We have cruised regularly on Thomson (TUI - Marella) and Cunard. We finally persuaded our friends to join us. The Marella Celebration itinerary was excellent as it included Venice, Dubrovnik and Korcular. Some of our favourite places. Marella is less formal than Cunard, uses Sterling and had a great all inclusive deal when we booked. We did a cruise and stay holiday staying on the island of Kolocep just 30 mins from Dubrovnik.
This was our first time on the Celebration but we knew her sister ship, the Spirit very well. Our first impressions were very favourable as though the deck layout is almost identical there is a much more modern feel to the Celebration - less vestiges of her Holland America past. The main dining room food was excellent - we ate all our meals there as it’s so much relaxed experience than the Lido. The included drinks were good enough for the most of us though one of our friends who deals in wine thought the Cote de Rhône to be excellent and good value for money. There were no sea days on this cruise - and I do miss a good sea day to relax. I think all that can be said about the age of the ship has been said before. I love the teak decks and the fact she is easy to get around. What gives this ship her heart are the people who work on it, the value for money and the entertainment. We would certainly return if it was the right itinerary.
A first for TUI Marella is a welcome back party for loyal cruisers. You have to go to reception to let them know you have cruised with Thomsons before to be eligible. Cunard contact you and know your status - so me thinks Thomson’s weren’t keeping this info. We even received a little badge!
We really found no fault with anything on the ship apart from the embarkation process that takes place on the ship - Long long queues
We always choose our cabins after studying the deck plan as we like to be central and not near noisy areas. I do think a deck plan should be given out at departure - like other cruise lines. We knew the layout but our friends hadn’t cruised before. The cabin numbers and decks don’t tally. We were on deck 8 bridge deck but cabin 075.
Dining - we dined in the Meridian for most of our meals and were very pleased with the food (better than on the Spirit). We celebrated our anniversary in the Mistral Restaurant which was excellent. Not so impressed by the food in the Kora La - the service was excellent in all the places we ate.
Ports of call
Bari Montenegro- There is a free port transfer bus to Bar - we then took a taxi to Stari Bar. It cost 5€ agree the price first. Stari Bar is no Kotor but still worth a visit.
Korcula - tender port. Lovely old town - birth place of Marco Polo. We went for a wine tasting in a local restaurant- god wine but very expensive. It seems that most wine is produced for local consumption only.
Zadar - ship to town transfer costs £7 - drop off near the Sea Organ. Lovely town with Roman ruins and great atmosphere.
Venice - Get up foe the sail in - it is so peaceful and the only time you see Venicecwithout the masses. There was no organised transfer to St Marks Square but possible to buy tickets for transfer once off the ship. We realise that there appears to be a hop on hop off water bus that may be worth using. We used the People carrier to take us to P le Roma near the Station. We made a mistake of getting a gondola from here. It costs €80 but not the most picturesque trip. Walk further on - there are plenty of gondola’s around in better settings. We followed the signs to the Rialto bridge. The streets/canals up unti this point are relatively quiet. We then visited St Marks Square. We have visited Venice before so wouldn’t have bothered visiting again as it is always heaving but our friends have not visited before. I would strongly suggest pre booking St Marks or Doge’s palace and trip to Guggenheim art gallery.Eat anywhere away from St Marks or Rialto.
Trieste - short walk from ship to main shopping area. Hike up to the castle and church well worth it. Public transport runs up to the castle as well.
Split - Diocletian palace and medieval town within is amazing - very game of thrones. Well worth a visit.
Dubrovnik - We visited Dubrovnik at night on a sunset trip from Kolocep. We sailed into the old harbour - it was a fabulous trip. For those who are only cruising - the ship doesn’t sail till 10 pm so if you have the energy and inclination get the bus to the Pile gate and spend late afternoon/early evening there before she sails.
The cabin was spacious. Good TV (check you have it turned on by the side of the bed) Shower stream wasn’t that good but I’ve known worse.
Bring your own shampoo/conditioner
Remember you have to pay for the water/snacks even on all inclusive deals