Marella Explorer 2 Review

Marella Explorer 2 (Photo: Marella Cruises)
Marella Explorer 2 (Photo: Marella Cruises)
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
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Kerry Spencer
Cruise Critic Editor

Marella Explorer 2 Overview

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.

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About Marella Explorer 2


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


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.

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.

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 Member Reviews

Marella Explorer 2
cruise loving Jane
Sail Date: Aug 2019
Went on 4th cruise... chose Marella Explorer 2 for itinerary and port of Naples .... cruise and stay to encompass Sorrento and Amalfi Coast.. Travelled with friends to celebrate 30th wedding anniversaries...Read More
Marella Explorer 2
Sail Date: Aug 2019
We had a great cruise on Marella Explorer 2. Our cabin was on deck 4 and was in a good position mid ships to get to the MDR, Market place for breakfast and the gangway on Deck 3. The only issue I had was...Read More
Marella Explorer 2
Sail Date: Jun 2019
I booked this cruise with my sister as a 'taster' for alot of cities in our bucket list and also wanted to experience what cruising was like. The booking process was floorless and staff at our local Tui (West...Read More
Marella Explorer 2
Sail Date: Aug 2019
My wife and I chose this for our honeymoon. Having never cruised before we were apprehensive - there was no need for that. What a perfect holiday. Arrival at Naples was fine for us mid twenties couple, although...Read More

Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises) Fleet