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This was our 4th cruise. Our previous 3 cruises were with Royal Caribbean, and although we were reasonably happy with RC, we decided to give Marella cruises a try, because the price was good, and because they were going to ports we wanted to visit. We were a group of 6 people from 3 generations, all with inside cabins. We had the full board package rather than all inclusive, because we don’t drink very much and, at over £28pp per day, you would have to go some to get your money’s worth! Also, every person on the booking must buy the package, which is hardly fair when there are under 18s in the group. We flew from Edinburgh to Palma on Tuesday 9th Oct. Check in, flight, and transfers were seamless. No problems at all. Very well organised, with Marella staff on hand at every point to direct customers. Check in at the cruise terminal was relatively quick and again, very easy. We arrived at the ship around lunch-time and our cabins were ready. We went to have a look at the cabins then went for lunch. All staff on the ship were friendly and happy. They seem much more relaxed that RC staff, who seem to have supervisors on their back the whole time. We were very happy with the ship itself. There was of a good standard of cleanliness. I’ve read some reviews saying that the ship is old and tired and needs to be retired, but I wouldn’t agree. There were a few issues – especially leaks here and there when it rained, but generally it was pretty good. There seemed to be fewer blocked toilets than our other cruises with RC. We didn’t really use the lifts, but they did seem quite slow. One thing I thought was strange was that at night, there were no lights at the front of the promenade deck, which meant it was pitch dark at night, preventing everyone except the bravest from walking round the ship after dark. I’m not sure of the reason, but I’m assuming it’s because the bridge might find it more difficult to see if there are lights directly below them, but you’d think there could be some muted, low level lighting to allow people to have a stroll round the deck at night. There are lots of lounges and places to sit, so you never struggle to find somewhere to relax. There are the usual issues with sunbeds of people putting towels or belongings on them then disappearing for hours on end. This needs to be better managed The ship is apparently going into dry dock on 30th Oct for a week for repairs and deep cleaning. Dining: We ate mostly at Sirens for breakfast and afternoon tea, and the Lido or dining room for dinner. Dining positives:- In the main dining room, there are no set times for dinner. You can decide whether to share with others or have a table to yourself. You are seated immediately you arrive at the dining room -we did not ever have to wait in a queue to be seated. Afternoon tea in Sirens is fantastic, and was always very busy. Food was of good quality mainly and there was always plenty. Desserts in particular are much better than RC, who’s desserts are all very similar in consistency. Tables were kept clean and tidy by staff. Plates were cleared quickly and efficiently. Dining negatives:- Queues!!! British people become quite fierce if anyone tries to nip into a gap in the queue. The layout of the self service areas mean that if you only want something at the far end, you pretty much have to queue from the start. This was probably one of the only things that RC trumps Marella, as they have different stations for different food types. That said, the queues move quite quickly, so it’s not a major issue We didn’t try any of the a la carte restaurants as the food in the included restaurants was more than enough for us. Entertainment and activities:- We didn’t go to many shows in the theatre. We saw Stan John, the comedian, who was fine. Otherwise, we heard from others that the ships entertainment staff were decent for the first few nights but after that, it seemed to be too much of the same thing. There was a trio singing in the Waters Edge lounge, called Acoustic Soul, who were very good, but otherwise, we didn’t do many of the offered activities – although there was plenty to do. Service was good throughout the ship. Although I’d advise everyone to check their onboard account as we were double charged for use of the safe. Marella are much less pushy regarding selling extras than RC. Photo opportunities are there, but you are not bombarded every time you get on and off the ship etc. One major negative was that one of our cases was badly damaged being transferred from the ship to the cruise terminal at the end of the cruise, and the response to this was less than impressive. They tried to stick it back together with 2 small pieces of duct tape. We had to pay 10 euros at the airport to have it wrapped. I emailed Tui when I got home, but so far have had no response. Ports and excursions:- This is where Marella beats RC hands down, for me. The hours we were in port were much longer than RC. I suppose, in fairness, the ports we visited were relatively close together, but we were usually able to disembark around 9ish and didn’t have to be back on until 6 or 7pm. The ports we visited only twice had shuttle buses, which were £7pp (Portimao and Valencia) The shuttle bus in Valencia is unnecessary. Our teenagers wanted to go to the aquarium, so we didn’t get the shuttle bus. We left the port and got a local bus (number 95) to the aquarium. There are frequent buses numbers 95 and 4, which go to city centre from the port. They cost 1.50 each way. All in all, a great cruise. I would not hesitate to use Marella again, and would definitely choose them before Royal Caribbean next time

Better than Royal Caribbean!

Marella Dream Cruise Review by Clorty Midden

15 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: October 2018
  • Destination: Spain
This was our 4th cruise. Our previous 3 cruises were with Royal Caribbean, and although we were reasonably happy with RC, we decided to give Marella cruises a try, because the price was good, and because they were going to ports we wanted to visit.

We were a group of 6 people from 3 generations, all with inside cabins. We had the full board package rather than all inclusive, because we don’t drink very much and, at over £28pp per day, you would have to go some to get your money’s worth! Also, every person on the booking must buy the package, which is hardly fair when there are under 18s in the group.

We flew from Edinburgh to Palma on Tuesday 9th Oct. Check in, flight, and transfers were seamless. No problems at all. Very well organised, with Marella staff on hand at every point to direct customers.

Check in at the cruise terminal was relatively quick and again, very easy.

We arrived at the ship around lunch-time and our cabins were ready. We went to have a look at the cabins then went for lunch.

All staff on the ship were friendly and happy. They seem much more relaxed that RC staff, who seem to have supervisors on their back the whole time.

We were very happy with the ship itself. There was of a good standard of cleanliness. I’ve read some reviews saying that the ship is old and tired and needs to be retired, but I wouldn’t agree. There were a few issues – especially leaks here and there when it rained, but generally it was pretty good. There seemed to be fewer blocked toilets than our other cruises with RC. We didn’t really use the lifts, but they did seem quite slow. One thing I thought was strange was that at night, there were no lights at the front of the promenade deck, which meant it was pitch dark at night, preventing everyone except the bravest from walking round the ship after dark. I’m not sure of the reason, but I’m assuming it’s because the bridge might find it more difficult to see if there are lights directly below them, but you’d think there could be some muted, low level lighting to allow people to have a stroll round the deck at night.

There are lots of lounges and places to sit, so you never struggle to find somewhere to relax. There are the usual issues with sunbeds of people putting towels or belongings on them then disappearing for hours on end. This needs to be better managed

The ship is apparently going into dry dock on 30th Oct for a week for repairs and deep cleaning.

Dining: We ate mostly at Sirens for breakfast and afternoon tea, and the Lido or dining room for dinner.

Dining positives:- In the main dining room, there are no set times for dinner. You can decide whether to share with others or have a table to yourself.

You are seated immediately you arrive at the dining room -we did not ever have to wait in a queue to be seated.

Afternoon tea in Sirens is fantastic, and was always very busy.

Food was of good quality mainly and there was always plenty. Desserts in particular are much better than RC, who’s desserts are all very similar in consistency.

Tables were kept clean and tidy by staff. Plates were cleared quickly and efficiently.

Dining negatives:- Queues!!! British people become quite fierce if anyone tries to nip into a gap in the queue. The layout of the self service areas mean that if you only want something at the far end, you pretty much have to queue from the start. This was probably one of the only things that RC trumps Marella, as they have different stations for different food types. That said, the queues move quite quickly, so it’s not a major issue

We didn’t try any of the a la carte restaurants as the food in the included restaurants was more than enough for us.

Entertainment and activities:- We didn’t go to many shows in the theatre. We saw Stan John, the comedian, who was fine. Otherwise, we heard from others that the ships entertainment staff were decent for the first few nights but after that, it seemed to be too much of the same thing.

There was a trio singing in the Waters Edge lounge, called Acoustic Soul, who were very good, but otherwise, we didn’t do many of the offered activities – although there was plenty to do.

Service was good throughout the ship. Although I’d advise everyone to check their onboard account as we were double charged for use of the safe. Marella are much less pushy regarding selling extras than RC. Photo opportunities are there, but you are not bombarded every time you get on and off the ship etc.

One major negative was that one of our cases was badly damaged being transferred from the ship to the cruise terminal at the end of the cruise, and the response to this was less than impressive. They tried to stick it back together with 2 small pieces of duct tape. We had to pay 10 euros at the airport to have it wrapped. I emailed Tui when I got home, but so far have had no response.

Ports and excursions:- This is where Marella beats RC hands down, for me. The hours we were in port were much longer than RC. I suppose, in fairness, the ports we visited were relatively close together, but we were usually able to disembark around 9ish and didn’t have to be back on until 6 or 7pm. The ports we visited only twice had shuttle buses, which were £7pp (Portimao and Valencia)

The shuttle bus in Valencia is unnecessary. Our teenagers wanted to go to the aquarium, so we didn’t get the shuttle bus. We left the port and got a local bus (number 95) to the aquarium. There are frequent buses numbers 95 and 4, which go to city centre from the port. They cost 1.50 each way.

All in all, a great cruise. I would not hesitate to use Marella again, and would definitely choose them before Royal Caribbean next time
Clorty Midden’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 5029
Cabin positives:- In comparison to RC, the cabins are slightly larger. The bathrooms are definitely roomier than RC.
Showers were excellent – good water pressure and consistent temperature
Cabin negatives:- You have to pay if you want to use the safe.
The heating/air con had a mind of its own and it seemed to be either too cold or too warm. We had mastered it by about day 5 though!
There’s only one socket that is easily accessed. There are two more behind the bed, but they are difficult to get to.
Our cabins were kept clean and tidy by Ariana, our cabin steward. He was a lovely man - very friendly.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Cadiz
    Lovely port. The ship docks right in the heart of the city so you're in town within a few minutes.
    We visted the Torre Tavira for great views of the city and beyond, and a camera obscura show.
    Nice place for a wander around and a drink at a pavement cafe or bar
    View All 44 Cadiz Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cadiz Cruise Port Review
  • Cartagena (Spain)
    Again, the ship docks in the town, so you are in the centre within minutes
    Cartagena is full of Roman ruins.
    The Roman theatre is well worth a visit, as is the Roman forum and the castle.
    View All 429 Cartagena (Spain) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Cartagena (Spain) Cruise Port Review
  • Gibraltar
    We arrived early and were able to get off the ship before 9. We got a bus to Casement Square and walked up to the cable cars, which we had pre-booked. There was only a very small queue for the cable cars.
    We walked back down which was very enjoyable. The only negative is that the signage around the rock is not great, so sometimes you're not entirely sure you are going in the right direction.
    View All 724 Gibraltar Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Gibraltar Cruise Port Review
  • Valencia
    Plenty to see and do in Valencia.
    Marella have a shuttle bus to the city centre, costing 7 euros per person, but you don't need it.
    Our teenagers wanted to go to the aquarium, so we didn’t get the ship's shuttle bus. We left the port and got a local bus (number 95) to the aquarium. There are frequent buses numbers 95 and 4, which go to city centre from just outside the port. They cost 1.50 each way. The 95 takes around 25 minutes to get into the city centre (the same time the shuttle bus takes), and goes via the aquarium entrance. I think the number 4 bus is quicker.
    We walked back to the aquarium from the city centre, through the Jardin del Turia - a park formed in a dry river bed. It took us around an hour at a leisurely pace, and was a lovely walk. We then got the 95 bus back to the ship.
    View All 290 Valencia Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Valencia Cruise Port Review