen to music , bands or do teh quizzes. Shows were not so good. Singers and dancers tried but the 'shows' did not really suit the audience. Previous Marella cruises had more 'professional looking shows. Some people were dismayed (given the continued controversy around Michael Jackson) that he 'won' the soul award. Maybe Marella should look at that one as despite his music he has become a controversial figure. Staff were as usual very friendly, they all speak and say hello and most do enjoy a chat. Our cabin stewrads were wonderful, always chatty and we had lots of towel animals. Some of the excurstions did seem a bit overpriced. We like to do our own thing however on this cruise due to the small nature of ports of call its not always possibnle.The Flam railway is very expensive for what it is, half and hour up the mountain (scenery is nice) a stop not quite at the top for awful coffe and a cold waffle and half an hour down again. Its very hyped however there is not much else to do in port. All in all we enjoyed the cruise, were happy with the ship, really happy with our chosen cabin and found teh food fine. We would use Marella again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting ... Read More
Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting Marella again was an easy choice. This time departure was from Newcastle so no flights and extra luggage allowance. Departure was fine. It took a little while and there was some queues but overall not a problem and thankfully the rain kept off. We had inside cabins on Deck 9. Excellent fit out with a good bathroom and shower. Cabin stewards attentive and helpful as were all the staff onboard. Cabins serviced twice daily too. The ship itself is good. There is a good selection of restaurants. Some you have to pay extra for but there is enough choice and variety if you don’t want that. Food quality good throughout. One shortfall is a general shortage of indoor seating which can create challenges when the weather is not so good. Bars excellent as is the range of all inclusive drinks.. there’s enough variety and choice.. if you do fancy an up market brand for a change then you can pay as you go for those adding it to your cabin bill. This works well and saves you going for the drinks upgrade package. The prices are reasonable too. Entertainment was a mixed bag. The shows and tribute act in the Broadway lounge were generally excellent and to a good standard. They certainly had the family looking forward to the next nights show. Otherwise it was a hit and miss affair with bands quizzes etc mainly catering for an older audience. This did get wearing after a while and we did crave something more up to date and modern after a few days. This was a particular issue for my teenagers who continually joked about this being a cruise for “old duffers”. This wasn’t the case although this perception can only have been exacerbated by the frequent and somewhat petty gripes of some of the more senior patrons on the boat. Movies were good with some up to date titles. Outdoor cinema was chilly at night so good that blankets were provided. It was the destinations that made this trip special however. Orkney - We took the tour to Skara Brae - A must for history buffs with a knowledgeable guide. Really excellent. Kirkwall was also fun to explore and there’s enough to do and see here. Aukeyreri was jaw dropping and the cascading waterfalls either side as we entered the fjord were amazing. We took the tour to Mvaytyn baths. This was a long ride on a coach .. over an hour but we got so see some of this fantastic landscape. The bath itself is quite an experience and highly recommended. The town is also fun to explore with some good shops. Isafjordur was a gem. There is so little there at first glance . I can imagine some people only spent an hour ashore. A helpful guide in tourist information provided an excellent walking map and a few hours later we were up amongst the ski slopes with a vista that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. Reykjavík is a funky place with lots going on. We self booked onto a whale watching tour which was excellent and we saw plenty of minke whales feeding. 2 days at sea then into Norway - Flam is so pretty. Everyone heads for the railway and it gets very busy . We didn’t pre-book so couldn’t ride. Instead we hiked and climbed up to see Brekfossen waterfalls which was spectacular. The old town of Flam is also worth an explore .Good walking here and plenty to see. Bergen is excellent and all the key sights are worth your time . Funicular provides great views and fish market is amazing. Eidfjord is also pretty and there is an excellent circular walk which takes a couple of hours if you take it slowly. But not much else other than that at the port. It seems this is a place to look at excursions or car hire. Haugesund was surprisingly fun. Great walks up the coast provided stunning views. Great town and shops too. Kristiansand was a wet day . There is a good nature park to explore at the back of the town and this town had some excellent shops also. Overall - The destinations provided an amazing holiday. The Marella Explorer is a good ship with an excellent crew. There’s little to complain about really and it’s good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We wanted to visit the Baltic region and the itinerary looked good Embarkation was very easy and well organised. We had a short wait for our luggage but took the time to explore the ship. We dined in all the restaurants with the ... Read More
We wanted to visit the Baltic region and the itinerary looked good Embarkation was very easy and well organised. We had a short wait for our luggage but took the time to explore the ship. We dined in all the restaurants with the exception of the sushi bar.and found the food to be fair to good in the market place but we preferred latitude 53 and the supplement restaurants (surf and turf, kora - la and the dining club) where the food was absolutely amazing. The only small niggle was that there wasn't much information on the ports to allow you to go it alone. We had done research before we left but would have appreciated maps and guidance from destination services. We booked with a Russian tour company (TJ TRAVEL ) for the 2 day stop over in Saint Petersburg. There appeared to be a bit of overkill about the need for visas and the potential problems that could arise in Russia unless a Tui excursion was booked. We had an absolutely fabulous time with TJ TRAVEL with no problems at all. We attend the ballet with Tui which was lovely and fairly priced As always the crew were all very helpful and always smiling despite their heavy workload Overall the cruise was busy. We were blessed with good weather so managed a bit of sun bathing an a dip in the pool. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Price was great for all inclusive. Travelled with Tui before and very informal and friendly so prefer this type of cruising. Great cabin spacious and clean and as usual very friendly hardworking staff. Few issues with queues at ... Read More
Price was great for all inclusive. Travelled with Tui before and very informal and friendly so prefer this type of cruising. Great cabin spacious and clean and as usual very friendly hardworking staff. Few issues with queues at Main dining area and waiting once in but relsoved after speaking with maitre D. The Med Bar for TAPAS excellent as well as the Italian so plenty of choice for eats Good quality drinks Plenty of entertainment., shows, quizzes, groups, piano, lectures , cinema something for everyone Lots of different bars for entertainment or quiet areas if you prefer Lovely Lounge Bar very bright and spacious with our fave staff Michelle Roland David Alice always singliong smiling and going hte extra mile Too may great staff to mention all the names Booked the 2 day Saint Petersburg tour with ALLA tours, by far the best from speaking to others . only 14 in the group, no queues, excellent lunches in 4 star hotels each day, Dimitry our guide was fantastic and knowledgable. Very easy to book and answered all questions beforehand, highly recommend ALLA Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got ... Read More
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got there,but our steward did let us hang my wife's dresses in 2 dress bags,& our coats up on the wall hangers,to save carrying them around for an hour or so,When we returned an hour later,the dresses had gone,the cabin steward denied ever letting us in,then couldn't understand what we were trying to explain that 6 dresses had gone from our cabin,On our way to reception I just happened to glance into the cabin stewards room (which was open & ajar) & there was all the dresses & coats,dumped on the floor,To say that we were unhappy is an understatement to say the least,We went for a cuppa to calm down before go to reception,After we did calm down,We decided to let the matter drop,We didn't want to see the poor steward getting into trouble,or worse.There are 2 bands on board Rhythm who are very good,Girl sounds like Stevie Nicks,The Beats also very good,guest acts were very good with the exception of the "Comedian" who was absolutely dire,Got to be the worst I've ever seen,I couldn't believe the amount of people who walked out of the theatre,Don't know how he makes a living from it,BUT he can certainly hold a note,What a singer.Theater cast were also excellent.Surf & Turf & Kora La are well worth that little bit extra for a different dining experience,Not worth the extra for premium drinks as all we wanted was the all inclusive menu,Which ends at 02:00 hrs,But they did announce it in the club,The silent disco is a MUST,Hilarious. Overall a good cruise & good itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Our first cruise for 20 years My aim is to help people but I’ve got to be honest We were a bit worried about boarding after some reviews we read but both boarding and departing the ship was done very professionally Cabin and ... Read More
Our first cruise for 20 years My aim is to help people but I’ve got to be honest We were a bit worried about boarding after some reviews we read but both boarding and departing the ship was done very professionally Cabin and rest of ship was spotlessly clean best room cleaner I’ve ever had and I’ve traveled a lot Cabin number 10111 nice balcony with hammock etc The ships staff ie waiters bartenders cleaners etc all round the ship were fantastic and extremely friendly Got to give special mention to barmen in Squid and Anchor Kesauan , Cooper and Rade at the gin bar and two waitresses who don’t know how to stop smiling Anna and Mary Food quality was excellent everywhere We ate a few times in specialty restaurants the food and wine taster in the Dining Club is a must they treat you like royalty However I think the prices are too dear on top of all inclusive and to charge at the Tapas bar is a joke On the same subject we upgraded to premier and it more than paid for itself with special guns and cocktails and also coffee but I think it’s petty to charge for coffees Thought overall entertainment was a disappointment I expected better The groups were ok but not top turns had much better entertainment in 4 star hotels The main show group were great dancers but only a few girls had voices and none of the boys Only two one off acts a George Michael tribute and a comedian who’s late show was really funny I can only comment on excursions that we made Skagen No need for a paid trip it’s a nice walk with shops and cafes Kreil We shared a taxi with friends to the U boat and Navy Museum they’re situated in a beautiful seaside resort really enjoyed this Tallin Guided tour highlights of Talin really good guide and a interesting tour of a beautiful city St Petersburg Two day tour Completely comprehensive and intense tour of surely one of the worlds most beautiful cities I think this tour is a must but it is tiring Helsinki Short bus trip to a marina city Here’s a great tip after the tiring Russian trip we found a great way of seeing Helsinki There’s a 4D cinema that does a fun trip round Helsinki and we tied this in with a ride round Finland totally recommend this Warnemunde Extremely popular German seaside resort We walked around for couple hours nice shops Stockholm Went to ABBA Museum Not really in mood for city tour after that so an hour walk to ship The cruise in and out of Stockholm is five hours of unbelievable island beauty Copenhagen Had to see Little Mermaid only ten minutes from ship had a walk round park area for two hours Beware Pickpockets Last night of the cruise we spent in Sqid and Anchor great night it was like New Years Eve Overall I loved the friendliness of an all British Cruise and will definitely do more but hope for better class of entertainment Steve Middlesbrough Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We liked the ports of call & the fact that we could leave from Newcastle. Having never sailed from there before we stayed in South Shields the night before to make the journey to the port easier. We had asked TUI about wheelchair ... Read More
We liked the ports of call & the fact that we could leave from Newcastle. Having never sailed from there before we stayed in South Shields the night before to make the journey to the port easier. We had asked TUI about wheelchair assistance to the ship & was told that Tui did not offer that service( at any of their ports worldwide) but we could take our own wheelchair. Arrived at the port around 10-30 to be told TUI had a policy of not letting passengers into the pre- booked parking area till 11-45 so we tried again at 11-35 to be in a cue of around 20 + vehicles, with nearly 200 already parked. In the embarkation hall there were wheelchairs available if required & early boarding. The boarding process was quite lengthy with periods of standing in line waiting for the shuttle bus to the ship. The ship was quite well set out & easy to get round. We used the main dining room most nights & the service ranged from very good to awful, sadly more awful times & the food choices terrible, no better in the buffet either. For us the entertainment was of a pretty poor standard, so we did our best to avoid it. Ports & shore excursions were very good & well organised. On the final 2 days my wife was feeling unwell( either a cold or flu ) we think due to the A/C mainly in the cabin. A couple of days after arriving home I also became unwell & 1 week later we are both under the weather & unable to go about our normal day to day activities. This was only our second TUI cruise & will be our last! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a smaller ship . We are a fit and healthy couple in our late 40s and early 50s and travelled as a solo couple, no children or friends with us..although we made plenty of friends on board. I am very surprised on reading the reviews on here how negative some people are about the Explorer and its staff. We embarked at Newcastle and didn't have to wait too long before boarding, and I would say we were probably there at peak time. There were seats to sit on and drinks to be had , we merely had to wait for our number to be called. The same goes for disembarkation, which went very smoothly and was very well organised especially when you consider the amount of people Marella has to disembark from the ship. We were told a time slot and that was in fact the time we disembarked, with time to have a farewell breakfast in the restaurant beforehand. The ship was bigger than the last one we went on and at first we weren't sure about it. The layout is a little confusing but once we were used to it we found our way about pretty well. I would say we were amongst the younger people on the ship although we are not young, the passengers were predominately older than us, in our late 40s. Our cabin was very quiet but we never bother with a balcony , just a window, and we were on deck 4 in the middle. We didn't pay extra for a specific cabin and I think were lucky as some passengers we spoke to did suffer with noise in their cabin. We did feel a very slight bit of vibration when the engines were put to full power, but the Captain also mentioned they were having trouble with a clutch on one of the engines. In my opinion engine noise on a ship is perhaps to be expected, it' isn't a hotel on dry land, it's a moving ship powered by engines on the ocean! Our cabin was very stable in the high seas, and the North Sea did get a bit turbulent on our voyage! Space wise, we thought our cabin was big enough and it had a lovely big window We had drop down bunk beds too so I think it may have been family cabin. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers...always a big plus in my book! Hairdryer worked well, there was a kettle and cups and teabags/coffee/milk were replenished at least once a day. Toilet rolls were also kept topped up by our steward so we had at least one in reserve and usually more! Seating....I am amazed that people have mentioned a lack of seating. Both us, and other passengers who have been on other Marella ships, thought there was plenty of seating to be had, and in addition a plethora of sun beds...which pleased me as I hate having to worry about getting a seat/sunbed. We could always find seats somewhere...might not have been your first choice but again, as I say, we were there for the itinerary and voyage, not for a good seat in the lounge, We had a nice cabin to sit in too, with a television. Other people who had been on different Marella ships told us some of them DO suffer from a lack of seating, particularly those with a very large central atrium, which might look impressive but takes away from seating areas. We didn't use the pool but it's a reasonable size for the ship. The leaving party could get a bit loud, so loud it was distorted at times, but again, you could get away from it on other decks with sunbeds and it only lasted half an hour. We did watch one outdoor film in the pool area one sea day and as it was a bit nippy on deck a couple of members of staff came round with fleece blankets. Now that's personal customer care! Other areas such as the Squid and Anchor , Bar 53, the Lounge, Indigo were all nice areas to sit in. If you couldn't get a seat in one you could get one in another. Cleanliness of the ship.....the staff were always cleaning on the stairs which have glass sides. In fact they seemed to clean all the time, although our cabin steward could have vacuumed our cabin perhaps a little better....but he did keep us topped up on tea bags, milk and loo rolls as I mentioned so that is more important to us! Public toilets in the ship were always clean as was our personal one. Food...the food was excellent, top notch. We didn't bother paying for the additional restaurants such as the Sushi or Surf and Turf but friends did and raved about them. For us the food in the dining room where we ate every evening was excellent. Service was pretty good too. Someone commented there were more tables for 2 than on other ships, although you could choose to share bigger tables. The dining is flexi in the main restaurant as it you turn up and sometimes wait a few minutes to be seats, but in the Italian, Vista and the Tapas you have to book but it was easy to do so and provided you did it in advance there was plenty of choice. You could turn up at the |Italian and book but might have to wait half an hour or so in the bar with a buzzer, which went off t=hen the table was free. We ate in the Tapas bar, the Italian, the main restaurant and the buffet Market place, although didn't eat in the latter in the evening. Portions were just right, everything was hot and water and wine were kept topped up as needed. If the water was a bit slow to be refilled at busy times (this happened only once) you only need ask a waiter and it gets topped up very quickly. When you consider the amount of people they are serving they do a simply amazing job. Again, it is a ship, and if the food in the Market Place is a bit samey, it's still good and a lot of it is baked on ship. They don't re stock with food and ingredients during the trip, it is all taken on board at Newcastle. Staff...the majority of the staff were lovely, happy, polite and willing to go the extra mile. There was the odd one or two which weren't, I can only agree with other reviewers on that, compared to the other Marella ship we went on where all the staff we encountered were bouncy, happy and friendly. However, it is a new ship to the fleet and a lot of the staff were very new so perhaps not a very tight team yet and have yet to settle. We found the odd...and I do mean odd in a large team, waiter perhaps a bit terse, and there were a couple staff on the security team as you go in who were a little terse and rude, one woman in particular. I realise they are on security but the security staff on our other ship were always smiling and customer friendly A please and thank you and a smile is just natural courtesy, although to be honest it could be a culture difference too. So...onto a couple more negative points about the ship which hopefully will get sorted our and certainly wouldn't put us off travelling on it. Air con...far too strong especially in the cabins. Was actually making people ill , and I suffered dreadfully from a dry throat, a bad chest , a stuffy head and dry hair and skin. Many people complained of this and there didn't seem to be a way to turn it down as the controls didn't seem to make a lot of difference. The shows were disappointing compared to the shows we had seen 3 or 4 years ago on a Marella cruise. Then they were West End quality, now more like school show, although some of them were better than others. Again, new staff, new troupe and I was told a different (cheaper?!) company supplying them so not as polished and together as they could be. Also in some shows we felt it was done on the cheap, lack of costumes and stage back drops and equipment. The best shows for us were the Rock one, the Soul one (which I didn't think I'd like..although Id have to say I didn't think all the songs were soul but who cares) the songs from the Musicals and Cogs. I didn't really understand Cogs...it was a very loose story, but the costumes and general stage dressing was fabulous and the songs pretty good. Although Marella, please sort out your sound and mikes....they are on too loud and are distorted...the balance is wrong! Cost of the excursions is ,as usual, a little high but on a par with other cruise companies. We tend to research before we go and do our own if possible. Explorer...you need to increase the cycle tours as they were very popular and difficult to get on to. We managed to do one as someone cancelled and we were on the reserve list, it was fabulous, good knowledgeable guides, easy pace for us and for those who didn't cycle there was the option of the amazing e-bikes (with a motor to help pedalling) We didn't use Marella for any excursions except the bikes and went with TJ Travel for St Petersburg, a 2 day tour. Talking to others we definitely did the right thing as there was no queuing for us, local guides, a better itinerary and a smaller group equipped with the hearing boxes and ear pieces. We notice Marella don't give you much advice about where to catch buses etc now when you land somewhere; they used to the day before on the cruise news. Probably because they would rather you did an excursion. however, as we had researched before going it didn't really affect us. Finally, be aware that although Yoga etc is advertised, it is available but you have to pay for it. The gym however is free and pretty good for a ship. It's certainly an experience on a treadmill in a rolling sea with 50 mile an hour winds! Finally, although yes there was origami and water painting to be done it was self led, not tutored, So all in all we liked Explorer, it is a reasonably priced cruise ship if you want to cruise and see places you may not have done otherwise and we certainly wouldn't hesitate to use it again, particularly if Marella tweak the areas I've mentioned! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to ... Read More
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to make a special mention to 2 members of staff who did go that extra mile to make our cruise special Putra our cabin steward was exceptional in trying to sort out our many problems that we incurred and secondly Gregg from the Bar staff who was entertaining, friendly, full of happiness and good fun to be near. 2nd The bad points. We entered our cabin and found we had a paper thin mattress that when you just touched it with slight pressure you could feel through to the bed frame. 2 wooden boxes with sharp edges protruding from the space in the headboard where our heads went. Another wooden box protruding from the wall near the access to side of bed. Safe not working. Fridge not working. Air conditioning not working. welcome to marella explorer. after complaining we were told that it would all be sorted out and not to worry. the reception staff ended up coming down to cabin as they seemed not to believe what we were saying and took photo's. we were informed that there was no other cabins available and they would put an extra mattress on the bed and pillows to cover boxes on headboard, 3 days later safe is replaced, refrigerator is replaced, air con is fixed(ish). We were told that the protruding boxes would be removed the following day, 2 days later we were informed that the protruding boxes could not be moved, a sorry was issued in the form of a scribbled note on a bottle of prosecco with 6 chocolate strawberries and we would have to make do! ships layout is not great if you are in the theatre and want a drink you have to walk 3/4 the length of the ship then que for 20 minutes by which time the show is finished Also if you want to participate in the evening entertainment and watch the evening show you cant as they overlap by 15 minutes so you either miss the end of the entertainment or the beginning of the show .... very poor planning Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of ... Read More
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of which have been fine and we thought good value for money. This was why we booked with their new branding 'Marella' and we were looking forward to going on the Explorer. The advertising and videos looked fine, and the Baltic was an area we had not cruised in but had been to independently previously. The port itinerary was great, Copenhagen, Warnemunde, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Klaipeda, and Fredericia. We had visited Tallinn and Riga both previously. The cruise did what it said on the tin, and destinations were not disappointing with no problems visiting the ports. All through the cruise, we were blessed with sunny weather and mainly calm seas. From this aspect, the voyage went well. Embarkation was good, as it was at the ports, and at the end of our cruise; well organised by the ship and no issues. Same in Russia, where good advice was given by destination services on procedure etc. There was enough time to organise and plan your own trips/activities if you had not booked ship ones, and what excursions we did take were reasonable and good. One issue which a number of people raised was the point that Marella no longer provides port maps in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and help the planet. Fine, but a lot of people were not happy accessing an online map version on the ship, and some are not IT savvy, so its a cheap cost-cutting exercise in our view. You can in most places get a 'hard copy' map from the cruise terminals at the ports you visit for free anyway. In Stockholm, we went to the ABBA museum and a walk around the old town. Probably as cheap to do this with the cruise ship excursion than independently. In St Petersburg, it was, as always busy but the Panoramic Tour we did with the ship excursion was very good. Our trip to the Ballet was also good. The second day we visited the Yusopov Palace and had a canal trip. It was somewhat chaotic due to road closures ( not Marella's fault ), and our guide was somewhat confused and our experience of Yousopof was marred by rude staff. The disembarkation from our canal cruise via an unstable and unsecured gangway was downright dangerous and a major health and safety issue, which we reported to Marella, and which they need to take up with the operator before someone is injured or worse. A number of passengers were phased by this incident on our trip. Those were the only organised trips we took, apart from a shuttle to enter Helsinki which Marella charged £5.00 return for. I am not sure if in the past with Thompson these were free. They are not now. However, now to comment on the onboard experience., the good and not so good. Let's start by saying the staff were polite and good-natured, and worked incredibly hard. Any queries we had were dealt with promptly but we had a number of issues. ( See cabin report ). From getting on the ship the hard sell started. I was asked almost straight away if I wanted a premium drinks package. We don't drink much, so it was of little use to us. The all-inclusive was fine, as there is no shortage of the stuff either !. I drink mainly wine, and the white, red and rose were perfectly acceptable, but cocktails are invariable too sweet ( depends on taste though ) and lacking in alcoholic 'punch'. Spirits were not of great quality. I suppose our biggest disappointment was food and service in the dining room. We felt that the quality of the ingredients had gone down from previous 'Thompson' cruises, and some of the meals over salty ( again, personal taste ). There was certainly less choice on the evening menu, and some of the meats were fatty ( lamb ) and poorly presented with bland and repetitive vegetables. The Latitude 53 dining room was very hit and miss. The evening meal was 3 courses, fine for us, but a few people were not happy, The Market Buffet was essentially the same with little change. There were no specific theme nights, a feature we have found on other cruises. The Italian option Vista was quite good, and the Tapas evening restaurant OK. The major issue was service, so much so we complained and met the catering manager. In Latitude 53 we waited one evening 3/4 of an hour to obtain our starters and the next evening 1hr before receiving our main course, and we were not alone. A gentleman at the next table waited with us, only to be served cold soup after the wait. My wife is on medication before meals and needs to eat within a reasonable time after taking it, and such a long delay made her feel ill. Often the dishes were presented lukewarm. The catering services manager responded quickly and admitted there was a 'communication problem'. He offered us a complimentary meal in a premium restaurant, which was nice, but not the object of our exercise !. We did try both the steak restaurant and the oriental one and they were both good and worth the extra money. Over and above communication however, there seems to be a cost cutting exercise in staffing. The same issue was evident in the bars, where there was a lack of waiting on staff and it could take quite a while to order drinks from the bar areas. It got to such a state that we often ate in the Market Place Buffet where we were able to serve ourselves and eat in time for the first show in the evening which we liked to go to. That said, entertainment in the theatre was varied, and unfortunately, again not as good as on our other cruises. The entertainers were enthusiastic even if at times the quality was lacking. The theatre has good sight lines and is comfortable. The acts engaged were OK. A comedy duo and singer. We had an individual comedy entertainer ( forgot his name ) who we did not enjoy. The musician in the venues were Ok, apart from the piano player who was an expert at being out of tune. Sea days dragged ( there were not many, and we normally like them ). However, the activities were not well organised. No, I don't want to learn how to fold a towel or napkin. There were no talks or lectures as we have had on other cruises, only the destinations talk by the crew who were out to hard sell excursions. Such a shame as the lack of activity was commented on by more than ourselves. The gym was busy though and I got time to read two books !. The onboard cinema was a great idea if they had put more films on and not used it most of the day to flog acupuncture treatments and consultations with the onboard acupuncturist. There was such a lot we could have learned about the Baltic, and it was an opportunity missed. So of all the Thompson 'Marella' ships this has been the most disappointing in the entertainment offerings, surprising as Thompson were widely praised for their cruise ship entertainment in the past. The usual hard sell from the cruise ship shops was evident, but that happens everywhere. They were even trying to flog Bridge Tours at just under £10.00 !!. Did we enjoy the Baltic, yes the ports were fine and the trip went very smoothly As we said the staff were fine, but in our view, the management need to take a long hard look at the training and support they give and the quality of what they are delivering. Standards have undoubtedly dropped as prices have risen. It's a competitive market and people will not pay good money for 3rd rate cruise experiences. Would we cruise Marella again ??? I doubt it if this is what they are offering. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in ... Read More
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in the evening gets very ful, if you miss the theatre you will get a seat, the indigo exactly the same packed especially after the shows are finished as for the Mediterranean during days at sea, worse than tying to get a sunbed in a note,, simply packed with oldies sound asleep taking up space, my opinion if you want to sleep all day you have a cabin, let someone else enjoy the comfort and have a drink.the food overall was excellent nothing to complain about in that department, tries attitude 5e a couple of times and felt satisfied but I prefer the buffet, in the buffet I had to have a word with the top guy regards condiments always empty, its simple enough for someone as part of kitchen/restaurant duties to go around every other day and check each condiment, simple organisation. The staff through out the ship are excellent they work such long hours but are always laughing and joking Ben and Marabell in the lounge, perfect all the lads and lasses in Indigo excellent to many to mention, days at sea entertainment, pathetic the entertainment staff are getting paid on those days for nothing, the only ones that seem to be doing anything are the quiz masters in the Sqiud n Anchor. Resident singers, not bad but not perfect seen better on other Marella ships. Overall experience, my wife and I , sister in law and brother loved it now thinking of booking August in Norway cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked ... Read More
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked after and cleaned by the cabin stewards. Food as always was excellent in both Latitude 53 and Vista, as well as the lunches in The Market Place. The entertainment by the ships enetertainment crew was generally good except that we had seen most of the shows before so in some cases we didn't get to see a show. The guest artists, The Harper Brothers are still performing the same act as we have seen 4 times before and well worth missing and Ricky K was also poor and reminded me why I don't watch Britains Got Talent, because blatantly he didn't! There was a guest crossover singer (sorry forgot her name) who was excellent however although only allowed one show! The 2 Crew shows were excellent and show a wealth of talent, in fact in our opinion the best Crew show ever! We did our own thing as regards trips except for the occasional port shuttle bus. In most ports we used the HOHO bus's and Canal/River trips sometimes combined to get a better deal. In St Petersburg we used Alla Tours who were beyond excellent and I really recommend them as opposed to the ships offerings as for about the same price you see more, are in groups of a maximum size of 16 comfortable mini bus's. The guide (ours was Marina) was excellent and spoke great English. All in all an excellent cruise on a super ship with great staff! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I have to say they were the best we've ever done. All the tour guides were informative, interesting and fun, yes even in Russia!! We chose to have a balcony and had cabin 10000 which was a great location. It's the last cabin before the bridge on deck 10 so you only have a few staff members going past the door. Plus when you arrive or leave a port you can watch the captain and his amazing staff maneuver the ship when on the balcony. Also in this location you weren't anywhere near any of the music entertainment, which suited us well. Our cabin stewards were superb and so helpful, they were unobtrusive and kept the cabin nice and clean. We only ate at the Market Place as that's our preferred way to eat. I don't want a waiter fussing over me, I'm quite capable of getting my own food, putting a napkin on my own lap and able to eat without being asked if everything is ok. The food was amazing and so beautifully presented and with such choice. As I said all the excursions were so good and well worth the money. It's fascinating to find out how other countries run themselves and their history. As I have limited mobility I found that after 2 reasonably active excursions (I thought I'd chosen ones with little walking, but it was more than my knee could stand easily) that I couldn't face a third so went to destinations just to see if it was possible to exchange to a less active one. They were so very helpful and with the say so of the boss we were allowed to do this, for which we were very grateful. We went on a river cruise instead so hardly any walking and it was a superb way to see Stockholm. The entertainment wasn't as good as other Tui cruises we've been on and I think they got the age demographic a bit wrong. But the performers themselves tried their hardest and we didn't miss a show. Getting on the ship in Newcastle was a bit of a shambles, but getting off went very smoothly. It's hard to exit nearly 2000 people at one time, so we thought they did a good job. ALL the staff are so friendly, polite, happy and courteous and as all tips are included its not like they are trying to be friendly so they get tips. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole event apart from some rather rough sea coming back over the North Sea, but that's Mother Natures fault, no-one else's! Other than a bit of seasickness that afternoon the rest of the cruise was wonderful and we've already booked our next one and I wouldn't call ourselves typical cruise people! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.8
Family 3.0 3.8
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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