This was our first ever cruise, going to Spain, South of France, Italy and Croatia. Overall we enjoyed the cruise. Embarkation was straightforward and the ship seemed clean and well-equipped. The major plus point was the staff in the bars and restaurants who were very, very good as were the cabin crew.However, a major damper was put on the cruise early on when I had my wallet with my credit cards stolen in Barcelona on the first excursion out. Obviously this was a fairly big issue but I thought that, as this must be a relatively common occurrence there would be ample help and support available - how wrong I was! I'd emphasise that throughout the whole process on board ship, the everyday staff that I dealt with were all very helpful and friendly and did whatever they could to assist. The problem seemed to be higher up the food chain where senior crew weren't willing to do anything to help if it meant bending their rules or processes and procedures in anyw ay whatsoever. Our account on the ship was tied to the credit card I lost and so this had to be closed down. i was immediately told that the only way to buy anything on board ship going forward would be to put cash on account. Fortunately we had a small amount of cash with us which I put on the account but it wasn't enough to allow us to do all the things we wanted to - it was my birthday, my wife's birthday and our 30th wedding anniversary whilst we were away and we had wanted to celebrate each event in the premium (extra cost) restaurants on board but we now couldn't do this and we subsequently also had to cancel my wife's celebratory meal through lack of money. The reason for this was that because some of the excursions had been so poor we changed our Venice excursion to another one. We hoped, given our situation, to be able to just pay the difference in price between the two trips but no, they insisted on cancelling the original booking (made pre-departure) and refunding the amount to our credit card and making us pay for the new trip from our ship's account - which meant we didn't have enough money to pay the cover charge for the restaurant for my wife's meal. To make things worse, the Venice trip was subsequently cancelled after we spent 30-60 minutes adrift during the night with no power at all which made us 7 hours late docking in Venice meaning that most excursions were cancelled. Of course by this time all of the premium restaurants on board were full so we still couldn't get in! By this time I was sick and tired of the total lack of help or goodwill from TUI. We had paid for our cruise by all due dates, we'd pre-booked and paid for nearly £900 worth of excursions before setting off and yet they still wouldn't bend in any way whatsoever to make our holiday better or less stressful. I met with the Guest Relations Manager who simply reiterated what her staff had told me - that it wasn't their fault I'd had my wallet stolen and as it happened in port they didn't even have any responsibility to us! She even stressed how they'd pointed out that Barcelona was full of pickpockets - pointing out the paragraph in the "Cruise News" where this had been said - inferring that we were either stupid or careless to have our belongings stolen. She said that as I had said I was trying to get an emergency credit card sent to us (which it was, in Naples) they didn't think they needed to do anything more to help us. Yet they knew within 10 minutes of the credit card arriving that it wouldn't work with their systems (again, they have one way of doing things and no other, apparently) but still they showed no goodwill or willingness to help. Then, finally, the Guest Relations Manager told me that someone in the UK could have gone to a TUI travel shop and made a money transfer to us on the ship! When I asked why she was only now telling me this she said that it was "quite involved with many steps so they didn't like to publicise it"!!
Although it may not seem it this is a brief recounting of what was a catalogue of issues with the senior staff on board Marella Explorer 2. The total lack of goodwill shown by them and by TUI was completely at odds with the helpfulness and friendliness of the general crew. We could have had a really good first ever cruise, but they managed to ruin it.
Clean and tidy with more storage space than anticipated and comfortable beds. Major downer was the huge pillar (not advised in advance despite paying to pre-book the cabin) which ran through the cabin completely obscuring the TV screen meaning ti could only be seen from around about the 2 o'clock position. The pillar also had to be circumnavigated to get into and out of bed - not so good during the night!
Palamos port is fine. We took the excursion to Barcelona which meant 4 hours there and back on the coach for 3.5 hours in Barcelona! We were dropped miles from Segrada Familia, the biggest attraction for most. A waste of time and money with multiple complaints made on the ship.
The port of landing to go to Marseille. Again, over 4 hours spent on teh coach for 2.5 hours in the city. When we stopped the "guide" got off and said "we'll see you here but on the
other side of the street in 2.5 hours.Bye."! We were just left in the harbour with no map and no suggestiosn about where best to go/see. Another waste of time and money
Pisa was good and the tower squarey is really attractive. Guide was pretty knowledgeable