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.
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.
Included with your cruise fare:
Not included with your cruise fare:
The onboard currency is in British pounds.
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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Some of the Friendliest Crew on a Relaxing Cruise and Exceedingly Good Value