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129 Newcastle (England) to Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Just returned from two week Baltic cruise on Marella Explorer (10 th Aug19). Never having cruised before, we were unsure what to expect, but the itinerary was exactly what we wanted. Apologies in advance for the length of this review, I ... Read More
Just returned from two week Baltic cruise on Marella Explorer (10 th Aug19). Never having cruised before, we were unsure what to expect, but the itinerary was exactly what we wanted. Apologies in advance for the length of this review, I know it's going to be a long one We sailed from Newcastle, so no flights involved for us which was a huge bonus, mainly as no luggage restrictions ( so long as each case weighed no more than 23k each) but also being able to avoid the chaos of airports in summer. We stayed overnight the night before in Premier inn at the port( not the best, will review separately on trip advisor) . We drove to the car park at 1130 which took all of 30 seconds from the hotel, dropped off our luggage in the marquee as instructed, where our cases were tagged with our cabin number - didn't see them again until we were on board. Then taken by bus to the check in area where we were given our cruise cards and information. We waited no more than 10 mins to be called to have passports checked, and after another very short bus ride we embarked. We were on board by 1215 - really efficient, smooth process, greatly appreciated by us as we had no idea of the process. We had just had lunch by the pool when an announcement was made at 130 pm that cabins were available and our luggage arrived around 330 pm , really efficient service. We explored and attended muster drill which was obviously very busy, but it was well organised and lasted no more than 15 mins. Unfortunately the weather was poor for sail away so I believe a sail away party was held indoors. We stayed on deck in the typical British summer weather to watch us sail away instead. We had a sea day immediately which gave us time to explore all the ship had to offer. Two pools, which were bigger than we expected. Three generous hot tubs too. Poolside bands when weather allowed, and twice daily films by the pools. 10 bars, 10 restaurants , a kids area, a teenage area, table tennis, mini golf, cinema, show lounge, champneys spa and gym, basket ball court, adults only sunbathing area, library with table games, shuffle board, quoits a huge English style pub with lots of quizzes and bands. Great value shops, I'm sure there was more but am at a loss to remember Entertainment was on in the show lounge twice nightly and the few we saw were good. They had a guest comedian who was really good - so good we went to both his shows , one being a late night version Service on board really was with a smile. Every member of staff without exception was friendly and polite. Everyone of the staff worked so hard and gave the impression they loved what they did. Our room stewards were fab and we appreciated the turndown service in the evening. Our cabin was kept very clean each day. Hygiene was important throughout the ship, with hand sanitiser everywhere and gentle reminders in the daily cruise news . Exiting the ship at each port of call was easy and smooth. , no long lines , and the same getting back on after each port. The sail away party after each port was great and after our two day stay in St Petersburg we were welcomed back with songs and dancing from all the crew on the dock side - really nice touch. Another nice touch was a BBQ by the pool on a rare sunny day after we visited Copenhagen . Food is subjective and I'm sure you can't please everyone. But we didn't have a meal we didn't enjoy on board. From the buffet to the steak house, all really good. We tried them all, including the ones with the supplement except for the Dining club, purely as its not to my taste . There were no tender ports on this itinerary , but a few of the ports were a little way out of town. TUI did provide shuttles for these at £5 each which we used. Only in Stockholm was the shuttle useless. It dropped us in a busy part of town difficult to find again for the return. We made our own way back to the ship, but guests were complaining the shuttle picked up in a different part of town that people weren't made aware of causing some to have to get taxis back to the ship We didn't use TUI excursions at all, we researched before and either did our own thing or booked privately with no issues at all. Besides the price, the fact that TUI use full size coaches for excursions put us off. The privately booked tours used 16 seat mini buses, making it easier to see the sights quickly with a guarantee of not missing all aboard time We didn't know wether we would love or hate the cruising experience, but can safely say we are hooked ! Thank you captain John , you have an amazing crew, you should be very proud, but you need better jokes ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We picked this cruise for a number of reasons. The dates fitted in with dates I had booked well in advance (without knowing what we were going to do in the summer) to please my work, the itinerary, and by reading several reviews that the ... Read More
We picked this cruise for a number of reasons. The dates fitted in with dates I had booked well in advance (without knowing what we were going to do in the summer) to please my work, the itinerary, and by reading several reviews that the line was good for families and kids. 14 days is a long time for a 10 year old to be onboard so it had to be fun for him too, which I am happy to report it was. Embarkation was smooth enough but as we had a few smaller bags rather than a couple of big bags they insisted that we took on the "hand luggage". Disembarkation was not so smooth and Port of Tyne were making a hash of it and being rude with it. Ramming as many as they could on the car park shuttle buses for example and siting on the quay for 10 mins while they could have got a full load to the car park and back in this time. Ship was lovely. Nothing too fancy but very clean kept and run throughout. She is big enough to have plenty on her but you will still only be meeting people for the "first" time it seems on the day you are leaving which is the down fall of larger ships. Food was excellent and plenty of options without having to go the areas that you had to pay more. You can pretty much have something different every night and you can choose between sit down service at several restaurants to having a quick buffet which is ideal if you have had a busy port call and you just want good food quickly with no fuss. The choice overall is excellent. Drink we took the premium all inclusive which was little extra at booking and meant you could have any drink on the menu included which made things very easy. There are no hidden costs really and the end of the trip we had about £100 to our account for a couple of transfer buses and photos. Cabin was a little small (Deck 10 aft) when the sofa bed was out. Nice size of balcony though and staff were superb. Very clean and plenty of storage etc, worked very well. Entertainment was generally very good, decent show on each night and plenty of other activities around the ship and did not see half of it so always something to do. Plenty of live music around the bars etc. Overall making for a great feel. The entertainments team work very hard to get a good feel and it worked well, sail away parities etc were really upbeat and enjoyable and a real informal feel with lots of laughs. There were 2 formal nights, one of which we took part in and the other we chose to go the buffet (Market Place) so there is no pressure. Ports were superb. Some of the cities there was not enough time but this is cruising, a day in Stockholm, Copenhagen, etc is never going to be enough so you have to see these as giving you a taste. There was a full day (2 in Russia) so the line worked hard to give you the best time available in what is a tight itinerary to pull off overall. We only took the excursions in Russia as it saved getting a visa and also taking advantage of the Moscow trip. Both days in Russia the excursions were very good. In the other cities we took 2 laid on transfers (Gothenburg and Hellsinki) which were very hand. We enjoyed followed our noses to explorer the cities and if this is what you want (I.e. see a bit of the place and enjoy a coffee etc) there is no need to take pre planned excursions. It would have been nice if there was a transfer laid on at Copenhagen as it was a good walk from the city and the public transport did not seem logical although there were hop on/off buses at the quay. The Children's "M Club" was superb. We made our 10 year old go to the first session (he did not want to) and gave him the options if he wanted to go back or not, he hardly missed one after it. He made some great friends and got on really well with the staff which went out of their way to make them feel welcome and make sure they had a good time. Overall there was only very minor things we thought could be better (Coffee Port was slow for example) but nothing major and we really did not want to get off the ship. We would definitely go with Marella and the Explorer again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a smaller ship . We are a fit and healthy couple in our late 40s and early 50s and travelled as a solo couple, no children or friends with us..although we made plenty of friends on board. I am very surprised on reading the reviews on here how negative some people are about the Explorer and its staff. We embarked at Newcastle and didn't have to wait too long before boarding, and I would say we were probably there at peak time. There were seats to sit on and drinks to be had , we merely had to wait for our number to be called. The same goes for disembarkation, which went very smoothly and was very well organised especially when you consider the amount of people Marella has to disembark from the ship. We were told a time slot and that was in fact the time we disembarked, with time to have a farewell breakfast in the restaurant beforehand. The ship was bigger than the last one we went on and at first we weren't sure about it. The layout is a little confusing but once we were used to it we found our way about pretty well. I would say we were amongst the younger people on the ship although we are not young, the passengers were predominately older than us, in our late 40s. Our cabin was very quiet but we never bother with a balcony , just a window, and we were on deck 4 in the middle. We didn't pay extra for a specific cabin and I think were lucky as some passengers we spoke to did suffer with noise in their cabin. We did feel a very slight bit of vibration when the engines were put to full power, but the Captain also mentioned they were having trouble with a clutch on one of the engines. In my opinion engine noise on a ship is perhaps to be expected, it' isn't a hotel on dry land, it's a moving ship powered by engines on the ocean! Our cabin was very stable in the high seas, and the North Sea did get a bit turbulent on our voyage! Space wise, we thought our cabin was big enough and it had a lovely big window We had drop down bunk beds too so I think it may have been family cabin. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers...always a big plus in my book! Hairdryer worked well, there was a kettle and cups and teabags/coffee/milk were replenished at least once a day. Toilet rolls were also kept topped up by our steward so we had at least one in reserve and usually more! Seating....I am amazed that people have mentioned a lack of seating. Both us, and other passengers who have been on other Marella ships, thought there was plenty of seating to be had, and in addition a plethora of sun beds...which pleased me as I hate having to worry about getting a seat/sunbed. We could always find seats somewhere...might not have been your first choice but again, as I say, we were there for the itinerary and voyage, not for a good seat in the lounge, We had a nice cabin to sit in too, with a television. Other people who had been on different Marella ships told us some of them DO suffer from a lack of seating, particularly those with a very large central atrium, which might look impressive but takes away from seating areas. We didn't use the pool but it's a reasonable size for the ship. The leaving party could get a bit loud, so loud it was distorted at times, but again, you could get away from it on other decks with sunbeds and it only lasted half an hour. We did watch one outdoor film in the pool area one sea day and as it was a bit nippy on deck a couple of members of staff came round with fleece blankets. Now that's personal customer care! Other areas such as the Squid and Anchor , Bar 53, the Lounge, Indigo were all nice areas to sit in. If you couldn't get a seat in one you could get one in another. Cleanliness of the ship.....the staff were always cleaning on the stairs which have glass sides. In fact they seemed to clean all the time, although our cabin steward could have vacuumed our cabin perhaps a little better....but he did keep us topped up on tea bags, milk and loo rolls as I mentioned so that is more important to us! Public toilets in the ship were always clean as was our personal one. Food...the food was excellent, top notch. We didn't bother paying for the additional restaurants such as the Sushi or Surf and Turf but friends did and raved about them. For us the food in the dining room where we ate every evening was excellent. Service was pretty good too. Someone commented there were more tables for 2 than on other ships, although you could choose to share bigger tables. The dining is flexi in the main restaurant as it you turn up and sometimes wait a few minutes to be seats, but in the Italian, Vista and the Tapas you have to book but it was easy to do so and provided you did it in advance there was plenty of choice. You could turn up at the |Italian and book but might have to wait half an hour or so in the bar with a buzzer, which went off t=hen the table was free. We ate in the Tapas bar, the Italian, the main restaurant and the buffet Market place, although didn't eat in the latter in the evening. Portions were just right, everything was hot and water and wine were kept topped up as needed. If the water was a bit slow to be refilled at busy times (this happened only once) you only need ask a waiter and it gets topped up very quickly. When you consider the amount of people they are serving they do a simply amazing job. Again, it is a ship, and if the food in the Market Place is a bit samey, it's still good and a lot of it is baked on ship. They don't re stock with food and ingredients during the trip, it is all taken on board at Newcastle. Staff...the majority of the staff were lovely, happy, polite and willing to go the extra mile. There was the odd one or two which weren't, I can only agree with other reviewers on that, compared to the other Marella ship we went on where all the staff we encountered were bouncy, happy and friendly. However, it is a new ship to the fleet and a lot of the staff were very new so perhaps not a very tight team yet and have yet to settle. We found the odd...and I do mean odd in a large team, waiter perhaps a bit terse, and there were a couple staff on the security team as you go in who were a little terse and rude, one woman in particular. I realise they are on security but the security staff on our other ship were always smiling and customer friendly A please and thank you and a smile is just natural courtesy, although to be honest it could be a culture difference too. So...onto a couple more negative points about the ship which hopefully will get sorted our and certainly wouldn't put us off travelling on it. Air con...far too strong especially in the cabins. Was actually making people ill , and I suffered dreadfully from a dry throat, a bad chest , a stuffy head and dry hair and skin. Many people complained of this and there didn't seem to be a way to turn it down as the controls didn't seem to make a lot of difference. The shows were disappointing compared to the shows we had seen 3 or 4 years ago on a Marella cruise. Then they were West End quality, now more like school show, although some of them were better than others. Again, new staff, new troupe and I was told a different (cheaper?!) company supplying them so not as polished and together as they could be. Also in some shows we felt it was done on the cheap, lack of costumes and stage back drops and equipment. The best shows for us were the Rock one, the Soul one (which I didn't think I'd like..although Id have to say I didn't think all the songs were soul but who cares) the songs from the Musicals and Cogs. I didn't really understand Cogs...it was a very loose story, but the costumes and general stage dressing was fabulous and the songs pretty good. Although Marella, please sort out your sound and mikes....they are on too loud and are distorted...the balance is wrong! Cost of the excursions is ,as usual, a little high but on a par with other cruise companies. We tend to research before we go and do our own if possible. Explorer...you need to increase the cycle tours as they were very popular and difficult to get on to. We managed to do one as someone cancelled and we were on the reserve list, it was fabulous, good knowledgeable guides, easy pace for us and for those who didn't cycle there was the option of the amazing e-bikes (with a motor to help pedalling) We didn't use Marella for any excursions except the bikes and went with TJ Travel for St Petersburg, a 2 day tour. Talking to others we definitely did the right thing as there was no queuing for us, local guides, a better itinerary and a smaller group equipped with the hearing boxes and ear pieces. We notice Marella don't give you much advice about where to catch buses etc now when you land somewhere; they used to the day before on the cruise news. Probably because they would rather you did an excursion. however, as we had researched before going it didn't really affect us. Finally, be aware that although Yoga etc is advertised, it is available but you have to pay for it. The gym however is free and pretty good for a ship. It's certainly an experience on a treadmill in a rolling sea with 50 mile an hour winds! Finally, although yes there was origami and water painting to be done it was self led, not tutored, So all in all we liked Explorer, it is a reasonably priced cruise ship if you want to cruise and see places you may not have done otherwise and we certainly wouldn't hesitate to use it again, particularly if Marella tweak the areas I've mentioned! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to ... Read More
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to make a special mention to 2 members of staff who did go that extra mile to make our cruise special Putra our cabin steward was exceptional in trying to sort out our many problems that we incurred and secondly Gregg from the Bar staff who was entertaining, friendly, full of happiness and good fun to be near. 2nd The bad points. We entered our cabin and found we had a paper thin mattress that when you just touched it with slight pressure you could feel through to the bed frame. 2 wooden boxes with sharp edges protruding from the space in the headboard where our heads went. Another wooden box protruding from the wall near the access to side of bed. Safe not working. Fridge not working. Air conditioning not working. welcome to marella explorer. after complaining we were told that it would all be sorted out and not to worry. the reception staff ended up coming down to cabin as they seemed not to believe what we were saying and took photo's. we were informed that there was no other cabins available and they would put an extra mattress on the bed and pillows to cover boxes on headboard, 3 days later safe is replaced, refrigerator is replaced, air con is fixed(ish). We were told that the protruding boxes would be removed the following day, 2 days later we were informed that the protruding boxes could not be moved, a sorry was issued in the form of a scribbled note on a bottle of prosecco with 6 chocolate strawberries and we would have to make do! ships layout is not great if you are in the theatre and want a drink you have to walk 3/4 the length of the ship then que for 20 minutes by which time the show is finished Also if you want to participate in the evening entertainment and watch the evening show you cant as they overlap by 15 minutes so you either miss the end of the entertainment or the beginning of the show .... very poor planning Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of ... Read More
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of which have been fine and we thought good value for money. This was why we booked with their new branding 'Marella' and we were looking forward to going on the Explorer. The advertising and videos looked fine, and the Baltic was an area we had not cruised in but had been to independently previously. The port itinerary was great, Copenhagen, Warnemunde, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Klaipeda, and Fredericia. We had visited Tallinn and Riga both previously. The cruise did what it said on the tin, and destinations were not disappointing with no problems visiting the ports. All through the cruise, we were blessed with sunny weather and mainly calm seas. From this aspect, the voyage went well. Embarkation was good, as it was at the ports, and at the end of our cruise; well organised by the ship and no issues. Same in Russia, where good advice was given by destination services on procedure etc. There was enough time to organise and plan your own trips/activities if you had not booked ship ones, and what excursions we did take were reasonable and good. One issue which a number of people raised was the point that Marella no longer provides port maps in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and help the planet. Fine, but a lot of people were not happy accessing an online map version on the ship, and some are not IT savvy, so its a cheap cost-cutting exercise in our view. You can in most places get a 'hard copy' map from the cruise terminals at the ports you visit for free anyway. In Stockholm, we went to the ABBA museum and a walk around the old town. Probably as cheap to do this with the cruise ship excursion than independently. In St Petersburg, it was, as always busy but the Panoramic Tour we did with the ship excursion was very good. Our trip to the Ballet was also good. The second day we visited the Yusopov Palace and had a canal trip. It was somewhat chaotic due to road closures ( not Marella's fault ), and our guide was somewhat confused and our experience of Yousopof was marred by rude staff. The disembarkation from our canal cruise via an unstable and unsecured gangway was downright dangerous and a major health and safety issue, which we reported to Marella, and which they need to take up with the operator before someone is injured or worse. A number of passengers were phased by this incident on our trip. Those were the only organised trips we took, apart from a shuttle to enter Helsinki which Marella charged £5.00 return for. I am not sure if in the past with Thompson these were free. They are not now. However, now to comment on the onboard experience., the good and not so good. Let's start by saying the staff were polite and good-natured, and worked incredibly hard. Any queries we had were dealt with promptly but we had a number of issues. ( See cabin report ). From getting on the ship the hard sell started. I was asked almost straight away if I wanted a premium drinks package. We don't drink much, so it was of little use to us. The all-inclusive was fine, as there is no shortage of the stuff either !. I drink mainly wine, and the white, red and rose were perfectly acceptable, but cocktails are invariable too sweet ( depends on taste though ) and lacking in alcoholic 'punch'. Spirits were not of great quality. I suppose our biggest disappointment was food and service in the dining room. We felt that the quality of the ingredients had gone down from previous 'Thompson' cruises, and some of the meals over salty ( again, personal taste ). There was certainly less choice on the evening menu, and some of the meats were fatty ( lamb ) and poorly presented with bland and repetitive vegetables. The Latitude 53 dining room was very hit and miss. The evening meal was 3 courses, fine for us, but a few people were not happy, The Market Buffet was essentially the same with little change. There were no specific theme nights, a feature we have found on other cruises. The Italian option Vista was quite good, and the Tapas evening restaurant OK. The major issue was service, so much so we complained and met the catering manager. In Latitude 53 we waited one evening 3/4 of an hour to obtain our starters and the next evening 1hr before receiving our main course, and we were not alone. A gentleman at the next table waited with us, only to be served cold soup after the wait. My wife is on medication before meals and needs to eat within a reasonable time after taking it, and such a long delay made her feel ill. Often the dishes were presented lukewarm. The catering services manager responded quickly and admitted there was a 'communication problem'. He offered us a complimentary meal in a premium restaurant, which was nice, but not the object of our exercise !. We did try both the steak restaurant and the oriental one and they were both good and worth the extra money. Over and above communication however, there seems to be a cost cutting exercise in staffing. The same issue was evident in the bars, where there was a lack of waiting on staff and it could take quite a while to order drinks from the bar areas. It got to such a state that we often ate in the Market Place Buffet where we were able to serve ourselves and eat in time for the first show in the evening which we liked to go to. That said, entertainment in the theatre was varied, and unfortunately, again not as good as on our other cruises. The entertainers were enthusiastic even if at times the quality was lacking. The theatre has good sight lines and is comfortable. The acts engaged were OK. A comedy duo and singer. We had an individual comedy entertainer ( forgot his name ) who we did not enjoy. The musician in the venues were Ok, apart from the piano player who was an expert at being out of tune. Sea days dragged ( there were not many, and we normally like them ). However, the activities were not well organised. No, I don't want to learn how to fold a towel or napkin. There were no talks or lectures as we have had on other cruises, only the destinations talk by the crew who were out to hard sell excursions. Such a shame as the lack of activity was commented on by more than ourselves. The gym was busy though and I got time to read two books !. The onboard cinema was a great idea if they had put more films on and not used it most of the day to flog acupuncture treatments and consultations with the onboard acupuncturist. There was such a lot we could have learned about the Baltic, and it was an opportunity missed. So of all the Thompson 'Marella' ships this has been the most disappointing in the entertainment offerings, surprising as Thompson were widely praised for their cruise ship entertainment in the past. The usual hard sell from the cruise ship shops was evident, but that happens everywhere. They were even trying to flog Bridge Tours at just under £10.00 !!. Did we enjoy the Baltic, yes the ports were fine and the trip went very smoothly As we said the staff were fine, but in our view, the management need to take a long hard look at the training and support they give and the quality of what they are delivering. Standards have undoubtedly dropped as prices have risen. It's a competitive market and people will not pay good money for 3rd rate cruise experiences. Would we cruise Marella again ??? I doubt it if this is what they are offering. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked ... Read More
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked after and cleaned by the cabin stewards. Food as always was excellent in both Latitude 53 and Vista, as well as the lunches in The Market Place. The entertainment by the ships enetertainment crew was generally good except that we had seen most of the shows before so in some cases we didn't get to see a show. The guest artists, The Harper Brothers are still performing the same act as we have seen 4 times before and well worth missing and Ricky K was also poor and reminded me why I don't watch Britains Got Talent, because blatantly he didn't! There was a guest crossover singer (sorry forgot her name) who was excellent however although only allowed one show! The 2 Crew shows were excellent and show a wealth of talent, in fact in our opinion the best Crew show ever! We did our own thing as regards trips except for the occasional port shuttle bus. In most ports we used the HOHO bus's and Canal/River trips sometimes combined to get a better deal. In St Petersburg we used Alla Tours who were beyond excellent and I really recommend them as opposed to the ships offerings as for about the same price you see more, are in groups of a maximum size of 16 comfortable mini bus's. The guide (ours was Marina) was excellent and spoke great English. All in all an excellent cruise on a super ship with great staff! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I have to say they were the best we've ever done. All the tour guides were informative, interesting and fun, yes even in Russia!! We chose to have a balcony and had cabin 10000 which was a great location. It's the last cabin before the bridge on deck 10 so you only have a few staff members going past the door. Plus when you arrive or leave a port you can watch the captain and his amazing staff maneuver the ship when on the balcony. Also in this location you weren't anywhere near any of the music entertainment, which suited us well. Our cabin stewards were superb and so helpful, they were unobtrusive and kept the cabin nice and clean. We only ate at the Market Place as that's our preferred way to eat. I don't want a waiter fussing over me, I'm quite capable of getting my own food, putting a napkin on my own lap and able to eat without being asked if everything is ok. The food was amazing and so beautifully presented and with such choice. As I said all the excursions were so good and well worth the money. It's fascinating to find out how other countries run themselves and their history. As I have limited mobility I found that after 2 reasonably active excursions (I thought I'd chosen ones with little walking, but it was more than my knee could stand easily) that I couldn't face a third so went to destinations just to see if it was possible to exchange to a less active one. They were so very helpful and with the say so of the boss we were allowed to do this, for which we were very grateful. We went on a river cruise instead so hardly any walking and it was a superb way to see Stockholm. The entertainment wasn't as good as other Tui cruises we've been on and I think they got the age demographic a bit wrong. But the performers themselves tried their hardest and we didn't miss a show. Getting on the ship in Newcastle was a bit of a shambles, but getting off went very smoothly. It's hard to exit nearly 2000 people at one time, so we thought they did a good job. ALL the staff are so friendly, polite, happy and courteous and as all tips are included its not like they are trying to be friendly so they get tips. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole event apart from some rather rough sea coming back over the North Sea, but that's Mother Natures fault, no-one else's! Other than a bit of seasickness that afternoon the rest of the cruise was wonderful and we've already booked our next one and I wouldn't call ourselves typical cruise people! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Everything about this cruise was awful. The embarkation in Newcastle took hours, shuttle buses overcrowded and we spent so much time queuing for everything. Once on board we were advised to upgrade to premium drinks package and after ... Read More
Everything about this cruise was awful. The embarkation in Newcastle took hours, shuttle buses overcrowded and we spent so much time queuing for everything. Once on board we were advised to upgrade to premium drinks package and after sampling the all inclusive drinks it was obvious why! The same applied to the quality of the food! We pre booked two excursions for when we were in St Petersburg and only did one because the first was such a let down. The overall standard of this ship is at best 2 star. We visited our local Tui branch to give our feedback and were told it couldn't be compared with the likes of Celebrity but this was not reflected in the price!!!!! We contacted the Tui post cruise help line 3 weeks ago and have not had a reply, we also tried calling but nobody picked up the phone. Absoluty disgraceful! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad ... Read More
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad decision. Must say the cabin is spacious and well furnished BUT the inescapable element is constant noise from the deck above. We noticed it initially during the first day, noise of furniture being moved and scraped along the deck. The first night we were woke at 5am, then at 1.30am second night. It appears the deck was being cleaned which needed furniture to be moved. Formally complained in writing, no one responded and had a third night of disturbed sleep. Altogether had to complain 3 times to the “hotel manager”, not impressed at all with the response. The cruise was spoiled by the noise as it is a constant irritant when in the cabin, even during the day. A number of other issues occurred such as on embarkation we were told there was an IT problem which meant long queues while dropping off luggage in the car park and within the terminal building. Luggage was not unloaded on time from the ship after disembarkation, again huge queues in the car park whilst fork lift trucks were coming and going delivering suitcases. The food generally in the restaurants is adequate, not of a high quality. Got the feeling that some of the crew were very inexperienced, and required further training. Overall, it is downmarket, it was a bad experience and will not be going anywhere near a Marella ship again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair ... Read More
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair users. Malmo had many cobbled streets which make it very hard for the pusher and very uncomfortable for the sitter. It was a bank holiday so 90% of the shops were closed and the town is dull and uninteresting. Visby was even worse and almost impossible for wheelchair users to get around. Stockholm was OK and visits to the Abba museum and the Varsa museum well worth it. \but yet again, the city is nothing to write home about. We went on the evening city tour and the guide really struggled to tell us anything of interest and the cost 04 £48 per person was ridiculous for a 2 hour coach ride. And so to Gothenberg where all museums and the fish market close on Mondays. We took a hop on hop off bus ride around the city and stayed on the whole tour as there were absolutely no places of interest. So the itiniery was very poorly arranged given the closure of shops, museums etc. The staff on the Balmoral are just brilliant. They are mainly from the Phillipines, Thailand and India. They remember your names and what you normally drink, how you like it etc within a few hours. They are always smiling and so helpful. The embarkation was quick and efficient but the disembarkation was a shambles. There were a few good evening shows and some good entertainment in and around the bars. All in all, a disappointing experience not helped by awful weather but we will sail with Fred again Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and ... Read More
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and varied, breakfast lunch and dinner. Service in the bars and restaurants was excellent although a little slow in the self service cafe. The crew and staff always seemed happy and smiling, friendly and efficient. Cabin although on deck 3 was adequate with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, comfortable beds and a good shower. The two shore excursions we took in St. Petersburg were excellent with very knowledgeable guides. All other ports we explored by ourselves and found that easy using the maps provided. We only experienced two shows , one of which was the crew show, very enjoyable. We really loved the whole experience and booked while on board for next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we ... Read More
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we thought we would give them a try. So glad we did! Balmoral although an older ship is remarkably well maintained, far better than some lot newer ship we have travelled on. Staff service and friendliness leaves most other lines trailing in thier wake, Good food particulary in the Avon Restaurant and Made and Mark our waiters made this cruise. Weather was very good with only lght rain in Gothenburg and low lying mist in Helsinki all other ports fine a sunny and autuum colours in trees especially in St. Petersburg a real treat. We did our own thing in most ports but in Copenhagen and on the Evening in St.Petersburg we did Fred Olsen Tours, during the 2 days in St.Peterburg we did a independent small group tour with Cruising Excursions all tours were very good. Will we sail with Fred Olsen again ? YES and we will not be waiting another 14 years. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
What an awful experience, from the boarding debacle in Newcastle to the dire pub singer in the lounge it was one disappointment after another. Luckily the destinations more than made up for the forced jolity of the ship life. We were lucky ... Read More
What an awful experience, from the boarding debacle in Newcastle to the dire pub singer in the lounge it was one disappointment after another. Luckily the destinations more than made up for the forced jolity of the ship life. We were lucky to have a balcony which gave us some relief from the rampaging kids, vest adorned Neanderthals and screaming women. It was pot luck with the service, some very, very good but others couldn't care less. The shows were what you expect on a ship but there was no relief. There was no peace and quiet anywhere on the ship, if it wasn't for mediocre live entertainment it was piped musak. The ship does not have enough seating in the public areas so feels overcrowded. If you like the Communal Butlins style holiday go for it, but if you want the sort of holiday they are charging for don't use Marella. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We enjoyed our cruise and found the cruise itinerary to be very good, & found the ship to be spotless. The cleaning crew work very hard to keep every part of the ship gleaming. We always ate in the buffet restaurant and found ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise and found the cruise itinerary to be very good, & found the ship to be spotless. The cleaning crew work very hard to keep every part of the ship gleaming. We always ate in the buffet restaurant and found the food selections to be generally good. We found the Buffet Restaurant staff very courteous, polite & efficient, always smiling. The Buffet Restaurant could be a bit chaotic at times due to a shortage of tables when the ship was full, but this is mainly due to some guests hogging tables after they had finished their meals. I saw some guests using tables to read their Ships Newspaper, or hugging a cup of tea for an endless amount of time, which is most unfair to other guests when the restaurant is busy. It would also be nice if some guests tried to dress a bit smarter. I know we are all on holiday to relax, but surely an effort could be made to dress at least smart casual, instead of ragged shorts & tee shirts or jogging bottoms, there’s a happy medium. We had a Deluxe Balcony Cabin, 6628 & was happy with the cabin, it was very spacious with lots of storage space & all cabins have complimentary coffee & tea making facilities. Also provided in all of the cabins is a glass carafe to enable guests to fill up from water dispensers dotted around the ship, a good idea for those who don’t want to buy bottled water from their cabin Minibar. Our cabin also had a fridge. One bar of soap & 1 dispenser with body wash is provided in the shower room, but if you require a shower cap, you will need to take your own. Large fluffy bath sheets, handtowels & face cloths are provided. However, one disadvantage we had was, our balcony was directly above the crews smoking area & we experienced quite a bit of cigarette smoke while using our balcony, as we are both non-smokers, this experience was not nice for us. We also very often experienced loud noise coming from the same crew area, late at night, however, if you stay out late watching the entertainment, that may not affect you. I don’t know how the ship could get around that problem, as I realise the crew needs somewhere to have a break. Our Cabin Stewart Imelda, provided an excellent service. On the day of our Wedding Anniversary, Imelda had spotted our Wedding Anniversary cards to each other in our cabin, & she then made 2 towel swans with the necks shaped into a heart & placed them on our bed with our cards placed in front. When we returned to our cabin & saw what she had done, we thought that was a lovely & very thoughtful gesture for her to make, we were extremely pleased. We found all the stewards on deck 6 to be very friendly. Every time we passed them, they were always smiling & passed the time of day with us & shared a little joke with us too, so much so, we almost felt like mini celebrities! In the Broadway Show Lounge, most evenings we were served by Tetyana & we found her to be an absolute delight. She was very efficient, friendly & helpful & always remembered what drinks we preferred. The entertainment was good & the Show team did very well. However, although the Show team performed very well, we found that some of the shows were not to our taste, for example, Best of Broadway, Medieval Madness & Legends Live. We also thought that some of the interactive screens in the background tended to be distracting, we were watching the screen instead of the Show team, especially through Medieval Madness. Our favourite shows were Mr Wonderful & Sebby Mercury, we thought them excellent. We also frequented Venue on deck 5 most evenings & found the game shows enjoyable & the surroundings very comfortable. The entertainment team did their very best to ensure guests had fun. The bar waiters very pleasant & efficient & did a good job serving drinks to everyone. We found excursion advisor, Lindsay to be very helpful & efficient. When we had a problem at the destination kiosk, due to the required tour not showing on the system, Lyndsey did not hesitate to come to our aid & assist us & booked our tour manually in the back office. Lynsey also demonstrated on how to use the Kiosks. The excursion Legendary Town, Legendary Beer in Tallinn, was a superb tour with 2 excellent guides, providing great value for money, it’s one of the best excursions we have ever done. By comparison, the Carlsberg tour in Copenhagen we thought was poor. Warnemunde & Oslo were also very picturesque & well worth a visit. The excursions information was not quite accurate for St Petersburg. Spilled Blood Tour listed as Moderate & we think should be listed as Active as it was a very tiring tour. Also, it was not described as a walking tour in the itinerary & we did lots of walking which may not be suitable for some guests. The Hermitage building is very beautiful and full of wonderful works of art; however, it was so crowded, it was difficult to see exhibits properly. On the Carlsberg tour in Copenhagen, at the Little Mermaid stop, we acquired 2 extra passengers on our coach as our guide did not do a head count. When we got to the Carlsberg Brewery, the 2 passengers told the guide they had got on our coach thinking it was their shuttle bus! I don’t think these 2 passengers actually paid anything when they carried on the tour with the rest of us. The guide Jane, also only told us her name at the end of the tour when we were near the ship. I think she needs a bit more training. On embarkation day, when we arrived early at the Port of Tyne, it was wet & windy & seemed a bit disorganised. We drove to the car park & were told to remove our luggage & wait for someone to instruct us next. We waited quite a while only to be told to cross to the other side of the large car park & wait in a queue at a shed. We then received our documents & got on a coach. 2 passengers were rushing behind also to board our coach when our driver drove off, even though there were still vacant seats on the coach. We got through the check in at the terminal very efficiently, but when we left the terminal, we were waiting in another queue as it was discovered the passenger gangplank was to small & had to be changed. It would have perhaps been better to leave the passengers in the terminal till everything was sorted properly. After we boarded the ship, on past experience, we have always been taken to our cabin by a member of the crew. However, on this cruise, we found our own way to our cabin. There was however, members of crew stationed on various decks pointing directions should any guests get lost. On our return to the Port of Tyne on disembarkation day, there was a delay of half an hour in leaving the ship due to the volume of traffic. When left the ship, we were required to board a bus to the car park. When we got to the car park, nobody actually advised us where to collect our luggage. We had to watch other passengers & hope we were going in the correct direction. It would have been better if the Port staff could perhaps have given a bit more direction to help stop confusion. We did a Baltic Cruise from the Tyne in May 2014 on the Thomson Spirit & the organisational system was better at the Port of Tyne at that time. Perhaps they could review how they can carry out the procedures. We found all the crew that we came in contact with to be very friendly, courteous & polite. They are a credit to Tui & Marella Cruises Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Embarkation: primitive, the Egyptians do it better. Ship: smooth, comfortable, very quiet, lots of public areas. Cabins: good size, well equipped, comfortable beds,plenty of storage. Crew: lovely! Really helpful and friendly, ... Read More
Embarkation: primitive, the Egyptians do it better. Ship: smooth, comfortable, very quiet, lots of public areas. Cabins: good size, well equipped, comfortable beds,plenty of storage. Crew: lovely! Really helpful and friendly, incredibly hard working. Food: the cheese was good, apart from that it was bland, repetitive, industrial cooking. Hot food wasn’t hot, fresh food wasn’t fresh, couldn’t even get a decent cup of coffee. Don’t bother with the two 49 degree restaurants, it’s the same food as the buffet but further from the kitchens. Entertainment: a different show every night, so kudos for that, but fairly low level club stuff and the MC/ cruise director was embarrassing. Destinations: Aarhus was a revelation, especially the modern art museum with its amazing Rainbow Skywalk, and Oslo was lovely;the Vasa museum in Stockholm was as stunning as ever, but Copenhagen has little to recommend it apart from the national museum, Tallin is disneyfied, and all those cobbles make walking difficult. It is probably the best place to buy amber jewellery. ( Whatever you do, don’t buy on the ship, you will pay double or more for an inferior product). Helsinki is probably worth visiting once, St Petersburg you will probably only see from the coach windows because of Russian visa restrictions. Overall: nothing done badly, but nothing done particularly well either. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
My first time on Discovery and most enjoyable, the cities were exceptional and lucky with the weather. I was lucky to discover an art class on the first sea day as I attended a lecture which was very entertaining about Pirate Radio and ... Read More
My first time on Discovery and most enjoyable, the cities were exceptional and lucky with the weather. I was lucky to discover an art class on the first sea day as I attended a lecture which was very entertaining about Pirate Radio and Interviews with some Graffitti information, well worth the time. i found myself attending the class with a Robin who was an excellent teacher and very patient. I now have an artistic ability I never knew about. Bar 11 was super in the evenings an oasis on board to enjoy a drink with a great view and excellent staff. The Entertainment in the evenings was much the usual with themed shows and quality speciality acts, all very good. just a warning there are no toiletries in the cabins so take plenty, however the cleaning staff were top draw. I believe that Marella will make changes but hopefully not too many. There was a charge for Shuttle Buses but all excursions were good value. St Petersburg is stunning and Aarhus was special but of course visiting so many cities its difficult to be critical. Docking in Copenhagen was a way out of the city which meant you couldn't walk to the city, but as it was raining not a bad thing, dock in Oslo was great. All in all I hope to return. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Picked this cruise as it was our three special birthdays the staff on the embarkation car parking were fantastic.We were embarked quickly and smoothly,the staff in all departments were fantastic,food was always well presented and tasty.The ... Read More
Picked this cruise as it was our three special birthdays the staff on the embarkation car parking were fantastic.We were embarked quickly and smoothly,the staff in all departments were fantastic,food was always well presented and tasty.The ship was always clean,our room was spotless.Only downside was we had to get a triple room as the single supplement was not good,it was a pull down bed with a very bad ladder which my daughter had trouble getting up so decided to put the mattress on the floor.But as i have said the service in the restaurant was first class the staff were very attentive nothing was any trouble,some times the staff on the observation deck were hit and miss if you sat away from the bar area they would come round and ask if you wanted a drink and then after being served didn’t come round for a while,the other bars kept coming round. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We always go from Port of Tyne as it makes such an easy start to the holiday. I am slightly disabled and we have two autistic grandchildren and the crew and staff on Balmoral do everything the can to make the cruise perfect. We have been ... Read More
We always go from Port of Tyne as it makes such an easy start to the holiday. I am slightly disabled and we have two autistic grandchildren and the crew and staff on Balmoral do everything the can to make the cruise perfect. We have been on three cruises and each one has been wonderful. The food is great, the entertainment first class and our rooms are so comfortable. There is plenty to do for the children, who love the quizzes and shows in the evening. My only complaint is that although we have an allocated table in the evening breakfast and lunch is a bit of a free for all, and our allocated restaurant became a bit of a nightmare for the children, who find crowds and noise quite difficult to cope with. Apart from this, I cannot fault Fred Olsen and compliment him on a really well run organisation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We have cruised for many years but not with this line. I have to say this cruise was amazing from check in to check out. The staff could not have been more helpful, pleasant and funny. Our cabin 5141 was a little outdated, but was kept ... Read More
We have cruised for many years but not with this line. I have to say this cruise was amazing from check in to check out. The staff could not have been more helpful, pleasant and funny. Our cabin 5141 was a little outdated, but was kept immaculate. We ate in the Palm Café (self service) the food was lovely and there was always a good selection. The entertainment team were amazing (Mike is a dark horse) and the comedian that came on board Brenda hilarious. I cannot say enough about the shore excursions as they were wonderful and the staff from the ship so helpful if required. We didn't do many of the activities but what we did was good fun. The crew were great and nothing was too much trouble. Would I travel with Fred again, Absolutely we've been with P and O and all the rest, but Fred Olsens is personal with very little technology and plenty of smoking areas , a ship line that doesn't make a smoker feel guilty at wanting a cigarette on holiday. Well done Fred Olsens. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
First time cruiser and was in all honesty unsure if cruising would be my ideal holiday. Had spent a few weeks prior reading some reviews and Facebook group posts to learn what I could prior to departure and get some cruising tips. Some ... Read More
First time cruiser and was in all honesty unsure if cruising would be my ideal holiday. Had spent a few weeks prior reading some reviews and Facebook group posts to learn what I could prior to departure and get some cruising tips. Some proved useful, others although useful, turned out to be more personnal opinions so I’m sure some of my report will be the same to any readers of my review. Overall the organisation of the cruise by staff from embarkation at the port, to cabin staff, chefs, domestic staff, tour operators, bar and restaurant staff, everyone is fantastic. The only staff who seemed vague and less helpful were the Duty-Free personnel - they didnt seem as interested, more into selling, this is probably part of their job I guess, but I was less than impressed in this area whereas I was totally amazed by everyone else. A subject we all place high on our priorities is FOOD. Where do I start with food? I certainly can’t fault it. On board is the full range from casual snacks, to high end dining. Snack shack is so handy for lots of reasons – quick familiar food people are used to, ready when you need it and ranging from fast food pleasures including burgers, fried chicken, fish and chips there were also healthy options of fruit pots, granola with yougurt, salad boxes and a selection of sandwiches and wraps all available to eat in or to take away. Great for tours off ship. The Glass House during the day is pleasant and relaxed with a nice selection of salad, always a carving joint and snacks daily. The only thing that confused me here was the coffee normally in the All Inclusive - cappucino, latte was chargeable although I'd never seen anything to say this. It did have the standard coffee and tea machine available though. From 6pm a part of the Glass House becomes a pizza and tapas restaurant which are cool to share. Sharing plates of meats, cheese or a meat/cheese combo are an option and just be aware and you can order it all, not just a selection. Myself and husband enjoyed this location for food. It also extends its services at 21:30 to become the late-night food provider, again with a small but adequate choice of curry, chips and their accompaniment’s with salad and some sweet snacks too. 47 degrees - lovely a la carte restaurant with around half the menu as standard choices and the other choices varied over a period of time. It made it a nice dinner choice with waiter service and pleasant surroundings. It also served breakfast with a small buffet selection and a la carte choices including Full English, eggs and omelletes to order and varied cloices of french toast, pancakes etc. Breakfast seemed busy sometimes though, and sometimes, some, food arrived and wasn’t as hot as Id have preferred, but otherwise it was good and helps a bit with portion control as the food is plentiful from early till late. Gallery 47 degrees - Italian menu with probably less change on the menu selection, but we managed to go 4 times and had a lovely meal every time. The antipasti were amazing and I could have eaten this 3-fold with some of the delicious bread on offer and been happy that was my meal! Islands Buffet – The main restaurant and the busiest with the widest variety of food. I can only describe it as ‘standard buffet’ and don’t mean this in anyway derogatory. It offers what anyone who has been All Inclusive at a hotel on holiday would expect – lots of food choices to mix and match, salads, carved meat section, and a children’s selection, there was a station for dietary requirements which although I didn’t choose this food, looked to have at least a few choices every time I went past. Dinner time food seemed to have a theme that changed daily, from Mexican, Thai, Greek, Spanish and of course British with Roast Meat and all the trimmings. They also had an afternoon tea 3 – 5pm offering mini sandwiches and rolls with scones, jam and cream with cakes and desserts like crumble, strudel etc. I loved my scones from here. Something I noticed in the buffet was the plastic glasses were clean but so scratched that they never really looked that nice. Considering everywhere had plastic, the ones in Islands were by far in the worst condition, so much so, I didn’t have a drink in there but took a drink in with me from elsewhere. Now accommodation, I think overall the accommodation is basic but sufficient for the needs. We were basic so no frills whatsoever, but there was plenty of space to sleep, wash and changeover from one activity to the next. We never spend much time in our room on any holiday so basic was fine. If you wanted to have a drink or spend time with friends/family together in your room something less basic would be better so I think this is a very personal subject which people will choose and pay for within requirements and budget. Irrespective, they were maintained well, cleaned properly and nothing was a problem for the hard working cabin staff. The cleaning staff on board were always doing something, dusting staircases, polishing lift doors, stocking up on supplies and just keeping the ship in ‘tip top’ condition. All of them had a smile on their faces and never let you pass without a Good Morning/Afternoon or Evening. They are a credit to themselves. Drinks availability within the All Inclusive was excellent, as were the barmen who were constantly busy mixing cocktails and mocktails, pouring beers, soft drinks and coffees as well as clearing and cleaning up. They still managed to chat with the customers and get to know them. We had many a chat with Milos and Georgio at the Pool Bar and others who impressed us a lot were Anthony, Renalyn and Ogen, well done all of you! I used the Gym daily and it provided a very good service. Curtis who was the training professional on board put in lots of visibility to help gym users and also ran several classes – some complimentary, some chargeable and also seminars on several interesting topics these were held in the Live Lounge and were informative but laid back, he knew his trade very well and was clearly passionate about it. We did use the Oceans Spa although we hadn’t planned to. Top Tip – don’t go booking too early as they issue offers of varying choices as the cruise progresses. I choose a Top to Toe Massage when it was on offer and had the best deep tissue massage from Eka. Entertainment – There is a massive, diverse selection of entertainment on offer throughout the days. Something on for what must suit all age ranges and preferences frequently. It was a case of choosing what took your fancy and going along. I would say that on days ‘At Sea’ if the weather wasn’t warm there wasn’t too much for us once we had done the Climbing Wall, Crazy Golf and had a look in the Duty Free Shops. But that’s possibly our preferences and certainly not because there was nothing to do. Tours and Excursions – since this was our first cruise we decided to book our day trips by selection and in advance. The organisation on board meant this did work and getting information beforehand was available and getting on & off ship, using the transport and meeting guides was meticulously organised. On a couple of occasions we didn’t go back to the ship when the tour ended. Instead, after informing the guide that we weren’t going back, we did a bit of our own thing and went back on our own. This was in the locations where it was merely a shot stroll from the centre to the ship. I enjoyed this as it gave us a good mix of organised and ad hoc. Everyone to their own on how much they book and plan beforehand. I could type forever about the Cruise which in itself says a lot. I have glossed over some subjects because I didn’t want to be boring or voice my own opinion too much. A cruise is easily adapted to individual needs and requirements. I have decided that I would definitely do another cruise and most possibly with Tui/Marella. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
The ship was great the embarkation was good and the disembarkation was a very smooth operation and crew could not do enough for us. I could not fault the quality or quantity of food on board and the entertainment was really good. There was ... Read More
The ship was great the embarkation was good and the disembarkation was a very smooth operation and crew could not do enough for us. I could not fault the quality or quantity of food on board and the entertainment was really good. There was also a well equipped gym and many treatment rooms. There was plenty of information in the cabin and the Daily Times news letter was very helpful. The Cabin was clean and comfortable with more than enough storage for the two of us the. Great cruise only let down by what I would call the incompetence of the shore tour people, it seems the lack of communication between ship and shore made us nearly miss the transfer bus to the helicopter flight (it was driving off as we got to the gate) and at £250 each for my nephew and myself would have been very disappointing to say the least. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Wonderful holiday. Small ship compared to some but lovely. Spotlessly clean. Food amazing and Norway is just fantastic. The service for drinks and at dinner was slow and that's only criticism. I particularly enjoyed the ballroom ... Read More
Wonderful holiday. Small ship compared to some but lovely. Spotlessly clean. Food amazing and Norway is just fantastic. The service for drinks and at dinner was slow and that's only criticism. I particularly enjoyed the ballroom dancing and attended a ballroom class. Unfortunately missed one due to illness. Nigel in particular was so kind, professional and patient. Some of the roads when out on tours are scary but so glad I did them. Have never seen such beautiful scenery. I was amazed how many older people with walking problems were on this cruise as soon of the gangways were tricky. It's not all older people as we were told but to be fair there were a few. Weather was great. My favourite place was Olden. Entertainment was good. The crew did a show at short notice as one of entertainment team had been injured. It was so good they got a standing ovation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise for its broad itinerary. Gothenburg, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga, Rostock (surprisingly excellent), Copenhagen & Oslo. And it was perfectly topped off with great weather. We did several excursions (all ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its broad itinerary. Gothenburg, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Riga, Rostock (surprisingly excellent), Copenhagen & Oslo. And it was perfectly topped off with great weather. We did several excursions (all MARELLA'S), and loved them all except for the canal and city cruise in Copehagen which unfortunately was hampered by severe traffic congestion, so we didn't get the best of that . St Petersburg was out of this world. Complimentary shuttle buses laid on (free to use) at ports where docking was out of town. Our cabin (junior suite) was excellent as was the food and entertainment. Great service by all staff we encountered. Well run ship by Captain Chris Dodds who was visible, sociable and approachable as were all his senior team. This was a very happy ship and we were very happy to have been on it. Booked again on Marella Explorer next year on the Land of the Midnight Sun cruise. Can't wait. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Just returned from 14 nights on the Marella Discovery, sailing from Newcastle to the Baltic Captials, and where the embarkation ran like clock work. We stayed in an outside cabin on deck 3 in cabin 3070. What a fantastic time we had ... Read More
Just returned from 14 nights on the Marella Discovery, sailing from Newcastle to the Baltic Captials, and where the embarkation ran like clock work. We stayed in an outside cabin on deck 3 in cabin 3070. What a fantastic time we had during our cruise, ship was terrific, dining was extensive you wanted it you can get it. Our best dining was at No:47, can't comment on the pay for dining as we never used it. The entertainment was exceptionally good, all credit to the entertainment crew. Sebby Mercury was terrific, has was a tribute act to Queens Freddie Mercury, approx 45 minutes of non stop singing. 2 guest appearances were made from 2 comedians. There was plenty of activities going on at all times of the day during our cruise, so no time for boredom there. Service from the staff at restaurants / bars / cabin staff was to a high standard. All very friendly and always happy to help in anyway they could. We only did one organised excursion, and that was with ALLA TOURS in St Petersburg. Our guide for the 2 days was a lovely girl called Anya, very knowledgeable she was to. The tour that we undertook was called The Grand Tour, others are available. We travelled in a small group of 14 in a mini bus. On day 1 we had a 3 course dinner at a local hotel, it was excellent. On day two we had a loot to pack in so a packed lunch was also provided for us. Overall the 2 day Grand Tour was well worth the money BUT it is a long 2 days, but don't let that put you off. The visa for visiting Russia is also included in the price you pay. All other locations were done by ourselves, Gothenburg = Tallin = Helsinki = Riga = Rostock = Copenhagen = Oslo. If your a steam train fanatic then we recommend the train journey. Local train to Bad Dobran then board the steam train there to Mollie. This train goes straight through the town centre. Check it out on the web. It's not exspensive. Would I travel this cruise again, although we fully enjoyed our time on board and saw some fantastic places I feel that going back again would spoil it, but that's a personal view. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Even before the cruise Tui behaved poorly. Tui claimed the Kremlin was shut due to an extra national holiday when in fact it is always shut on a Thursday. We cancelled that excursion as a trip to a convent really wasn't worth almost ... Read More
Even before the cruise Tui behaved poorly. Tui claimed the Kremlin was shut due to an extra national holiday when in fact it is always shut on a Thursday. We cancelled that excursion as a trip to a convent really wasn't worth almost £700 per couple. I am still waiting for a response two months after submitting a written complaint about the misleading information. Not everyone was informed of the changes, there were some irate travellers after the excursion. The destination services team were fantastic, helpful, responsive, so apologetic when circumstances outside of their control caused issues but most of all they were willing to put themselves out for you. The cities we visited, the excursions and the guides were first class. Getting on was fine if you had priority boarding, for those that didn't I was told it took some 2.5 hours to check in. The ship is tired, dated and in many places needs refurbishing. The staff are amazing, they work so hard (particularly the cabin stewards) even though several told us they were severely understaffed, we were told over 100 short on board. Getting drinks sometimes took 45 minutes and the 47 degree restaurant struggled at busy times. We were new to cruising and when we asked the receptionist for a map of the ship so we could orient ourselves on the first couple of days I was told I should have brought a brochure if I wanted a map of the ship, the same receptionist was particularly useless when we had a plumbing issue. He was the only staff member who was poor. The food in the restaurants was excellent, the Glass House tapas was superb. Some of the bad points; I witnessed one man tasting the food off the spoons in the Islands self service and putting them back in the food (I did tell the staff they needed to change the dishes). During the first England game no security was present in the bar and there were pensioners pushing and shoving each other, arguing over the crowds blocking their view of the screen. The majority of people on board were lovely and as a couple sitting on tables with 2 or 3 other couples at lunch and dinner provided some brilliant conversations. Some of the clientele were incredibly selfish, reserved seating signs for disabled people moved on coaches so the front seats were taken. Seating in the show lounge was limited so when it was busy people would leave gaps so they had more room and tell others that the seats were taken. The constant noise around the pool during the day was more like Butlins or a resort in Ibiza - not relaxing. Fortunately we were able to relax on our balcony. The all inclusive drink meant so many people went on the beer early and all day with the expected consequences. You need to be careful for the extra costs, tea and coffee isn't free everywhere on the ship. Besides the coffee shop there's also a cost from the bar in the Glass House. Some areas were so busy that there was no where to sit during the day or evening - see earlier point about seating. The painting of the ship during port meant that our cabin was unusable due to the xylene fumes, although we were offered a move we really didn't want to pack everything up so if you experience this be prepared to stay clear of your cabin for several hours. Some of the great points; The staff Excursions Food Show team Destinations Most of the people on board The cruise was summed up by a young couple we spoke to from Birmingham, it would be interesting to go on a more upmarket cruise to see the difference. In summary, we chose this based on destinations and we have travelled with Tui before to Orlando. As a first time cruiser it is not what I had expected from the discussions with friends who are regular cruisers on other cruise lines. In hindsight from my perspective Tui are not good at cruising and Marella is a low end product in the market, it isn't for me but it obviously is for a lot of people as they go back time after time and the all inclusive booze is a big factor for many of the people we met. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018

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