Entering the 850-seat Broadway Show Lounge (which is actually the main theatre) on Deck 4 is like stepping into a world of twenties-style glamour. Unlike some of the more modern theatres, which can sometimes seem a little stark, this oozes Art Deco glitz that harks back to the golden age of theatre. Striking glass and brass double doors open on to a gently sloping auditorium decorated with starburst designs and filled with rows of golden curved-top seats that resemble gentle waves sitting under a sparkling trio of mirrored chandeliers. The programme of 11 shows continues the theme started on Marella Discovery with the West End-style productions created by various big names including dancer and choreographer Tara Wilkinson, who was previously involved in hits like "The Full Monty" and "Motown," and Martyn Ford, a conductor and musical arranger who has worked with Andrew Lloyd-Webber. Productions range from a lively song and dance special called Boogie Shoes which pays homage to popular classics harking back to Elvis Presley and other greats, to Legends Live, which features tributes to iconic artists. There's also "Beatz Interactive," a hi-tech dance performance featuring LED-lit costumes, and an amusing stage version of "The Full Monty".
* May require additional fees
There's a constant roll-call of activities, especially on sea days with the pool deck acting as the hub for al fresco daytime entertainment. This ranges from competitions and challenges, to trivia quizzes, cocktail-making demonstrations, games and music from live bands. Inside, the Atrium, Venue and Live Room all have a varied programme of performances and activities, while the Oceans Gym runs an ongoing series of classes. The daily Cruise News lists everything that's going on around the ship. However, the biggest new attraction is the Virtual Reality Experience which replaces the Break Out and Escape Room on Marella Discovery, and unlike that attraction (where users are charged £10 per person), it is complimentary. Even though it was in the experimental stage when we tried it, it was still captivating as we were transported to outer space to fight space pirates before swapping scenarios to arrive in a Harry Potter-esque magic chamber where exotic spells transformed our surroundings with fantastic special effects. The room is hired out for 45 minute sessions, and it's great fun and sure to be popular. Next door is the novel Green Screen Experience, a photo booth where users pose against quirky backdrops to have their pictures taken swimming with fish in the sea, lounging on the beaches of a desert island or scaling the ship's climbing wall. Once shots are taken, they are emailed directly to passengers to put out on social media and make all their friends jealous.
The al fresco LED movie screen (improved over the one on Marella Discovery) overlooking the main pool on Deck 9 is used for films and trivia quizzes during the day, but comes into its own during evenings when it becomes the venue for Movies by Moonlight. Passengers can snuggle down on the sunbeds with blankets (if needed) along with popcorn and hot chocolate, available for a supplement. Films tend to be family-friendly hits, with showings at 7:30 p.m. for those aimed at a younger audience or 9 p.m.
The Live Casino, occupying a corner of the Live Room lounge on Deck 4 is slightly larger than its equivalent on Marella Discovery and is equipped with the latest slot machines. It also has a live roulette wheel following feedback from customers who disliked the electronic roulette on Marella Discovery, which will now be changed to a live version. There are also blackjack tables -- and if anyone is unsure how it all works, croupiers will give lessons too. Any chips that are cashed in are added to each passenger's onboard account.
With Marella Discovery 2 being all-inclusive, it's fair to say the bars are always pretty busy.
Passengers wanting a wide choice of drinks and beverages can upgrade to the Premium Drinks Package for an extra £70 per person, per week which provides a wider selection of wines by the glass, 1.5 litres of water delivered to the cabin daily and premium Lavazza coffee from the Coffee Port. In terms of venues, passengers can choose from five bars, ranging from the all-happening Live Room to the bustling Atrium Bar and the late night Bar Eleven.
There's a wide choice of drinks, contained in a handy little booklet, with choices divided between those included in the All-Inclusive plan and those that are part of the Premium Inclusive plan, with supplements listed for those not on the premium plan.
Drinks range from draught beers such as Foster's and John Smith's; canned and bottled beers such as Becks and Corona to sparkling wines, spirits and a lip-smacking array of cocktails. Spirits are served in 40ml measures, 60 percent more than the standard U.K. pub measure
Atrium Bar (Deck 4): The location makes this bar an ideal meeting place, whatever the time of day, but particularly during evenings. Light and buzzing, it is the place with the best views of the soaring five-storey atrium and its gleaming brass and glass lifts. This area also hosts daytime dance sessions, musical recitals and the Neverland family show. It opens from 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. until midnight.
Live Room (Deck 4): Billed as Marella Discovery 2's flagship watering hole, it is claimed to be the most spacious and modern bar with the biggest selection of on-tap beers. This funky, brightly-coloured lounge changes from a casual quiet hangout during the day to a rocking lively hub in the evenings. Sing-along sessions around the custard yellow piano get everybody in the party mood, while live singers get the crowd on their feet with jiving Motown classics and Abba favourites. The dance floor gets packed and amid the heady atmosphere even those still seated get grooving in their chairs. Opening times are from around 3 p.m. until 11 p.m.
Venue (Deck 5): Set out in a more traditional cabaret-lounge layout, this is billed as the secondary show lounge. It is more open than its equivalent facility on Marella Discovery as raised-up areas on each side have been taken away. It can accommodate audiences of up to 500-strong for entertainment that ranges from the Splash Live! children's interactive show to family-orientated game shows and performances from virtual bands on the new LED screen.
The Coffee Port (Deck 6): This cosy little cafe overlooks the atrium and, if you glance out of the porthole windows, you'll see one of the ship's four resident penguins peering back at you. It stretches to both sides of the atrium, linked by a walkway lined with small tables for two and decorated by a sweeping beverage-infused wall mural. On one side is the counter where barista-made Lavazza coffees are served, costing from £1 for a regular filter coffee or £1.35 for a latte. There are also complimentary breakfast pastries and sweet treats, costing from 75p upwards. It is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Pool Bar (Deck 9): This semi-circular bar serves daytime and evening drinks, plus hot chocolate and popcorn during Movies by Moonlight showings, and is open from 8 a.m. until late.
Deck 10 Bar (Deck 10): This circular bar serves the upper decks and is generally open, weather permitting, from 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. -- though occasionally later.
Bar Eleven (Deck 11): This DJ-led venue, complete with dance floor attracts a younger and more hip set, however, while the music is more modern, there's still a good selection of dance numbers that gets everyone up on their feet. This is the bar that keeps going after all others close and it's the place where everyone flocks to once the Live Room shuts up shop for the night. It generally stays open until around 2 a.m. but if the party's going strong, it will stay open until 4 a.m.
There are two pools, filled with filtered seawater and open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. The main hub is the outdoor pool, complete with sectioned-off children's area. The deeper part of the pool is 1.7 metres (5.5 feet) and is flanked by two hot tubs with space for up to eight people.
The indoor pool in the Glass House sits under a glass retractable roof, giving it a conservatory feel, while the classical-style columns and wall friezes are definitely Romanesque. There are two hot tubs, which can also accommodate up to eight bathers. This area is generally more peaceful and becomes adult-only between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. each day.
The most stand-out feature is the rock-climbing wall located at the ship's aft on Deck 10, open to adults and children over six years, while behind sits a nine-hole mini-golf course. Traditional deck games are not forgotten as you'll find shuffleboard here too. The ship also has a fleet of around 28 bikes -- regular and electric versions -- which can be used for the bike tours in each port of call, with prices from around £36 per person. Electrically powered bikes cost £10 more.
Besides the obvious areas around the pools, there is the adults-only area, The Veranda, located on the ship's aft on Deck 9. Space is limited and as it's free, you have to be quick to grab one of the loungers or cushioned wicker-style pod chairs. One of the perks is the lounger-side call button which sunbathers can use to summon drinks' waiters. Another sun terrace on Deck 10, which has its own bar, also tends to be quieter with less children.
The guest services desks and kiosks are located on Deck 5, one deck up from the Atrium Bar. There are two long curved desks either side of the entry to the Broad Street Shops. On the right-hand side is Reception, open 24/7 and on the left is the Destination Services shore excursions desk. There are a handful of kiosks where passengers can check information on the itinerary and book restaurants. The shopping arcade is slightly different to the one on Marella Discovery, with a larger convenience store, which has been moved to a slightly different location, plus central display cabinet that can be wheeled away when not in use. High street brands making their debut include Ted Baker and Radley.
Also on this deck is the Photo Gallery, with interactive screens, where passengers can choose and buy photos taken onboard.
Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, though the signal can be variable, and charges are from £8 an hour, £15 for a day, £49 for a week and £90 for two weeks.
The Oceans Spa and Beauty Salon is similar to the facility on Marella Discovery, though the retail shop has been replaced with a facial room and a new Medi-Spa facility offering anti-wrinkle treatments and lip fillers. The Deck 9 facility boasts eight treatment rooms in total, plus a hair and beauty salon and a male and female sauna and steam room, which is complimentary. The relaxation lounge looks out over The Veranda adult-only deck.
Treatments include facials and body treatments, including seaweed massages, salt scrubs and hot stone massages. Prices for these start at £72. Acupuncture is also offered from £93. The spa opens from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.
The light and airy gym on Deck 9, with its good selection of running machines, cross-trainers, exercise bikes and weight machines, is next door to the spa. There is also an adjoining small studio room where exercise classes are held each day, some of which carry a charge. Opening times are from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Keen joggers can pound the running track that encircles Deck 10 where four laps total one mile.
As a family-friendly holiday brand, Marella ensures that its newest ship reflects this and the additional facilities on Marella Discovery 2, such as the climbing wall and giant movie screen, simply reinforce its appeal to children of all ages.
Aside from the children's areas -- which are grouped together on Deck 10, with a baby centre, kids' club and teens retreat -- there are family attractions and activities across the ship that range from quizzes to selfie hunts and workshops.
There is no babysitting service, though there are parent and baby activities.
In the swimming pool, children need to be potty-trained and supervised by adults. Cots can be requested free of charge on booking, though not all cabins have sufficient space to squeeze an extra cot into, so it is worth clarifying this beforehand.
There are children's menus in restaurants and highchairs are also available.
Infants under six months are not allowed to cruise.
Youngsters under three years are catered for in new "Babytainment" classes for parents and babies. Sessions are held daily and activities range from nursery rhyme sing-alongs to baby ballet. There is also a Baby Centre aimed at parents and children which has cots, a soft play area and facilities for warming food and changing nappies.
The kids' club on Deck 11, aimed at three to 11-year-olds, is a bright and colourful haven with arts and crafts sessions, games, movies nights and trips to the ship's bridge to meet the Captain.
Within the club, ages are split between three to six-year-olds and seven to 11-year-olds, with three sessions held each day generally from around 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. though the most up-to-date opening times are contained in Cruise News.
The high energy Splash Live! evening show, aimed at six to 10-year-olds, is staged in the Venue lounge on Deck 5 during high season and takes youngsters on an interactive journey under the sea.
Teenagers can chill in The Hide Out, which has its own karaoke booth and disco area. Organised activities include parties, games and movie nights. It is also located conveniently close to the Gamer Zone with its Xbox One consoles.