We wanted to experience the beauty of Norway and the Midnight Sun Cruise fitted the bill perfectly. Port of Tyne is only a 60 min car drive away from home so it was very convenient for us.
First time with Marella (TUI) having been P&O cruisers before. Overall a good experience and we would recommend this cruise, especially for beginners. But don’t expect to meet young people on this cruise. We would have scored this a 5 if it not for the very poor embarkation process.
The best part of this cruise was the whole crew, they were absolutely fabulous. Friendly, fun, engaging wherever you were in the ship, and whatever they were doing. They are a credit to the company and made the cruise for us and the main reason we would return. Captain John was a particular delight despite some unforeseen berthing changes resulting in more use of tenders than planned. His Q&A session was one of our highlights.
The ship is a good size but sometimes felt like there were a touch too many passengers as queues for dinner were a regular feature (Latitude) and securing a seat in the Lounge for a drink in the evenings or a table for breakfast in the Market Place (buffet) often a challenge.
We had a balcony cabin on deck 10 mid ships, a little tight on space and storage and a little tired here and there but fine for our needs. It was clean and very well maintained by our steward. We wouldn’t choose this deck again as we were below the running track and could hear some over enthusiastic joggers early in the morning (at 6 on holiday?) stomping their way around.
We had an all inclusive package which worked well for us. The food ranged from superb (Dining Club, Kora La and Surf and Turf - additional cover charges), very good (Latitude and Mediterranean) acceptable (Market Place buffet). Best place for drink quality was The Lounge where the bar staff were brilliant.
For me the entertainment was mixed. The Broadway Show Lounge shows were either very good or a little working mans club. Some really good singers.dancers and some not so good singers.dancers. I’m sorry but I thought all the resident bands were poor. However, the crew show in the theatre was excellent entertainment.
We purchased the Spa pass, which was good value for the money as we were able to come and go as we pleased for the whole cruise. A good place to unwind and relax. The Horizon Sauna was excellent for watching the world go by and recommended for departures. They keep numbers down to a manageable level so you had good room to use the facilities. One morning they didn’t have some of the rooms switched on as we were in port, a little annoying but a really pleasant place with friendly staff.
No complaint at all about the service in the bars, restaurants or cabin all very attentive and we had so much fun with the staff they were brilliant.
Excursions we went on gave us exactly what we wanted, a real experience of the stunning beauty of Norway. They were well managed, had a good variety of interesting visits and locations and the guides were excellent. One of the tours was too rushed with a 15 minute visit to a beautiful waterfall and only 20 minutes to eat a 2 course meal as we had a ferry to catch.
Disembarkation was fine, made easier for us as we were in the last group to leave the ship. That was a pleasant experience seeing most of the public areas empty and quiet.
Embarkation was terrible and poorly organised. You park your car then have to walk your cases up a steepish car park, dodging the cars that were parking to a big queue outside a marquee at the top of the car park. Unlike Southampton, they wouldn’t take any hand luggage like suit carriers/flight bags. Then onto a bus for a 2 minute ride to the terminal, where more queues to collect paperwork and then across to the other side of the terminal to another queue to collect tickets and go through security to another coach that took 15 mins to load for another.2 minute trip to the ship. Anyone with some logistical/organisational skills could make this process so much easier, come on Marella sort this out its dreadful.
So to summarise, first class crew, pleasant ship, functional cabin, good food, good soda, ok entertainment, superb service, good excursions, beautiful county, older passenger demographic, terrible embankment and better disembarkation.....would we go with Marella again, yes but mainly for the crew and to explore the Baltic.