4 Newcastle (England) Marella Cruises Marella Explorer 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 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
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.7

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