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We picked this cruise for a number of reasons. The dates fitted in with dates I had booked well in advance (without knowing what we were going to do in the summer) to please my work, the itinerary, and by reading several reviews that the line was good for families and kids. 14 days is a long time for a 10 year old to be onboard so it had to be fun for him too, which I am happy to report it was. Embarkation was smooth enough but as we had a few smaller bags rather than a couple of big bags they insisted that we took on the "hand luggage". Disembarkation was not so smooth and Port of Tyne were making a hash of it and being rude with it. Ramming as many as they could on the car park shuttle buses for example and siting on the quay for 10 mins while they could have got a full load to the car park and back in this time. Ship was lovely. Nothing too fancy but very clean kept and run throughout. She is big enough to have plenty on her but you will still only be meeting people for the "first" time it seems on the day you are leaving which is the down fall of larger ships. Food was excellent and plenty of options without having to go the areas that you had to pay more. You can pretty much have something different every night and you can choose between sit down service at several restaurants to having a quick buffet which is ideal if you have had a busy port call and you just want good food quickly with no fuss. The choice overall is excellent. Drink we took the premium all inclusive which was little extra at booking and meant you could have any drink on the menu included which made things very easy. There are no hidden costs really and the end of the trip we had about £100 to our account for a couple of transfer buses and photos. Cabin was a little small (Deck 10 aft) when the sofa bed was out. Nice size of balcony though and staff were superb. Very clean and plenty of storage etc, worked very well. Entertainment was generally very good, decent show on each night and plenty of other activities around the ship and did not see half of it so always something to do. Plenty of live music around the bars etc. Overall making for a great feel. The entertainments team work very hard to get a good feel and it worked well, sail away parities etc were really upbeat and enjoyable and a real informal feel with lots of laughs. There were 2 formal nights, one of which we took part in and the other we chose to go the buffet (Market Place) so there is no pressure. Ports were superb. Some of the cities there was not enough time but this is cruising, a day in Stockholm, Copenhagen, etc is never going to be enough so you have to see these as giving you a taste. There was a full day (2 in Russia) so the line worked hard to give you the best time available in what is a tight itinerary to pull off overall. We only took the excursions in Russia as it saved getting a visa and also taking advantage of the Moscow trip. Both days in Russia the excursions were very good. In the other cities we took 2 laid on transfers (Gothenburg and Hellsinki) which were very hand. We enjoyed followed our noses to explorer the cities and if this is what you want (I.e. see a bit of the place and enjoy a coffee etc) there is no need to take pre planned excursions. It would have been nice if there was a transfer laid on at Copenhagen as it was a good walk from the city and the public transport did not seem logical although there were hop on/off buses at the quay. The Children's "M Club" was superb. We made our 10 year old go to the first session (he did not want to) and gave him the options if he wanted to go back or not, he hardly missed one after it. He made some great friends and got on really well with the staff which went out of their way to make them feel welcome and make sure they had a good time. Overall there was only very minor things we thought could be better (Coffee Port was slow for example) but nothing major and we really did not want to get off the ship. We would definitely go with Marella and the Explorer again.

Excellent all round cruise

Marella Explorer Cruise Review by Mark-Wemyss

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We picked this cruise for a number of reasons. The dates fitted in with dates I had booked well in advance (without knowing what we were going to do in the summer) to please my work, the itinerary, and by reading several reviews that the line was good for families and kids. 14 days is a long time for a 10 year old to be onboard so it had to be fun for him too, which I am happy to report it was.

Embarkation was smooth enough but as we had a few smaller bags rather than a couple of big bags they insisted that we took on the "hand luggage". Disembarkation was not so smooth and Port of Tyne were making a hash of it and being rude with it. Ramming as many as they could on the car park shuttle buses for example and siting on the quay for 10 mins while they could have got a full load to the car park and back in this time.

Ship was lovely. Nothing too fancy but very clean kept and run throughout. She is big enough to have plenty on her but you will still only be meeting people for the "first" time it seems on the day you are leaving which is the down fall of larger ships.

Food was excellent and plenty of options without having to go the areas that you had to pay more. You can pretty much have something different every night and you can choose between sit down service at several restaurants to having a quick buffet which is ideal if you have had a busy port call and you just want good food quickly with no fuss. The choice overall is excellent. Drink we took the premium all inclusive which was little extra at booking and meant you could have any drink on the menu included which made things very easy. There are no hidden costs really and the end of the trip we had about £100 to our account for a couple of transfer buses and photos.

Cabin was a little small (Deck 10 aft) when the sofa bed was out. Nice size of balcony though and staff were superb. Very clean and plenty of storage etc, worked very well.

Entertainment was generally very good, decent show on each night and plenty of other activities around the ship and did not see half of it so always something to do. Plenty of live music around the bars etc. Overall making for a great feel. The entertainments team work very hard to get a good feel and it worked well, sail away parities etc were really upbeat and enjoyable and a real informal feel with lots of laughs. There were 2 formal nights, one of which we took part in and the other we chose to go the buffet (Market Place) so there is no pressure.

Ports were superb. Some of the cities there was not enough time but this is cruising, a day in Stockholm, Copenhagen, etc is never going to be enough so you have to see these as giving you a taste. There was a full day (2 in Russia) so the line worked hard to give you the best time available in what is a tight itinerary to pull off overall.

We only took the excursions in Russia as it saved getting a visa and also taking advantage of the Moscow trip. Both days in Russia the excursions were very good. In the other cities we took 2 laid on transfers (Gothenburg and Hellsinki) which were very hand. We enjoyed followed our noses to explorer the cities and if this is what you want (I.e. see a bit of the place and enjoy a coffee etc) there is no need to take pre planned excursions. It would have been nice if there was a transfer laid on at Copenhagen as it was a good walk from the city and the public transport did not seem logical although there were hop on/off buses at the quay.

The Children's "M Club" was superb. We made our 10 year old go to the first session (he did not want to) and gave him the options if he wanted to go back or not, he hardly missed one after it. He made some great friends and got on really well with the staff which went out of their way to make them feel welcome and make sure they had a good time.

Overall there was only very minor things we thought could be better (Coffee Port was slow for example) but nothing major and we really did not want to get off the ship. We would definitely go with Marella and the Explorer again.
Mark-Wemyss’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
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Ages 10 to 12
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Cabin Review

Cabin 10146
Overall very good. For some reason I was expecting the cabin to be bigger and was tight with the sofa bed down, i.e. you could not get out to the balcony when the bed was out.

Staff were amazing. Everything very clean and tidy.

Stern area was a little "twitchy" for such a large vessel and would maybe be wary about aft cabins on lower decks but this is just a hunch. She is not Diesel Electric like most modern ships so there is more vibration and when they change engine configuration (i.e. start an engine if they need more speed) this is noticeable.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews