We booked this cruise totally for the length and the ports of call. We were not sure of the quality Marella would provide but the whole experience was much better than anticipated from some reviews.
Flights arriving throughout the day which meant embarkation was staggered and went very smoothly. Cabin was available straight away and luggage arrived timely.
The ship is a medium sized older ship. Well laid out, decor good and plenty of room apart from deck space which was very crowded on sea days as the cruise was fully sold. Only one outside pool.
We booked the basic inside cabin on the lower decks. It was smaller than other ships we had sailed on with just enough room at the side of the bed to squeeze out into the cabin. The cabin creaked and groaned quite loudly especially in rough seas. Apart from that it was very well laid out with a small seating area, dressing table, drawers and plenty of wardrobe space, hairdryer and tea and coffee making facilities. No Fridge. The bathroom was OK with shower curtain but plenty of hot water and shower gel and hand soap.
Dining - Islands Buffet - even on a full ship we had no problems finding a seat. It feels very airy because of the full length surround windows. Staff were very attentive and the food was varied and hot. We ate breakfast and lunch here and enjoyed both experiences. We did try the MDR for breakfast one day - if you like a leisurely meal then this may be for you. For us, we like to be up and away there are always so many things to do so we preferred the Islands.
MDR - We ate most of our evening meals here. The decor of the room is lovely with tables for 2 and more, although most of the tables for 2 are so close together you feel as if you are on a table for 4 or 6. We felt the food served here was very good with a good selection and always hot and drinks served promptly. Staff were very friendly and efficient. If you eat early you can walk straight in, if you like to eat later you may have to wait for a table, generally 20 mins. This was never a problem for us as we like to go for a pre-dinner drink so we would go to the restaurant, were given a pager, would go off to enjoy our drink and then be called to eat at the time we wanted to. Great system.
MDR - Italian Menu - Half of the upstairs MDR is set aside to serve an Italian Menu. There are 2 menus which are changed during the cruise so you need to keep an eye on that if you want to eat from both of them. Although you are still in the MDR, it is a different eating experience and an option if you don't fancy anything on the main MDR menu.
Glass House - In the evening serves a tapas and pizza menu. Tried this once enjoyed the food, but didn't like eating next to the indoor pool and sunbeds. There is a platter of continenta meats and cheese, then you can choose from 7 tapas choices and then you choose a pizza of your choice. There is also a desert choice available. This is free of charge - you can choose a hot stone meal for which a supplement is charged.
Snack Shack - Sandwiches, Salads, Fruit pots, chips, burgers, chicken Wings, Fried Fish - that type of food. Only used this when coming back late to the ship - it's OK but wouldn't eat here if other options were available.
Did not eat in the paid for restaurants.
Entertainment was excellent and varied, as was the activities - something for everyone and if you didn't want to join in you could find quiet parts of the ship. All the entertainment staff were excellent. To ring the changes on this 18 day cruise entertainers were flown in to perform on one or 2 days and then left the ship.
There were plenty of bars depending what you like to do in an evening and the choice of drinks was excellent. We never had to wait long to be served whether at the bar or from our seat.
Ports of Call - Arrived as scheduled and we were given plenty of time in each port (an average of 7 hours). Did not go on any Marella excursions but the excursion staff were helpful when asked questions and provided a printed map of the main town area.
Tip - If the weather is not good try to get a seat at The Veranda at the rear of the ship, it was sheltered when the outer decks were very windy.
To sum up we had a fabulous trip, Food and Drinks were Very Good, Entertainment and Activities were excellent and the staff were the best. We enjoyed it so much we would book to go again as there are still things to see at the ports of call.
Very well located within 1 min of lifts which took us straight to the MDR
Short walk to port exit then 20 minute walk into corfu old town. Buses and taxis were available. Easy to walk round the old town, "You are here" town maps were located around the town so finding your way around was easy.
Docked very close to the town with lovely views including the Barraca Gardens (noon day gun). Turn right at the port gates and a short walk to the Barraca Elevator (1 euro return ticket from ticket machine). Easy to walk around Valetta which is a lovely city surrounded by the sea. We walked the city walls with great views all the way and then walked through the numerous parks and up to Barraca Gardens to watch the Noon Day Gun. Don;t miss the Grand Palace .
Good views of the rock when sailing in. Short walk to port exit. As we are members of The Ramblers we had decided to spend the day hiking "The Rock". We entered via the Moorish Castle. A walking ticket cost 5 pound. Thoroughly enjoyed this scenic walk but it is not for the faint hearted. We had no interest in the history of the rock so did not enter any of the exhibitions. We did see all the sites we wanted to including standing on the glass platform, Windsor Bridge, the pillars of Hercules and of course the apes, which we didn't really want to see, at least not at close quarters. Returned to the ship past The Rock Hotel, Trafalgar Cemetery and Main Street.
Docked close to port exit. Short walk to main street where bus stops located in Parque de Santa Catalina. Caught local bus 1.40 euro to old town Vegueta 15 mins journey on Bus No.1 get off at Mercado (market) 1 storey red building. Beautiful old spanish town with narrow streets and picturesque houses and squares. Look for Christopher Columbus House and Santa Ana Cathedral and Old Theatre. Decided to walk back through new town rather than getting the bus as we had plenty of time. Long hot walk through shopping area although there were a few parks along the way. Once back to the port we walked through town to Canares Beach (10 mins) long stretch of sand with good promenade and sea side cafes.
Shuttle bus available to port entrance. Easy to walk from here into Bridgetown via the Boardwalk. Our Beach of choice was Brandon beach - left turn from the dock, follow the road and it takes you past Kensington Oval and the statue of Sir Garfield Sobers (we wanted to visit here), carry on walking along the coast (about 30 minutes) and you arrive at the beach, a 3km stretch of pristine white sand the clear blue seas. No hassle and crowds here just one beach bar running about a dozen sun beds. We walked the length of the beach, saw locals having a Crab Bake and bathing near outlet pipes from the nearby factory (because to them it is winter and the water here is warm), returning to the beach bar for our first Barbadian Beer and were lucky enough to see 2 turtles swimming very close to shore for hours on end. Walked back into town to take a tour of the main buildings and sites. Took a look at Carlisle Bay - wow so noisy and busy - we definitely made the right choice.
Ship couldn,t dock any nearer the town if it tried. This is the prettiest town to see from the ship. It is very hilly so can be difficult to sightsee as it is so hot but we really like Georgetown. This time we decided to get straight off to Grand Anse Beach and then come back into town to explore to make sure we were near the ship for departure. There are taxis available but we decided to take the local (dollar) bus. As you come out of the port buildings by the spice sellers turn left and walk down to the bus station. Take bus No.1. They are mini buses and they WILL be crowded. Its a 15 min journey, just ask the money collector to put you off at Grand Anse Beach. When we arrived the beach was empty - heaven. A beautiful bay, white sands and clear blue blue seas. We walked left away from the sunbeds and umbrellas and found ourselves our own quiet place. If you want facilities you can hire sunbeds and umbrellas and they will serve you drinks and food.
The bus brought us back through The Careenage, up through town to the bus station. Our plan to sightsee didn't happen because it was so hot so we took in the sites from the boat with a cool drink.
Boat docks right next to kralendijk, a very small capital town. By the docks you will see a line of tents with people offering all kinds of tours and activities and tickets to Klein Bonaire. Booked a half day trip with a local company called Bonaire Vista Tours. Most of Bonaire is Flat and in this area they mine salt. Visit to the Salt Pans was interesting. Tour took in most of the sites including Goto Lake to see Flamingos, Rincon an old inland town with Cactus Distillary, Seru Hill and of course you are driving round the most picturesque coastline. At the end of the tour we spent some time on our own walking around the colourful buildings of Kralendijk before returning to the ship. If you turn right from the ship and walk about 25 mins there is a hotel where you can pay a fee to spend the day on their beach.
Short walk to port exit and main street. Aruba is a very touristic island with many hotel chains along the coast. It does however also have beautiful beaches fronting them. We decided to take the local bus to the North to see California Lighthouse and spend the day at Arashi Beach. Crossed over main street into bus station. Took the No.10a to Arashi Beach (this is the last stop and closest to the Lighthouse) cost $1.50 each way. Walk takes you along a narrow road between vegetation with sand dunes to explore. Lots of birds and lizards to see on the walk. Returned to the beach. Arashi is the least touristy beach on the strip (being the farest out of town). Saw loads of Pelicans diving into the sea for food.
Returned to town and walked round the centre before returning to ship. Usually a trolley bus runs round the shopping area - but not on Sundays.