I don't normally write a review post holiday but felt on this occasion it was necessary, to help inform potential customers and for Tui to use for continuous improvement.
We embarked on christmas day and found out that there had been a fire in the engine room transformer. Planet cruise knew but did not make us aware beforhand. The itinerary had not changed on the ticket confirmation received on 19th dec 19 - they claim they sent an email on the 17th Dec to advise of this change but not received. They also couldn't forward this specific mail so sent a new mail upon my request/return.
We understood the transformer issue was a known problem but sent the ship anyway hoping it wouldn't fail - It did. Discovery has now had two fires in twelve months so as the first fix didn't solve the issue therefore i believe this could be considered negligent on their part, if the same root cause
As a result we had to sail at a reduced speed which meant 2 destinations were missed completely, and nearly 1 day less in Langkawi, resulting in nearly 3 extra days at sea. We were due in langkawi at 8am but arrived at 16.30 so Marella could cliam they had not missed another port to trigger bigger refund
Tui consider this a minor change so offered customers a refund of £250pp - i'm not sure we, and most other passengers, would agree its minor. Some passengers who joined the week before us also had £100 extra onboard spend for their inconvenience - i do not see how their holiday was more impacted than ours.
Embarkation was simple and efficient
Onboard, most staff were generally miserable/rude, which created lots of negatively on the ship, didn't appear to care and just went through the motions. Don't even bother with reception - greeted with a 'yes' rather than 'good morning, how can i help so sums up nicely
Sergi at the pool bar(deck9), a young blondy lady at the coffee pot(serving magic coffee) and our chamber team were the most notable exceptions.
Bar staff, waiters and managers were happy to argue in front of customers. Mostly Eastern european and Asian staff onboard.
Ship lacked leadership and perhaps a coincidence but the captain was replaced mid-cruise.
The frustrations and negativety with passengers, esp in the 1st week, was also poor which added to the tense atmosphere onboard.
We heard a fight broke out with several drunk passengers on our 1st night and to Marella's credit got them off the ship quickly
The entertainment was average and with the extra sea days repetative.
We had a deluxe cabin(dec8) which was great - although next to atrium so quite noisy until midnight, which wasn't a problem for us.
Deck space for sunbeds is tight on sea days so get up early
Food in waiter service restaurants was good. Buffet restaurant was hit and miss - mainly miss so average at best. Choice, quality and temperature. Plates usually hotter than food.
Premium drinks upgrade is worth it - grey goose normal and bar 11 cocktails hasx an additional charge of £2.50.
Deck10 bar/smoking area a disgrace in the evening as tables not cleared. Even when passengers asked staff if they would mind clearing tables they said they were too busy so no and would walk off.
Destination services have no clue about the actual destinations themselves and can only advise on the official trips, or point you to book using screens.
I suggest doing research upfront on things to do, costs, locations to port(laem chabang is 2.5hrs from Bangkok, Mekong delta is 3hrs, kuala lumpur is 1hr).
They even asked us to let them know the cost for Orang utan island(penang) as many people had asked - trip unavailable on board so many did alone (its 40ringit pp), haggle for taxi outside (its about a 1hr drive n we paid $60 for 2 people from $200). Come on Marella sort this out as you should be the experts.
If you have not changed money to local do NOT do this onboard. Example ex rate gbp/usd 1/1.12. Exchange rates are better in port terminals.
Book well in advance online if you want to go up Petronas Towers - between 10-15hrs is ideal to fit with timing of 'tui book your own' trip. You would be lucky if there is an allotted time available on the day
Singapore is AMAZING. We booked 'sea, land and air' trip. Although 'Hop on/off buses' are also at port terminal and taxi is c $14singapore so would do that if visiting again. Spent the evening at Boat quay n Marina bay and the city comes to life at night so would well advise - don't miss out on this
Language isn't an issue as english is mainly 2nd lanuage and locals happy to help. Not sure I'd do this in Cambodia though
All things considered we had a good holiday, visited some great countries, gutted we missed koh samui and malacca but would rate the ship as average.
My onboard experience has in reality put me off booking another Marella cruise. Although other customers, and a Tui employee who was on holiday, suggested that based on previous cruises they'd done, his didn't reflect all their ships in the fleet.