We chose a "cruise and stay" package from TUI/Marella/Thomson as we hadn't visited any of the ports (Gibraltar, Cadiz, Portimao, Lisbon and Porto) apart from Malaga itself, and because we fancied a week on the Costa Del Sol. The destination ports were absolutely brilliant and we couldn't have asked for more in 7 days.
The staff, almost without exception, were attentive, courteous and friendly. The entertainment was in parts good, though rather 'samey' for our liking, not being into musicals or MOR music.
The biggest negative of all was the food on board which overall was appalling. The self-service restaurant ('The Lido') was the usual bear-garden on a cruise ship; the waiter-service ('The Compass') was pretty bog-standard,and somewhat cramped. No compaints about the cooking, but the quality and choice of food was more reminiscent of a M1 service station or a works' canteen than a cruise ship.
For example, in 'The Compass' the standard alternatives to the daily main 'specialities' were hot dogs or cheeseburgers. The chefs' parade was celebrated around the trumpeted 'baked Alaska' which turned out to be no more than a slice of (Walls'?) Neapolitan ice-cream with a blob of meringue sitting on top like a pea on a drum. Some of the meat should have got got Michelin stars - but from their tyre division as I could have run my Nissan on it. Much of the fruit & veg tasted tinned or frozen.
'Marella Spirit' was on one of its last few journeys, but to be honest, it shouldn't have got this far. It vibrated more than Greek plumbing and was dated and drab. Some loyal passengers will no doubt call these features 'character' or 'atmosphere' and their resilience and stoicism has to be admired.
Personally, we would not go near a Marella cruise again unless the standards improve dramatically. GET NEW SUPPLIERS/BUYERS, Marella and give your exceelent staff something to be proud about.
Room cramped and not much storage facility