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Marella Explorer Review

A solid effort from the little fish in the big pond of cruising (2 Regular Marella Cruisers)

Review for the Western Mediterranean Cruise on Marella Explorer
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slclove
10+ Cruises • Age 30s

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Additional details

Sail Date: Mar 2024

Party:

2 adults aged 30 and 64, previously cruised three times with Marella (Dream, and Explorer 2 x2), with NCL 4 times (Jade, Breakaway x2 and Prima), and 3 other cruises in the early 00s on now defunct lines. We don't have any disabilities, we didn't use the casino and we didn't travel with kids, so we can't comment on these. If you have read my reviews before you'll know that we cruised with Marella last in July/Aug 2023 on the Explorer 2 (E2), but this was the first time we've taken the Explorer (E1), so we were excited to see what the small differences were!

Summary:

Cabin Review

Spacious, well lit, plenty of storage space, brilliant power shower and a solid cabin crew team to look after you and it. No complaints at all.

Port Reviews

Lanzarote

We did the Sea Trek Helmet Diving experience, and this was probably the best tour of the trip. You go in small groups of 6 down the road to Costa Teguise, don a wetsuit and strange space like helmet that allows you to breathe underwater without the need for tanks on your back or goggles, and walk into the sea from the beach out to the edge of a reef. The fish are swimming all around you and you can see it in perfect clarity, and the divers accompanying you take a GoPro to get footage of you surrounded by them and also some fun little shots with props. For the entirety of the footage from the dive, you are send a download link for a very reasonable price, and then after the dive, you were given 2 and a half hours of free time. As someone who's very used to being on or in water but not often underneath it, this was so fun and I'd happily recommend to anyone.

Las Palmas (Gran Canaria)

We did the Maspalomas Beach Transfer, as I've always wanted to see the dunes. The dunes are very cool and you can get nice shots from the western end where you are dropped off, but the eastern end is probably far more impressive but would take too long to get to in the time you have. Just use this tour as a nice beach transfer and watch the surfers have fun around the breakers.

Puerto del Rosario (Canary Islands)

We did Fuerteventura for Flavour Hunters, and really enjoyed this tour. You start by going to a local Goat Farm and seeing the animals, plus having a goats cheese tasting with mojo sauces, jams and rum and the option to purchase some bits, then move onto a viewpoint high in the mountains (the little chipmunk-esque animals love it when you feed them here, you probably shouldn't but it is kind of sweet when they run onto your hand), then onto the old capital of Betancuria. Betancuria is beautiful, real traditional Canarian goodness with a town square, a few bars/restaurants and little shops. Order a barraquito in one of the local bars and just take it all in.

San Sebastian

We took the La Gomera Hike Tour, please note that this is classed as a 'Limited' activity and therefore should only be booked if you feel confident to walk a long distance (about 6-7 miles), are in good health and have the right footwear and clothes; the guide will stop you at the ship if you are not wearing appropriate things for this. It's a great hike though - you start at the highest point in a small village, and then work your way down through the forest and glens of the National Park, then through and down the hillside aloe farms to reach another small village. There is a picnic stop in the middle (bring a snack, no food or drink is included here) and then a place where you can get a coffee or beer at the end. It's a super pretty tour and the guide was really insightful and always kept check on the person at the back of the hike so no-one was left behind. Do be careful even if you are fit and healthy though - the heat can get to you by the end, and the part of the trek between the forest and the aloe farms is very very rocky; you aren't following a path so much as random footholds to get yourself down. One slip and that's an ankle injury that would take you out for the rest of the cruise, so just be mindful and take your time.

Madeira (Funchal)

The itinerary had changed here, as we did not dock in Funchal but in Agadir, Morocco. We took the Souk & Fantasia tour, which was probably the weakest tour of the cruise but still very nice to do. You start by driving just out of town to the Fantasia show, which is dancers and musicians, acrobats and Berber horsemen shooting muskets while riding. It's very interesting but not as polished as we would have expected - this will probably come in time as Agadir is going through rapid transformation to be a real tourist hotspot. You're then driven to the souk in Agadir; 5500 stalls large, you will absolutely not get round it all. Our guide walked us through it together so we could see it, and then gave us 30 mins of free time back at one of the entrance gates, but it wasn't really enough time to go back in and haggle. Some guides didn't do the walk through and just gave their tours 30 mins free time, but again I think you'd struggle to get what you want during that time as some of the best stalls were buried deep in the souk and you could easily get lost. We then went up to the Kasbah top of town, which has amazing views over the city of Agadir. Again they are doing work at the moment to really turn this into a polished tourist zone, so it'll be interesting to see how this turns out if we go back. Don't be intimidated by the cultural shift here - it's a lovely place with beautiful architecture, and the hospitality is wonderful. Just stick together, approach your haggling with confidence, and take it all in.

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