May 16, 2018
(7:45 p.m. BST) -- Marella Cruises took delivery of its newest ship, Marella Explorer, in the Balearic capital of Palma de Mallorca today.
A number of new-to-the-fleet features include a link-up with the upmarket Champneys health spa, featuring the fleet's largest thermal suite, bespoke massages, and cutting-edge medi-spa treatments (such as vitamin IV drips).
Restaurants total 10 -- the most on any Marella ship -- matched by an equal number of bars. As well as two new for-fee food zones -- The Mediterranean and The Market Place -- upscale options include the old favourite Surf & Turf and new Dining Club with premium a la carte dining.
"I think it's great because we've got something that's very different," said Chris Hackney, managing director for Marella Cruises, when asked about the impact he expects Marella Explorer to have on the UK cruise market. "We've taken the best concepts from our Discovery ships."
Other notable additions include the adults-only sunbathing terrace, The Veranda, with padded loungers, pod chairs, and day beds, offering much more space than this area on the Discovery ships. The popular grab-and-go Snack Snack also makes a welcome re-appearance, this time partnered with the brand new The Shack bar providing the likes of frozen cocktails. Another new-to-the-fleet drinkery is the Squid and Anchor, the line's first of its kind and a modern take on the British boozer -- also home to the ship's resident band and quiz nights. The swanky new Indigo bar is the ship's main drinking hole and nightspot, with club and casino combo.
Fun elements include the novel Scoops vintage-style ice-cream stall serving up flavours such as Gin and Tonic, Peach Bellini, and Pina Colada, that can be enjoyed from quirky bicycle seats that look out to sea. Onboard retail options impress with plenty of haute designer brands such as Apple and Chanel, plus world exclusive OPI virtual nail varnish demonstration machine.
A raft of cosmetic updates include the line's signature wave design on the hull, makeover of common areas, and every cabin updated top-to-toe.
The ship's inaugural sailing takes it to Barcelona, before returning to Palma to pick up its first commercial passengers for an eight-day itinerary around the Western Mediterranean.
Fun fact: The ship's previous incarnation was the setting for popular BBC TV show, 'The Cruise'.
--By Leon Beckenham, Cruise Critic contributor