Marella Celebration Cruise Review by Hazel Marr
- Sail Date: March 2015
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Let’s start with the buffet/Lido restaurant. The breakfasts and afternoon teas were very repetitive and with little variations. The food was often oily, with the eggs being either over or underdone and only luke warm. The bacon and sausages tasted cheap. The cereals were mainly of the cheap sugar laden variety while the fruit was consistently melon and pineapple.
Lunchtimes fared little better. The salad was only ever the following:- lettuce, cucumber, radish, grated carrot, sweetcorn, tomatoes, watery silverskin onions (no vinegar) and cheeses with no variations. The salad dressings on offer were poor, heavily oily and poor in variety. The mixed salads on the appetiser counter were laden with mayo or looked revolting. Hasn’t the chef heard of pulses, a variety of salad leaves etc? The main courses were equally bad in their look, smell and taste. So much so lunch often became hot dog and chips from the snack bar by the pool – something we never eat at home or on holiday. The sugar free sweets were also poor in variety, being mainly a creamy mousse or pastry with fruit, not helpful if one doesn’t like creamy mousses and can’t eat pastry! Additionally the sugar free was rarely labelled as such and one had frequently to ask if there were any sugar free.
Afternoon tea was the same every day, sausage rolls, small sandwiches, trifle (not sugar free) scones, cake and biscuits (none of which were sugar free). In fact the sandwiches were often the best food of the day. The scones were also acceptable if one ignored the too high bicarbonate taste, but couldn’t cheese scones have been served occasionally too? The biscuits were the worst we have tasted – dry and tasteless regardless of flavour, too much flour and not enough fat to make them flavoursome and ‘short’ in consistency, in other words, they were cheap!
Drinks in the Lido – the coffee was dire, bitter and totally unacceptable. I drank only tea for the duration of the cruise whereas my husband doesn't drink tea, coffee, milk or alcohol so his choice was nil for the entire cruise, bar water, since no alternative drink was on offer, unlike other cruises which still offer juice and iced flavoured teas at all meal times.
Let’s now look at the food in the Meridian Restaurant.
Breakfasts: Firstly, fruit juices served at breakfast were far too sweet. We think that they were fruit concentrates which hadn’t been diluted. We had to dilute it by 1/3 or ½ to make it drinkable. The fish for breakfast was often unrecognisable as such being dry and much over-cooked, so much so we stopped choosing the fish dishes before a few days had passed. The omelette I tried after the fish was almost inedible too, the taste and texture weren’t good. My husband concurred on the only day he chose omelette. The yoghurt with fresh fruit was always sugared therefore problematic for me, also the choice of fruit was always melon unless we stipulated otherwise and when we did ask for alternatives the waiters always looked surprised, although we did get our choices. We asked for water, only wholemeal toast and sugar free conserve each day, yet we always had to ask several times for what we required and sometimes it wasn’t listened too or took far too long to get. Many people gave up without a second tea, coffee or whatever. The staff weren’t particularly helpful or friendly.
To be honest, my husband ate Weetabix followed by toast for the majority of the cruise. I, by contrast, resorted to porridge followed by Egg Benedict when available. Note I said egg not eggs Benedict – most ships give two, on this ship only one was ever given. Believe it or not, breakfast was probably our best meal of the day!!!!
We didn’t eat in the Meridian for lunch.
Dinners: The service was appalling. Several times we waited between 1hr and 1hr 30mins between the starters and the main courses and complained about main dishes being cold on more than one occasion. One day we actually saw the chefs, waiters etc. and baked Alaska presentation TWICE, without receiving our main course! The main course were poor in quality, often way too salty, bloody meats, lacking taste, having a horrible taste etc. etc. I even refused the Spaghetti Bolognaise. It looked like a poor tin or packet mix – short lengths of spaghetti mixed with the ragout sauce, not at all like proper Spaghetti Bolognaise. It tasted like it had lots of chemicals in it – really horrible, it was sent back, I was offered a second choice but by then I didn’t want to wait again and was put off by the first offering. A couple of evenings later we went to the Kora La, hoping for a better experience. I ordered the Beef Rendang and my husband ordered the Stir-fried noodles. Were these any better? Not on your life! Both dishes were so excessively salty we had the head waiter and the chef attend our table. We were offered alternatives but by now we were not in the mood to try yet more, rather we felt ill and disappointed. NEVER have we had such experiences on a ship.
Let’s move to our cabin. To be fair our steward, was very friendly and helpful so no complaints here. Yes, the cabin was small but as we booked very late, this did not surprise us. However, what did surprise us was the lack of a refrigerator in the cabin. All of our previous ships have had in-cabin ‘fridges and we didn’t even consider the possibility that there wouldn’t be one. A ‘fridge is important to us since I have medication which needs refrigeration, so every day I had to go to reception to get and return my medication to them, waiting in sometimes long queues to get and then to return it – what an inconvenience!
The television in our cabin was of poor quality, poor reception and a general lack of stations to watch.
The safe had to be paid for separately! Never have other ships charged us for in-cabin safes because this is for your benefit as much as our’s – shocking and expensive!
The facecloths in particular, were often grey and unhealthy looking. There was no complimentary dressing gowns and an elitist system for beach towels too – pale blue for the cheaper cabins, medium blue as one moves up the decks and royal blue, plush ones, for the better cabins. We were really disgusted at this – deliberately singling out what class of passenger one is – shame on you Thomson! This too NEVER happens on other cruise lines.
On the subject of sunbathing, we have a further complaint. The front of the top deck of the ship was often closed off due to ‘high winds’. Frequently this wasn’t the case but still we couldn’t use that area. The middle section was currently being refurbished; I say currently but in fact no work was done on this section all the time we were on board. We were all jammed on a small section, jammed in like sardines on the two sea days, most unpleasant. We heard this section had been shut since the start of the season. Furthermore, there are no toilets in this area. Lastly, the deck hands were regularly clearing away the sunloungers by 5pm even though the sun didn’t go down for another hour to hour and a half. They often asked passengers to get up so they could pack away. How unwelcoming! Of course this also meant there were no seats outside if one wished to sit out and peruse the stars on the warm Caribbean evenings. We’ve not seen the like of this previously either.
Our final complaint is in regard to returning to the ship after a day on shore. Actually, the staff on duty at the gangplank both going and coming, were humourless and unresponsive. There was no canopy on the pier, no welcoming drink, indeed no welcome. We were the poor relations of the cruise world as compared to the other ships we were docked alongside. Lastly, the security on board was a laugh, we could have brought all sorts on board. They rarely had the X-ray working.
Is this a Platinum Cruise as advertised ? – No way!!!! We consider it to be a poor cast iron level. Would we cruise with Thomson again? A resounding No! We’re so pleased we got a cheap, last minute deal. If we had paid the brochure price we would have been stomping by now and probably we be consulting with a solicitor. A shockingly, bad experience and one never to be repeated. Added to the general insult of actually being on board, on return and wishing to complain we filled in the on-line booking complaints form - it doesn't send and we have tried it on several occasions. A letter of complaint did receive the customary general reply, saying we would hear within a month. It's two months now and still no response and you can't get anyone on the phone either. We read reviews and decided to still give Thomsons a go. Warning, book at your peril - you have been warned. Our advice - try another company, any other company which isn't owned by Thomson.
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