Splashed out on an Executive Suite - 10041 - for two weeks over Christmas and New Year. Lovely cabin and huge balcony and first class steward called Ocsana. Overall the food was pretty average but plentiful. We noticed that TUI had made a number of small, but significant, cuts in both staff and menu choices from a previous cruise the year before. Annoying that the German branch of TUI - Mein Schiff - always had the superior berths in every port and we were left with a long hike to the town centres. The staff in every department were excellent and couldn't do enough for guests, but they worked long hours and in the restaurants barely coped.
The all inclusive drinks package more than covered our needs and certainly didn't warrant paying £200 to upgrade to premium. We met some lovely people and only a few over indulged, but no one spoiled the festive season. The highlight was Madeira with amazing Christmas lights and fireworks.
Daytime entertainment was pretty mediocre and more akin to a basic holiday camp, but we made full use of our suite so really didn't care.
The downside was the stops we made in the Canary Island ports. TUI failed to provide adequate shuttle buses - mostly none at all - and charged guests where they were supplied. One port was almost three miles from town, which the Captain suggested was an hour by foot! Many passengers were of an advanced age and many suffered from disabilities, so were confined to the ship.
This was our fourth Marella cruise and we have booked again for later in the year.
As someone who enjoys a cigar I was annoyed that the smoking area - these are few and far between - at the rear of the Squid and Anchor lounge no longer had a drinks service, even though waiters did collect empties. The anti-smoking brigade - who can inevitably be found stocking up with duty free cigarettes and rolling tobacco to take back for friends and relatives - had complained that fumes penetrated into the bar, and demanded the doors be sealed. Remember, drinking alcohol also damages your health!
Excellent - but no fluffy towels, canopies