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Marella Explorer Cruise Review
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
202 Reviews

Spoiled by a tiny food budget

Marella Explorer Cruise Review by TheFatFryer

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2020
  • Destination: the Western Mediterranean

We wanted a cruise at short notice. Somewhere warm. Or even warmish. Our only option was this Mariella cruise around the Canary Islands.

I must say it was cheap. Therefore we made a number of assumptions, only some of them were accurate.

We travelled on the Tui flight from Gatwick. Extra legroom seat for only £25 each. Flight was comfortable. Bus collection and transfer was flawless.

Embarkation was remarkably quick. And within about fifteen minutes we were onboard the ship.

The ship is beautiful. It’s an older tug, but as it was originally a Celebrity ship the rooms and spaces are well thought out. It’s a really easy smaller ship to navigate around so there wasn’t many passengers looking lost.

A word about our fellow cruisers. Perhaps it was the time of year, or perhaps the itinerary but if did feel a bit like a Fred Olsen cruise. The average age was at least 70. This meant that although the alcohol was all inclusive there wasn’t many obviously drunk passengers onboard......

The main problem concerned the food. The budget must have been about £5.00 a day. The food was monotonous and boring. Little choice and items repeated. Service was variable. From excellent to absolutely awful. The worst was me watching the waiter taking big crafty gulps of red wine when we weren’t even served our own glasses. He missed courses out, got confused over the order and didn’t fill our glasses but managed to fill his own!!

If Marella increased the daily budget by about £2 or £3 a day the difference would be dramatic. Then they really would take P and O to task. But as it is there really is no comparison. I would rather pay more, and buy my drinks rather than eat those school dinners again. That’s a shame.

We were in the Atlantic Ocean so I expected a bit of movement. But never in nearly twenty cruises have I been thrown around like that. And the sea was calm!! The captain did say he only had one engine going. My personal opinion was that the stabilisers were not used to save on drag and the extra fuel cost. That is laudable but not when the comfort of your passengers is at stake. He should be ashamed.

The ports we visited was a bonus but I have to say if you get the chance to visit Madeira then go. Beautiful and beautifully kept. A real highlight. Try and do the cable car and the sleigh ride down the street. Fabulous. Though do not walk back into the town. It’s about a mile and a half down a one is three hill. A torture!!

TheFatFryer's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

The cabin was a family room for the three of us at the back of the ship. We we’re a couple and a friend staying together. The room was an ok size. Very clean and kept beautifully by our steward Leslie. The bathroom was a good size and the shower large with a glass door. Always a bonus. However the sleeping arrangements were awful.

One small double tucked into the wall so if two people shared it you would have to climb over one another to get out. The other bed was a sofa bed. It was like a torture chamber. Old, worn and desperately uncomfortable. Back ache every morning. When it was open there was about four inches to get by at the bottom of the bed.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Las Palmas (Gran Canaria)

It hasn’t changed in the twenty years or so I have been there. Not the classiest island but like a pair of old carpet slippers!!

Madeira (Funchal)

Do the cable car ride up the mountain. Then take the sleigh ride back down. It’s expensive but well worth it!!

Just don’t walk down the mountain after. Take a taxi and be thankful. It’s about a mile and a half down a one in three hilll.


Most passengers were a bit wary of getting off. Being scammed, robbed etc. All utter rubbish. Take a photo of the taxi tariff. The taxi number and agree a price in advance. It was painless and a great experience.

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