1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Marella Explorer
We booked this cruise, as, with the exception of Ajaccio, we hadn't visited any of the ports of call (more of that later). We also liked the idea of the all-inclusive drinks and tips. I think the longest queue we encountered was when we first arrived at the airport to check-in (couldn't do it online beforehand), which was about 15 minutes. After this everything went perfectly, and, from our flight departing at 6am from East Midlands, we were in the pool on the Explorer less than 4 hours later (we took swimming costumes in our cabin luggage). We expected to have to wait a short while for our cabin, but we were well looked after with food & drink, and the cabin was ready after just over an hour. The cabin was wonderful - clean and spacious, and the upgrade to the large balcony, with its hammock, was an indulgence that we were both delighted with. I had looked at deck plans at time of booking, and selected one mid-ships on Deck 9 (cabins above and below). Credit must go to our cabin steward, Cyrus, who looked after us all week and was so friendly, whether it was early morning, or late night. The all-inclusive drinks package didn't disappoint (I have included photos of everything that is included, as well the drinks in the premium package). Great selection of bottled beers, labelled spirits, and cocktails. Beware - the measures are much larger than standard UK!! Food - absolutely fantastic. I have nothing but praise for the kitchen and restaurant staff. I've seen some reviews where people have complained about the size of portions in the Latitude restaurant. It was really simple - if we wanted more, we asked! Nothing was too much trouble, and when we couldn't decide which starter or dessert to have, they brought both. Surely it's better this way than having loads of waste. Different story in The Marketplace, where people stacked plates sky high and then left half of it. We booked into the Italian restaurant on two nights, and had tapas on another; both had a wide range of wonderful food on offer. All these are inclusive, and you could have as much as you wanted. As with the drinks we didn't even consider booking for one of the restaurants with the the uplift. Oh, and the midnight buffet was a welcome end to the evening on more than one occasion! Entertainment - West End shows really aren't our bag, but, as we had friends onboard who liked them, we went to one. Not really sure what was going on (for reference it was the show called 'Cogs'), but very professionally done. Musicians around the ship were top quality, as would be expected, and the silent disco was hilarious (even better after a couple of strawberry & black pepper infused vodkas). We thought that the ship looked really fresh throughout - the refit has been done really well. We didn't use the Spa, so can't comment on that. There was some difficulty in obtaining sunbeds on the day at sea, but we were expecting that. We managed to find space around to pool on all the other days, after returning from shore. So far, so good. Now on to our gripe. It appears that Tui are selecting ports that are perhaps cheaper to dock at, encouraging people to book on their extremely expensive shore excursions. In the past we have been used to ports like Monaco, Kotor, Barcelona, Naples, etc, where you can just walk off the ship and be straight in the town, or within easy reach of the train station - even Dubrovnik port, where we have visited previously, had a dock with a nice view, even though it was a bus transfer away. Anyway, I digress. In the ports where passengers aren't allowed to walk (Porto Torres, La Spezia and Sete), Tui provided complimentary shuttle services to the entrance of the port. Fair enough - Sete was actually a lovely town, and we took a boat trip onto the lagoon, and we had a good walk around La Spezia, including St George's Castle, which had great views across the town and harbour. However, the town of Porto Torres was not pleasant. For the first time ever in our cruising history, we booked a shore excursion (we always use local transport). For £22 each we had a half hour coach ride to the beach at La Pelosa (stunning, although very busy). However, on arrival we found that we needed to hire a pair of sunbeds at €30, and we were only there for 3 hours!!! We did venture into the town on our return to Porto Torres, but were back on the ship within half an hour. We were somewhat disappointed at having to pay £7 each for the shuttle bus into Tarragona; whilst, technically, we were allowed to walk to the town from the dock, it took the coach more than 20 minutes to cover the journey, so that will give an idea of the distance. Apart from a case going missing for a few minutes as we left the ship, the return journey for us was as smooth as the outward. Overall, we wouldn't hesitate in sailing on this ship again, and Tui's all-inclusive pricing seems to be the way forward. However, we will look very carefully at the ports in future; just because we haven't been somewhere before doesn't mean we should!

Very pleasantly surprised overall

Marella Explorer Cruise Review by Simon A

20 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We booked this cruise, as, with the exception of Ajaccio, we hadn't visited any of the ports of call (more of that later). We also liked the idea of the all-inclusive drinks and tips.

I think the longest queue we encountered was when we first arrived at the airport to check-in (couldn't do it online beforehand), which was about 15 minutes. After this everything went perfectly, and, from our flight departing at 6am from East Midlands, we were in the pool on the Explorer less than 4 hours later (we took swimming costumes in our cabin luggage). We expected to have to wait a short while for our cabin, but we were well looked after with food & drink, and the cabin was ready after just over an hour.

The cabin was wonderful - clean and spacious, and the upgrade to the large balcony, with its hammock, was an indulgence that we were both delighted with. I had looked at deck plans at time of booking, and selected one mid-ships on Deck 9 (cabins above and below). Credit must go to our cabin steward, Cyrus, who looked after us all week and was so friendly, whether it was early morning, or late night.

The all-inclusive drinks package didn't disappoint (I have included photos of everything that is included, as well the drinks in the premium package). Great selection of bottled beers, labelled spirits, and cocktails. Beware - the measures are much larger than standard UK!!

Food - absolutely fantastic. I have nothing but praise for the kitchen and restaurant staff. I've seen some reviews where people have complained about the size of portions in the Latitude restaurant. It was really simple - if we wanted more, we asked! Nothing was too much trouble, and when we couldn't decide which starter or dessert to have, they brought both. Surely it's better this way than having loads of waste. Different story in The Marketplace, where people stacked plates sky high and then left half of it.

We booked into the Italian restaurant on two nights, and had tapas on another; both had a wide range of wonderful food on offer. All these are inclusive, and you could have as much as you wanted. As with the drinks we didn't even consider booking for one of the restaurants with the the uplift. Oh, and the midnight buffet was a welcome end to the evening on more than one occasion!

Entertainment - West End shows really aren't our bag, but, as we had friends onboard who liked them, we went to one. Not really sure what was going on (for reference it was the show called 'Cogs'), but very professionally done. Musicians around the ship were top quality, as would be expected, and the silent disco was hilarious (even better after a couple of strawberry & black pepper infused vodkas).

We thought that the ship looked really fresh throughout - the refit has been done really well. We didn't use the Spa, so can't comment on that. There was some difficulty in obtaining sunbeds on the day at sea, but we were expecting that. We managed to find space around to pool on all the other days, after returning from shore.

So far, so good. Now on to our gripe. It appears that Tui are selecting ports that are perhaps cheaper to dock at, encouraging people to book on their extremely expensive shore excursions. In the past we have been used to ports like Monaco, Kotor, Barcelona, Naples, etc, where you can just walk off the ship and be straight in the town, or within easy reach of the train station - even Dubrovnik port, where we have visited previously, had a dock with a nice view, even though it was a bus transfer away.

Anyway, I digress. In the ports where passengers aren't allowed to walk (Porto Torres, La Spezia and Sete), Tui provided complimentary shuttle services to the entrance of the port. Fair enough - Sete was actually a lovely town, and we took a boat trip onto the lagoon, and we had a good walk around La Spezia, including St George's Castle, which had great views across the town and harbour. However, the town of Porto Torres was not pleasant. For the first time ever in our cruising history, we booked a shore excursion (we always use local transport). For £22 each we had a half hour coach ride to the beach at La Pelosa (stunning, although very busy). However, on arrival we found that we needed to hire a pair of sunbeds at €30, and we were only there for 3 hours!!! We did venture into the town on our return to Porto Torres, but were back on the ship within half an hour.

We were somewhat disappointed at having to pay £7 each for the shuttle bus into Tarragona; whilst, technically, we were allowed to walk to the town from the dock, it took the coach more than 20 minutes to cover the journey, so that will give an idea of the distance.

Apart from a case going missing for a few minutes as we left the ship, the return journey for us was as smooth as the outward.

Overall, we wouldn't hesitate in sailing on this ship again, and Tui's all-inclusive pricing seems to be the way forward. However, we will look very carefully at the ports in future; just because we haven't been somewhere before doesn't mean we should!
Simon A’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Marella Explorer price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Cabin 9129
The cabin was wonderful - clean and spacious, and the upgrade to the large balcony, with its hammock, was an indulgence that we were both delighted with. I had looked at deck plans at time of booking, and selected one mid-ships on Deck 9 (cabins above and below). Credit must go to our cabin steward, Cyrus, who looked after us all week and was so friendly, whether it was early morning, or late night.