Having read a number of negative reviews we went on this cruise (out first with Marella) with no real expectations. We came back quite impressed and would not hesitate booking another cruise provided it came in at a good price/ itinerary.
We have travelled on a number of lines including Oceania, Azamara, Celibrity, MSC, Holland America, Royal Carribean, Pullmantur and Princess. A number of other passengers had also cruised on similar lines to us and were also satisfied with Marella so this is not a review by a Marella diehard.
Food. Both in main dining room and buffet was always hot probably better than most other cruises (was on Celebrity last year and a number of times left food in the buffet as it was too cold to eat). Quality- I would probably pitch it at good pub standard. Portion size was very good (Other than potatoes where you sometimes had to hunt on the plate for them - we ordered extra - but have had similar on other lines). Fewer choices in dining room than experienced elsewhere other than the handful of always available options of chicken, fish etc there were only about 4 or 5 choices but always had a least one vegetarian choice. Buffet had the same selections as main dining room plus a roast so less choice than usual there.
Main dining room also had an Italian area which had usual selection of pastas etc. We also went there one night when there was nothing appealing on main menu and it had sirloin steak on their menu.
There was also a separate Mediterranean option with pizza or pasta and a Tapas section. Both of these were in a separate area and were less 'formal' and quality was acceptable.
Usual burger and not dog service beside pool and again was good and food hot.
Lunchtime food selection included a pie option every day. Did try them a couple of times and they were good. We also had spotted dick and custard on the menu one day.
Good generally very much geared to UK customers and no lobster tails or fillet steak but did have steak one night and duck another night.
We didn't feel the need to try any of the extra cost venues.
Drink. The included drinks included most of main brands e.g. Grouse whisky, Gordon's gin, Malibu etc and beers included draft Fosters, Stongbow as well as a range of bottles including Morretti, Peroni, corona. A number of cocktails were also included as well as draught soft drinks.Never had long to wait for waiter service or at bar - with no need to tip to get good service.
A!though no 'at seat' service in show lounge there were tables when you went in with a selection of cocktails, red/white/rose wine as well as prosecco and a selection of bottles beers. As the longest show was no longer than an hour i didn't have a problem with picking up my drink(s)as I went in.
Shows. Main shows were all very good with better singers and dancers than on most other lines and pianists/guitar/singers in bars were also good. Don't know what poolside entertainment was like as not really our scene but my wife enjoyed watching Downton Abbey film on outside big screen while I say next to her and watched a film streamed to my tablet from a selection of free films available through their app on the ship.
Staff. Never saw a grumpy member of staff either in dining room, bars or housekeeping and all were universally pleasant and helpful.
Cabin. We had an inside cabin and were quite happy with it. It was nothing special but did have good storage. Bed wasn't the best and probably not the worst either.
Ship. It is an old ship but has been well looked after and refurbished with all public areas clean and bright - no classic wood panelling.
Other passengers. Average age probably 60 plus but probably a factor of cruise type and timing. Almost all passengers were white and from the UK so not as diverse as we are more used to seeing on other lines. No real evidence of overindulgence than we have seen on other lines - there are always a few that are louder than they probably should have been.
Disembarkation. Although you have to leave your cabin at 9 am you can continue to use all facilities including food and beverage until you depart, in our case 13.15. We were on a package and don't know when you would have to leave if you were cruise only.
Overall we had a good break and would book again. Not our best cruise but not our worst (haven't really had any bad cruises) and Marella wouldn't be at the bottom if we ranked the different lines we have been on.