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Marella Explorer 2 Review

4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating
103 reviews
Marella Explorer 2 (Photo: Marella Cruises)
The Dining Club (Photo: Marella Cruises)
Royal Suite Cabin with Balcony and Premier Service (Photo: Marella Cruises)
The Indigo Club on Marella Explorer 2 (Photo: Marella Cruises)
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Editor Rating
4.5
Very Good
Kerry Spencer
Cruise Critic Contributor

In April 2019, Marella Cruises introduced its first adults-only ship, the 1,814-passenger Marella Explorer 2. By removing areas previously dedicated to families, the line has cleverly created more spaces aimed squarely at adults -- with a total of 19 bars and restaurants onboard -- including four new-to-the-line venues.

Explorer 2 began life in 1995 as Celebrity Century, but Marella has done a nice job of transforming the ship to make it feel (almost) like new. Highlights include a gorgeous Champneys Spa and the new-to-the-line Nonna's Italian restaurant and Flutes Champagne bar.

Passengers don't seem to utilise the onboard programming so much during the day, preferring to lie by the pool instead. As a result, some areas of the ship can feel underused in the daytime. The Pool Deck, featuring the ship's only swimming pool, is the busiest area during the day.

During the evening, all of the venues -- and programming -- are in full swing. There's a buzzy atmosphere and a nice flow to the ship's internal space that easily allows passengers to drift between venues. The evening entertainment shows are excellent and left us wanting more (they are only 45-minutes performances). The show team take Sundays off, which is when the programme features a comedian.

We found the crew to be among the friendliest we've ever encountered, with service onboard faultless and jovial -- helped by the generous 2:1 passenger to crew ratio. Passengers and crew build up a lovely rapport, too, with many on first name terms early on in the sailing.

Passengers who value home comforts while on holiday will enjoy this ship. Expect kettles in cabins, Yorkshire Tea and Twinings teabags, top-notch curries and an excellent battered fish and chips, with Tartare and HP sauces readily available.

We like that Marella is making a conscious effort to reduce single-use plastics onboard. Straws are biodegradable and made from starch. The line also gives away re-usable straws as quiz bounty and there are water dispensers on decks with cabins to encourage passengers to refill their in-cabin carafes and bottles.

There's a constant reminder onboard of the value-for-money you get with a Marella cruise. Particularly when you order a drink (unless it's a premium brand), and you're not presented with a bill or added-on gratuity afterwards.

Solo travellers are well looked after, with special events scheduled to bring solo travellers together. Each solo passenger receives a letter in their cabin from the Social Hostess with information about all of the solo events taking place.

Being an adults-only ship, Marella Explorer 2 is not suitable for families -- so don't expect any of the frivolities that are often geared towards younger passengers -- nor is it suitable for anyone looking for a full enrichment programme. It's just not that kind of ship. It is perfect for couples, singles and groups of friends who enjoy home comforts, with some luxury extras, on a friendly and relaxed ship.

Pros

All-inclusive ship with more dining venues than other ships in fleet.

Cons

Although recently refurbished, the ship is not brand-new.

Bottom Line

An adults-only, all-inclusive ship that is excellent value-for-money catering well to British tastes.

About

Passengers : 1,814
Crew : 780
Passenger to Crew : 2.33:1
Launched : 2019
Shore Excursions : 819

Fellow Passengers

Brits, all over 18 years of age -- which is the minimum age to sail. As a result, the ship is extremely well suited to couples of any age or groups of friends looking to cruise together. We saw many younger couples on our sailing, though the age ranges from twentysomethings up to retirees.

Marella Explorer 2 Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

  • Flights and transfers
  • All meals in the main dining room, Vista, The Market Place, Nonna’s, Beach Cove at lunchtime and Snack Shack
  • Gratuities 
  • Drinks, including soft drinks and alcohol
  • All theatre shows 
  • Mini-golf
  • All daily activities onboard 
  • Use of the gym, but not most classes

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Premium drinks such as Champagne
  • Speciality restaurants, including Surf & Turf, Kora La, The Dining Club and Beach Cove in the evening
  • Premium coffee in The Coffee Port 
  • Room service 
  • Spa treatments
  • Shore excursions
  • Wi-Fi
  • Photos and art work
  • Ice cream at Scoops
  • Minibar drinks

The onboard currency is in British pounds.

Marella Explorer 2 Dress Code

Daytime: Beachwear, including swimmers, flip flops and cover ups around the pool, outside and in the Lido Buffet is acceptable. Jeans or shorts and T-shirts or casual shirts and sundresses are also fine.  

Evening: Two options are operated in the evening: Smart, which means you'll need to dress up with trousers and shirt, suit, dresses such as cocktail dress or smart two pieces, and the more formal Dress to Impress nights -- typically once a week -- which gives passengers the chance to go all-out glam. Jacket and tie are optional.

Not permitted: No jeans on Dress to Impress nights. 

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Marella

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Marella Explorer 2 Cruiser Reviews

A Nice Surprise!

Party: 2 adults from England, aged 29 and 63, previously cruised with Marella on the Dream, with NCL 4 times, and 3 other cruises in the early 00s on now defunct lines.Read More
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slclove

6-10 Cruises

Age 20s

Great ship but

We’ve been on lots of TUI/Marella cruise in the past and decided to give the Explorer 2 a try as it went to Havana Cuba, we did try to go there a few years ago on the discovery 2 but they cancelled toRead More
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billuk

10+ Cruises

Age 60s

Honest Appraisal from Experienced Cruisers

If the queue is more than 2 people be prepared for a long wait.Read More
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Daveyl778

10+ Cruises

Age 50s

Fabulous Itinerary, Dining disaster

A third cruise with Marella, but probably our last. We enjoyed all of the ports of call, Split, Trieste, Ancona, San Marino and Zadar.Read More
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Ali43

2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

Marella Cruises Fleet
Marella Discovery
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