13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Chose the cruise as a late booking, to compare with our experiences with P&O so far, as well as choosing an interior cabin for the first time. We usually travel as a party of 4 adults, so this was our first cruise as a couple, on an ... Read More
Chose the cruise as a late booking, to compare with our experiences with P&O so far, as well as choosing an interior cabin for the first time. We usually travel as a party of 4 adults, so this was our first cruise as a couple, on an adults only ship. TUI had only just started using Naples as their home port, and our arrival and departure at the airport were poor, not down to TUI, but the local airport services, with delays to finding stairs and buses and luggage for virtually every flight we talked to. Our weather for the week was mixed, but it didn't hinder any of our plans, and in fact the lightening storm at Ancona was the highlight of the visit, as there just isn't much there, especially on a Sunday ! Overall I would say that whilst Marbella was smaller than any P&O ship we have been on, half of the things about it were better, and half were poorer, so we would definitely sail with them again. I would say that P&O ships are better appointed, it's public spaces more luxurious, and they offer a wider variety of food in the buffets and restaurants. However the all inclusive on Marella is much better, the rooms more spacious, and the standard of service and friendliness from the staff overall was better. The main difference to us was that the Explorer made no use of the atrium area on the ship, and unlike P&O it wasn't a focal point for seating or dancing, but it was a smaller ship to be fair. The age profile probably averaged 50 to 60, and the activities reflected this. We had intended to eat at larger tables to meet people, but to be honest the tables for 2 are so close together, you have no option but to interact with other dinners ! Our ports of call were as follows, and I hate paying the rip off prices for tours charged by all cruise lines, so a bit of research means you can do it all at half the price - Naples we only had a couple of hours to explorer before departure, and so no chance to visit Pompei. It was May Day, and there was a major rally in the city, so it was as busy as Oxford Street on a Saturday, so we didn't see it at its best, but I wouldn't rush back as it struck me as a working port and a bit grubby. Easy walk to the centre of the city from the port. Split in Croatia was really worthwhile. Again an easy 10 minute walk from the ship to the centre, and it's really interesting to walk around the market outside the city walls, and then the warren of streets in the centre. We went back to the ship for lunch and then back along the waterfront and past the city centre to the Marjan Peninsular for a walk with views back down onto the city. Venice we went on deck for the early morning sail in, but the poor weather meant it was like sailing up the Humber Estuary in the mist. The rain delayed our start but we took the people mover from just outside the port (1.5 euros) to Piazza Roma, and took the vaporetto route 1 water taxi down the Grand Canal (7.5 euros) to San Marco. We went in the Doges Palace (20 euros) with only a 15 minute queue, up the Campanile Tower (8 euros) with only a 20 minute queue, and into the Basilica (free) with only a 10 minute queue. All were well worthwhile, especially the Basilica as on the way out you have the option to pay 5 euros to go up onto the roof for some great views down onto the square below which I would recommend. Afterwards we wandered the streets up the Rialto Bridge and market, and walked back up the Grand Canal to the people mover at Piazza Roma. The city is easy to walk around and there is no need to travel on the canals if you don't wish to, and the gondolas are a published 80 euros for 40 minutes wherever you catch one from. Ancona was just a filler stop, as there just isn't much there. The weather was our worst of the trip, which in some ways worked out, as we had a tremendous lightening storm in the afternoon which was the highlight of the town ! Dubrovnik was our favourite stop along with Venice, with the buildings like Split but more structured streets unlike the warrens at Split. From the port exit turn left and catch the bus 1 or 8 into the old town (15 kune) as it's a bit too far to walk, and when you get there you will want to walk the walls (200 kune). The walls are intact and a full circuit takes around an hour and a half, but the views are spectacular, and includes the adjacent fort with views back onto the town. The cable car to the lookout above the city was not operating due to a tax dispute with the government. Messina town in Sicily doesn't have much, so we opted to turn left out of the port and a 10 minute walk takes you to the central train station where a train runs regularly to Traormina Giardini station (8 euros return), but you need a taxi up to the town (15 euros) or wait for the bus. We didn't have much time so we got a taxi and the town is very quaint. Turns out that we did the right thing as some of the ship tours went nowhere due to an accident on the main road. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Destinations and fitted in with work etc. Reason for choice of Cruise. From the time we checked in on board to the time we left all was perfect. Ship new, clean and great taste. Latitude restaurant was first class. We ate most meals ... Read More
Destinations and fitted in with work etc. Reason for choice of Cruise. From the time we checked in on board to the time we left all was perfect. Ship new, clean and great taste. Latitude restaurant was first class. We ate most meals here, a treat for Mum and easier with wheelchair. All staff superb, always ready to help with mum and happy in their work. Cabin we had two balcony cabins and were superb. Entertainment in main theatre was very good. We enjoyed all. Some better than others, but overall a great evening. Went to nightclub and also entertaining. We were asked by Steven if we would be models for the fashion show, which we agreed to and was an amazing evening. Such fun. Ports were good, disappointed with Messina, a shame we couldn’t dock in Taormina. But others good. Have recommended to friends for July. We thought the Director of entertainment, Matt was excellent, and always had time to speak to us when we bumped into him on board. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
The first thing to note is that whilst this ship is new to Marella it was built in 1994 and in places despite a refit is showing its age. You will need to travel on TUIs German Mein Schiff 1 & 2 if you want brand new ships! It is also ... Read More
The first thing to note is that whilst this ship is new to Marella it was built in 1994 and in places despite a refit is showing its age. You will need to travel on TUIs German Mein Schiff 1 & 2 if you want brand new ships! It is also a shame the all inclusive bit doesn't start when you step on the very old Boeing 757 plane but then i suppose prices would be higher. We booked a cabin with a balcony and were allocated right in the middle of the ship on the port side on deck 8 . It was about the size of a normal Travelodge room and had a nice sized shower cubicle which for a big chap is really welcome and had plenty of storage with the cases fitting under the bed. We heard many guests who were on deck 4 and near the back of the boat complaining of noise from the kitchens and vibrations when the boat was travelling, however this was not the case where we were situated. As always the cabin steward was very helpful and all the staff worked hard to ensure the guests had a great time.The only niggle we found was how thin the toilet paper was but other than that everything else worked well. It was great to have pool towels, TV, safe, hairdryer and a small fridge included in our cabin. We stuck with the standard inclusive package which is all anyone could ever need, although we noticed that since our last cruise on Discovery last year the choice of cocktails is less extensive than it was just 11 months ago - Not a major issue though. Similarly instead of waiter service at your seats in the Broadway show lounge they offer you a table of about 8 different drinks as you go in. Whilst it limited your choice of drinks it did stop constant chatting to the waiters during the shows. The entertainment was excellent in the evenings with 5 fantastic shows by the entertainment cast with fantastic use of technology and two guest slots the first were two comedians and the second an Elton John impressionist. There is always lots going on around the ship although we were a little disappointed that the movies by moonlight were started 30 minutes before the first evening ) show finished (and ended 30 minutes after the second show started) so you never got to see a film all the way through! Marella seem to be catering for a younger generation in its 50s (which we are) as we heard lots of grumbles from older passengers that there was no formal dancing available, dance lessons or classical music evenings which apparently is what they like to do! Dining is plentiful and to cater for 1800 plus people they do a great job. The buffet was always hot and plentiful of choice. The formal restaurants Lattitude and Vista were also great. We loved Nonna's an informal no frills Italian restaurant. which we went to a few times. We could not justify paying for the additional charge restaurants and don't think we suffered for not going there. For lunch we picked up sandwiches from the snack shack before heading out for the day. We did not use the pools or the spa.gym but it had lots of customers during the time we were there. The real joy was the itinerary. A different destination everyday with no sea days made it a great holiday for us. It was a great cruise which i would happily go on again. Hope you find his useful Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This is only our fourth cruise and we wanted a cruise that visited interesting places in the Mediterranean and was only a short flight from home. Mornings and evenings were cool but temperatures in the day around the low 20 degrees C and ... Read More
This is only our fourth cruise and we wanted a cruise that visited interesting places in the Mediterranean and was only a short flight from home. Mornings and evenings were cool but temperatures in the day around the low 20 degrees C and we had one rainy morning. We flew from East Midlands to Palma and although check-in was slow arrangements went smoothly until check-in at the cruise terminal where things again were slow. This cruise was the second week since the ship had been refurbished and the quality of furnishings and fittings was exceptional. The lifts were spacious and quick. Without exception all the staff we met were friendly, welcoming and helpful. Eating was a delight with open dining in six restaurants and three a la carte which cost extra. Ten bars, one a pub and a coffee shop completed the arrangements. The talented Explorer 2 Show Team produced a number of top class shows in the Broadway Show Lounge that would rival any produced in the West End. There were lots of activities during the day and in the evenings. Pampering was available at Champney’s Spa a new venture. We visited three Countries, five towns and could either walk in or take an inexpensive shuttle bus to enjoy them. There were lots of excursions to places like Pisa, Florence, Genoa and St Tropez and lots of room for sunbathing. Departing the ship was an ordeal because of poor organisation and we were again held up by Border Control at East Midlands on return. An enjoyable cruise, a top-class ship, fine food and drink and an outstanding crew. And the bonus adults only. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Booked under no illusion this would be like a Celebrity, Princess Cruise ect for the money paid, and that it was also an old shop which had been renovated rather than brand new. Overall impression public areas were clean and modern ... Read More
Booked under no illusion this would be like a Celebrity, Princess Cruise ect for the money paid, and that it was also an old shop which had been renovated rather than brand new. Overall impression public areas were clean and modern although there was a few snagging issues but this is to be expected and didn’t distract from our enjoyment while onboard. Food in the main dining room was really good, we had no complaints, and the a la cadre dining especially Surf and Turf was sublime. The only disappointment was the buffet restaurant which had limited choice at each meal time. Snack shack was good especially with the choice if having fresh salads and sandwiches available if you didn’t want to have a full blown meal. Entertainment was excellent, all performers were very professional and we enjoyed many a night in Squid and Anchor at the Gin bar listening and dancing to them. We was fortunate enough to have a Executive Suite, which was amazing, having usually booked a standard balcony. I read many complaints about size of cabins, beds against walls. For us we couldn’t complain. All in all we had a brilliant week, weather was also good for mid April in the Med, but having sailed on other cruise lines many of which are classed as ‘premium’ we knew not to compare, Marella target the U.K. market and the food and entertainment reflects this as does the price. Service was second to non and we would certainly travel on a Marella cruise in the future, however if you like the finer things in life maybe book another cruise line. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have been with Mariella (Thomson) several times including Baltic capitals this last August on Discovery -which encouraged us to go again with this company. As we wanted to avoid the Bay of Biscay and have limited mobility, we opted to ... Read More
We have been with Mariella (Thomson) several times including Baltic capitals this last August on Discovery -which encouraged us to go again with this company. As we wanted to avoid the Bay of Biscay and have limited mobility, we opted to fly cruise via Majorca. We are less mobile than we used to be and assistance was booked but this seemed to exclude TUI staff. Help was needed with luggage not wheelchairs but airports do both not one. The ship was Explorer 2 which was undertaking its second cruise since being fully refurbished. The ship and staff are still having issues. However I feel that others might wish to learn that this ship is not up to the standard even of Discovery There is a reduction or omission in many areas offered in comparison * no maps of the ship in the cabin * no maps of ports visited * much lower mileage of cruising: we even left port about 6 pm to idle off the coast for several hours (presumably this saves on port charges?) rather than take off later poorer entertainment * no classical music whatsoever - all pop * no readily available deck games (hosted or otherwise) although the putting green (not golf) was on the top deck around the funnel and was unreachable when the wind was up as most of the time * library was a joke - just one small stand with charity shop books although a few board games were available and were well used as little else to do Add to this, we had issues with a stuck loo outlet switch, a broken safe causing us a loss of almost a days visiting - not expected on an expensively regenerated ship It felt that every attempt was being made to cut costs even at the expense of cruisers enjoyment Overall - a boring experience and not to be repeated Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We went on the 2nd sailing of Explorer 2. Collection at the airport went smoothly, we were given some information to read on the coach. The check in at the port was quick and easy. Was slightly disappointed that we were not given a map ... Read More
We went on the 2nd sailing of Explorer 2. Collection at the airport went smoothly, we were given some information to read on the coach. The check in at the port was quick and easy. Was slightly disappointed that we were not given a map of the ship but there were screens and pictures around the ship that you could look to find your way around. The ship isn't perfect despite the recent refurb but its also not brand new and I think that is something people need to remember. It has been refurbished not ripped out and started again. So there were cosmetic things that were not in tip top shape. Was this a problem for us? No. There are some great features to it, the 19th Hole with its quirky buggies and golf simulators. Flutes where you can press the button and get more prosecco. The Squid & Anchor for quizzes, game shows, karaoke and Indigo where the nightclub is. Cabin - we had a balcony cabin on deck 9. It was really spacious. The wardrobes had plenty of hanging space and hangers. Then there were several drawers and shelves as well as the vanity table with drawers. The bathroom was decent as well and shower larger that other ships i've been on. Only negative the toilet wasn't working properly. We tried to ring Reception but our phone wasn't working either. Both were resolved fairly quickly after speaking with our Cabin Steward although the toilet did break 3 times that first day. We had a kettle & cups with tea bags etc which we were really pleased with. We were located near the stairs Aft (at the back of the ship) convenienty located just above Squid & Anchor and Latitude 53 and slightly below the Market Place. Dining - This for me was the most disappointing for me. We ate in all the free restaurants. I personally didn't feel there was as many options that we have had on previous cruises and wasn't very excited by the options given. We loved Nonna's which does fab pastas. Its worth noting that in the evening you get little breads and a small salad and slightly different choices on the pizza and the toppings for pasta. Definately worth trying in the day and evening. The Market Place has pretty much the same food as the Latitude restaurant. We enjoyed some meals in Vista which is the lower part of Latitude restaurant & has a bit of a Italian feel. We did not pay for any of the Speciaility Restaurants so I cannot comment on them. A nice touch was afternoon tea 3 - 5 that did sandwiches and scones. Food came out pretty quick and was well presented. The food at the Snack Shack and Beach Cove were about the same most days with a small varience. I really enjoyed the chocolate brownies. An added bonus was they had pre-packed salads and sandwiches and cookies. So if you wanted to take someting to your room for a snack later you could. The Coffee Port was set out really nice but I didn't use as I don't drink coffee and you had to pay extra for everything. We did go the the late night snack up in the Market Place most nights. Entertainment/Activities - The shows in the Broadway were pretty good. The main cast sing and dance very well but I didn't feel it was as good as some other ships. They were a 45 min set done twice a night. I felt sometimes the programme could have been done a bit better as some activities clashed with others so you missed out. Everyone has been raving about Revive, I didn't feel the story line was clear although the singing and dancing and costumes were great. I really enjoyed the Rockology and Soul shows. The Commedian was fantastic although if you are easily offended I wouldn't go. The Piano Man wasn't really to my taste but he was a good singer, his piano playing sometimes got lost in the backing tracks. Daytime Entertainment I felt was a bit lacking, we like to get involved in things and whilst looking at the Cruise News there seemed to be lots of things to do when you looked at what they were they were things like demonstrantions. Line dancing every day or signing up for golf simulator (which had charges). Evening Quizes were pretty good but we found it was the same people joining in all the time and audience particpation wasn't great. Indigo nightclub we went up a few times but it mainly was not many people in there, I think this was due to clashes with other activities and people not wanting to be up so late. Mini Golf is ok although the first game was the Sea Day when the waters were a bit rough so was a bit difficult but went back a few times. Pool Area - Plenty of sunbeds around the pool area and upper deck. There is also a veranda that you can use that has cushioned sunbeds and some nice little chairs. This is near the Cabana's but you have to pay for the Cabana's. There is always a man going around with a cart of certain drinks which delighted my husband. If you don't like anything on the cart though there was normally waiters around most of the time. Shore Excusions - we only did 2. We weren't going to bother as normally they are expensive but we booked one for Livorno before the Cruise and one whilst on it that were reasonable. The Livorno was the Canals but was pretty disappointed as out of 4 hours we were on the boat for about 40 mins then were left for an hour at a indoor market that sold fish, meat & cheese. None of which we could take back on the ship. The surrounding area wasn't the nicest and then we walked about 5 mins to the bus through a lovely little area that would have been nicer to sit and have a drink. The other was Sights in Barcelona. 3 hr tour to two mountains then a quick stop on the way back somewhere else. Enjoyed the tour. All ports were docked which is a lot easier when getting off the ship. Didn't have any problems with queing for getting on or off in a short amount of time. We bought photo's which was a pain because of how they have set up the offers. In the end we negotiated and got the photo's we wanted. You can buy photo's individually at a reasonable price which i haven't seen on other ships It felt very geared up for British Customers which isn't necessarily a bad thing but it has just been very different to the other cruises we've been on. All in all we had a great week, I'm not sure we'd go on Marella again as I don't feel it had the Wow factor hence the 4 star rating but we did have a great time and found the staff friendly and helpful in most cases. There were not that many public toilets and where there were some ie in the 19th Hole near the Show lounge there was only 2 cubicles. Should have toilets on every floor in my opinion. Thanks for reading if you made it to the end. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have sailed previously with Marella and overall been very happy with the product. Note... this is not a new ship. She is 25 years old and while she has been refurbished (some public areas are beautiful) there are some expected signs of ... Read More
We have sailed previously with Marella and overall been very happy with the product. Note... this is not a new ship. She is 25 years old and while she has been refurbished (some public areas are beautiful) there are some expected signs of the ships genuine age. Marella and TUI have been very upfront about the ships age, however some travel agents will say what they need to say to get the booking on! We stayed in the Royal Suite, which on first glance was amazing. After the first day we spotted some snagging that we attempted to get resolved with reception and our cabin staff but things didn’t get resolved. We escalated this to the guest relations manager who resolved it quickly and efficiently and showed a great deal of empthathy. Thank you Sam Hale, you’re a credit to Marella. The specialty dining was brilliant. Main dining was ok. I’d recommend the trio dining package for specialty resturants as it saves some money and brings the cost in at a quite reasonable price. We also paid extra for the premium drinks package. Being a wine drinker it was worth every penny, however many beer and spirits drinkers would be happy with the standard package. Overall it would have scored a 5 but the initial issues brought it down to a 4. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We booked this cruise based on the ship having been refitted, adults only and all inclusive. However, it was very difficult to see where any major investment had been made. The ship looked dated and tired in places. We had opted for a ... Read More
We booked this cruise based on the ship having been refitted, adults only and all inclusive. However, it was very difficult to see where any major investment had been made. The ship looked dated and tired in places. We had opted for a Junior Suite which was allocated on deck 12, and although the cabin was a reasonable size with a decent balcony, it was far from a premium product. The fixtures and furnishings were cheap and lacked comfort or style, the bed was the most uncomfortable I have had to sleep on. It was a cheap sprung mattress that was rock hard and the pillows were just awful. We had several problems during the cruise; safe not working, tepid water throughout the cruise, and the air conditioning was either hot or cold. The food onboard was very disappointing. We opted to eat four times in Vista the Italian restaurant within the main Latitude restaurant, as the food here was better than in Latitude which was awful. Food was served lukewarm, the choices were limited and as tables were crammed together it was impossible to have a private conversation. We found staff to be generally lacking any enthusiasm, and service was very hit and miss. Even at 7am as it opened for breakfast the tea was far from hot, the eggs cold and service sporadic. The all inclusive option also had several limitations. Coffees from the coffee shop were extra, water in the cabin was extra and the choice of cocktails included was basic, and as most were premixed the quality was poor. We were constantly asked to upgrade to a premium drinks package but at £50 each a week on top of what we had already paid, which was not insignificant, it felt like an insult. There were 3 speciality restaurants onboard but at a minimum of £28.95 per head, it felt like extortion. We have never had to pay anything like this on far superior cruises. Entertainment was generally good in the theatre, but some of the music acts were definitely lacking talent. We took two trips in port which were well executed and the tour companies employed were professional. Overall this is a budget cruise, and struggling to retain the basic standards. The ship needs further investment and updating, service and maintenance needs improving and food needs an overhaul. We were so disappointed and underwhelmed, and more so as we had high expectations based on the ship being on only its second week after the refit. We have cruised on many other lines and feel for what we paid we could have had a far better product with other companies. On a separate note the disembarkation was awful, disorganised, chaotic and badly planned - never again Marella. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
The ship itself although it had its tea thing problems was a nice overall. The cabins were adequate and served there purpose we had an inside cabin, I felt the shower was very good, the pillows needed to be firmer or at least have the ... Read More
The ship itself although it had its tea thing problems was a nice overall. The cabins were adequate and served there purpose we had an inside cabin, I felt the shower was very good, the pillows needed to be firmer or at least have the option, plenty of storage, could be cleaner. The food in the self service was ok lots of room for improvement but served its purpose, I am Cluton free and that was very disappointing as I was hoping this had improved from our previous cruises, very little options although they show options but was never available. The restaurants on the ship was fantastic the food and service was very good this includes the package restaurants as well. The entertainment was way above my expectations and the theatre itself was very comfortable. The staff on board are very polite across the ship. As a whole we had a great time on and off the ship and would recommend a cruise, these are not high end but are a very good standard Read Less
Marella Explorer 2 Ratings
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