After reading the previous reviews I was wishing I hadn't booked this cruise and when we finally went on the Explorer I agred with all the complaints. The check in at the port was very quick, you just went to the desk, gave your name and airport flown from and were given an envelope with your key cards in. Went through security and onto the ship and our bags were delivered within half an hour of boarding. We can cabin 9255 right at the back. We had a big balcony and the room was well appointed and the beds comfy. You could only get 3 tv channels. However our toilet blocked on 3 days. The one next door did too as I could hear the maintenance man trying to unblock it. Our sink plug didnt work either, it would not stay down. The public toilets by the buffet were blocked too. When we docked it was really noisy in our cabin and because we were docking early in the morning we were woken up by the engines about 6 am.
We and my daughter both paid £49 each for 7 days wifi. After 3 days my daughters ran out. We went down to reception to query it and were told it had all been used up and would have to buy more days. How it could have been used up I do not know but the receptionist wasnt interested. She paid £25 for another 3 days and this ran out after 2 days, even though she barely used it and on one of those days we were on a 10 hour trip to Pisa so didnt even use wifi. We booked a full day trip to Rome which was described on TUI website as visiting the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps among other places. However the guide dropped us off at the Piazzo Navonna and said if we wanted to see the Fountain and the Steps we could make our own way there and it was a 20 minute walk. We were not given a map or directions. She then left us and said to meet back in 2 1/2 hours. As we did not have our phones with us we didnt know how to get there so ended up not seeing them. We spoke to another couple at dinner that night who had been on same trip but on another coach and their guide had taken them to those places and stayed with them the whole time. We did PIsa and Florence trip too but only saw 4 places in Florence, and only saw the leaningI Tower in Pisa. I did not feel they were good value for what we paid.
The food in the buffet in the evening was the worst I've ever had on a curise ship and I've been on P&O, NCL, RCI and Carnival. If you were a vegitarian there was very little choice apart from steamed brocoli, carrots and cauliflower or salad.
The food in the Italian was excellent but if you went between 7.30 and 8.30 there was a 40 minute wait. One night we went at 8 pm and she said there was an hours wait and they had run out of pagers. The food in the main dining room was good too.
The cocktails were limited and there were only 2 creamy ones. I paid extra for a mudslide but it was very watery. If you wanted to pay for extra premium brands or other cocktails it was £2.50. I paid extra for a creamy cocktail in the Italian restaurant but when it came it just had a great big blob of cream floating in the middtle.
The staff were lovely, we never had a problem getting sunbeds, the boat wasnt very busy seeing as it was school holidays and waiters were constantly coming round to take drinks orders. The lounges were spacious and you could always find a seat. We went to one show but it was very poor so never bothered going again. The ship never enforced using hand gel before entering the restaurants, unlike other boats I've been on. Hardly anybody used it.
The gym was described as being state of the art but was tiny with limited equipment. There were free classes for half an hour (walk around the deck in the am) and 45 minute classes that cost £7. I paid for the 45 minute classes but they only ran for 30 minutes and that included a warm up and cool down. I did not feel as though I had had a full workout in that time. The instructor was good, just wish the classes had run for the advertised time.
Our flight home was at 1.15 pm but we were taken to the airport at 9 am so had a long wait there.
I will not be going with Marella next time, they have a long way to go before catching up with RCI and NCL