Marella Explorer Review

Marella Explorer (Photo: Marella Cruises)
Marella Explorer (Photo: Marella Cruises)
2019 Best for Cabins
2019 Best for Embarkation
2019 Best for Entertainment
Marella Explorer
4.0 / 5.0 Cruise Critic Editor Rating
to book


Great food, top-class entertainment and one of the finest spas at sea


Very small kids' club, very small portions in main dining room and no indoor pool

Bottom Line

A ship that knows exactly what passengers want -- and delivers


Passengers 1,924
Crew 794
Passenger to Crew 2.42:1
Launched 1996
Shore Excursions 352
Adam Coulter
Cruise Critic UK Managing Editor

Marella Explorer Overview

Marella Cruises' newest ship, Marella Explorer, was launched in May 2018, and with a capacity of 1,924 passengers it's the line's largest vessel. The ship debuts a number of new-to-the-fleet features, including a link-up with upmarket health spa Champneys (the first at sea), a raft of brand-new restaurants, a gin- and whisky-tasting bar and a large number of new shows.

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Familiar facilities, such as The Veranda adults-only terrace and Broadway Show Lounge, are bigger, as is the spa. (However, despite boasting the largest spa in the fleet, there's no indoor pool.)

Aimed squarely at the British market, the vessel is easily manageable for first-timers, with plenty of entertainment for families with kids (despite the fact there is a tiny kids' club) and enough standout and high-end facilities -- including upmarket eateries and a high-tech top-deck disco/bar/casino -- to keep the most seasoned cruisers happy.

Like the fleet as a whole, the ship is billed all-inclusive (in that alcohol and tips are included), and you'll find buckets full of cold beer outside the theatre and on the deck, as well as beer and wine dispensers in the buffet. However, should you wish a more "premium" experience, there is a number of excellent restaurants that carry a cover charge.

Marella inspires loyalty with its long-serving staff and repeat passengers from the line's days as Thomson. The line knows its clientele thoroughly, inside and out -- exactly what they need and want.

And, in the case of this ship, Marella has even anticipated what passengers might not yet know they need or want with a number of first-time additions. This ship is an outstanding addition to the Marella fleet.

Fellow Passengers

Marella Explorer attracts an exclusively British clientele wherever it is based, whether in the Med during the summer or the Caribbean in the winter. You'd be hard pressed to find any other nationality, and certainly no concession is made for them. The average age is around mid-50s, with multigenerational groups during peak holiday periods. Expect a lot of children onboard from the beginning of July to the beginning of September and over the Christmas holidays.

Marella Explorer Dress Code

The ship is casual during the day -- think shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops -- due to its locations (summer in the Med and winter in the Caribbean). In the evenings, it's smart casual. One night on a seven-night cruise is "Dress to Impress" night, which has replaced gala evenings or formal nights. There's no real guidance on this, though most people opt for a jacket and smart trousers or (non-ripped) jeans for men and a dress and perhaps heels for women.

Marella Explorer Gratuity

Marella Explorer is all inclusive, and tips are neither required nor expected, though you can tip for exceptional service. The currency onboard is the GB pound.

Marella Explorer Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Awards

2019 Best for Cabins
2019 Best for Embarkation
2019 Best for Entertainment
2019 Best for Fitness & Recreation
2019 Best for Public Rooms
2019 Best for Shore Excursions
2019 Best for Value

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Marella Explorer Member Reviews

Marella Explorer
Sail Date: Mar 2019
to get away from the hustle and bustle of the pool deck areas and really chill out. Okay the Marella explorer is not brand new and not as huge as some of the other cruise ships but for us it as just right...Read More
Marella Explorer
Sail Date: Jan 2019
Caribbean and Pride of Panama. This time flying direct to Jamaica. Our Marella Cruise on the Marella Explorer was fun and great value. Thanks to TUI....Read More
Marella Explorer
Sail Date: Dec 2018
We were on a 7 day cruise on marella explorer in December 2018 . There were a good selection of islands that we visited and we really enjoyed the experience ... We have a 6yo and she had lots of fun...Read More
Marella Explorer
Sail Date: Jan 2019
Just returned today from a 2 week cruise with marella explorer in the Caribbean, a party of 6 adults.. We have been on about 12 Tui cruises and this one was very disappointing the food in the main restaurant...Read More

Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) Fleet