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Before I say anything else, I must say how friendly and helpful all the staff we encountered were. They all had a smile and friendly greeting. They made the whole cruise so much more enjoyable and despite anything you may perceive as negative you read below, we had a fabulous time and intend to cruise with Marella/Tui again. We went on the Christmas Day departure cruise to Turkey and Israel but this is a review of the ship not the destinations, having said that we berthed within walking distance of the towns (except in Cyprus) and so had hassle free visits. Basic ship facts that you need to know which unfortunately seem lacking on the Tui website or brochures: The currency on board is £ Sterling. The power sockets in the cabins are 2 pin / 240v so bring adapters. There were 2 USB ports by the bed and 2 in our lounge but don’t know if the other cabins had them. Room service food is chargeable (unlike many other cruise ships we have been on where it is free). Wifi is NOT free, you can get a 7 day pass, limited to a miserly maximum of only 1200 mb overall, for the princely sum of £ 50.00 Not all drinks are included in your basic price but that’s not really an issue as the prices are not expensive. They do not give out any paper deck plans so if you have a brochure with them in at home bring it with you. Having said that most facilities were all in deck 8 or 11 and after the first evening we knew where everything was as we explored everywhere. Room safes which are big enough for iPads or small lap tops are now free. Yes there is a nightly bed turndown service with a chocolate on your pillow. Your onboard ID card does not open your cabin, you have a separate plastic card with holes punched in it. Embarkation was swift but we did get off the transfer coach promptly. We should have had priority check in but I forgot to ask about it and the nobody asked me either. (This is part of the Premiere Service pack) Our cabin: There are only a handful of balcony cabins on this ship, unfortunately we booked too late to get one. We had cabin 7062 which is a suite with a separate bedroom and lounge. A fruit basket, chocolate covered strawberries and 2 bottles of fizz awaited us which was a nice welcome. It had a walk in wardrobe with masses of storage everywhere and more than sufficient cost hangers. If fact there was so much storage I forgot where I had put some things. The irony was that the one place a drawer would have been useful, ie: the bedside table there was not. The bed was made up of two single mattresses but with a double duvet. I liked that there was no profusion of useless cushions which seem to annoyingly appear on many hotel and cruise ship beds nowadays. The lounge area had a couple of hidden fold down berths, so the suite could sleep 4 guests. Two big sofas, a coffee table, a flat screen tv, DVD player and a generous sliding desk area which could double as a dining table for two made the lounge very practical and comfortable. The bathroom actually had a large walk in shower where originally the bath had been. I like relaxing in a bath, so was a little disappointed as our travel agent stated there was a bath with shower over it. There was plenty of hot water and the cosmetics were better than I was expecting. The towels were rather on the small size. 2 x bathrobes but no slippers. The shower water is not heavily chlorinated like on some ships (Cunard for example) so no itchy dry skin. Our steward named Gusti, very unobtrusively, made up our bed and cleaned up the suite almost as if by magic when we were ashore or having breakfast etc. If you wanted to get to bed before midnight this was not a good cabin position as the music and singing from the Medusa bar on the deck above was often excessive. It must have been ear damaging in the bar itself. However on the stroke of midnight silence prevailed apart from the crying baby we could hear through the thin cabin walls. Food: We had dinner in the Orion main restaurant on our first evening. The table layout was good and the way the tableware was presented plus an attractive looking menu choice increased our expectations. Unfortunately although the staff were hard working, service was slow and the food mediocre at best. My partner’s scallop linguine was sweet & virtually inedible. My roast beef although tasty was only lukewarm. To their credit the staff were concerned and in record time produced another main course of salmon to replace the pasta. Breakfast orange juice was better than I was expecting, the toast was wrapped in a napkin in a basket to keep it warm, however coffee took ages to arrive. My eggs benedict were acceptable but again not particularly hot and the portions of bacon and hollandaise sauce minuscule. We didn’t have breakfast there again. Lunch on several other occasions was better but they seem to have a problem getting the main courses out hot and not just warm. Although some of the waiters are really hard working, others need a little more direction and this can only come from better supervision and training. However on New Years’s Eve everything seemed to come together, service food and the table decoration made it a memorable evening. We tried the Hot Stone (extra charge) restaurant one evening. We were really made to feel welcome and special. The novelty here is that you cook the meat yourself on a hot rock bought to your table. I recommend the surf and turf (steak and lobster tail). Marko, Joel and Juliet were a superb team and the food amazing. We promptly booked again. Mistrals (extra charge) restaurant was also very enjoyable and the dessert was made very memorable - but I won’t spoil the surprise. We ate here twice so it must have made a good impression but some of the service could do with a bit more finesse to complete the fine dining experience such as a teapot rather than a cup of hot water and a teabag, not having to order dessert when ordering mains etc and better quality coffee. Kora La, the Asian themed (extra charge) restaurant looked lovely but we didn’t eat there so can’t really say anything. We look forward to trying it next time. The other inclusive restaurants such as The Lido or Sirens were great for breakfast with a view. Explorers Lounge for coffee anytime and alcoholic beverages after 6 pm was friendly and cosy with a piano player too. The staff were lovely and remembered our preferences and cabin number. It was our favourite watering hole. Try the hot chocolate, it really is the best! Premium drinks package: This costs approx £50 per person per week. You get excellent ‘Lavazza’ brand coffee and fabulous hot chocolate at no extra charge in the Explorers Lounge (otherwise approx £1.20 ish) and a better range of alcoholic cocktails, spirits and beers. Plus a bootle of water per day in your cabin. To make it pay you would really need to have at least a couple of these cocktails and coffees a day as the already inclusive range is pretty good anyway. We would not go for it on our next cruise. Premier Service: This really is all about marketing as the benefits are not great yet Tui staff are told to mention it as something special and worthwhile, I think even they are embarrassed about it. Good job they don’t try and make an extra charge for it. Marella brand: It would appear that Tui can’t quite let go and allow Marella be an independent brand. Staff would look a lot smarter in dark blue uniforms than the yucky, not quite sky blue they are currently attired in. Entertainment: There is a fair amount going on each day and the cruise director liked to make a point of telling everyone very loudly on the ship’s public announcement at noon, right after the very quiet (almost a whisper in comparison) daily report from the Bridge. Having said that he really is a great guy when you meet him and impossible not to like. The pianist Keith, is excellent and on New Year’s Eve he surprised with a fabulous singing voice. We sat in only briefly to a couple of the singing acts in the bars and thought they were good and certainly well appreciated by the audiences. We especially liked the duo Tom & Maris, who are unfortunately moving to a different ship. The resident singer and instrumentalists who were in the Medusa bar were far too loud for us to stay for more than a couple of songs. We watched two shows in the Broadway Theatre and were impressed by the energy, talent and professionalism of the show team. The theatre itself is one two levels and they have not sacrificed quality and comfort of the the seating for quantity like some ships. Most of the seats have excellent site lines and are comfortable, some have tables too, just watch out for the odd pillar. Marella really went to town for their New Year party with great music, ice sculpture, party poppers etc and of course lots of complimentary fizz. The only thing missing was the traditional count down. Anyway everyone had an amazing time with no one over doing the drinking etc. Decks: Deck 9 is great for walking around the ship and felt very ocean liner like. The ship has 2 swimming pools both filled with salt water - not heated and some lovely warm jacuzzis. They main pool has a retractable roof which is a fabulous idea. The sun deck and sun bar hidden away near the funnel look very classy and have some great seating plus a couple of hammocks too. Final Bill: This was cheap, detailed and most importantly accurate. No problems. Disembarkation: I was not looking forward to this as usually you need to put your suitcases outside your cabin the night before and vacate your cabins early and our flight was not until early evening. As usual any information about this before the cruise or even until the day before from Tui or the ship was unobtainable. As it happened the ship was going off for a 2 month refit and no more passengers were coming aboard so we could keep our cabin until we departed and all the restaurants were open as usual. I doubt things would always work out so well! Conclusion: Forewarned is to be forearmed they say, so if you know what to expect beforehand you won’t be disappointed. Despite reading several favourable reviews of the ship, I still had doubts but I am very pleased to say my expectations were vastly exceeded. We had a very comfortable, enjoyable, relaxing and even maybe describable as dreamy cruise. It was excellent value for money. The wonderful staff made a huge positive impact on the experience as did all the guests we interacted with. Inclusive drinks helped too, it took away the hassle of having to sign for everything and the concern of a big bar bill - it will be the future of cruising - take note Cunard! As the ship is now having a refit some things may change. We are looking forward to cruising with Marella/Tui again.

Crew Crew Crew

Marella Dream Cruise Review by Andy Martin

15 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Before I say anything else, I must say how friendly and helpful all the staff we encountered were.

They all had a smile and friendly greeting.

They made the whole cruise so much more enjoyable and despite anything you may perceive as negative you read below, we had a fabulous time and intend to cruise with Marella/Tui again.

We went on the Christmas Day departure cruise to Turkey and Israel but this is a review of the ship not the destinations, having said that we berthed within walking distance of the towns (except in Cyprus) and so had hassle free visits.

Basic ship facts that you need to know which unfortunately seem lacking on the Tui website or brochures:

The currency on board is £ Sterling.

The power sockets in the cabins are 2 pin / 240v so bring adapters.

There were 2 USB ports by the bed and 2 in our lounge but don’t know if the other cabins had them.

Room service food is chargeable (unlike many other cruise ships we have been on where it is free).

Wifi is NOT free, you can get a 7 day pass, limited to a miserly maximum of only 1200 mb overall, for the princely sum of £ 50.00

Not all drinks are included in your basic price but that’s not really an issue as the prices are not expensive.

They do not give out any paper deck plans so if you have a brochure with them in at home bring it with you. Having said that most facilities were all in deck 8 or 11 and after the first evening we knew where everything was as we explored everywhere.

Room safes which are big enough for iPads or small lap tops are now free.

Yes there is a nightly bed turndown service with a chocolate on your pillow.

Your onboard ID card does not open your cabin, you have a separate plastic card with holes punched in it.

Embarkation was swift but we did get off the transfer coach promptly.

We should have had priority check in but I forgot to ask about it and the nobody asked me either. (This is part of the Premiere Service pack)

Our cabin:

There are only a handful of balcony cabins on this ship, unfortunately we booked too late to get one.

We had cabin 7062 which is a suite with a separate bedroom and lounge.

A fruit basket, chocolate covered strawberries and 2 bottles of fizz awaited us which was a nice welcome.

It had a walk in wardrobe with masses of storage everywhere and more than sufficient cost hangers. If fact there was so much storage I forgot where I had put some things.

The irony was that the one place a drawer would have been useful, ie: the bedside table there was not.

The bed was made up of two single mattresses but with a double duvet.

I liked that there was no profusion of useless cushions which seem to annoyingly appear on many hotel and cruise ship beds nowadays.

The lounge area had a couple of hidden fold down berths, so the suite could sleep 4 guests.

Two big sofas, a coffee table, a flat screen tv, DVD player and a generous sliding desk area which could double as a dining table for two made the lounge very practical and comfortable.

The bathroom actually had a large walk in shower where originally the bath had been. I like relaxing in a bath, so was a little disappointed as our travel agent stated there was a bath with shower over it.

There was plenty of hot water and the cosmetics were better than I was expecting.

The towels were rather on the small size.

2 x bathrobes but no slippers.

The shower water is not heavily chlorinated like on some ships (Cunard for example) so no itchy dry skin.

Our steward named Gusti, very unobtrusively, made up our bed and cleaned up the suite almost as if by magic when we were ashore or having breakfast etc.

If you wanted to get to bed before midnight this was not a good cabin position as the music and singing from the Medusa bar on the deck above was often excessive.

It must have been ear damaging in the bar itself. However on the stroke of midnight silence prevailed apart from the crying baby we could hear through the thin cabin walls.

Food:

We had dinner in the Orion main restaurant on our first evening.

The table layout was good and the way the tableware was presented plus an attractive looking menu choice increased our expectations. Unfortunately although the staff were hard working, service was slow and the food mediocre at best.

My partner’s scallop linguine was sweet & virtually inedible.

My roast beef although tasty was only lukewarm.

To their credit the staff were concerned and in record time produced another main course of salmon to replace the pasta.

Breakfast orange juice was better than I was expecting, the toast was wrapped in a napkin in a basket to keep it warm, however coffee took ages to arrive.

My eggs benedict were acceptable but again not particularly hot and the portions of bacon and hollandaise sauce minuscule.

We didn’t have breakfast there again.

Lunch on several other occasions was better but they seem to have a problem getting the main courses out hot and not just warm.

Although some of the waiters are really hard working, others need a little more direction and this can only come from better supervision and training.

However on New Years’s Eve everything seemed to come together, service food and the table decoration made it a memorable evening.

We tried the Hot Stone (extra charge) restaurant one evening.

We were really made to feel welcome and special.

The novelty here is that you cook the meat yourself on a hot rock bought to your table. I recommend the surf and turf (steak and lobster tail).

Marko, Joel and Juliet were a superb team and the food amazing.

We promptly booked again.

Mistrals (extra charge) restaurant was also very enjoyable and the dessert was made very memorable - but I won’t spoil the surprise.

We ate here twice so it must have made a good impression but some of the service could do with a bit more finesse to complete the fine dining experience such as a teapot rather than a cup of hot water and a teabag, not having to order dessert when ordering mains etc and better quality coffee.

Kora La, the Asian themed (extra charge) restaurant looked lovely but we didn’t eat there so can’t really say anything. We look forward to trying it next time.

The other inclusive restaurants such as The Lido or Sirens were great for breakfast with a view.

Explorers Lounge for coffee anytime and alcoholic beverages after 6 pm was friendly and cosy with a piano player too.

The staff were lovely and remembered our preferences and cabin number.

It was our favourite watering hole.

Try the hot chocolate, it really is the best!

Premium drinks package:

This costs approx £50 per person per week.

You get excellent ‘Lavazza’ brand coffee and fabulous hot chocolate at no extra charge in the Explorers Lounge (otherwise approx £1.20 ish) and a better range of alcoholic cocktails, spirits and beers. Plus a bootle of water per day in your cabin.

To make it pay you would really need to have at least a couple of these cocktails and coffees a day as the already inclusive range is pretty good anyway.

We would not go for it on our next cruise.

Premier Service:

This really is all about marketing as the benefits are not great yet Tui staff are told to mention it as something special and worthwhile, I think even they are embarrassed about it.

Good job they don’t try and make an extra charge for it.

Marella brand:

It would appear that Tui can’t quite let go and allow Marella be an independent brand.

Staff would look a lot smarter in dark blue uniforms than the yucky, not quite sky blue they are currently attired in.

Entertainment:

There is a fair amount going on each day and the cruise director liked to make a point of telling everyone very loudly on the ship’s public announcement at noon, right after the very quiet (almost a whisper in comparison) daily report from the Bridge.

Having said that he really is a great guy when you meet him and impossible not to like.

The pianist Keith, is excellent and on New Year’s Eve he surprised with a fabulous singing voice.

We sat in only briefly to a couple of the singing acts in the bars and thought they were good and certainly well appreciated by the audiences.

We especially liked the duo Tom & Maris, who are unfortunately moving to a different ship.

The resident singer and instrumentalists who were in the Medusa bar were far too loud for us to stay for more than a couple of songs.

We watched two shows in the Broadway Theatre and were impressed by the energy, talent and professionalism of the show team.

The theatre itself is one two levels and they have not sacrificed quality and comfort of the the seating for quantity like some ships.

Most of the seats have excellent site lines and are comfortable, some have tables too, just watch out for the odd pillar.

Marella really went to town for their New Year party with great music, ice sculpture, party poppers etc and of course lots of complimentary fizz.

The only thing missing was the traditional count down.

Anyway everyone had an amazing time with no one over doing the drinking etc.

Decks:

Deck 9 is great for walking around the ship and felt very ocean liner like.

The ship has 2 swimming pools both filled with salt water - not heated and some lovely warm jacuzzis. They main pool has a retractable roof which is a fabulous idea.

The sun deck and sun bar hidden away near the funnel look very classy and have some great seating plus a couple of hammocks too.

Final Bill:

This was cheap, detailed and most importantly accurate.

No problems.

Disembarkation:

I was not looking forward to this as usually you need to put your suitcases outside your cabin the night before and vacate your cabins early and our flight was not until early evening.

As usual any information about this before the cruise or even until the day before from Tui or the ship was unobtainable.

As it happened the ship was going off for a 2 month refit and no more passengers were coming aboard so we could keep our cabin until we departed and all the restaurants were open as usual.

I doubt things would always work out so well!

Conclusion:

Forewarned is to be forearmed they say, so if you know what to expect beforehand you won’t be disappointed.

Despite reading several favourable reviews of the ship, I still had doubts but I am very pleased to say my expectations were vastly exceeded.

We had a very comfortable, enjoyable, relaxing and even maybe describable as dreamy cruise.

It was excellent value for money.

The wonderful staff made a huge positive impact on the experience as did all the guests we interacted with.

Inclusive drinks helped too, it took away the hassle of having to sign for everything and the concern of a big bar bill - it will be the future of cruising - take note Cunard!

As the ship is now having a refit some things may change.

We are looking forward to cruising with Marella/Tui again.
Andy Martin’s Full Rating Summary
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Cabin 7062
Our cabin:
There are only a handful of balcony cabins on this ship, unfortunately we booked too late to get one.
We had cabin 7062 which is a suite with a separate bedroom and lounge.
A fruit basket, chocolate covered strawberries and 2 bottles of fizz awaited us which was a nice welcome.
It had a walk in wardrobe with masses of storage everywhere and more than sufficient cost hangers. If fact there was so much storage I forgot where I had put some things.
The irony was that the one place a drawer would have been useful, ie: the bedside table there was not.
The bed was made up of two single mattresses but with a double duvet.
I liked that there was no profusion of useless cushions which seem to annoyingly appear on many hotel and cruise ship beds nowadays.
The lounge area had a couple of hidden fold down berths, so the suite could sleep 4 guests.
Two big sofas, a coffee table, a flat screen tv, DVD player and a generous sliding desk area which could double as a dining table for two made the lounge very practical and comfortable.
The bathroom actually had a large walk in shower where originally the bath had been. I like relaxing in a bath, so was a little disappointed as our travel agent stated there was a bath with shower over it.
There was plenty of hot water and the cosmetics were better than I was expecting.
The towels were rather on the small size.
2 x bathrobes but no slippers.
The shower water is not heavily chlorinated like on some ships (Cunard for example) so no itchy dry skin.
Our steward named Gusti, very unobtrusively, made up our bed and cleaned up the suite almost as if by magic when we were ashore or having breakfast etc.

If you wanted to get to bed before midnight this was not a good cabin position as the music and singing from the Medusa bar on the deck above was often excessive.
It must have been ear damaging in the bar itself. However on the stroke of midnight silence prevailed apart from the crying baby we could hear through the thin cabin walls.
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