4 Newcastle (England) Marella Cruises Marella Explorer Cruise Reviews

Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting ... Read More
Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting Marella again was an easy choice. This time departure was from Newcastle so no flights and extra luggage allowance. Departure was fine. It took a little while and there was some queues but overall not a problem and thankfully the rain kept off. We had inside cabins on Deck 9. Excellent fit out with a good bathroom and shower. Cabin stewards attentive and helpful as were all the staff onboard. Cabins serviced twice daily too. The ship itself is good. There is a good selection of restaurants. Some you have to pay extra for but there is enough choice and variety if you don’t want that. Food quality good throughout. One shortfall is a general shortage of indoor seating which can create challenges when the weather is not so good. Bars excellent as is the range of all inclusive drinks.. there’s enough variety and choice.. if you do fancy an up market brand for a change then you can pay as you go for those adding it to your cabin bill. This works well and saves you going for the drinks upgrade package. The prices are reasonable too. Entertainment was a mixed bag. The shows and tribute act in the Broadway lounge were generally excellent and to a good standard. They certainly had the family looking forward to the next nights show. Otherwise it was a hit and miss affair with bands quizzes etc mainly catering for an older audience. This did get wearing after a while and we did crave something more up to date and modern after a few days. This was a particular issue for my teenagers who continually joked about this being a cruise for “old duffers”. This wasn’t the case although this perception can only have been exacerbated by the frequent and somewhat petty gripes of some of the more senior patrons on the boat. Movies were good with some up to date titles. Outdoor cinema was chilly at night so good that blankets were provided. It was the destinations that made this trip special however. Orkney - We took the tour to Skara Brae - A must for history buffs with a knowledgeable guide. Really excellent. Kirkwall was also fun to explore and there’s enough to do and see here. Aukeyreri was jaw dropping and the cascading waterfalls either side as we entered the fjord were amazing. We took the tour to Mvaytyn baths. This was a long ride on a coach .. over an hour but we got so see some of this fantastic landscape. The bath itself is quite an experience and highly recommended. The town is also fun to explore with some good shops. Isafjordur was a gem. There is so little there at first glance . I can imagine some people only spent an hour ashore. A helpful guide in tourist information provided an excellent walking map and a few hours later we were up amongst the ski slopes with a vista that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. Reykjavík is a funky place with lots going on. We self booked onto a whale watching tour which was excellent and we saw plenty of minke whales feeding. 2 days at sea then into Norway - Flam is so pretty. Everyone heads for the railway and it gets very busy . We didn’t pre-book so couldn’t ride. Instead we hiked and climbed up to see Brekfossen waterfalls which was spectacular. The old town of Flam is also worth an explore .Good walking here and plenty to see. Bergen is excellent and all the key sights are worth your time . Funicular provides great views and fish market is amazing. Eidfjord is also pretty and there is an excellent circular walk which takes a couple of hours if you take it slowly. But not much else other than that at the port. It seems this is a place to look at excursions or car hire. Haugesund was surprisingly fun. Great walks up the coast provided stunning views. Great town and shops too. Kristiansand was a wet day . There is a good nature park to explore at the back of the town and this town had some excellent shops also. Overall - The destinations provided an amazing holiday. The Marella Explorer is a good ship with an excellent crew. There’s little to complain about really and it’s good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 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 wanted to experience the beauty of Norway and the Midnight Sun Cruise fitted the bill perfectly. Port of Tyne is only a 60 min car drive away from home so it was very convenient for us. First time with Marella (TUI) having been ... Read More
We wanted to experience the beauty of Norway and the Midnight Sun Cruise fitted the bill perfectly. Port of Tyne is only a 60 min car drive away from home so it was very convenient for us. First time with Marella (TUI) having been P&O cruisers before. Overall a good experience and we would recommend this cruise, especially for beginners. But don’t expect to meet young people on this cruise. We would have scored this a 5 if it not for the very poor embarkation process. The best part of this cruise was the whole crew, they were absolutely fabulous. Friendly, fun, engaging wherever you were in the ship, and whatever they were doing. They are a credit to the company and made the cruise for us and the main reason we would return. Captain John was a particular delight despite some unforeseen berthing changes resulting in more use of tenders than planned. His Q&A session was one of our highlights. The ship is a good size but sometimes felt like there were a touch too many passengers as queues for dinner were a regular feature (Latitude) and securing a seat in the Lounge for a drink in the evenings or a table for breakfast in the Market Place (buffet) often a challenge. We had a balcony cabin on deck 10 mid ships, a little tight on space and storage and a little tired here and there but fine for our needs. It was clean and very well maintained by our steward. We wouldn’t choose this deck again as we were below the running track and could hear some over enthusiastic joggers early in the morning (at 6 on holiday?) stomping their way around. We had an all inclusive package which worked well for us. The food ranged from superb (Dining Club, Kora La and Surf and Turf - additional cover charges), very good (Latitude and Mediterranean) acceptable (Market Place buffet). Best place for drink quality was The Lounge where the bar staff were brilliant. For me the entertainment was mixed. The Broadway Show Lounge shows were either very good or a little working mans club. Some really good singers.dancers and some not so good singers.dancers. I’m sorry but I thought all the resident bands were poor. However, the crew show in the theatre was excellent entertainment. We purchased the Spa pass, which was good value for the money as we were able to come and go as we pleased for the whole cruise. A good place to unwind and relax. The Horizon Sauna was excellent for watching the world go by and recommended for departures. They keep numbers down to a manageable level so you had good room to use the facilities. One morning they didn’t have some of the rooms switched on as we were in port, a little annoying but a really pleasant place with friendly staff. No complaint at all about the service in the bars, restaurants or cabin all very attentive and we had so much fun with the staff they were brilliant. Excursions we went on gave us exactly what we wanted, a real experience of the stunning beauty of Norway. They were well managed, had a good variety of interesting visits and locations and the guides were excellent. One of the tours was too rushed with a 15 minute visit to a beautiful waterfall and only 20 minutes to eat a 2 course meal as we had a ferry to catch. Disembarkation was fine, made easier for us as we were in the last group to leave the ship. That was a pleasant experience seeing most of the public areas empty and quiet. Embarkation was terrible and poorly organised. You park your car then have to walk your cases up a steepish car park, dodging the cars that were parking to a big queue outside a marquee at the top of the car park. Unlike Southampton, they wouldn’t take any hand luggage like suit carriers/flight bags. Then onto a bus for a 2 minute ride to the terminal, where more queues to collect paperwork and then across to the other side of the terminal to another queue to collect tickets and go through security to another coach that took 15 mins to load for another.2 minute trip to the ship. Anyone with some logistical/organisational skills could make this process so much easier, come on Marella sort this out its dreadful. So to summarise, first class crew, pleasant ship, functional cabin, good food, good soda, ok entertainment, superb service, good excursions, beautiful county, older passenger demographic, terrible embankment and better disembarkation.....would we go with Marella again, yes but mainly for the crew and to explore the Baltic. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise ... Read More
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise lines do trips into the Arctic Circle. First the good points - some people are a bit sniffy about Marella (Butlins at sea etc) but loads of positives for us. First the size of ship, we prefer the smaller ones and the Explorer we found to be light and airy, especially the Mediterranean lounge which houses the fab tapas restaurant and the pizza/pasta in the evenings at no extra cost with spectacular views. All in all, the food we ate was certainly on a par with any other ship we have been on. The extra cost Surf and Turf and Kora Lai were top notch, as were all the staff (and we include the fabulous quiet bar 'Aperitif staff' just outside these venues as well - our bar of choice - mainly because you could get Fever tree tonics and Bottega processo on the premium upgraded all inclusive which for us at just over £7 a day we considered good value). The regular staff (bar staff, cleaners, cabin staff ) all great. Now the Marella entertainment and customer facing staff could take a few lessons from the regular staff. Even spoke to Calvin James (head of staff?) ref some points but even he didn't give us much eye contact and generally didn't give the impression that he was being very attentive to our conversation. The entertainment from our point was very ' samey' - silent disco brilliant but mix it up abit and theme it eg have a soul theme v the 80'st,lost is novelty after a few times but with a few changes it could be so much better, you have the staff. Again some of the staff seemed to turn their smiles on and off. And only so many times you can watch Bohemian Rhapsody........And a bit more variety on the at sea days would be good, as we were in the Arctic Circle it is hardly sunbathing weather. But we did have a concern with the comedian that was flown in and thanks to head of entertainment that met us to talk about our issues. Thank you for that. If you do this cruise next year just be aware that as it a one off cruise , go with an open mind. Weather etc can affect it - we were blessed with the most fab weather. But some of the ports required us to tender when originally we were due to be harbourside, so if you have mobility issues, be warned. Also when we did use the destinations staff, on a few of the trips it was very poorly arranged. Alot of waiting around in the cold, and we were one of the youngest on board (we are 58!) . No wonder we choose to do our own thing in port if we can, not good value at all. Cabin was great, proper shower door and huge balcony, had a hammock, sunbed and 2 chairs and a table (extra large balcony cabin!). Maybe a few funky toiletries would be nice and the towels could have been a lot fluffier! But all in all, no issues. So would be cruise Marella again? If the itinerary was right, yes we would. As an ex - Tui member of staff, I know you can do much better, it won't take alot to sharpen up staff attitudes and better organised excursions, lets give the big boys a run for the money! And please keep the middle sized ships, they can get into all the smaller ports that those monsters can't! 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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