(3:40 p.m. BST) -- Marella Cruises' newest and largest ship, 1,924-passenger Marella Explorer, will emerge from its four-week dry dock in May offering several features that are either firsts for the line or first in the UK cruise industry. Among them are a pink piano, an ice cream parlour, a new brand-name partnership with a famous land-based spa and a slew of high-tech shows. Here are the features that stand out as our favourites.
1. Champneys at Sea
The first cruise line to have a link-up with well-known luxury spa brand Champneys, Marella Cruises will redo Marella Explorer's spa facilities to include a full-service thermal suite, treatment suites with their own showers and mini-saunas, a Finnish sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows and spa cabanas on the adults-only Veranda sun deck, which come with thermal suite access. Although Marella is staying mum on the specifics of its treatments and pricing, the line assures Cruise Critic that a full menu of choices will be available.
2. 13 New Shows
In a bid to liven up its onboard entertainment, Marella Explorer has added 13 new production shows to its repertoire. Featuring 12 cast members, tons of well-known songs and 1,000 different costumes, the shows incorporate LED screens, elaborate sets and themes that range from steampunk and cinema to music festivals and 50s Americana. Some even utilize 4D technology that pipes scents like popcorn and freshly cut grass into the theatre.
3. Indigo Nightclub
A first-in-industry concept that combines the ship's casino and disco with a bar, the Indigo nightclub will boast wraparound ocean views, as well as a specially ordered DJ emulator -- the only one of its kind on a UK ship. Beyond allowing Explorer's DJ to play music, add sound effects and project music videos, the podium-style touchscreen device will serve to teach teenagers how to mix their own tracks as part of the onboard youth programme.
4. Family Balcony Cabins
In addition to the largest inside cabins in the Marella fleet at 16 square metres, and balconies with more space, Marella Explorer will also have 14 family balcony cabins available for booking. Each family cabin can sleep up to five people via a queen bed, a sofa bed and a pull-down bunk; express check-in, complimentary pressing services and free Continental breakfast in bed are also included in the price.
5. Sushi and Tapas
On the list of the vessel's 10 restaurants, passengers will find stalwart eateries Kora La, Surf & Turf, Snack Shack and Hot Stone Grill. Additionally, the line is launching two new restaurant concepts: for-fee Umi Sushi and The Mediterranean. The latter will feature tapas and pizza, both complimentary, under one glass roof.
6. A Colour-Changing Piano Bar
In funky watering hole The Lounge, a colour-changing bar and bright pink piano are the focal points, providing passengers with a place to grab drinks and hear live music.
Outfitted with quirky bicycle seats that look out to sea, Scoops, the onboard extra-fee ice cream parlour, has a vintage theme and serves multiple flavours of gelato.
Marella Explorer's first revenue sailing will take place on May 19, from Palma de Mallorca, where the ship will spend its winters offering Mediterranean itineraries. In the summer, it will relocate to Barbados to sail Caribbean voyages.
--By Ashley Kosciolek, Editor