We chose Marella Explorer as it was a medium-size ship, and our very first cruise 20 years was with Thomson and we were very pleased with that.
Sadly our experience of Marella Explorer was very disappointing. The service in the restaurants was generally poor though better in the Vista restaurant. Rarely asked if we wanted coffee after a meal. The quality of the food was OK, with Vista being much better than Latitude 53.
The buffet food was fine, but the background music was often intrusive.
The surcharge for the speciality restaurants seemed exorbitant so not used.
The entertainment in the Broadway theatre was not very good; the performers worked hard but with poor material, and it seemed that playing everything loud was the solution. Quite a number of people left because of the loud music.
Alternative entertainmant on the sea day was sadly lacking.
The captain was obviously keen to be "one of the boys" but daily apologies became an irritation.
On the positive side, our junior suite was excellent as was the service from our steward, and all the crew were always helpful and polite.
The carafe system of fresh water in the cabin was excellent and should be copied by all the cruise line to save plastic.
Always clean and tidy with helpful steward.