64 Marella Cruises Marella Explorer Cruise Reviews

regular cruiser looking for some warmer climes this winter. explorer ship pretty good, food in italian restaurant very good with friendly attentive staff. only used main restaurant twice for breakfast which was just ok. buffet restaurant ... Read More
regular cruiser looking for some warmer climes this winter. explorer ship pretty good, food in italian restaurant very good with friendly attentive staff. only used main restaurant twice for breakfast which was just ok. buffet restaurant patchy, soups were pretty good, salads average and main foods average. we do not think the range is as big or as good as 5 years ago. there was a late night snack area that was ok. bars all clean, staff up to usual standard. one bar that was far and away superior was the lounge. staff are so quick at preparing drinks and cocktails to clear the large number of people using this bar from 9pm onwards. the star performers from the lounge bar was vanessa, david, roland and gusti. top notch. the trips were all interesting. favourites were Taste of Fuerteventura and the wie,pottery, whistling tour of la gomera. shows were all very entertaining with the stand out being Zuma.the weather was quite warm ranging from 13c to 25c. Some good fish and shellfish eateries in the marina area of Lanzarote. rooms were looked after with great diligence as was reception. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Arriving in Tenerife after our flight from Manchester we embarked on Explorer. Our first impressions were good. Although the ship is around 25 years old, it is in good condition and has recently been refurbished. Happily, we were given a ... Read More
Arriving in Tenerife after our flight from Manchester we embarked on Explorer. Our first impressions were good. Although the ship is around 25 years old, it is in good condition and has recently been refurbished. Happily, we were given a our first upgrade by TUI. As cruise veterans we have sailed with half a dozen cruise companies, large and small. So TUI , thanks for treat of a cabin upgrade. A key feature of the refurbished ship is the electronic excursion booking system which does away with hoards of passengers waiting in line. A great feature, and time saver.. The cabin was kept tidy by our busy stewards. It was a decent size, that would suit most couples. It did have overhead beds for two, which we had to be careful not to bang our heads on getting out of bed. The dining room experience was good. Plenty of good food was on offer, in my view on a par with P&O. We did not see any point in dining in the Premium Restaurants it was so good. Also, the drinks package was very good. Again it was not worth buying the Premium package on offer. TUI is to be commended for providing good standard 'all in' experience without trying to do it 'on the cheap'. The ship does have a Lido style Buffet. We did not use it more than couple of times for lunch. To be honest it does need some work doing on it, as it is in places dark and uninviting. The standard of service throughout the ship was very good. Staff would go out of their way to keep the customer satisfied. No problems at all. I do not intend writing about the various ports of call, as information about the Canary Islands, Maderia, and Agadir is abundant on the internet.. Our verdict,a good value for money experience. Have no doubts before booking on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Having read a number of negative reviews we went on this cruise (out first with Marella) with no real expectations. We came back quite impressed and would not hesitate booking another cruise provided it came in at a good price/ itinerary. ... Read More
Having read a number of negative reviews we went on this cruise (out first with Marella) with no real expectations. We came back quite impressed and would not hesitate booking another cruise provided it came in at a good price/ itinerary. We have travelled on a number of lines including Oceania, Azamara, Celibrity, MSC, Holland America, Royal Carribean, Pullmantur and Princess. A number of other passengers had also cruised on similar lines to us and were also satisfied with Marella so this is not a review by a Marella diehard. Food. Both in main dining room and buffet was always hot probably better than most other cruises (was on Celebrity last year and a number of times left food in the buffet as it was too cold to eat). Quality- I would probably pitch it at good pub standard. Portion size was very good (Other than potatoes where you sometimes had to hunt on the plate for them - we ordered extra - but have had similar on other lines). Fewer choices in dining room than experienced elsewhere other than the handful of always available options of chicken, fish etc there were only about 4 or 5 choices but always had a least one vegetarian choice. Buffet had the same selections as main dining room plus a roast so less choice than usual there. Main dining room also had an Italian area which had usual selection of pastas etc. We also went there one night when there was nothing appealing on main menu and it had sirloin steak on their menu. There was also a separate Mediterranean option with pizza or pasta and a Tapas section. Both of these were in a separate area and were less 'formal' and quality was acceptable. Usual burger and not dog service beside pool and again was good and food hot. Lunchtime food selection included a pie option every day. Did try them a couple of times and they were good. We also had spotted dick and custard on the menu one day. Good generally very much geared to UK customers and no lobster tails or fillet steak but did have steak one night and duck another night. We didn't feel the need to try any of the extra cost venues. Drink. The included drinks included most of main brands e.g. Grouse whisky, Gordon's gin, Malibu etc and beers included draft Fosters, Stongbow as well as a range of bottles including Morretti, Peroni, corona. A number of cocktails were also included as well as draught soft drinks.Never had long to wait for waiter service or at bar - with no need to tip to get good service. A!though no 'at seat' service in show lounge there were tables when you went in with a selection of cocktails, red/white/rose wine as well as prosecco and a selection of bottles beers. As the longest show was no longer than an hour i didn't have a problem with picking up my drink(s)as I went in. Shows. Main shows were all very good with better singers and dancers than on most other lines and pianists/guitar/singers in bars were also good. Don't know what poolside entertainment was like as not really our scene but my wife enjoyed watching Downton Abbey film on outside big screen while I say next to her and watched a film streamed to my tablet from a selection of free films available through their app on the ship. Staff. Never saw a grumpy member of staff either in dining room, bars or housekeeping and all were universally pleasant and helpful. Cabin. We had an inside cabin and were quite happy with it. It was nothing special but did have good storage. Bed wasn't the best and probably not the worst either. Ship. It is an old ship but has been well looked after and refurbished with all public areas clean and bright - no classic wood panelling. Other passengers. Average age probably 60 plus but probably a factor of cruise type and timing. Almost all passengers were white and from the UK so not as diverse as we are more used to seeing on other lines. No real evidence of overindulgence than we have seen on other lines - there are always a few that are louder than they probably should have been. Disembarkation. Although you have to leave your cabin at 9 am you can continue to use all facilities including food and beverage until you depart, in our case 13.15. We were on a package and don't know when you would have to leave if you were cruise only. Overall we had a good break and would book again. Not our best cruise but not our worst (haven't really had any bad cruises) and Marella wouldn't be at the bottom if we ranked the different lines we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Well having sailed with Thompson on the Thompson Spirit (which was falling to peices) this was a pleasant surprise. The ship isn't new but they have obviously invested a lot of money refitting the ship. Everywhere was clean, the food ... Read More
Well having sailed with Thompson on the Thompson Spirit (which was falling to peices) this was a pleasant surprise. The ship isn't new but they have obviously invested a lot of money refitting the ship. Everywhere was clean, the food was great quality and selection (main dinning hall (Latitude 56), buffet restaurant (the market place), an Italian (serves buffet style pizzas and pasta during the day) and a tapas restaurant and the snack shack (burger, hotdogs and grab as you go items) they also have 3 paid restaurants also (not visited). The entertainment was a bit sparse and I would not like to be stuck on this ship for more than a day of sailing without stopping. It also doesn't offer a lot of things to do, it has a cinema (poor old selections of films), library, little crazy golf, sport court (very small), pool area with 3 jacuzzis (pool was warm, which makes a change, spa (chargeable), small gambling area (wouldn't call it a casino) a coffee shop (extra charge) and shops. I would rate this a one of the nicest cruises we have taken and we have taken a lot. The staff were friendly and the cabin was clean, more spacious than other cruise companies and a powerful shower (bonus) and a bit bigger than most. Good things 1. Embarkation and de embarkation 2. Food 3. Room spacious and clean 4. Not over crowded 5. Staff friendly 6. They are not trying to squeeze every penny out of you unlike other cruise companies 7. All inclusive food, drink and tips 8. Cabin Not so good. 1. Not much to do on board I have been on the following cruise lines and this is how they rate: 1 Princess and Marella 2. P&O 3. Royal Caribbean 4. Carnival 5. Thompson cruises 6. Costa Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
This was a Canaries cruise where we picked the ship up in Santa Cruz Tenerife. We have done this cruise before with another company so had no need to visit the locality again. Although an easy walk into the town, about 20mins. The Explorer ... Read More
This was a Canaries cruise where we picked the ship up in Santa Cruz Tenerife. We have done this cruise before with another company so had no need to visit the locality again. Although an easy walk into the town, about 20mins. The Explorer is a mid sized ship with about 2000 passengers and 1000 crew on board. They have been doing this a while now and the whole operation for embarkation was very slick. Even for the luggage which beat us to our cabin by about 30 seconds. We had a balcony double room which was reasonably spacious with a reasonable sized balcony. The bathroom was quite big, there was a fridge and mini bar and a reasonable amount of hanging space. All very reasonable!!!! Only niggles are the bed was quite hard and pillows quite small. Dining was very good. The food in the Latitude restaurant was in the main the same as what was available in the Mediterranean self service restaurant. There were some speciality restaurants which came at a cover charge, but at about £25pp extra we didn't partake. There is a also an Italian style restaurant which comes in the deal. We ate there several times as the menu was quite good and the portions quite large. There was as you would expect entertainment in the form of a show every night. As well as two guest artists. A very good Whitney Houston tribute (Nya King) and very good comedian (Scotty Mitchell). The in house show singers and dancers were okay. Some nights the show was good others a bit too much for them. Some of the lead singers struggled a bit with the notes. The girl dancers were also much better than the boys. There was also entertainment going on round the pools and bars by various artist which were also quite good. Lots of excursions to go on all at a fair price. As we have been round the area before we only chose to go on the dune buggy off road experience on Lanzarote. Which was great fun, only a 20 min ride in the coach to get there and 3 hours driving round the waste lands. If you do this prepare to get dusty and dirty and also take sun glasses and a bandanna to wear over your mouth. Otherwise they want another 6Euros each to buy one. Service was excellent in all aspects, from the Captain (John) down. can't praise them enough really!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
After reading some of the reviews on here, I was not looking forward to this cruise. However, we had an excellent time and I would certainly use the ship again. The vast majority of the negative comments simply did not apply, but maybe we ... Read More
After reading some of the reviews on here, I was not looking forward to this cruise. However, we had an excellent time and I would certainly use the ship again. The vast majority of the negative comments simply did not apply, but maybe we were just lucky. The cabin was excellent and yes the a/c was a bit fierce, but it was very quiet and not intrusive at all. The beds were very comfortable and the linen changed regularly, by the excellent steward. We saw no instances of drunkenness at all, although some large groups did get a touch noisy from time to time but this was not a problem. We upgraded the drinks package, and found the upgraded choice to be excellent. The basic wine was not to my taste but the premium wines were excellent. The gin selection on basic was fine but premium allowed you to access all the gins at the gin and whisky bar for no extra charge. Overall we thought the upgrade was excellent value at £50 each for the week. The ship is a bit dated in some ways but upmarket for Thomsons. We did feel that they had dumbed the food choices down a bit. Gone was the fillet and lobster tail in the main restaurant, instead you had prawns and lamb shank. However, we always found something to eat and the quality and quantity were good. We did the trio package for the three specialty restaurants and we were glad we did so as the service and food first class. I do agree that they need to sort out the service in Latitude 53 as the meal can take up to two hours 40 minutes and other times only 90 minutes. The problem seems to be that there are no drinks waiters. The food waiter does everything and if anyone wants a premium wine, they have to go and fetch it which can take up to 10 minutes. Why not have all the very limited range of wines to hand, this would speed things up considerably. We found the crew to be exceptionally friendly and the entertainment was excellent, with everyone working hard. We had our cases within 10 minutes of finding the cabin which is a record for us. Overall we had no complaints other that the slow service in the main restaurant, and the fact that they charged for the mini bar in the cabin. Why charge for this?. A special mention to Saville and Michelle at the gin and whisky bar. These ladies were excellent, and very efficient. Please pay them a visit and sample the 10 gins and 10 whiskies on offer. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
I booked the cruise with Iglu cruises about 7 weeks before departure as a surprise for my husband on our 45th wedding anniversary and because the price was good and all inclusive. We've cruise a few times before with RC, NCL & ... Read More
I booked the cruise with Iglu cruises about 7 weeks before departure as a surprise for my husband on our 45th wedding anniversary and because the price was good and all inclusive. We've cruise a few times before with RC, NCL & Princess after looking at reviews my expectations were not too high however we were very happy with the level of service provided. Our cabin was on deck 10 a large balcony cabin ideally located near the lifts and was kept spotless at all times. We only went to the showroom once it was a fantastic singer it was a Whitney Houston tribute sorry can't remember her name. The staff overall were very attentive the food was good the Surf & Turf was excellent, like any other ship there is room for improvement however for the price we paid the cruise exceeded our expectations. This was our 1st time on the Marella Explorer and I'm sure it won't be the last. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Splashed out on an Executive Suite - 10041 - for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Lovely cabin and huge balcony and first class steward called Ocsana. Overall the food was pretty average but plentiful. We noticed that TUI had made a ... Read More
Splashed out on an Executive Suite - 10041 - for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Lovely cabin and huge balcony and first class steward called Ocsana. Overall the food was pretty average but plentiful. We noticed that TUI had made a number of small, but significant, cuts in both staff and menu choices from a previous cruise the year before. Annoying that the German branch of TUI - Mein Schiff - always had the superior berths in every port and we were left with a long hike to the town centres. The staff in every department were excellent and couldn't do enough for guests, but they worked long hours and in the restaurants barely coped. The all inclusive drinks package more than covered our needs and certainly didn't warrant paying £200 to upgrade to premium. We met some lovely people and only a few over indulged, but no one spoiled the festive season. The highlight was Madeira with amazing Christmas lights and fireworks. Daytime entertainment was pretty mediocre and more akin to a basic holiday camp, but we made full use of our suite so really didn't care. The downside was the stops we made in the Canary Island ports. TUI failed to provide adequate shuttle buses - mostly none at all - and charged guests where they were supplied. One port was almost three miles from town, which the Captain suggested was an hour by foot! Many passengers were of an advanced age and many suffered from disabilities, so were confined to the ship. This was our fourth Marella cruise and we have booked again for later in the year. As someone who enjoys a cigar I was annoyed that the smoking area - these are few and far between - at the rear of the Squid and Anchor lounge no longer had a drinks service, even though waiters did collect empties. The anti-smoking brigade - who can inevitably be found stocking up with duty free cigarettes and rolling tobacco to take back for friends and relatives - had complained that fumes penetrated into the bar, and demanded the doors be sealed. Remember, drinking alcohol also damages your health! Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Chose this cruise as it sailed from Tenerife were we live, therefore no flying. We have sailed the Canaries before but still enjoyed it. The Explorer is a nice ship. Very clean, plenty of room around the various bars. The entertainment ... Read More
Chose this cruise as it sailed from Tenerife were we live, therefore no flying. We have sailed the Canaries before but still enjoyed it. The Explorer is a nice ship. Very clean, plenty of room around the various bars. The entertainment was not as good as the Discovery, just the show dancers and one night a comedian, ok nothing to shout about. We thought the service was better on Discover we waited a fairly long time to be served around the pool bar even though there were plenty of staff. That said we did get good service in the Lounge bar which we used most nights. The food was fine plenty of choice however we have had better. The snack shack was not very good food was not very warm. Help yourself dinning good with plenty of choice. Shore excursions no problems really, just the weather was cloudy so not much photo opportunity, not their fault. Had a bit of an issue with our cabin cards did not work so had to go back to reception to have them programmed seemed to be a few of us with the same problem. Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly for us as we were cruise only so boarded when we arrived in Santa Cruz 1.30pm and left the ship 8.30am when we were ready. Would we go again yes of course but on Discovery. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We chose this cruise because my wife's bucket included waning to see the Northern lights. It didn't disappoint. However there are only a few days during the cruise when this is possible. This is when the ship is inside the Atric ... Read More
We chose this cruise because my wife's bucket included waning to see the Northern lights. It didn't disappoint. However there are only a few days during the cruise when this is possible. This is when the ship is inside the Atric circle. ( only 3 day on this itinery) you also need the right weather conditions & they are only visible for a few hours ( normally between about 10pm & 2am). Our departure port was Southampton & we used Intercruise coaches as transport to the port from Cheshire. I would highly recommend them they were punctual & extremely well appointed on both journeys. Our cabin was 1045 with a large balcony. PLEASE AVOID. The cabin is well appointed & spacious. However it is situated just below an extractor outlet from the Mediterranean restaurant. This caused a horrible acrid oily fat smell to drift onto the balcony when in port & into the room when the door was open. We complained twice & nothing was done. Trips..we did the Flam railway & was good value for money. In Olden we used the sightseeing tour bus just adjacent to the port which was half the price of the TUI tour & exactly the same. All ports visited allowed you to walk easily to the towns although some were only small villages. Pulpit rock tour from Stavanger was also worth while & the town is quite large. Eating & drinking out in Norway is expensive & so are souvenirs. Food & Entertainment on the ship was first class. We always upgrade to the premium drinks package. At £7 pp/day well worth it. And we also had a couple of nights in the Surf n Turf & Kora La restaurants ( extra charge). Overall we would do this itinerary again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Just back from Fjords on the first day of our cruise my husband had his Jacket stolen from the top deck so we were down at reception every day to see if anyone had handed in a jacket the reception staff were anything but helpful just ... Read More
Just back from Fjords on the first day of our cruise my husband had his Jacket stolen from the top deck so we were down at reception every day to see if anyone had handed in a jacket the reception staff were anything but helpful just said come down later so every day we went down to reception they said the staff wouldn't take it someone did also my house key was in the secret pocket .so wasnt impressed with the help we got . Also the cabin was for four and the beds jutted out so not impressed I'm a first time cruiser the food was good in the market place it was busy in the morning but at night wasnt impressed the staff were nice and the cabin staff were lovely entertainment was ok we done three excursions expensive but good The Fjords were beautiful the weather was amazing don't know if I would do it again maybe choose another cabin . Didn't expect thieves on ship either . 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
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
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 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
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 wanted to experience the beauty of Norway and the Midnight Sun Cruise fitted the bill perfectly. Port of Tyne is only a 60 min car drive away from home so it was very convenient for us. First time with Marella (TUI) having been ... Read More
We wanted to experience the beauty of Norway and the Midnight Sun Cruise fitted the bill perfectly. Port of Tyne is only a 60 min car drive away from home so it was very convenient for us. First time with Marella (TUI) having been P&O cruisers before. Overall a good experience and we would recommend this cruise, especially for beginners. But don’t expect to meet young people on this cruise. We would have scored this a 5 if it not for the very poor embarkation process. The best part of this cruise was the whole crew, they were absolutely fabulous. Friendly, fun, engaging wherever you were in the ship, and whatever they were doing. They are a credit to the company and made the cruise for us and the main reason we would return. Captain John was a particular delight despite some unforeseen berthing changes resulting in more use of tenders than planned. His Q&A session was one of our highlights. The ship is a good size but sometimes felt like there were a touch too many passengers as queues for dinner were a regular feature (Latitude) and securing a seat in the Lounge for a drink in the evenings or a table for breakfast in the Market Place (buffet) often a challenge. We had a balcony cabin on deck 10 mid ships, a little tight on space and storage and a little tired here and there but fine for our needs. It was clean and very well maintained by our steward. We wouldn’t choose this deck again as we were below the running track and could hear some over enthusiastic joggers early in the morning (at 6 on holiday?) stomping their way around. We had an all inclusive package which worked well for us. The food ranged from superb (Dining Club, Kora La and Surf and Turf - additional cover charges), very good (Latitude and Mediterranean) acceptable (Market Place buffet). Best place for drink quality was The Lounge where the bar staff were brilliant. For me the entertainment was mixed. The Broadway Show Lounge shows were either very good or a little working mans club. Some really good singers.dancers and some not so good singers.dancers. I’m sorry but I thought all the resident bands were poor. However, the crew show in the theatre was excellent entertainment. We purchased the Spa pass, which was good value for the money as we were able to come and go as we pleased for the whole cruise. A good place to unwind and relax. The Horizon Sauna was excellent for watching the world go by and recommended for departures. They keep numbers down to a manageable level so you had good room to use the facilities. One morning they didn’t have some of the rooms switched on as we were in port, a little annoying but a really pleasant place with friendly staff. No complaint at all about the service in the bars, restaurants or cabin all very attentive and we had so much fun with the staff they were brilliant. Excursions we went on gave us exactly what we wanted, a real experience of the stunning beauty of Norway. They were well managed, had a good variety of interesting visits and locations and the guides were excellent. One of the tours was too rushed with a 15 minute visit to a beautiful waterfall and only 20 minutes to eat a 2 course meal as we had a ferry to catch. Disembarkation was fine, made easier for us as we were in the last group to leave the ship. That was a pleasant experience seeing most of the public areas empty and quiet. Embarkation was terrible and poorly organised. You park your car then have to walk your cases up a steepish car park, dodging the cars that were parking to a big queue outside a marquee at the top of the car park. Unlike Southampton, they wouldn’t take any hand luggage like suit carriers/flight bags. Then onto a bus for a 2 minute ride to the terminal, where more queues to collect paperwork and then across to the other side of the terminal to another queue to collect tickets and go through security to another coach that took 15 mins to load for another.2 minute trip to the ship. Anyone with some logistical/organisational skills could make this process so much easier, come on Marella sort this out its dreadful. So to summarise, first class crew, pleasant ship, functional cabin, good food, good soda, ok entertainment, superb service, good excursions, beautiful county, older passenger demographic, terrible embankment and better disembarkation.....would we go with Marella again, yes but mainly for the crew and to explore the Baltic. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise ... Read More
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise lines do trips into the Arctic Circle. First the good points - some people are a bit sniffy about Marella (Butlins at sea etc) but loads of positives for us. First the size of ship, we prefer the smaller ones and the Explorer we found to be light and airy, especially the Mediterranean lounge which houses the fab tapas restaurant and the pizza/pasta in the evenings at no extra cost with spectacular views. All in all, the food we ate was certainly on a par with any other ship we have been on. The extra cost Surf and Turf and Kora Lai were top notch, as were all the staff (and we include the fabulous quiet bar 'Aperitif staff' just outside these venues as well - our bar of choice - mainly because you could get Fever tree tonics and Bottega processo on the premium upgraded all inclusive which for us at just over £7 a day we considered good value). The regular staff (bar staff, cleaners, cabin staff ) all great. Now the Marella entertainment and customer facing staff could take a few lessons from the regular staff. Even spoke to Calvin James (head of staff?) ref some points but even he didn't give us much eye contact and generally didn't give the impression that he was being very attentive to our conversation. The entertainment from our point was very ' samey' - silent disco brilliant but mix it up abit and theme it eg have a soul theme v the 80'st,lost is novelty after a few times but with a few changes it could be so much better, you have the staff. Again some of the staff seemed to turn their smiles on and off. And only so many times you can watch Bohemian Rhapsody........And a bit more variety on the at sea days would be good, as we were in the Arctic Circle it is hardly sunbathing weather. But we did have a concern with the comedian that was flown in and thanks to head of entertainment that met us to talk about our issues. Thank you for that. If you do this cruise next year just be aware that as it a one off cruise , go with an open mind. Weather etc can affect it - we were blessed with the most fab weather. But some of the ports required us to tender when originally we were due to be harbourside, so if you have mobility issues, be warned. Also when we did use the destinations staff, on a few of the trips it was very poorly arranged. Alot of waiting around in the cold, and we were one of the youngest on board (we are 58!) . No wonder we choose to do our own thing in port if we can, not good value at all. Cabin was great, proper shower door and huge balcony, had a hammock, sunbed and 2 chairs and a table (extra large balcony cabin!). Maybe a few funky toiletries would be nice and the towels could have been a lot fluffier! But all in all, no issues. So would be cruise Marella again? If the itinerary was right, yes we would. As an ex - Tui member of staff, I know you can do much better, it won't take alot to sharpen up staff attitudes and better organised excursions, lets give the big boys a run for the money! And please keep the middle sized ships, they can get into all the smaller ports that those monsters can't! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Was going to give them 3 stars for a cheap and cheerful cruise but you have to give TUI an extra star for the help and support we received from their staff. We took 3 kids, one only 8 months and most of the airplane and ship staff were ... Read More
Was going to give them 3 stars for a cheap and cheerful cruise but you have to give TUI an extra star for the help and support we received from their staff. We took 3 kids, one only 8 months and most of the airplane and ship staff were brilliant. Positives: - Drop bags at check in and don't see them again until you're at your cruise ship cabin - Great airplane staff who can't do enough for you - Decent food and service on plane - Coach Transfer to ship waiting upon arrival and you're whisked off without going through all the hassle of the airport - OK sized cabin - Well stocked buffet with nice fresh (mostly) salads and plenty of choice, although does get a bit samey by end of 2 weeks - The free A La Carte restaurants of decent standard with good service - the paid-for ones were OK but you wouldn't miss much if you didn't visit those - Informal dresscode which was great (wish I knew this before I lugged a tux and a suit halfway round the world lol) - Impressive refurbed show lounge with comfy seats not-bad acts - Good selection of beers wines and spirits included - Great housekeeping staff who cleaned our cabin TWICE a day! - Friendly Captain who is often seen mingling with the passengers on the ship and enjoyed his morning announcements with the odd pun thrown in for good measure - No tips Negatives: - The staff must get commission for upgrading you to premium as they are on you as soon as you order your first drink. However, there's a decent selection of drinks included anyway and I reckon I only really made my money back on the premium drinks I had - Coffee from the machines on the ship is a bit naff but there is a coffee shop where you can get decent coffee for a premium. This is supposedly included if you have paid for premium however if you go before 10am you still have to pay! Come on TUI you must have a £billion turnover you can do without this penny-pinching - Watch out for the Narcissistic Cruise Director. Loves himself so much he even has his own TV channel featuring himself mainly, along with staff from different areas on ship. You'll just be starting to relax by the pool when his face will suddenly appear on the big screen and he'll be trying to flog you some SPA treatments or some other product they are finding difficult to shift - If you go to Indigo Bar give yourself plenty of time to get a drink. In fact take a drink with you from another bar to drink while you're waiting to be served a drink. They offer ridiculous cocktails like a 'Bathtub' that is a mini porcelain bathtub filled with spirits and mixers for 4 people - however only the head barman knows how to make it and it takes him half an hour. They call themselves the 'bar wizards' - Harry Potter morelike Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
If you are looking for a formal 5 star cruise on a traditional decor ship with excellent food , west end shows and quiet relaxed surroundings then this cruise is not for you. If you are looking for an informal all inclusive 4 star ... Read More
If you are looking for a formal 5 star cruise on a traditional decor ship with excellent food , west end shows and quiet relaxed surroundings then this cruise is not for you. If you are looking for an informal all inclusive 4 star cruise with modern decor , good food , a lively friendly atmosphere and great staff to look after you then this is the one you should book. Flight on TUI dreamliner was very good both ways and really liked that your luggage was delivered straight to your cabin from the airport on arrival and collected from your cabin and sent to the airport on departure. Large balcony cabin had lots of storage space and walk in shower and was kept very clean by cabin staff who always went above and beyond to ensure that you had a great experience.It was my wife's birthday whilst on board and they decorated the room with banners,balloons and a special card from all the staff. Every time you passed a member of staff they were always friendly and polite. Food was good but was excellent in the ones where you paid a supplement and well worth the extra,we bought a trio deal which was good value. Drinks choice was very good with all the popular beers and spirits included so no need to book the premium package. Service at the bars was very quick and you did not need to leave your seat if you wished as drinks waiters were constantly available. Entertainment was not west end standard but was varied and entertaining and always a great night in the sqid and anchor pub. We visited 10 different ports with the tender used only once and saw some great islands. We booked some TUI excursions and did some others ourselves and although ship excursions were not overpriced think doing it yourself via local taxis is better value and a better overall experience. On the down side TUI need to get their act together on their systems as this is having a detrimental effect on the booking experience. If you pay for a certain cabin then you should be allocated it or be able to cancel or get substantial compensation. We went with another couple and it took us ages at the store to book cabins next to each other which we paid extra for only for our friends to be told 2 days before we went that they had been moved to a different cabin due to double booking. On talking to other people on board this had happened to a lot of people. Think overall and especially on board it was a great, good value holiday experience and we would go again but please TUI get your act together and update your systems. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 4.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness & Recreation 5.0 N/A
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursions 3.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 3.0 N/A
Service 4.0 4.1
Value for Money 4.0 N/A

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