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
8 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We found the arrival very easy,straight off the plane on a bus and on to the ship. The ship itself was not my favorite, not easy to navigate around. The seating in some of the public areas was very uncomfortable( the brown sofas in the ... Read More
We found the arrival very easy,straight off the plane on a bus and on to the ship. The ship itself was not my favorite, not easy to navigate around. The seating in some of the public areas was very uncomfortable( the brown sofas in the Squid and Anchor need throwing over board!) The resident entertainment was very good.Some of the guest shows on the other hand went from excellent to awful. The ship was kept very clean and all the staff worked very hard and were very friendly. The food was lovely, we always managed to get a seat or table without any problem. Plenty of places to sun bath ,either quiet or lively by the pool. The cruise itinerary was the reason we choose this particular holiday. We decided to stay on from Southampton to cruise up to Newcastle as it was easier to get home from Newcastle. WERE WE SORRY!!!! From what we heard 600 passengers disembarked, and 400 Tui reps and their family's embarked.( Bearing in mind the average age on the cruise was about 65 and the new passengers where younger ) the lovely cruise was spoiled by the new passengers. They were on for one thing, to get as drunk as possible as quickly as possible, resulting in us not being able to get served for over half an hour at some of the bars and having to suffer drunken behavior from quite a few on them. Not the staffs fault I mite add, purely how fast they where drinking. there were scuffles in the disco and security had to be called. People where also inconsiderate when returning to there cabins.The result was a lot of the original passengers where not very happy. This has ruined the memory of what was otherwise a lovely cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We’re experinced cruise holiday makers and feel qualified to make comparisons to previous cruises . Marella explorer is not a beautiful ship on either the outside or the inside . To my way of thinking she looks like a ferry. The ... Read More
We’re experinced cruise holiday makers and feel qualified to make comparisons to previous cruises . Marella explorer is not a beautiful ship on either the outside or the inside . To my way of thinking she looks like a ferry. The advertising suggested looking for a lean contemporary look but my feeling is they run out of money and didn’t have sufficient to buy artwork sculptures or anything that would inspire or and wander for the pain guest . if you are looking for a value for money package holiday experience then probably Marella explorer fits the bill however if you are looking for a value for money special experience in line with the amount of money you are paying then choose an alternative cruise line . I’m gutted to have to say this about this ship as in the past we have sailed on Thompson spirit and the now departed Emerald both of which had a certain level of sophistication and certainly charm but this was without doubt lacking in this new bath tub of a boat. I sense the amiable courteous and highly present captain is slightly disappointed by his crew as he asserts at every opportunity they are the happiest crew afloat and the best crew and one in which he is extremely proud to sail alongside our experience is that the majority of staff from all departments were indeed courteous but there were a significant number of waitresses in particular in latitude 53 the main dining restaurant who clearly have never ever been taught the slightest about customer courtesy in fact it became a bit of an in joke amongst our crowd to see if we could elicit a smile from one in particular . on the subject of the food one of the reasons my family and I started to cruise was because there is vegetarians in our party we were always able to have excellent dining experience however on Marella explorer dining experience was either exceptionally good in the Vista restaurant or at best average and below par at other times we were very disappointed with the cuisine overall . whoever is responsible for booking the lounge bar pianists needs to have a rethink about who is a book whilst it is without doubt the pianist could indeed play the piano they banged out the tune at maximum volume and sang so loudly it wasn’t ever a relaxing experience to go and listen to them in fact I claps the loudest when they eventually stopped . The theatre on-board explorer is magnificent with very good sightlines pretty much where ever you sat but what a shame none of the singers in the show cast can sing; they can shout but they cannot sing. the dancers were good but not great and the choreography repetitive . We did however thoroughly appreciate the room we had on deck 8. our balcony cabin 8099 had excellent storage facilities, was very clean and our steward was always willing to help. the balcony was bigger than average and actually was one of the pleasing parts of the ship. In addition The Champneys spa is an absolute gem and staff there are certainly extremely welcoming I enjoyed the Marella explorer massage which was wonderful; I highly recommend it - especially if Alex is peoviding the treatment. I also enjoyed a very very good pedicure by Angela which was very pleasing and has lasted well. The ports of call were excellent and some of the tours and excursions offered by the ship as a family we all thoroughly enjoyed particularly the best of Barbados which took in the wild Orchid farm and the Sunbury house plantation I would highly recommend both of these we also enjoyed the zip lines in Saint Lucia. I wish Marella Explorer well but hope the people that hold the budget pump in some cash to put some much needed style on this vessel and appoint a cruise director who has more than four ‘jokes’ in his repotoire. If the jokes could be funny that would also be great. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I must say the standered of food in the resturant was good, and the Vista resturant very good, but the variety could have been more varied, the buffet resturant did not have choice of other cruise ships we have been on. The main resturant ... Read More
I must say the standered of food in the resturant was good, and the Vista resturant very good, but the variety could have been more varied, the buffet resturant did not have choice of other cruise ships we have been on. The main resturant was very random with service, one night 2.5 hours to get served the meal, another 1.5 hours to get first course, there was never any reason to it, some nights water and wine as you sat down other nights had to ask 4-5 times to get anything, many managers walking about but could not see the problems the waiters were having., each night was different with different problems, number of people complaining but no one seemed that bothered, that was the first time I have ever complained on a cruise. Pointed out the problems several times to resturant manager, and senior manger on ship, really made no difference. Went to the paying Asian resturant one night which was very good. Bars, on first day on board at sea there seemed to be no control on the amount of alcohol some people were drinking, which did result in several audications between passengers but any no one bothered. The entertainment team were very good and the shows excellent I must say we got on with the cruise and enjoyed our self, but having cruised with many companies we will not be sailing with TUI again, it has some way to go compete with the establish cruise lines. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose this cruise because we enjoyed our Caribbean cruise on Discovery last year. Our main grumbles were with the poor quality restaurant food and the shambolic service in the Latitude. The food presentation was poor and the meals ... Read More
Chose this cruise because we enjoyed our Caribbean cruise on Discovery last year. Our main grumbles were with the poor quality restaurant food and the shambolic service in the Latitude. The food presentation was poor and the meals didn’t resemble any level of quality that one would expect from a restaurant. Adjacent dirty tables were never cleared until required by other diners. Service was slow, meals taking up to three hours and drinks often arrived after food was served or even finished! The staff seemed inexperienced and lacking in training. We did complain to the catering manager, Wally. He ensured that on our next meal the service standard improved, but sadly this was not sustained for the rest of our week. We thought the buffet food was superior to the restaurant food. The wine served tasted awful and I frequently couldn’t finish my glass - very unusual for me! The bottle labels said 13% alcohol but it tasted watered down, as did many of the other drinks served. Theatre entertainment was average, our balcony cabin clean and comfortable and the ports visited were good. Cruise staff seemed happy and for the most part helpful and transfers were good. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
After cruising with Marella before around the Mediterranean two years ago on Discovery 1 and having such a fantastic cruise , I was really looking forward to this cruise on their newest and largest ship. The previous cruise on ... Read More
After cruising with Marella before around the Mediterranean two years ago on Discovery 1 and having such a fantastic cruise , I was really looking forward to this cruise on their newest and largest ship. The previous cruise on Discovery was going to take some beating but I was confident Marella would not let me down. We got off to a good start with perfect flights over to Barbados then it was straight off the aircraft and onto a bus and straight to the ship and the boarding process was quick and problem free , well done Marella they really have got this process running like a well oiled machine. We didn't book the cruise to late on so by this time there was no balcony cabins available which we were not that bothered about as we have had balcony cabins in the past and although we have enjoyed them we are not sure if we get the full benefit of them so on this occasion we were quite happy to go with an inside cabin , however we did not pay the extra to choose the cabin and ended up having our cabin allocated which maybe wasn't a great idea as you end up with what nobody else wants .Our cabin was on deck 9 near the back of the ship , close to the kids club which was not a problem at all, the cabin itself was adequate and seemed fine at first but on closer inspection e found that the air con unit above the bed was filthy and you were also not able to knock it off at all. The main problem with the cabin though was the noise everything rattled and groaned from the safe door to the wardrobe doors and drawers and during early morning docking the noise was horrendous and the cabin literally shook at times, but when I reported this to reception I was told that you have to expect a bit of noise on a ship, anyways the ship was full and there was no other cabins available to re locate us so we had to put up with it , most of the rattling was rectified by myself by some strategically placed pieces of toilet paper. I guess you get what you pay for o we decided to get on with the cruise and not to let the cabin get us down which we didn't, As expected based on the last cruise on Discovery the bar service and choice of drinks on board was excellent , the service from the drinks waiters was very good and you never had to wait long , they work so hard and always with a smile, excellent in every way and a credit to the company. Entertainment was varied and decent , the resident band were very good and the theatre productions were also very good, some of the solo acts didn't really appeal to my taste but that is just a personal choice, overall the entertainment was not as good as previously on Discovery. Dining there is a good choice of places to eat on board and you will never go hungry, the market place buffet was perfect for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea but not great for dinner , the Mediterranean restaurant was nice with the tapas section being a favourite of ours .Unfortunately the main dining room Vista was the real let down for us , previously on Discovery the dinner in the main dining room was a real highlight every evening where we were served some delicious food every night , really good fine dining experience but on Explorer it was no way near as good , the food was mainly ok but nothing exceptional infact on a couple of occasions it was very disappointing verging on poor. Also the service in the dining room could be quite poor at times, it seemed disorganised and chaotic on occasions , service could be very slow and a couple of times we walked out before dessert as it was that bad. Finally the ports of call were all beautiful and we went to some magical places and we loved every one , done all out trips independently as Marella excursions were overpriced Overall we loved many parts of the cruise but I expected more from this ship which it failed to deliver , if I was to go with Marella again which we probably will because we love the all inclusive concept that they offer , but next time it will be back to the Discovery ships which to us offer so much more despite being older and smaller. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Just returned today from a 2 week cruise with marella explorer in the Caribbean, a party of 6 adults.. We have been on about 12 Tui cruises and this one was very disappointing the food in the main restaurant in an evening was not as good ... Read More
Just returned today from a 2 week cruise with marella explorer in the Caribbean, a party of 6 adults.. We have been on about 12 Tui cruises and this one was very disappointing the food in the main restaurant in an evening was not as good as on previous ships in fact we left our food on a few occasions because of the poor quality. Market street restaurant was ok but almost the same thing everyday. We did not go to the entertainment in the broadway show lounge every night but the shows we did go to were very good. Our cabin was a bit dated as all Tui ships are but big enough and plenty of wardrobe and drawer space and kept clean by housekeeping staff. The music and entertainment round the pool area was very very loud as was anything that was going on in the said and anchor pub but plenty of quiet areas if you wanted quiet. The itinerary was good and captain John and the crew were great as were most (not all) the staff Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
First of all let me inform you that my husband and I have cruised many times with many of the main cruise operators.This is our opinion of our New Year Carribean cruise. The staff throughout the ship are pleasant and efficient. The ship is ... Read More
First of all let me inform you that my husband and I have cruised many times with many of the main cruise operators.This is our opinion of our New Year Carribean cruise. The staff throughout the ship are pleasant and efficient. The ship is clean and well maintained. The entertainment was good. The major issue with this ship is the food in Latitudes Restaurant and the Lido Buffet. In both of these eateries the quality and choice of food is poor. We visited Latitudes on the first evening of our trip and left very disappointed indeed.For the rest of our cruise we ate at Vista (Italian and included in fare) or at one of the speciality restaurants. To eat in the speciality restaurants, Kora La, Surf and Turf and The Dining Club cost us £220 but knowing that we were assured of a good meal made it well worth the price. The difference in quality is staggering and begs the question if Chefs can produce excellent meals in these restaurants, why is it not the same throughout the ship? The answer is obviously cost but in our opinion cutting costs with food is a big mistake and deters passengers from booking with Marella again. In the middle of the week all of the speciality restaurants were full, with people being turned away or put onto waiting lists should guests not turn up. Marella strongly encourage guests to pay for an upgrade in drinks, offering well known brands as opposed to local ones. Why don’t they have the good sense to put £100 pounds on each fare and up the quality of food? Marella you seriously need to up your game. Also there is no loyalty scheme for frequent sailors.Others offer free WiFi, laundry, mini bars and excursions. We are at the top of some loyalty schemes and have received all of these benefits. Where is our incentive to book again? We have been told by our local Tui branch that a loyalty scheme has been discussed several a times during the last few years. Remember, there is a lot of choice when booking a cruise. Food plays an important part in any holiday and the number of foodie programmes on TV , shows the appetite the U.K. public have for well cooked great looking meals ! Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We were recommended by some friends who had previously been on Marella before it became all inclusive. Unfortunately it has now become like a cheap holiday camp that caters for grossly overweight chav’s that like to booze from the moment ... Read More
We were recommended by some friends who had previously been on Marella before it became all inclusive. Unfortunately it has now become like a cheap holiday camp that caters for grossly overweight chav’s that like to booze from the moment they get up and they made up about 40% of the passengers. The Pool deck was like a walrus colony and best avoided as was the buffet at the Market Place were most of the them ate as much as they could of the 3 star food served there. Money doesn’t make you a better person but manners do and most of these people didn’t have any. The good points were the TUI and ship staff who were mostly excellent, the efficient airport and transfer to the ship, good itinerary. There is generally plenty of space on the ship and quieter areas such as the veranda which has better sun beds with pads, however certain people would be up early to reserve even if they weren’t around all morning and no one enforced their policy of removing towels if left for more than 45 mins. The ship was refitted this year but it looks like a lot of areas were not touched. We had an executive cabin which was very spacious with separate lounge area, double shower and walk in wardrobe. There was a large balcony with sun loungers, hammock and table and chairs. The bed is quite firm and we did ask for a topper which was quickly provided.Our room was on deck 10 which is below the pool deck and there used to quite a bit of noise from the sun loungers being stacked or people running around in the evening. Our cabin steward Irena was excellent and always eager to help. The restaurants are not up to the standard you would expect, Latitude 53 serves the occasional good dish but generally average fare. Vista served one of the best lasagnes I have had but the bruschetta was terrible and the steaks were tough. The tapas and and Mediterranean were reasonable but the restaurant felt like a cafe. The Kora La and Surf and Turf are good but then you have to pay £24.95 or £28.95 extra per person extra so should be. Breakfast at Latitude was good apart from the long life juices. The sail away Caribbean BBQ was awful. The Head Chef really needs replacing with someone who can improve the standard of catering on the ship. The shore excursions were a mixed bag some like St Kitts scenic railway good but the Bequia coastal cruise awful as catamaran is really a small motorise catamaran ferry not one with sails which expected. After a trip to snorkel we were then dumped on a crowded beach with no sun beds or anywhere to sit for 3 hour and given a cheap lunch in the local cafe. The beach transfers were a waste of money and you are far better organising yourself. The shows are alright but spoiled by the female singers thinking that screeching as loud as they can adds to their performance rather clarity. The guest comedian Steve Terry was very funny and would of been better to see more comedians. Embarkation and disembarking is very slick and well organised. The Champneys spa is good although the gym is quite limited. With all inclusive most drinks are included but the cocktails are more like slushy’s as so full of ice and although you can drink unlimited alcohol you have to pay for bottled water or a special coffee which is really irritating. Based on our experience TUI seem to be catering more for the 3 star holiday brigade and we won’t go again which is sad as they do put in a lot of effort and have some aspects which are very good. However if you like to eat and drink for 19 hours a day baste yourself in the sun until lobster red lying right next to other overweight people this is the holiday for you. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise for itinerary – two sea days in two weeks and a route covering a good contrasting area of the Caribbean such as the dry arid island of Bonaire to the green lush island of St Lucia. Also ease of access is a bonus – ... Read More
We chose this cruise for itinerary – two sea days in two weeks and a route covering a good contrasting area of the Caribbean such as the dry arid island of Bonaire to the green lush island of St Lucia. Also ease of access is a bonus – checking in at our UK airport and not seeing our luggage again until it arrives at your cabin is a bonus as too is arriving at Barbados airport and just walking a few metres to your transfer coach. Our first Marella cruise, but have cruised with Celebrity, RCCL, Azamara and Cunard over the past 8 yrs. We chose Premium cabin seating, adding this on a couple of months before departure. The included Escape Lounge at Manchester was quite good, very busy though but was a good step up from Aspire which we have previously used. The flights were very comfortable and you would certainly not go hungry or be uncomfortable on the flight with popcorn/crisps, two meals, plenty of drinks and water, hot towels, spacious seating and relatively good IFE. The Explorer is 22 years old and feels and looks her age in most places, she has a wobble too and is not the smoothest of rides where ever you are on the ship, yaw movement as well as a pitch and roll even in light seas. Parts of the ship are art-décor style such as the MDR restaurant and parts are modern, light and airy such as the coffee port and the Mediterranean restaurants and bar areas. The Broadway show lounge hasn’t been touched in refurb, with some carpets and seating in poor condition, a gold ceiling and grab handles, illuminated side tables with gold coloured surround which are so dated. The Market Place Buffet is the least updated, the new dark grey carpet and probably original seating, tables, panelling and ceilings are unwelcoming and dismal. Walking through the area between service the area smelled of stale water and unpleasant odour. We only occasionally ate here as it was often busy and other guests rarely used tongs etc to handle food. There were people in swimwear too – many of these guests were dressed to impress with plenty of body artwork, obese in size and little clothing. Drinks included wine were on draft. Fruit juice was only served at breakfast and not available at other times. Tables were cleared quickly in here though. Our cabin a deck 10 junior suite was a good size with an immense amount of storage. House-keeping was some of the best we have experienced. The extras for booking this class of cabin were not enough however, they should have included the premium drinks package. The extras were: Three items pressed per person for the first 24hrs even returned and re-hung in our wardrobes. two mornings of complimentary room service breakfast (continental) – which was very good – lots too!, a Lavazza coffee maker in the cabin, Clarins toiletries which were pleasant to use and express luggage delivery with speedy check-in. We never had any problems with the toilets or smells that others encountered. This forward cabin was extremely quiet too and we never heard noise from docking etc. The bathroom was quite spacious with a glass door on the good-sized shower, washing line, lots of shelving. The balcony was large with a hammock – rarely used, two chairs and a table and two sun loungers. We used our balcony quite a lot as the sundecks are cramped and noisy. We could hear the music on the deck 11 pool deck from the balcony. Our main gripe is the poor quality of food and drink, Marella are really counting the beans here. The included wines were poor quality, most of the pre-made cocktails at events and the theatre were so watered down with ice they were tasteless. We don’t drink excessively and ended up upgrading to the Premium package for the second week, also to enjoy the lovely Lavazza coffees in the Coffee Port – the lovely Phillipino lady working here was excellent in her work. The dinner menus in Latitudes both in choice and presentation often resembled a meal in a supermarket café. Poor cuts of meat, tasteless bland food and a lack of presentation and service which took forever, sometimes 40-45 mins between courses! Wine and water not refilled, having to chase up with staff orders and refills should not be necessary. The Vista the lower floor of the MDR was an Italian with a slightly better menu that changed every other day, but was very popular, hence pagers were often used with waiting up to an hour, we managed to eat here early between 6.30 – 7pm or 8-30 onwards. Service was inconsistent, there was not enough staff. We enjoyed the Surf & Turf restaurant, the main course and deserts were very good, the starters not so. Not sure it was worth the cost again other supplementary restaurants on other ships at a a similar price though. We also ate a couple of times at Med Tapas, the food was quite tame with not enough flavouring used. The Portuguese Espetada skewers were very good but at a supplement of £9.95. The meat on these was excellent. On one occasion, our two main courses arrived 30 mins apart! We were not charged the supplement. The entertainment was adequate, the shows we gave up on and were not of interest to us. The two girl entertainers flown in called Union Avenue were very good up in Indigo, with a couple of singers and guitarists around the ship very good too – vocally most were very good and extremely hardworking. We avoided the pool sailaway parties and BBQ’s – we like a good time but to see a 20 stone tattooed woman with a pint in her hand dancing dancing to calypso and reggae music is not a pleasant sight and multiply this by the other chavs (around 25% of the cruise guests) it was a low grade holiday camp. The staff themselves from Captain Peter who was very personable yet showed he was in authority and was always visible around the ship, I don’t know when he slept! (he needs to work for Azamara as they have great captains too!) were really friendly, welcoming and there was always a hello when walking about, yet the waiting staff in the bars and restaurants lacked training and service was totally inconsistent, yet you cannot fail to like them for they work long hours on eight month contracts. As mentioned the house keeping staff we had were some of the best we have experienced. The TUI-navigate app was very useful it uses the ships wifi (without charge as not connected to the internet) and you are able to access your onboard account, book restaurants, check your itinerary and book excursions, You can also buy internet use - which is very expensive, slow and not worth the money. On a final note and not many people that are booking may not be aware of is that you have to vacate your cabin by 8am on your last morning, this is fine if you are on a lunch time flight, however if you are not flying until early evening as many of the Barbados flights do then you will have to either try to book a limited number of courtesy cabin @ £35 or hang about the ship and book a slot in a cabin to use the shower. There is secure storage for hand luggage and your suitcases are taken from you the evening before departure. We managed to retain ours however I had asked on our arrival day. We would not return to Marella, the cruise cost over £3000 per person and for that money we expected more, especially in food and drink quality. My title R&R could mean.... 'Rough and Ready' are guests and ship in place. Rum & Reggae- order double to taste the cocktails and be fed up of hearing Mysterious girl, Red, Red Wine each day reggae style and it could mean Rest & Relaxation - yes in places, our balcony was quiet, parts of the ship were too, mostly not though. It is entry level cruising and for those loyal to the brand they need to experience other lines. Also, for those loyal to Marella they need a loyalty scheme. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I booked this cruise back in December 2017. Having travelled on Tui Discovery2 in June and had a magnificent time, I persuaded my friends and son and partner to come on the Transatlantic voyage. The new Explorer is not a patch on Discovery ... Read More
I booked this cruise back in December 2017. Having travelled on Tui Discovery2 in June and had a magnificent time, I persuaded my friends and son and partner to come on the Transatlantic voyage. The new Explorer is not a patch on Discovery 2 on many accounts and I feel you all need to know. The Market Place restaurant is typically a Spanish Hotel's 3 star Buffet junction - deplorable without question. Head chef should be sacked. The pay as you go restaurants were very nice but also very pricey as individuals but at £75.00 pp for 3 dinners OK. They reception staff are complete nonentities who didn't know what they were doing or how they were doing it and served up countless lies to my son, who received a note from his bank saying that they were charging him OD facilities as TUI started to take any fees immediately and not on cruise end. A breach of conditions! If you are a smoker, which I am not, you will get wet, have to sit on other knees and generally be treated like animals by the whole ship's company. They don't clean ashtrays on a regular basis. Moving on perhaps the worst single event was the Explorer talent show. They offered a prize of £250 as well as a recording date in Hamstead for the overall winner. A young man, who works for Jet 2 as a cabin steward won the competition. To everybody's shock the Captain and Entertainment Officer refused to pay out the £250 and offered him £50 and decided not to go ahead with the recording studio. He later was abused by the general manager for so called cheating as well as a member of the shows entertainment people. This is a disgraceful breach and needs to be dealt with by TUI. Finally the waiting staff and room attendants were absolutely brilliant, but beware of the management. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Having cruised with Thomson (Marella) a few times we decided to try one of the new additions to the fleet and the ship itself is very nice at first glance and is well laid out. The market place buffet is typical of modern cruise buffets ... Read More
Having cruised with Thomson (Marella) a few times we decided to try one of the new additions to the fleet and the ship itself is very nice at first glance and is well laid out. The market place buffet is typical of modern cruise buffets areas quite a good choice of foods but badly laid out causing a lot of queuing problems especially at peak breakfast times. The resteraunt is a different problem choice of food is not great but adequate but the lack of staff is not acceptable to slow a service. The spa is a massive space and is not overly expensive but has one major fault there is no indoor hydro pool and this is a shame because all class spas have them. Our cabin was cabin number 10103 a large balcony cabin and yes it is a large balcony but the room is far to small and the bathroom had a very bad smell all week which after talking to other guest they had the same problem so again a Marella cruise has problems with the santitacion side.one great addition to the balcony was the hammock that was very comfortable and nice for a lazy afternoon kip. The squid and anchor bar was very nice and in one corner it has the premium gin and whisky bar and that is a nice area with access to the outside smoking area which was always well used a lot of smokers were on this cruise. The casino area which incorporated the indigo nightclub was a good concept with two blackjack tables and one five card stud table plus live roulette it was adequate in size for the ship. But because the ship was all inclusive it attracts a lot of non cruise tramps at sea who think that getting dressed up is to wear scruffy t shirt shorts and flip flops, and drink to ecsess ignorant rude people who really should not be on this type of holiday they should stick to Benidorm. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Having done over 15 Thompson cruises with our husbands and together have to say that Thompson have not just rebranded but have sold out to Merella.The ship is nice enough but some how lacks the touch of the Thompson's older ships, ... Read More
Having done over 15 Thompson cruises with our husbands and together have to say that Thompson have not just rebranded but have sold out to Merella.The ship is nice enough but some how lacks the touch of the Thompson's older ships, there just was not the atmosphere any were on board, most of the staff were friendly enough but that spark has gone, and well some are down right miserable , never saw the cruise director walking around meeting people ( as they have on our other cruises) and the entertainment staff did a few quizzes and that was it. The evening shows were good but the girls singers did tend to screech, the groups, singers and soloist were good I think it is now all about paying extra in the specialist resturants if you want a decent meal, the choice at breakfast was good as we always eat in the resturanr, as the self service is a free for all fighting for tables. Luch was ok with plenty of choice from a sandwich to a 3 course meal in the resturant, (salad was a bit of a let down) evenging meal in the self service was terrible very little choice and it closes early., the resturant is better but very hit and miss not as good as it used to be, i could of soled my shoes with the duck i was served, looks nice though, lots of complaing at night. I am not a big drinker but i do like to taste it when i am having one, had a cidar with lunch one day tasteless, so watered down as were the cocktails, have to say the banana daiquiris were good but more of a mocktail, very little choice in the wine and the house wine coloured water. We were very luck as there were only 43 children on our criuise (very noisey around the pool deck) as there were 450 a couple of weeks ago, what they did i have no idea as there is not the facilities for so many children. We thought we would spoil ourselves and have a cabin with a large balcony, yes the balcony is large but the room is very small with little room to move around, but the bathroom was good with a walk in shower with glass door (not curtain) plenty of wardrobes and draws. On one of the days we were unable to tender as it was a bit rough, would of thought that the entertainment director would of had a program for such an event but it seems not it took 2 hours with a lets do Q&A with the show team once they had got out of there beds. To sum up the cruise would i do another Merella cruise the answer is NO, i am afraid it was like Butlins on the sea ( i beleive that they are targeting the younger couples with children) and we were very thankfull that we had gone that week and not the week after as that was Buzz Bingo week and you could play bingo 4 times a day every day, my friend said she woukd of thrown me overboard but i said it was ok i would of jummped. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Choose this cruise as flying time to Majorca is ok. Weather was excellent through out the 7 days.As usual the crew were excellent . Food is always subjective !!,but I thought it was just average in the MDR,some nice meals some not so ... Read More
Choose this cruise as flying time to Majorca is ok. Weather was excellent through out the 7 days.As usual the crew were excellent . Food is always subjective !!,but I thought it was just average in the MDR,some nice meals some not so nice,choices poor as well,servings were poor as well.MARELLA !! TAKE NOTE it,s hardly AI if you got to pay for the ice cream on deck 11,Breakfast was very good,even the juice was not watered down !! Only went to 2 shows,singing and dancing to loud,boring !! ,Comedian was good. Gave up on cocktails ,all fruit juice !!! Outside cabin on deck 5 good,best shower i've had on Thomson ships.cabin was spotless every day. Can,t say anything about the tours as I did'nt go. Probably wont go on Marella again as they have made all ship's AI,i THINK EVERYONE HAS A CHOICE NOT EVERYBODY WANTS A DRINK PACKAGE !!!. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call, either those we had not previously visited or those we wished to see. The ship was new to the fleet and so we had anticipations of a new experience, having previously sailed on several ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the ports of call, either those we had not previously visited or those we wished to see. The ship was new to the fleet and so we had anticipations of a new experience, having previously sailed on several older TUI ships. As it transpired our experiences were almost all negative. Marella have gone 'all inclusive' and our feeling is that they have cut staff to balance the books. Whereas on previous cruises with them, the self service area at lunchtime had waiter service for wines/lagers, not any more, self service stations fill this function. At dinner in the main dining area (Latitude 53), the waiters gave the impression of inexperience, wine waiters were inattentive and had to be called to refresh glasses, indeed I am unsure if there were wine waiters, it seemed totally disorganised. The food was often a disappointment, there were dishes I enjoyed but overall my memories are not 'wow'. My wife was served carrots and cauliflower that were impenetrable to either knife or fork. The theatre, an experience we have always looked forward to on previous cruises, on this ship if you have any walking issues, arthritis etc, forget it. The aisles are all stepped, so folk such as my wife simply could not cope. Apart from that the spacing between the rows of seats is designed for the petite, also there are tiny, I do mean minuscule, oval tables on which to place your drinks. Any drinks are a hostage to fortune of those trying to navigate the row. If you were to sit in the Lounge bar during the day, by day a quiet area where you may wish to read a book or play cards, you could absolutely guarantee that there would be no service, you would have see to your own needs. On previous sailings on their other ships in a similar area, service would be available. The bathroom in our cabin was small, opening the shower door, it opened outwards, meant navigating the small remaining space between the edge of the door and the toilet. Drying yourself nearly always meant cracking your elbow on something. I'm not a big guy, just shy of 6ft, bigger guests I'm sure would be frequently unamused. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We were first time cruisers on TUI (now Marella) Spirit last August and were both absolutely smitten. I think after a couple of days we were hooked, and after the two weeks were up we were ready to book the next, this one – departing at ... Read More
We were first time cruisers on TUI (now Marella) Spirit last August and were both absolutely smitten. I think after a couple of days we were hooked, and after the two weeks were up we were ready to book the next, this one – departing at the end of July 2018. We used or local TUI store and were sold this two week back to back on Explorer. This time we decided to take our 17 year old with us as she would really have. We paid adult price for her as she is 17 and had a cabin to herself (she was classed as a single traveller, she was issued with an adult cruise card and even had the note left on her bed inviting her to the single travellers reception.) Arrival in Palma was slick, as was boarding, it was very soon apparent that this ship had far more technology than Spirit, more reliance on it! The ship is quite big although it's still dwarfed by the likes of the Aida Prima and some of the MSC liners, it is plush in places. I'm aware that one reviewer picked up on things like scratches in the lifts, yes they're there but they didn't detract from the sparkle that this ship has. The food is great, we feel that some of the restaurants are still struggling at busy times possibly because the staff are all so new, but the food quality is fabulous as was the service of most of the staff, so good that we tipped one or two as they really did go above and beyond what was required. We ate in Latitude 53 most nights, Vista (the Italian) one night and tried on another two occasions, each of those times the wait time was just too long and so we returned to Latitude 53. Breakfast was taken in the self-service (Market Place), the selection of food is good with English cooked breakfast, continental, freshly prepared omelettes etc. fruit and cereal always on offer. The only downside to the Market Place at breakfast time is the queue and the seating. Breakfast in Latitude 53 is a much more civilised affair however the choice of food is not available. The cabins are well appointed and clean, we had an inside to keep the costs down, three of us for two weeks has cost more or less £7000! Had we travelled without daughter we would have had an outside cabin, we would not have an inside cabin again just because they are so dark! We did not notice much sunbed hogging, although we did see some belongings removed after beds were ticketed. TUI should operate the same procedure in some of the bars! We didn’t upgrade to premium as personally we have no need to. The drinks selection is adequate. There have been some issues and things that don't sit right with us: Over the first five days we experienced a series of minor problems... each of these took time out of our day to sort. Wrong people allocated the wrong cabin, boarding cards not working to open our cabin door on several occasions, my debit card swiped but receptionist added my husband's name as card holder, bank subsequently declined (quite right too), safe would not open and had to have someone in to sort this -- twice initially and then again at the end of our first week. When I complained about the series of minor issues the receptionist clearly thought all of our issues were amusing! This was subsequently escalated to the General Manager who felt that a bottle of wine would fix this. The excursions are very expensive (this is common among all tour operators I know). Please be careful! We were made aware of a family group who booked to go to Camp Nou in Barcelona – parents and a young child in a buggy. They were charged by TUI for three… Children under five go into Camp Nou FREE! The premium restaurants are all expensive when you consider this is an all-inclusive ship... the "supplement" is between £25 and £35 per person. You may think different but to me, that's not a "supplement", that's paying for the meal in full! If it really is a supplement then are we saying that steak and chips in Surf & Turf costs well over £50 a head? Despite paying an adult fare for daughter, despite her boarding card starting that she is on here as an adult we had one waitress try to give a 17 year old a baby plastic beaker and straw for a glass of coke. When questioned the waitress advised that daughter was "under age", we had ordered “a coke!!!” I should point out that my daughter doesn't drink alcohol so no comments about legal age limit please. Entertainment is confused to say the least. The cruise director, Matthew, was only really seen on TV and seemed to spend his time promoting Champneys. If comparing the entertainment team to Spirit, then Spirit is first rate and Explorer is dreary. The resident band, The Collective seemed to have more rapport with the guests. Structured entertainment seemed to be nothing more than quiz after quiz punctuated with bingo and the standard sail away parties. We didn’t use the casino which is located between the Indigo Bar and Night Club. We did watch one or two games, we thought it was noisy with hustle and bustle. It appears that despite the signs children are allowed into the casino area. Broadway show was generally very good, some of the jokes from the comedians were recycled, but not the less very well presented. This is very much a family ship and not what we were sold. I did query the family element with our travel agent before we paid the final balance but were assured it would not be overrun with small children (my husband is a school teacher and during our holidays he likes to be away from children), however this was not the case. Whilst we observed a deal of children behaving well there was of course the contingent who were unruly and allowed to be so, the late adult entertainment (another form of quiz) being overtaken by a seven year old – yes, I am sure your son is cute but this is adult time! However, in short we're had a good holiday. We will not be cruising on Explorer again, we may consider Explorer 2 (adults only) although we are also considering that market. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We have been on a few Thomsons cruises and we decided to go on the new ship the explorer, we had read many reviews on the ship before we went and there was a mixture off what people were saying , we went for 7 nights and had a large ... Read More
We have been on a few Thomsons cruises and we decided to go on the new ship the explorer, we had read many reviews on the ship before we went and there was a mixture off what people were saying , we went for 7 nights and had a large balcony which the cabin was still small but clean , the dress code is more relaxed which we think to relax you were getting people coming in ,in wet bathing suits and sitting down in the dining area, on a night time people were just in shorts and tee shirts which there is nothing wrong in that , but we just think on the night time long trousers . We also found that there is a lot more restaurants where you have to pay a supplement. The Turf & Surf is roughly £28.95 each , Kora La £19.95 each and the Diner club is £45.00 each if you go for the 8 course meal and you get a different wine with each meal which I must say was the best one for us . We were all inclusive, but we find now there are a lot off restaurants where you have to pay which is up to people if they want to to go up market a bit . We also think the dress code is far to relax and I think Thomsons cruises have taken things out that was great ,things like the captains night , the ice sculptures that was on display and the dress code . The entertainment was poor have seen better on Thomsons cruises. But it just what people make it themselves. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We always go with Tui on cruises as we have enjoyed the experience in the past. We thought the Explorer was worth a look but were disappointed overall. The negatives were minor in comparison with both Discovery ships but made a ... Read More
We always go with Tui on cruises as we have enjoyed the experience in the past. We thought the Explorer was worth a look but were disappointed overall. The negatives were minor in comparison with both Discovery ships but made a difference to us. On the adults sun deck, some beds were broken, towels were down but no takers as per usual, the back the seat in the show lounge came off as I sat down and only one coffee machine in Lattitude 53 was annoying. We had to walk out a few times to catch the show, as we had waited so long. The food was adequate but not too exciting and the waiters were sometimes a bit ‘novicey’. On the positive side, we always got a bed on any deck, waiter service was good on the decks and our cabin on deck 12 was excellent with cabin staff really helpful. We had sailed with Captain John before and he was as informative about destinations as on past cruises and the entertainments manager was also very good. As it was our anniversary, we went to the Surf and Turf restaurant and it was worth every penny. We won’t go on the Explorer again but will certainly continue on other Marella Cruises in particular, both Discovery vessels. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
As first time cruisers we were excited about the prospect of seeing a bit of the med via a family orientated, sparkly new cruise ship. We were disappointed from the start. The welcome was lack lustre and as a result we had no idea ... Read More
As first time cruisers we were excited about the prospect of seeing a bit of the med via a family orientated, sparkly new cruise ship. We were disappointed from the start. The welcome was lack lustre and as a result we had no idea where to go or what to do while we waited for our cabin. Our cabin (a junior suite with balcony) was nice until night came. We were directly above the Squid and Anchor “pub” and our bed pulsated until the early hours to the beat of the music downstairs. After much complaining we were moved for our second week. This time to the tenth floor. This room whilst quieter was slightly smaller and had a much bigger problem. Every day, without fail, the toilet would block..... often while we were out..... the shared vacuum system is horrid and I saw over flowing toilets on more than one occasion. The housekeeping staff were fantastic and extremely hard working, some of the bar staff however (coffee port) were pretty miserable. The evening shows were fantastic and a real highlight!!!! The food was good but the selection could have been better, I’ve been on all inclusive holidays with Tui in the past year with much better food selection. Probably my biggest problem with this cruise though was that it is advertised as All Inclusive..... this is not! WiFi is extra and expensive, drinks before 10 are extra, ice cream..... extra. It just feels like they are trying to squeeze money out of you at every opportunity. Please note this ship is not new, it has been revamped, and well, but it is a bit rough around the edges. The gym is run by Champneys and is the best equipped gym I have ever seen in any holiday resort. Some of the classes cost extra. The 45 minute ‘no leave’ sunbed rule is not enforced and finding sun beds on a sea day is very challenging. This is branded as a family cruise ship but as our kids are at private school their summer holidays start 2 weeks before state schools. The first week we were cruising was mostly adults.....OAPs to be exact and there was a distinct feeling the kids were not welcome. The second week was better but I still heard older people joking how there seemed to be a lot of kids skipping school! In conclusion I definitely think I will cruise again but it’s unlikely we will cruise with Tui..... I will be looking for a higher end cruise with less child intolerant fat old people..... if such a thing exists. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Chose this cruise as we had not previously visited some of the ports of call plus we were celebrating our ruby wedding anniversary. I will start with the positives: Cabin housekeeping was excellent. Food excellent and plenty of choice, we ... Read More
Chose this cruise as we had not previously visited some of the ports of call plus we were celebrating our ruby wedding anniversary. I will start with the positives: Cabin housekeeping was excellent. Food excellent and plenty of choice, we chose to eat mostly in the Latitude 53 both for breakfast and dinner as this was waiter service. We occasionally dined in the Italian restaurant Vista for dinner, when we could get in as some nights there was a 45 mins wait. In the self service restaurant The Market Place the food again was good but the restaurant itself seems very dark & gloomy so we used to chose our food and take it through to the Med Bar & Terrace or outside on deck 11. Service was a little slow at times but on the whole not a problem. We really enjoyed the Pasta corner on deck 11 in the Med Bar & Terrace here you choose you pasta, sauce & toppings and it's cooked to order while you wait. We only tried one of the supplemented restaurants Surf & Turf Steakhouse once and this was a good dining experience. Entertainment on board was very good across the ship as were the crew who always had a smile. Now to the negatives: we booked & paid to reserve two cabins on deck 4 mid ship as two of our party had not sailed before and it is always advised to book low down & mid ship to avoid any seasickness/movement. However, the noise in these cabins was horrendous and we were unable to sleep at night due to engine noise, vibrations plus the galley is above and noise from that could also be heard. One night the smoke alarm went off in both of our cabins at 04.10am with a smell of burning cable we immediately rang reception who said they would send up a maintenance man (what happened to evacuating the cabin) he arrived said that he could smell it all along the corridor and he was trying to locate the source. He came back to us about 10 mins later saying everything was OK but we never really received a satisfactory answer to the cause. As typically british we put up with the engine noise for about 4 nights then complained to Reception who said that they would log the complaint and when we went to bed that night to ring them and they would come and listen!! When they did come they agreed that the noise was unacceptable, apologised profusely and we were offered a safe bed for the night, whatever that may be or earplugs!! and they would try & get us another cabin the following day. We declined the safe bed as we had put up with it for days one more night would not make much difference. The following day we waited until 3pm that afternoon as we had not had any communication from Reception so went to ask what was going on. Eventually we were offered another cabin on the same deck which we accepted as the noise was a little better, we could not be offered another deck as they said the ship was full! However our friends had to put with the noise for another night and on threatening to ask for a flight home were offered a cabin on deck 5 forward of the ship where no noise could be heard. This could have been a great cruise but for the cabin fiasco and lack of communication from Reception. I would not advise anyone to book a cabin on deck 4. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Booked this cruise as a party of 16 friends who cruise regularly - between us have cruised on Thompson (Marella), Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Silver Seas so quite a bit of cruise experience. As a couple we have had 3 previous ... Read More
Booked this cruise as a party of 16 friends who cruise regularly - between us have cruised on Thompson (Marella), Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Silver Seas so quite a bit of cruise experience. As a couple we have had 3 previous Thompson cruises including the 2 Discovery ships and expected the same if not better quality of cruise. Unfortunately was distinctly average with real issues with both the itinerary and service on board. Firstly the itinerary “Mediterranean Secrets” the secret was how poor some of the ports of call were! Distinct impression Marella cutting costs by docking at cheapest Med ports - Sete, France - think St Helens with sun. Most disappointing Porte Torres, Sardinia - had really looked forward to this, believe Sardinia a beautiful and exclusive island - to be honest Runcorn is more picturesque - opened curtains to be greeted by what looked like a cement factory. Whoever at Marella visited this port and deemed it suitable to dock a ship of near 2000 tourists needs their head feeling. Following bus ride through industrial docks dispatched to town which consisted of one main street with a church at the top of it. We were back on the boat within 2 hours as were most passengers - awful. Did enjoy Corsica and La Spezzia but overall itinerary poor and misrepresented by the company. On board a mixed bag. Didn’t feel the refurbishment of the ship was as good as the Discovery vessels, ship look and felt worn. Decent cabin with large balcony keep spotlessly clean by our steward Roberto so no complaints there - nice shower and comfy bed. Lacked little touches like the nice toiletries or robes etc. Food good throughout the ship but the service in the main dining room both for breakfast and dinner was very poor. Expect over 2 hours to serve 3 course dinner, in fact on our last night we walked out after 2 courses so as not to miss the show. Breakfast was a lottery as to whether you got what you actually ordered - one day we counted and had to ask for tea 4 times before it finally came. Not enough staff, poorly trained and not well supervised in the dining room. We tried the Kora La, at a supplement of £25 pp - enjoyed dinner and service much better but not value for money if you consider you have already paid for a dinner in your cruise cost. Bar service good throughout, no problems getting served - Joe our favourite bar man on rear outside bar and Squid and Anchor in the evening. Always a smile and gave excellent service. Paid for the upgraded drinks package but not all drinks advertised always available and not in all bars. Also thought reserving the Squid and Anchor exclusively for the “Gold Radio” group until 8.30 pm each evening was not appropriate - surely we had all paid equally for our cruise and should have access to all facilities. As the gin bar was in there passengers who had upgraded their drinks package to get access to the premium gins couldn’t do so, very poor. Entertainment not as good as previous cruises with Thompson. Soul theatre show probably about the best - other entertainment mediocre. Please stop the saxophonist by the pool drove us mad! Comedian on board for a couple of nights was decent. There were clearly problems with toilets on the ship with passengers complaining of loos not flushing and on the day we left the ship public toilets were in very poor condition. So overall has put us off cruising with Thompson/Marella. It’s not a cheap cruise, offers from other cruise lines like RC and Celebrity make them equally affordable. Our next cruise booked with P and O. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Booked this cruise very last minute and because it had just had a refurb. Well not much of a refurb apart from the Indigo area which was more like an aircraft hangar with about the same atmosphere! Ship overall was dated but clean and tidy ... Read More
Booked this cruise very last minute and because it had just had a refurb. Well not much of a refurb apart from the Indigo area which was more like an aircraft hangar with about the same atmosphere! Ship overall was dated but clean and tidy with a lot of problems with public toilets, constantly blocked throughout the cruise. Cabin good standard and well serviced, hammock a nice touch. Dining was abit of a lottery really, MDR poor choice, small portions, designed to get you to use the speciality restuarants which were very expensive IMO. There were no prices for these anywhere that I could see so enquired at reception and was told curtly that prices were on the TV screens about the ship. I checked and they were not, back to reception who reluctantly told me the prices. I can see why they dont advertise them just hoping people will book and find out at the end of the meal. This is Thomsons not Cunard how they can charge £25pp for a curry £29pp for a steak and £35pp for French place is beyond me, 50% more than P and O. Reluctantly we went to the Steak rest last night and it was OK, not great and not worth the extra. Restaurant staff were varied, Philipino staff friendly and competent, Eastern Europeans surly with selective deafness. Theatre Enteertainment ok in parts, Rockololoy and Soul Shows good others not so, visiting act dreadful. Other acts around ship were like poor pub performers do same material every night. Excursions not used as too expensive, made our own way as usual. All inclusive drinks were of poor quality with hardly any cocktails available, draft beer consisted of Fosters, John Smiths and something they called Strongbow but wasnt. Again all emphasis was to get you to upgrade. Savinggrace of this cruise was the staff almost all were extemely friendly and helpful, the best we have ever had and we have done 25 cruises with 10 cruise lines, Must mention Marlon and Emile who looked after us in the Med bar Def would not use Explorer again and doubtful use Tui again, there is better value out there. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
we chose this cruise as it was visiting naples and we wished to see herculaneum. our first impressions were that the room was slightly bigger than an equivalent one on discovery one (which we sailed on last year). the ship appears fine ... Read More
we chose this cruise as it was visiting naples and we wished to see herculaneum. our first impressions were that the room was slightly bigger than an equivalent one on discovery one (which we sailed on last year). the ship appears fine with the usual layout, dining was excellent as you'd expect on any cruise ship, in this case generally catering for british tastes (although there are more adventurous restaurants on board at a surcharge). service was excellent, at dinner, at the 'squid & anchor' bar, and during the daytime whilst sunbathing too. now onto the entertainment, some of the daytime pool entertainment was good, with decent music playing, and fun games and competitions. the evening entertainment in the squid & anchor was good to very good. onto the broadway show lounge, the shows in general were good (obviously some better than others) but sadly as yet not up to discovery one standards. there is NO BAR in the show lounge, and thus no waiter service, the staff hand out glasses of prosecco and bottles of san miguel fresca (which for me is watery and nowhere near the standard san miguel, don't take my word for it look on the 'ratebeer' site) anyway i'm not a youth or in my 20's i want to drink, what i want to drink, and on an evening it's quality not volume, they somehow need to get a bar in there and send someone from management onto discovery one to see how it done. now onto the ship's REAL ACHILLES HEEL, THE TOILETS, for 4 days out of 7 the toilet in our room didn't work, didn't flush, that of course means you have to go out and find one that does. if you're in the shower you have to get dressed, if you're in bed, yes you have to get dressed. the 'quickest' for me was two decks below on the first occasion, yet the following day those were locked (as they were out of commission too) and i had to go down yet a further deck. as the week wore on you could from time to time hear the usual conversation amongst other passengers about 'their' room toilet being blocked, the public ones being locked, and even one lady who said it looked as though a public one outside the squid & anchor 'was about to overflow'. from my experience on the merella explorer i'll not be going on a 'new' ship until all the gremlins are ironed out, broadway show room wise it's certainly NOT to discovery one standard, toilet wise it's short of a 1970's corfu hotel. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was the first sailing and it did show on the first day , everything was overwhelmed , 55 mins for a coffee at the coffee port and the Market place was little better than a really poor transport cafe .The quality of breakfast was worse ... Read More
This was the first sailing and it did show on the first day , everything was overwhelmed , 55 mins for a coffee at the coffee port and the Market place was little better than a really poor transport cafe .The quality of breakfast was worse tha n a premier inn so we resorted to cabin service breakfast ...BUT the coffee of the whole ship is undrinkable! Except in coffee port , Marella need to understand that most people expect decent coffee as can be bought on any high street in the UK. For this reason alone it's worth paying the premium all Inc at £50 pp per week.This also gets you decent wine Merlot and Sauvignon , premium cocktails and all drinks at the Gin and whisky bar (10 premium gins and 10 whisky Inc fever tree mixers) The premium restaurants are also a bit mixed , The dining club was superb , we are there twice , surf and turf was ok , not sure it's worth £28.95 pp extra and Kora La does decent curries but the fondant was the worst ive ever tasted. The drinks are plentiful and branded as standard with a great deal, as mentioned , on premium upgrades . The pool is a bit hemmed in and quite loud , lots of people just drank all day - The Mediterranean and deck at the back were much quieter and more for us. The cabin a Junior Suite was very good but we had a few problems with the electrics as well , but overall loved the cabin . He cabi stewards along with service across the ship was very good and we chose to tip a couple of people for excellent service Inc out cabin stewards. Watch the excursions , a walking tour of Naples is over £30 each , and you coukd walk round or organise your own much cheaper .similarly a taxi to Pisa woukd have worked out cheaper than the £150 the 4 of us paid for a guided visit . In villefranche take the train to nice (10mins €4 return) and monaco (20 mins €8 return) , then explore Villefranche in the last couple of hours before the last tender at 5pm, otherwise it is overrun with people way on Overall we enjoyed the cruise , it's woukd be 4 star if the basic food offering was up to scratch , but it wasnt Read Less
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.7

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click
Compare and book excursions for your next cruise