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We chose this cruise because it included places we hadn't visited before. In that respect, it was a success, and might have been even better if the final stopping point of Giardini Naxos on Sicily was not mysteriously removed from the itinerary as we boarded the ship !!! The excuse from the Captain is that it was a tender port and there wouldn't have been enough time to get passengers on and off. Really ? Marella only worked that out on the first day of the cruise ???? Difficult to believe that one. Passengers were offered £25 pp on-board credit to make up for this second sea day out of 7. On the face of it, a cost to TUI of about £50K. In reality, just getting passengers to buy more of the ship's services. A huge con. The holiday was going well (including a fabulous flight over the Alps) until we reached Naples airport. I've read other reviews, and our issue of no stairs, no buses to transfer to the terminal and late arrival of baggage is clearly not unique. On the return flight, we were between 1 and 2 hours late departing, again due to inefficient airport staff (or, being generous, using an airport which lacks the capacity to handle multiple arrivals). I will never fly into or out of Naples again !!! Our balcony cabin on Deck 8 was spacious and well equipped. The lack of sockets was offset to a large extent by the USB connections either side of the bed, very useful for charging phones !!! As long as you appreciate Explorer 2 is NOT new, you will be ok with things like stained shower grouting. Less satisfactory was a safe which was falling to bits and a balcony door which very definitely did not open and close in the designed manner. Because of the faulty safe, we actually had to attend the safety drill with our valuables in a Tesco bag !!!!!!!!!! We splashed out on one of the Cabanas for Sea Day 1, £99 but worth it as it also allowed us to access the health suite. Never been in an infinity pool which was warmer than a bath !! On Sea Day 2, I didn't make it to our favourite Veranda spot before 8 a.m. and there wasn't a free sunbed to be seen. The Market Place was fine for breakfast and afternoon snacks. We ate in Vista in the evening three times, and that was quite good. The undoubted eating highlight for us was the Diners Club on Sea Day 1, Yes, there was an additional cost of £45 pp, but for that we had a superb 7-course tasting menu, with an excellent complementary wine served with each course. Memorable. Less enjoyable was the Surf & Turf, but that was probably down to ourselves (I was sunburnt and my wife was unwell). Entertainment in the Broadway Lounge was surprisingly good - what an excellent group of dancers and singers the ship has. I believe there was a comedian on the ship on Day 5, but we had never heard of him (Tom Binns ??? ) so gave that a miss. Our favourite port was Split, though we felt a bit aggrieved to have splashed out £42 pp for an excursion which we could have done on foot for a few euro.The so-called wine tasting was a joke... Venice was disappointing due to the constant drizzle. We did get our trip on a gondola, but were unlucky enough to get the most surly Venetian gondolier who never spoke a word, never mind break into a few verses of O Solo Mio !!!! At least my wife was able to have a Bellini in the famous Harry's Bar. When she also wanted to eat in the famous restaurant, I knew it was time to break out the credit card !!!!! Ancona looked to be a lovely little town, but it was shut on the Sunday we called. Dubrovnik was absolutely lovely, and the cruise terminal was in a beautiful area, albeit a couple of miles from the old town. This brings me on to my main gripe about the Marella service - a lack of shuttle transport and lack of basic port information in the daily newssheets. I've read elsewhere that this is to save paper, to which I say 'Claptrap'. Why not tell you about the Venice Water Taxis (and cost) ? That would probably take all of a paragraph on Page 1. As I said, we didn't get our final stop in Giardini Naxos. It was a very small consolation to be sailing through the Messina Strait at tea-time and to cruise slowly past active Stromboli a few hours later. Imagine if it had been this week !!! It was a bit galling, however, to see what we think was Marella Explorer coming out from Giardini Naxos as we sailed past !!!!!!!!! No time problems for them. We were so looking forward to making a trip to Taormina. All in all, I know my review is not especially positive, but it is my honest opinion of a cruise experience which would not tempt me back to Marella. One good point which can't be forgotten is that our hold luggage was taken from the corridor and directly to Naples Airport. We didn't see it again until we got back in Glasgow. This was a first for me, and very welcome. Last word for the heroic staff, who serve drinks and food and keep the place shining, while smiling constantly. They are the real stars.

What Happened to our Giardini Naxos Stop ???

Marella Explorer 2 Cruise Review by Kettle Cruiser

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We chose this cruise because it included places we hadn't visited before. In that respect, it was a success, and might have been even better if the final stopping point of Giardini Naxos on Sicily was not mysteriously removed from the itinerary as we boarded the ship !!! The excuse from the Captain is that it was a tender port and there wouldn't have been enough time to get passengers on and off. Really ? Marella only worked that out on the first day of the cruise ???? Difficult to believe that one.

Passengers were offered £25 pp on-board credit to make up for this second sea day out of 7. On the face of it, a cost to TUI of about £50K. In reality, just getting passengers to buy more of the ship's services. A huge con.

The holiday was going well (including a fabulous flight over the Alps) until we reached Naples airport. I've read other reviews, and our issue of no stairs, no buses to transfer to the terminal and late arrival of baggage is clearly not unique. On the return flight, we were between 1 and 2 hours late departing, again due to inefficient airport staff (or, being generous, using an airport which lacks the capacity to handle multiple arrivals). I will never fly into or out of Naples again !!!

Our balcony cabin on Deck 8 was spacious and well equipped. The lack of sockets was offset to a large extent by the USB connections either side of the bed, very useful for charging phones !!!

As long as you appreciate Explorer 2 is NOT new, you will be ok with things like stained shower grouting. Less satisfactory was a safe which was falling to bits and a balcony door which very definitely did not open and close in the designed manner. Because of the faulty safe, we actually had to attend the safety drill with our valuables in a Tesco bag !!!!!!!!!!

We splashed out on one of the Cabanas for Sea Day 1, £99 but worth it as it also allowed us to access the health suite. Never been in an infinity pool which was warmer than a bath !! On Sea Day 2, I didn't make it to our favourite Veranda spot before 8 a.m. and there wasn't a free sunbed to be seen.

The Market Place was fine for breakfast and afternoon snacks. We ate in Vista in the evening three times, and that was quite good. The undoubted eating highlight for us was the Diners Club on Sea Day 1, Yes, there was an additional cost of £45 pp, but for that we had a superb 7-course tasting menu, with an excellent complementary wine served with each course. Memorable. Less enjoyable was the Surf & Turf, but that was probably down to ourselves (I was sunburnt and my wife was unwell).

Entertainment in the Broadway Lounge was surprisingly good - what an excellent group of dancers and singers the ship has. I believe there was a comedian on the ship on Day 5, but we had never heard of him (Tom Binns ??? ) so gave that a miss.

Our favourite port was Split, though we felt a bit aggrieved to have splashed out £42 pp for an excursion which we could have done on foot for a few euro.The so-called wine tasting was a joke...

Venice was disappointing due to the constant drizzle. We did get our trip on a gondola, but were unlucky enough to get the most surly Venetian gondolier who never spoke a word, never mind break into a few verses of O Solo Mio !!!! At least my wife was able to have a Bellini in the famous Harry's Bar. When she also wanted to eat in the famous restaurant, I knew it was time to break out the credit card !!!!!

Ancona looked to be a lovely little town, but it was shut on the Sunday we called.

Dubrovnik was absolutely lovely, and the cruise terminal was in a beautiful area, albeit a couple of miles from the old town. This brings me on to my main gripe about the Marella service - a lack of shuttle transport and lack of basic port information in the daily newssheets. I've read elsewhere that this is to save paper, to which I say 'Claptrap'. Why not tell you about the Venice Water Taxis (and cost) ? That would probably take all of a paragraph on Page 1.

As I said, we didn't get our final stop in Giardini Naxos. It was a very small consolation to be sailing through the Messina Strait at tea-time and to cruise slowly past active Stromboli a few hours later. Imagine if it had been this week !!! It was a bit galling, however, to see what we think was Marella Explorer coming out from Giardini Naxos as we sailed past !!!!!!!!! No time problems for them. We were so looking forward to making a trip to Taormina.

All in all, I know my review is not especially positive, but it is my honest opinion of a cruise experience which would not tempt me back to Marella.

One good point which can't be forgotten is that our hold luggage was taken from the corridor and directly to Naples Airport. We didn't see it again until we got back in Glasgow. This was a first for me, and very welcome.

Last word for the heroic staff, who serve drinks and food and keep the place shining, while smiling constantly. They are the real stars.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Split
    Two very brief coach trips which totalled no more than a mile. The tour guide for the historical bit was fine, but we opted out after half an hour, and preferred to take the sun and drink a beer while people-watching on the promenade. When we met up again, we travelled a very short distance to a building which was in fact a restaurant and which appeared to not be expecting as many of us at one time. A few morsels of processed meat and cheese, 'washed down' with three minute samples of wine, and then it was back to the ship.

    Split reminds me very much of Toulon in France, and we would happily return and do our own thing.
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