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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, wanted to see the north of iceland and fjords of Norway. This two week cruise from Newcastle was ideal. We had read of issues with embarkation at Newcastle with past Marella cruises so were ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, wanted to see the north of iceland and fjords of Norway. This two week cruise from Newcastle was ideal. We had read of issues with embarkation at Newcastle with past Marella cruises so were prepared. We arrived (having spent the night in Newcastyle) by Taxi at about 12:00 noon and were dropped off as instructed by port officials at the 'red terminal building' with our cases. We waited in a queue for maybe 5 minutes before leaving our cases and recieving an envelope from the staff on duty, ,walked outside to the suttle bus and were taken to the main port terminal. We were then given cruise cards and asked to wait until called. We were priority so did not wait however those with us at that time 12:15 did not wait long before being processed and re-bussed to the ship. Our friends who were self drive and park took ages to get on board, they arrived at the parking at 13:00 and did not get on board until 15:00. So I would suugest arriving earlier to avoid a long wait. Disembarkation was easy. We had cabin 12031. Really good, modern and clean. Food on board was fine. Long waits for tables in Vista (italian) at peak times, paigers given out however they only reached as far as the adjacent bar, no issues if you could find a seat. This is a small bar with liuttle seating. Vista was good. MDR had no real wait but some queueing. Plenty of tables for two if needed but all (most) were very close to each other, Food here was hit and miss as was service, service at times in certain sections was very slow, sometimes without a smile however generally waiting staff tried hard and worked hard. We tried Surf and Turf, Asian Fustion and the Dinning Club , Surf and Turf was rushed and ordinary, steaks were OK but the atmosphere was lacking, we had so many waiters it was hard to keep track, Asain fusion was OK. Marco (in charge of this section) is so good and deserves a special mention. The Dinning Club although the most expensive was really really good, the night we ate there the food was to die for as good as any restaurant we have dined in over the last few years. Wiat staff on point, explained everything to you, service was not rushed. We met Stanley the chef and gave him 10 out 10. Its expensive however if you have special event on board just try it. We up graded the drinks package as we like real coffe ( no charge at the coffee pot), really enjoyed the whiskeys and gins in the whisky and gin bar and the fact that Fever tree tonic comes with this package, as does better wines and proper canned drinks. We were less keen on the lay out the ship-it did not flow from aft to stern. There is no bar near the Show lounge so unless you want the bottled beer or pre-poured wines you had to remember to get your drink befotre the show-no table service either in teh show lounge. Drinks were a little inconsistant-in indego some were good some were not as different mixers made different cocktails, some cokctails on the pool deck bar were undrinkable.Never had a real problem in delays getting served. Seats in the Indego lounge were at times hard to find as this was a cold weather cruise lots of people 'camped' for the day inside in an area to read not caring that others wanted to sit and listen to music , bands or do teh quizzes. Shows were not so good. Singers and dancers tried but the 'shows' did not really suit the audience. Previous Marella cruises had more 'professional looking shows. Some people were dismayed (given the continued controversy around Michael Jackson) that he 'won' the soul award. Maybe Marella should look at that one as despite his music he has become a controversial figure. Staff were as usual very friendly, they all speak and say hello and most do enjoy a chat. Our cabin stewrads were wonderful, always chatty and we had lots of towel animals. Some of the excurstions did seem a bit overpriced. We like to do our own thing however on this cruise due to the small nature of ports of call its not always possibnle.The Flam railway is very expensive for what it is, half and hour up the mountain (scenery is nice) a stop not quite at the top for awful coffe and a cold waffle and half an hour down again. Its very hyped however there is not much else to do in port. All in all we enjoyed the cruise, were happy with the ship, really happy with our chosen cabin and found teh food fine. We would use Marella again. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We liked the ports of call & the fact that we could leave from Newcastle. Having never sailed from there before we stayed in South Shields the night before to make the journey to the port easier. We had asked TUI about wheelchair ... Read More
We liked the ports of call & the fact that we could leave from Newcastle. Having never sailed from there before we stayed in South Shields the night before to make the journey to the port easier. We had asked TUI about wheelchair assistance to the ship & was told that Tui did not offer that service( at any of their ports worldwide) but we could take our own wheelchair. Arrived at the port around 10-30 to be told TUI had a policy of not letting passengers into the pre- booked parking area till 11-45 so we tried again at 11-35 to be in a cue of around 20 + vehicles, with nearly 200 already parked. In the embarkation hall there were wheelchairs available if required & early boarding. The boarding process was quite lengthy with periods of standing in line waiting for the shuttle bus to the ship. The ship was quite well set out & easy to get round. We used the main dining room most nights & the service ranged from very good to awful, sadly more awful times & the food choices terrible, no better in the buffet either. For us the entertainment was of a pretty poor standard, so we did our best to avoid it. Ports & shore excursions were very good & well organised. On the final 2 days my wife was feeling unwell( either a cold or flu ) we think due to the A/C mainly in the cabin. A couple of days after arriving home I also became unwell & 1 week later we are both under the weather & unable to go about our normal day to day activities. This was only our second TUI cruise & will be our last! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got ... Read More
Check in at Newcastle went pretty smooth,Considering it's not a cruise terminal but a working port, Our cabin was 9148,was excellent,huge balcony,with hammock,sun lounger,2 chairs & a table,which was not quite ready when we got there,but our steward did let us hang my wife's dresses in 2 dress bags,& our coats up on the wall hangers,to save carrying them around for an hour or so,When we returned an hour later,the dresses had gone,the cabin steward denied ever letting us in,then couldn't understand what we were trying to explain that 6 dresses had gone from our cabin,On our way to reception I just happened to glance into the cabin stewards room (which was open & ajar) & there was all the dresses & coats,dumped on the floor,To say that we were unhappy is an understatement to say the least,We went for a cuppa to calm down before go to reception,After we did calm down,We decided to let the matter drop,We didn't want to see the poor steward getting into trouble,or worse.There are 2 bands on board Rhythm who are very good,Girl sounds like Stevie Nicks,The Beats also very good,guest acts were very good with the exception of the "Comedian" who was absolutely dire,Got to be the worst I've ever seen,I couldn't believe the amount of people who walked out of the theatre,Don't know how he makes a living from it,BUT he can certainly hold a note,What a singer.Theater cast were also excellent.Surf & Turf & Kora La are well worth that little bit extra for a different dining experience,Not worth the extra for premium drinks as all we wanted was the all inclusive menu,Which ends at 02:00 hrs,But they did announce it in the club,The silent disco is a MUST,Hilarious. Overall a good cruise & good itinerary. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Our first cruise for 20 years My aim is to help people but I’ve got to be honest We were a bit worried about boarding after some reviews we read but both boarding and departing the ship was done very professionally Cabin and ... Read More
Our first cruise for 20 years My aim is to help people but I’ve got to be honest We were a bit worried about boarding after some reviews we read but both boarding and departing the ship was done very professionally Cabin and rest of ship was spotlessly clean best room cleaner I’ve ever had and I’ve traveled a lot Cabin number 10111 nice balcony with hammock etc The ships staff ie waiters bartenders cleaners etc all round the ship were fantastic and extremely friendly Got to give special mention to barmen in Squid and Anchor Kesauan , Cooper and Rade at the gin bar and two waitresses who don’t know how to stop smiling Anna and Mary Food quality was excellent everywhere We ate a few times in specialty restaurants the food and wine taster in the Dining Club is a must they treat you like royalty However I think the prices are too dear on top of all inclusive and to charge at the Tapas bar is a joke On the same subject we upgraded to premier and it more than paid for itself with special guns and cocktails and also coffee but I think it’s petty to charge for coffees Thought overall entertainment was a disappointment I expected better The groups were ok but not top turns had much better entertainment in 4 star hotels The main show group were great dancers but only a few girls had voices and none of the boys Only two one off acts a George Michael tribute and a comedian who’s late show was really funny I can only comment on excursions that we made Skagen No need for a paid trip it’s a nice walk with shops and cafes Kreil We shared a taxi with friends to the U boat and Navy Museum they’re situated in a beautiful seaside resort really enjoyed this Tallin Guided tour highlights of Talin really good guide and a interesting tour of a beautiful city St Petersburg Two day tour Completely comprehensive and intense tour of surely one of the worlds most beautiful cities I think this tour is a must but it is tiring Helsinki Short bus trip to a marina city Here’s a great tip after the tiring Russian trip we found a great way of seeing Helsinki There’s a 4D cinema that does a fun trip round Helsinki and we tied this in with a ride round Finland totally recommend this Warnemunde Extremely popular German seaside resort We walked around for couple hours nice shops Stockholm Went to ABBA Museum Not really in mood for city tour after that so an hour walk to ship The cruise in and out of Stockholm is five hours of unbelievable island beauty Copenhagen Had to see Little Mermaid only ten minutes from ship had a walk round park area for two hours Beware Pickpockets Last night of the cruise we spent in Sqid and Anchor great night it was like New Years Eve Overall I loved the friendliness of an all British Cruise and will definitely do more but hope for better class of entertainment Steve Middlesbrough Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We wanted to visit the Baltic region and the itinerary looked good Embarkation was very easy and well organised. We had a short wait for our luggage but took the time to explore the ship. We dined in all the restaurants with the ... Read More
We wanted to visit the Baltic region and the itinerary looked good Embarkation was very easy and well organised. We had a short wait for our luggage but took the time to explore the ship. We dined in all the restaurants with the exception of the sushi bar.and found the food to be fair to good in the market place but we preferred latitude 53 and the supplement restaurants (surf and turf, kora - la and the dining club) where the food was absolutely amazing. The only small niggle was that there wasn't much information on the ports to allow you to go it alone. We had done research before we left but would have appreciated maps and guidance from destination services. We booked with a Russian tour company (TJ TRAVEL ) for the 2 day stop over in Saint Petersburg. There appeared to be a bit of overkill about the need for visas and the potential problems that could arise in Russia unless a Tui excursion was booked. We had an absolutely fabulous time with TJ TRAVEL with no problems at all. We attend the ballet with Tui which was lovely and fairly priced As always the crew were all very helpful and always smiling despite their heavy workload Overall the cruise was busy. We were blessed with good weather so managed a bit of sun bathing an a dip in the pool. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Price was great for all inclusive. Travelled with Tui before and very informal and friendly so prefer this type of cruising. Great cabin spacious and clean and as usual very friendly hardworking staff. Few issues with queues at ... Read More
Price was great for all inclusive. Travelled with Tui before and very informal and friendly so prefer this type of cruising. Great cabin spacious and clean and as usual very friendly hardworking staff. Few issues with queues at Main dining area and waiting once in but relsoved after speaking with maitre D. The Med Bar for TAPAS excellent as well as the Italian so plenty of choice for eats Good quality drinks Plenty of entertainment., shows, quizzes, groups, piano, lectures , cinema something for everyone Lots of different bars for entertainment or quiet areas if you prefer Lovely Lounge Bar very bright and spacious with our fave staff Michelle Roland David Alice always singliong smiling and going hte extra mile Too may great staff to mention all the names Booked the 2 day Saint Petersburg tour with ALLA tours, by far the best from speaking to others . only 14 in the group, no queues, excellent lunches in 4 star hotels each day, Dimitry our guide was fantastic and knowledgable. Very easy to book and answered all questions beforehand, highly recommend ALLA Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in ... Read More
Very enjoyable but the weather spoilt it a little, but being in the Baltics it can be expected, the ship itself it perfect except for when the weather is bad there are a minimum of bars due to the outside bars not being open. The lounge in the evening gets very ful, if you miss the theatre you will get a seat, the indigo exactly the same packed especially after the shows are finished as for the Mediterranean during days at sea, worse than tying to get a sunbed in a note,, simply packed with oldies sound asleep taking up space, my opinion if you want to sleep all day you have a cabin, let someone else enjoy the comfort and have a drink.the food overall was excellent nothing to complain about in that department, tries attitude 5e a couple of times and felt satisfied but I prefer the buffet, in the buffet I had to have a word with the top guy regards condiments always empty, its simple enough for someone as part of kitchen/restaurant duties to go around every other day and check each condiment, simple organisation. The staff through out the ship are excellent they work such long hours but are always laughing and joking Ben and Marabell in the lounge, perfect all the lads and lasses in Indigo excellent to many to mention, days at sea entertainment, pathetic the entertainment staff are getting paid on those days for nothing, the only ones that seem to be doing anything are the quiz masters in the Sqiud n Anchor. Resident singers, not bad but not perfect seen better on other Marella ships. Overall experience, my wife and I , sister in law and brother loved it now thinking of booking August in Norway cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to ... Read More
we sailed on this cruise as we wanted to visit the amazing cities around the baltic 1st The good points. The Onboard staff were all amazing from the Cabin stewards to entertainment crew, all very friendly and helpful. But I have to make a special mention to 2 members of staff who did go that extra mile to make our cruise special Putra our cabin steward was exceptional in trying to sort out our many problems that we incurred and secondly Gregg from the Bar staff who was entertaining, friendly, full of happiness and good fun to be near. 2nd The bad points. We entered our cabin and found we had a paper thin mattress that when you just touched it with slight pressure you could feel through to the bed frame. 2 wooden boxes with sharp edges protruding from the space in the headboard where our heads went. Another wooden box protruding from the wall near the access to side of bed. Safe not working. Fridge not working. Air conditioning not working. welcome to marella explorer. after complaining we were told that it would all be sorted out and not to worry. the reception staff ended up coming down to cabin as they seemed not to believe what we were saying and took photo's. we were informed that there was no other cabins available and they would put an extra mattress on the bed and pillows to cover boxes on headboard, 3 days later safe is replaced, refrigerator is replaced, air con is fixed(ish). We were told that the protruding boxes would be removed the following day, 2 days later we were informed that the protruding boxes could not be moved, a sorry was issued in the form of a scribbled note on a bottle of prosecco with 6 chocolate strawberries and we would have to make do! ships layout is not great if you are in the theatre and want a drink you have to walk 3/4 the length of the ship then que for 20 minutes by which time the show is finished Also if you want to participate in the evening entertainment and watch the evening show you cant as they overlap by 15 minutes so you either miss the end of the entertainment or the beginning of the show .... very poor planning Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of ... Read More
This is an extensive review...Bear with me, but this is our honest opinion and our personal view. Firstly, to put this cruise into context it will have been our 17th. We have enjoyed 3 previous cruises with 'Thompson', all of which have been fine and we thought good value for money. This was why we booked with their new branding 'Marella' and we were looking forward to going on the Explorer. The advertising and videos looked fine, and the Baltic was an area we had not cruised in but had been to independently previously. The port itinerary was great, Copenhagen, Warnemunde, Stockholm, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Klaipeda, and Fredericia. We had visited Tallinn and Riga both previously. The cruise did what it said on the tin, and destinations were not disappointing with no problems visiting the ports. All through the cruise, we were blessed with sunny weather and mainly calm seas. From this aspect, the voyage went well. Embarkation was good, as it was at the ports, and at the end of our cruise; well organised by the ship and no issues. Same in Russia, where good advice was given by destination services on procedure etc. There was enough time to organise and plan your own trips/activities if you had not booked ship ones, and what excursions we did take were reasonable and good. One issue which a number of people raised was the point that Marella no longer provides port maps in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint and help the planet. Fine, but a lot of people were not happy accessing an online map version on the ship, and some are not IT savvy, so its a cheap cost-cutting exercise in our view. You can in most places get a 'hard copy' map from the cruise terminals at the ports you visit for free anyway. In Stockholm, we went to the ABBA museum and a walk around the old town. Probably as cheap to do this with the cruise ship excursion than independently. In St Petersburg, it was, as always busy but the Panoramic Tour we did with the ship excursion was very good. Our trip to the Ballet was also good. The second day we visited the Yusopov Palace and had a canal trip. It was somewhat chaotic due to road closures ( not Marella's fault ), and our guide was somewhat confused and our experience of Yousopof was marred by rude staff. The disembarkation from our canal cruise via an unstable and unsecured gangway was downright dangerous and a major health and safety issue, which we reported to Marella, and which they need to take up with the operator before someone is injured or worse. A number of passengers were phased by this incident on our trip. Those were the only organised trips we took, apart from a shuttle to enter Helsinki which Marella charged £5.00 return for. I am not sure if in the past with Thompson these were free. They are not now. However, now to comment on the onboard experience., the good and not so good. Let's start by saying the staff were polite and good-natured, and worked incredibly hard. Any queries we had were dealt with promptly but we had a number of issues. ( See cabin report ). From getting on the ship the hard sell started. I was asked almost straight away if I wanted a premium drinks package. We don't drink much, so it was of little use to us. The all-inclusive was fine, as there is no shortage of the stuff either !. I drink mainly wine, and the white, red and rose were perfectly acceptable, but cocktails are invariable too sweet ( depends on taste though ) and lacking in alcoholic 'punch'. Spirits were not of great quality. I suppose our biggest disappointment was food and service in the dining room. We felt that the quality of the ingredients had gone down from previous 'Thompson' cruises, and some of the meals over salty ( again, personal taste ). There was certainly less choice on the evening menu, and some of the meats were fatty ( lamb ) and poorly presented with bland and repetitive vegetables. The Latitude 53 dining room was very hit and miss. The evening meal was 3 courses, fine for us, but a few people were not happy, The Market Buffet was essentially the same with little change. There were no specific theme nights, a feature we have found on other cruises. The Italian option Vista was quite good, and the Tapas evening restaurant OK. The major issue was service, so much so we complained and met the catering manager. In Latitude 53 we waited one evening 3/4 of an hour to obtain our starters and the next evening 1hr before receiving our main course, and we were not alone. A gentleman at the next table waited with us, only to be served cold soup after the wait. My wife is on medication before meals and needs to eat within a reasonable time after taking it, and such a long delay made her feel ill. Often the dishes were presented lukewarm. The catering services manager responded quickly and admitted there was a 'communication problem'. He offered us a complimentary meal in a premium restaurant, which was nice, but not the object of our exercise !. We did try both the steak restaurant and the oriental one and they were both good and worth the extra money. Over and above communication however, there seems to be a cost cutting exercise in staffing. The same issue was evident in the bars, where there was a lack of waiting on staff and it could take quite a while to order drinks from the bar areas. It got to such a state that we often ate in the Market Place Buffet where we were able to serve ourselves and eat in time for the first show in the evening which we liked to go to. That said, entertainment in the theatre was varied, and unfortunately, again not as good as on our other cruises. The entertainers were enthusiastic even if at times the quality was lacking. The theatre has good sight lines and is comfortable. The acts engaged were OK. A comedy duo and singer. We had an individual comedy entertainer ( forgot his name ) who we did not enjoy. The musician in the venues were Ok, apart from the piano player who was an expert at being out of tune. Sea days dragged ( there were not many, and we normally like them ). However, the activities were not well organised. No, I don't want to learn how to fold a towel or napkin. There were no talks or lectures as we have had on other cruises, only the destinations talk by the crew who were out to hard sell excursions. Such a shame as the lack of activity was commented on by more than ourselves. The gym was busy though and I got time to read two books !. The onboard cinema was a great idea if they had put more films on and not used it most of the day to flog acupuncture treatments and consultations with the onboard acupuncturist. There was such a lot we could have learned about the Baltic, and it was an opportunity missed. So of all the Thompson 'Marella' ships this has been the most disappointing in the entertainment offerings, surprising as Thompson were widely praised for their cruise ship entertainment in the past. The usual hard sell from the cruise ship shops was evident, but that happens everywhere. They were even trying to flog Bridge Tours at just under £10.00 !!. Did we enjoy the Baltic, yes the ports were fine and the trip went very smoothly As we said the staff were fine, but in our view, the management need to take a long hard look at the training and support they give and the quality of what they are delivering. Standards have undoubtedly dropped as prices have risen. It's a competitive market and people will not pay good money for 3rd rate cruise experiences. Would we cruise Marella again ??? I doubt it if this is what they are offering. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a ... Read More
We chose this cruise mainly for its itinerary and the dates it went on as we had a very limited time window to go away in. We have been with Marella before, a few years ago, and really enjoyed our last cruise around the Adriatic on a smaller ship . We are a fit and healthy couple in our late 40s and early 50s and travelled as a solo couple, no children or friends with us..although we made plenty of friends on board. I am very surprised on reading the reviews on here how negative some people are about the Explorer and its staff. We embarked at Newcastle and didn't have to wait too long before boarding, and I would say we were probably there at peak time. There were seats to sit on and drinks to be had , we merely had to wait for our number to be called. The same goes for disembarkation, which went very smoothly and was very well organised especially when you consider the amount of people Marella has to disembark from the ship. We were told a time slot and that was in fact the time we disembarked, with time to have a farewell breakfast in the restaurant beforehand. The ship was bigger than the last one we went on and at first we weren't sure about it. The layout is a little confusing but once we were used to it we found our way about pretty well. I would say we were amongst the younger people on the ship although we are not young, the passengers were predominately older than us, in our late 40s. Our cabin was very quiet but we never bother with a balcony , just a window, and we were on deck 4 in the middle. We didn't pay extra for a specific cabin and I think were lucky as some passengers we spoke to did suffer with noise in their cabin. We did feel a very slight bit of vibration when the engines were put to full power, but the Captain also mentioned they were having trouble with a clutch on one of the engines. In my opinion engine noise on a ship is perhaps to be expected, it' isn't a hotel on dry land, it's a moving ship powered by engines on the ocean! Our cabin was very stable in the high seas, and the North Sea did get a bit turbulent on our voyage! Space wise, we thought our cabin was big enough and it had a lovely big window We had drop down bunk beds too so I think it may have been family cabin. Plenty of wardrobe space and hangers...always a big plus in my book! Hairdryer worked well, there was a kettle and cups and teabags/coffee/milk were replenished at least once a day. Toilet rolls were also kept topped up by our steward so we had at least one in reserve and usually more! Seating....I am amazed that people have mentioned a lack of seating. Both us, and other passengers who have been on other Marella ships, thought there was plenty of seating to be had, and in addition a plethora of sun beds...which pleased me as I hate having to worry about getting a seat/sunbed. We could always find seats somewhere...might not have been your first choice but again, as I say, we were there for the itinerary and voyage, not for a good seat in the lounge, We had a nice cabin to sit in too, with a television. Other people who had been on different Marella ships told us some of them DO suffer from a lack of seating, particularly those with a very large central atrium, which might look impressive but takes away from seating areas. We didn't use the pool but it's a reasonable size for the ship. The leaving party could get a bit loud, so loud it was distorted at times, but again, you could get away from it on other decks with sunbeds and it only lasted half an hour. We did watch one outdoor film in the pool area one sea day and as it was a bit nippy on deck a couple of members of staff came round with fleece blankets. Now that's personal customer care! Other areas such as the Squid and Anchor , Bar 53, the Lounge, Indigo were all nice areas to sit in. If you couldn't get a seat in one you could get one in another. Cleanliness of the ship.....the staff were always cleaning on the stairs which have glass sides. In fact they seemed to clean all the time, although our cabin steward could have vacuumed our cabin perhaps a little better....but he did keep us topped up on tea bags, milk and loo rolls as I mentioned so that is more important to us! Public toilets in the ship were always clean as was our personal one. Food...the food was excellent, top notch. We didn't bother paying for the additional restaurants such as the Sushi or Surf and Turf but friends did and raved about them. For us the food in the dining room where we ate every evening was excellent. Service was pretty good too. Someone commented there were more tables for 2 than on other ships, although you could choose to share bigger tables. The dining is flexi in the main restaurant as it you turn up and sometimes wait a few minutes to be seats, but in the Italian, Vista and the Tapas you have to book but it was easy to do so and provided you did it in advance there was plenty of choice. You could turn up at the |Italian and book but might have to wait half an hour or so in the bar with a buzzer, which went off t=hen the table was free. We ate in the Tapas bar, the Italian, the main restaurant and the buffet Market place, although didn't eat in the latter in the evening. Portions were just right, everything was hot and water and wine were kept topped up as needed. If the water was a bit slow to be refilled at busy times (this happened only once) you only need ask a waiter and it gets topped up very quickly. When you consider the amount of people they are serving they do a simply amazing job. Again, it is a ship, and if the food in the Market Place is a bit samey, it's still good and a lot of it is baked on ship. They don't re stock with food and ingredients during the trip, it is all taken on board at Newcastle. Staff...the majority of the staff were lovely, happy, polite and willing to go the extra mile. There was the odd one or two which weren't, I can only agree with other reviewers on that, compared to the other Marella ship we went on where all the staff we encountered were bouncy, happy and friendly. However, it is a new ship to the fleet and a lot of the staff were very new so perhaps not a very tight team yet and have yet to settle. We found the odd...and I do mean odd in a large team, waiter perhaps a bit terse, and there were a couple staff on the security team as you go in who were a little terse and rude, one woman in particular. I realise they are on security but the security staff on our other ship were always smiling and customer friendly A please and thank you and a smile is just natural courtesy, although to be honest it could be a culture difference too. So...onto a couple more negative points about the ship which hopefully will get sorted our and certainly wouldn't put us off travelling on it. Air con...far too strong especially in the cabins. Was actually making people ill , and I suffered dreadfully from a dry throat, a bad chest , a stuffy head and dry hair and skin. Many people complained of this and there didn't seem to be a way to turn it down as the controls didn't seem to make a lot of difference. The shows were disappointing compared to the shows we had seen 3 or 4 years ago on a Marella cruise. Then they were West End quality, now more like school show, although some of them were better than others. Again, new staff, new troupe and I was told a different (cheaper?!) company supplying them so not as polished and together as they could be. Also in some shows we felt it was done on the cheap, lack of costumes and stage back drops and equipment. The best shows for us were the Rock one, the Soul one (which I didn't think I'd like..although Id have to say I didn't think all the songs were soul but who cares) the songs from the Musicals and Cogs. I didn't really understand Cogs...it was a very loose story, but the costumes and general stage dressing was fabulous and the songs pretty good. Although Marella, please sort out your sound and mikes....they are on too loud and are distorted...the balance is wrong! Cost of the excursions is ,as usual, a little high but on a par with other cruise companies. We tend to research before we go and do our own if possible. Explorer...you need to increase the cycle tours as they were very popular and difficult to get on to. We managed to do one as someone cancelled and we were on the reserve list, it was fabulous, good knowledgeable guides, easy pace for us and for those who didn't cycle there was the option of the amazing e-bikes (with a motor to help pedalling) We didn't use Marella for any excursions except the bikes and went with TJ Travel for St Petersburg, a 2 day tour. Talking to others we definitely did the right thing as there was no queuing for us, local guides, a better itinerary and a smaller group equipped with the hearing boxes and ear pieces. We notice Marella don't give you much advice about where to catch buses etc now when you land somewhere; they used to the day before on the cruise news. Probably because they would rather you did an excursion. however, as we had researched before going it didn't really affect us. Finally, be aware that although Yoga etc is advertised, it is available but you have to pay for it. The gym however is free and pretty good for a ship. It's certainly an experience on a treadmill in a rolling sea with 50 mile an hour winds! Finally, although yes there was origami and water painting to be done it was self led, not tutored, So all in all we liked Explorer, it is a reasonably priced cruise ship if you want to cruise and see places you may not have done otherwise and we certainly wouldn't hesitate to use it again, particularly if Marella tweak the areas I've mentioned! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2019
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked ... Read More
We always choose cruises based on the itinerary and this completely fitted the bill! Our second cruise on this ship and once again it excelled itself. We had a large balcony cabin (9135) which is well placed midships and well looked after and cleaned by the cabin stewards. Food as always was excellent in both Latitude 53 and Vista, as well as the lunches in The Market Place. The entertainment by the ships enetertainment crew was generally good except that we had seen most of the shows before so in some cases we didn't get to see a show. The guest artists, The Harper Brothers are still performing the same act as we have seen 4 times before and well worth missing and Ricky K was also poor and reminded me why I don't watch Britains Got Talent, because blatantly he didn't! There was a guest crossover singer (sorry forgot her name) who was excellent however although only allowed one show! The 2 Crew shows were excellent and show a wealth of talent, in fact in our opinion the best Crew show ever! We did our own thing as regards trips except for the occasional port shuttle bus. In most ports we used the HOHO bus's and Canal/River trips sometimes combined to get a better deal. In St Petersburg we used Alla Tours who were beyond excellent and I really recommend them as opposed to the ships offerings as for about the same price you see more, are in groups of a maximum size of 16 comfortable mini bus's. The guide (ours was Marina) was excellent and spoke great English. All in all an excellent cruise on a super ship with great staff! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. The countries visited were all so interesting but all different too. Due to my lack of mobility we chose to go on an excursion on nearly all the ports of call and I have to say they were the best we've ever done. All the tour guides were informative, interesting and fun, yes even in Russia!! We chose to have a balcony and had cabin 10000 which was a great location. It's the last cabin before the bridge on deck 10 so you only have a few staff members going past the door. Plus when you arrive or leave a port you can watch the captain and his amazing staff maneuver the ship when on the balcony. Also in this location you weren't anywhere near any of the music entertainment, which suited us well. Our cabin stewards were superb and so helpful, they were unobtrusive and kept the cabin nice and clean. We only ate at the Market Place as that's our preferred way to eat. I don't want a waiter fussing over me, I'm quite capable of getting my own food, putting a napkin on my own lap and able to eat without being asked if everything is ok. The food was amazing and so beautifully presented and with such choice. As I said all the excursions were so good and well worth the money. It's fascinating to find out how other countries run themselves and their history. As I have limited mobility I found that after 2 reasonably active excursions (I thought I'd chosen ones with little walking, but it was more than my knee could stand easily) that I couldn't face a third so went to destinations just to see if it was possible to exchange to a less active one. They were so very helpful and with the say so of the boss we were allowed to do this, for which we were very grateful. We went on a river cruise instead so hardly any walking and it was a superb way to see Stockholm. The entertainment wasn't as good as other Tui cruises we've been on and I think they got the age demographic a bit wrong. But the performers themselves tried their hardest and we didn't miss a show. Getting on the ship in Newcastle was a bit of a shambles, but getting off went very smoothly. It's hard to exit nearly 2000 people at one time, so we thought they did a good job. ALL the staff are so friendly, polite, happy and courteous and as all tips are included its not like they are trying to be friendly so they get tips. We thoroughly enjoyed the whole event apart from some rather rough sea coming back over the North Sea, but that's Mother Natures fault, no-one else's! Other than a bit of seasickness that afternoon the rest of the cruise was wonderful and we've already booked our next one and I wouldn't call ourselves typical cruise people! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad ... Read More
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad decision. Must say the cabin is spacious and well furnished BUT the inescapable element is constant noise from the deck above. We noticed it initially during the first day, noise of furniture being moved and scraped along the deck. The first night we were woke at 5am, then at 1.30am second night. It appears the deck was being cleaned which needed furniture to be moved. Formally complained in writing, no one responded and had a third night of disturbed sleep. Altogether had to complain 3 times to the “hotel manager”, not impressed at all with the response. The cruise was spoiled by the noise as it is a constant irritant when in the cabin, even during the day. A number of other issues occurred such as on embarkation we were told there was an IT problem which meant long queues while dropping off luggage in the car park and within the terminal building. Luggage was not unloaded on time from the ship after disembarkation, again huge queues in the car park whilst fork lift trucks were coming and going delivering suitcases. The food generally in the restaurants is adequate, not of a high quality. Got the feeling that some of the crew were very inexperienced, and required further training. Overall, it is downmarket, it was a bad experience and will not be going anywhere near a Marella ship again. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Everything about this cruise was awful. The embarkation in Newcastle took hours, shuttle buses overcrowded and we spent so much time queuing for everything. Once on board we were advised to upgrade to premium drinks package and after ... Read More
Everything about this cruise was awful. The embarkation in Newcastle took hours, shuttle buses overcrowded and we spent so much time queuing for everything. Once on board we were advised to upgrade to premium drinks package and after sampling the all inclusive drinks it was obvious why! The same applied to the quality of the food! We pre booked two excursions for when we were in St Petersburg and only did one because the first was such a let down. The overall standard of this ship is at best 2 star. We visited our local Tui branch to give our feedback and were told it couldn't be compared with the likes of Celebrity but this was not reflected in the price!!!!! We contacted the Tui post cruise help line 3 weeks ago and have not had a reply, we also tried calling but nobody picked up the phone. Absoluty disgraceful! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Was on this ship last September round Med couldn't praise it enough food/drinks/service but what a difference 12 months make. Easy check in but card readers called to reception to 're register them Cabin, paid for a delux ... Read More
Was on this ship last September round Med couldn't praise it enough food/drinks/service but what a difference 12 months make. Easy check in but card readers called to reception to 're register them Cabin, paid for a delux cabin first freezing cold sat with blankets round us which had to ask for bedding inferior sheets tied in knots at bottom duvet cover too big for duvet. Bathroom 1 tiny bar of soap body wash on shower wall and that was it. Food same quality ingredients, waiter dining room excellent but upstairs in the Zoo, sorry self service same quality food but ALWAYS overcooked, dried up and spoiled. DRINKS last year excellent quality wines, spirits, beers but this year what a change, NO chardonnay in wine choices quality of other wines like vinegar, only 2 beer choices spirits cheapest brands there is and you have to BUY bottled water, no wine waiter any more could pay £100 each for a drjnks package but stuff that. Had to pay £90 per cabin for WiFi no thank you. Money orientated trying to get as much out of you as possible Entertainment same shows as last year tweaked a little nothing outstanding. Trips destinations team not a clue wrong information on trips, one trip asked about was short walk through park to get to Church of Spilled Blood, a 3 mile yes 3 mile walking jaunt showing us completely insignificant buildings. bring bad on kegs with others the same NOT too amused. Overall a very dissspointing cruise and would aI sail with Marellw again NO NEVER. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This is a second hand ship so we had lowish expectations but it turned out to look quite good. We had an unassigned balcony cabin and it was midship on deck 6; could not have been better. Shortage of draws but adequate wardrobe space. The ... Read More
This is a second hand ship so we had lowish expectations but it turned out to look quite good. We had an unassigned balcony cabin and it was midship on deck 6; could not have been better. Shortage of draws but adequate wardrobe space. The cabin safe was difficult to use with a 10 inch tablet. Bed was comfortable and the room warm. The weather on the cruise was not brilliant so did not use the balcony much for sitting out but it was worth the extra money for the great views. All the staff we met were very friendly and professional. The theatre looked great and produced excellent shows every evening; can not praise the Broadway troupe highly enough. The cruise is all inclusive which we liked. The drinks package included was comprehensive (choice of Gins, numerous cocktails, soft drinks etc.) so there really is no need to buy in the expensive Premium drinks package. Our first disappointment came within minutes of boarding and was a persistent problem. There are simply not enough seats in the Island buffet room, every meal was a fight to secure a seat before attempting to find any food. Finish eating and go to one of the bars for a drink and you have the same problem, so the great atrium which looked so good was difficult to find seating in, this was no more apparent than when the captain gave us a welcome speech when the majority of people were left standing. The balconies overlooking the atrium were devoted to selling photos or bike rides rather than providing more seats which just shows the priorities of Tui. Mass catering is never going to be great so no surprises that the food was average, but not always as hot as it should be. Our first meal in restaurant 47 was a disaster and when we tried to give it a second try we were told there was a waiting time of one hour. We did get into 47 Gallery and the meal here was quite good. Snack Shack provided a quick bite especially coming back onto the boat after a shore trip. The Island buffet, the main eatery on board, was a perfect disaster of planning; having found a seat and leaving your partner to guard it you then went to a series of islands to prise out a plate from the heated servery and then had to visit three different islands to get a main meal! The islands had an eclectic mix of fruit, chips and beans (green beans were available for every lunch or dinner we had !), move to another island to find salads and hot vegetables, curry and mashed potatoes; bizarre. Another thing we could not understand was having roast turkey, cranberry sauce, pigs in blankets and then having chips or mash as the potatoes served with it; next morning roast potatoes were served with the eggs!! . . this happened on more than one occasion. Want a croissant? you will not find them on the 'Bakers Dozen' island. The fruit juice, available only at breakfast time, turned out to be far too sweet for most peoples taste. We were encouraged to sanitise our hands on the way into the restaurants but the tables were rarely wiped and we never saw disinfectant used on the tables at all. On a sea day the heating in the Glass House/ indoor pool failed so people either wrapped up in towels or tried to find seating elsewhere, there was also an issue with lifts not working. The joining instructions from Tui were clearly written some time ago and have been added to over the years so that they no longer make sense, they tell you the ship sails at 15.00 and also at 16.00, they also say you can board from 13.30 until 14.00 or maybe 15.00; quite confusing. A very friendly ship that with a bit of reorganisation could be good. We would have to think carefully before booking with Tui again, but would not rule it out. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Havnt cruised for 10 years and that was in the Red sea on the Thomson Spirit.Almost didn't book this cruise as we were looking to travel to Mexico but that fell through.Not quite sure what to expect on a COLD cruise with city ... Read More
Havnt cruised for 10 years and that was in the Red sea on the Thomson Spirit.Almost didn't book this cruise as we were looking to travel to Mexico but that fell through.Not quite sure what to expect on a COLD cruise with city sightseeing trips and not the hot spots we are used to but I have to say we were very happy with our choice of holiday.Embarkation went quite smoothly through check in and security and took about 1 hour.The discovery is a refurbished royal Caribbean ship and the perfect size.About 1800 passengers and around 700 crew.The demograph on board was quite elderly which you might expect but we were happy to see a few couples on board considerably younger than us,{were in our late fifties] and it was nice to see the vast majority of people smartly dressed in the evenings.Being all inclusive its difficult to critisice the drinks but the cocktails always needed a top up with a bit more alchohol.Food for us was a little disappointing,the buffet was always too busy and the food not great and we much preferred the restuarants with waiter service.There were no set eating times or tables and we liked to share tables with other couples to make for a pleasant dining conversation experience.Unfortunatly the food wasn't consistently good.I hope im not being too critical as we certainly didn't starve and we arnt foodies but we had expected slightly better.Staff in the restaurants and bars were excellent but we felt that the restaurant staff were understaffed and overworked to give of their best.Entertainment in the evenings was very good and the broadway shows were excellent and the activities during the day covered most peoples tastes,Only problem with a cold cruise is extra pressure on seating indoors especially on at sea days and the discovery does not have enough capacity.Most of the trips ashore we did ourselves apart from st Petersburg Russia where you travel on a group visa on organised trips.An amazing place to visit.To summarise we wernt expecting to enjoy out holiday as much as we did and have never taken so many pics on holiday.We would absolutely travel on the discovery again Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We started cruising in 1987 when the ships were smaller and the food and service was excellent but over the years the ships got larger and larger the food and service deteriated to such an extent that we cruised twice in 2017 on these ... Read More
We started cruising in 1987 when the ships were smaller and the food and service was excellent but over the years the ships got larger and larger the food and service deteriated to such an extent that we cruised twice in 2017 on these floating theme parks we said that's it no more cruising for us. A friend recommended marella which turned out to be brilliant just like cruising used to be we booked a suite which was massive, every member of the crew were friendly and seemed happy in their work and couldn't do enough for us.Within two days most of the crew and senior officers were calling us by our name. The ship was spotless in all departments and whether you ate in the restruants or the self service islands the choice of food and service was as good as any ship we have been on. The performers in the shows were absolutely brilliant, I'm not a fan of singing and dancing shows and always sit on the isle so I wouldn't disturb people when I left early, on this ship the show and the talent was so good I sat through every show. Despite the drinks being free the waiters were always offering you drinks and being free you would have thought they would be slow to keep the costs down but the opposite was true. My wife complained that the ship lacked the wow factor but compared with other ships I found it homely comfortable and very friendly, we could all find something to complain about but my only complaint is this ship isn't based in Southampton and doing the Mediterranean as if it was I wouldn't consider using any other shipping line . Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
First embarkation from Southampton for Discovery and we always wanted to visit St Petersburg, This is our second trip on the Discovery and weren’t disappointed with the ambience,food or entertainment. Embarkation was a piece of cake, ... Read More
First embarkation from Southampton for Discovery and we always wanted to visit St Petersburg, This is our second trip on the Discovery and weren’t disappointed with the ambience,food or entertainment. Embarkation was a piece of cake, straight through check in and luggage delivered to cabin by the time we had a coffee in the Snack Shack deck nine. There were six in our party( four plus two who had not been with Marcella before) but subsequent dining was a doddle ,it only took a couple of days to find a great waiter and team- table 29- in the 47# dining room. Entertainment by the resident troupe was very good, how they remembered all the routines, only disappointment was that there was only one guest act the whole cruise, though Sebby Mercury was a joy ( one of the troupe) Generally all the staff, front of shop and back room, were excellent and all attentive, and all team leaders were approachable and friendly. We visited Gothenburg Tallin Warnemunde Stockholm St. Petersburg ( two days) Copenhagen and Zeebrugge though not necessarily in that order A downside , though we had a larger cabin chosen from the ship’s deck plan on line, Deluxe on deck eight (8534) which was quite spacious,the floor to ceiling windows were grimy outside mainly because the window cleaner couldn’t reach and because the deck above (9) was the lounger and table area for the snack bar we had furniture movement at about 6am to 7 am and again about 9 to 10 pm The casino had only two tables, blackjack and poker, the roulette was an automatic one and very popular, and the slot machines plentiful and paid out quite well,!!! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
What an awful experience, from the boarding debacle in Newcastle to the dire pub singer in the lounge it was one disappointment after another. Luckily the destinations more than made up for the forced jolity of the ship life. We were lucky ... Read More
What an awful experience, from the boarding debacle in Newcastle to the dire pub singer in the lounge it was one disappointment after another. Luckily the destinations more than made up for the forced jolity of the ship life. We were lucky to have a balcony which gave us some relief from the rampaging kids, vest adorned Neanderthals and screaming women. It was pot luck with the service, some very, very good but others couldn't care less. The shows were what you expect on a ship but there was no relief. There was no peace and quiet anywhere on the ship, if it wasn't for mediocre live entertainment it was piped musak. The ship does not have enough seating in the public areas so feels overcrowded. If you like the Communal Butlins style holiday go for it, but if you want the sort of holiday they are charging for don't use Marella. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
Embarkation: primitive, the Egyptians do it better. Ship: smooth, comfortable, very quiet, lots of public areas. Cabins: good size, well equipped, comfortable beds,plenty of storage. Crew: lovely! Really helpful and friendly, ... Read More
Embarkation: primitive, the Egyptians do it better. Ship: smooth, comfortable, very quiet, lots of public areas. Cabins: good size, well equipped, comfortable beds,plenty of storage. Crew: lovely! Really helpful and friendly, incredibly hard working. Food: the cheese was good, apart from that it was bland, repetitive, industrial cooking. Hot food wasn’t hot, fresh food wasn’t fresh, couldn’t even get a decent cup of coffee. Don’t bother with the two 49 degree restaurants, it’s the same food as the buffet but further from the kitchens. Entertainment: a different show every night, so kudos for that, but fairly low level club stuff and the MC/ cruise director was embarrassing. Destinations: Aarhus was a revelation, especially the modern art museum with its amazing Rainbow Skywalk, and Oslo was lovely;the Vasa museum in Stockholm was as stunning as ever, but Copenhagen has little to recommend it apart from the national museum, Tallin is disneyfied, and all those cobbles make walking difficult. It is probably the best place to buy amber jewellery. ( Whatever you do, don’t buy on the ship, you will pay double or more for an inferior product). Helsinki is probably worth visiting once, St Petersburg you will probably only see from the coach windows because of Russian visa restrictions. Overall: nothing done badly, but nothing done particularly well either. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We enjoyed our cruise and found the cruise itinerary to be very good, & found the ship to be spotless. The cleaning crew work very hard to keep every part of the ship gleaming. We always ate in the buffet restaurant and found ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise and found the cruise itinerary to be very good, & found the ship to be spotless. The cleaning crew work very hard to keep every part of the ship gleaming. We always ate in the buffet restaurant and found the food selections to be generally good. We found the Buffet Restaurant staff very courteous, polite & efficient, always smiling. The Buffet Restaurant could be a bit chaotic at times due to a shortage of tables when the ship was full, but this is mainly due to some guests hogging tables after they had finished their meals. I saw some guests using tables to read their Ships Newspaper, or hugging a cup of tea for an endless amount of time, which is most unfair to other guests when the restaurant is busy. It would also be nice if some guests tried to dress a bit smarter. I know we are all on holiday to relax, but surely an effort could be made to dress at least smart casual, instead of ragged shorts & tee shirts or jogging bottoms, there’s a happy medium. We had a Deluxe Balcony Cabin, 6628 & was happy with the cabin, it was very spacious with lots of storage space & all cabins have complimentary coffee & tea making facilities. Also provided in all of the cabins is a glass carafe to enable guests to fill up from water dispensers dotted around the ship, a good idea for those who don’t want to buy bottled water from their cabin Minibar. Our cabin also had a fridge. One bar of soap & 1 dispenser with body wash is provided in the shower room, but if you require a shower cap, you will need to take your own. Large fluffy bath sheets, handtowels & face cloths are provided. However, one disadvantage we had was, our balcony was directly above the crews smoking area & we experienced quite a bit of cigarette smoke while using our balcony, as we are both non-smokers, this experience was not nice for us. We also very often experienced loud noise coming from the same crew area, late at night, however, if you stay out late watching the entertainment, that may not affect you. I don’t know how the ship could get around that problem, as I realise the crew needs somewhere to have a break. Our Cabin Stewart Imelda, provided an excellent service. On the day of our Wedding Anniversary, Imelda had spotted our Wedding Anniversary cards to each other in our cabin, & she then made 2 towel swans with the necks shaped into a heart & placed them on our bed with our cards placed in front. When we returned to our cabin & saw what she had done, we thought that was a lovely & very thoughtful gesture for her to make, we were extremely pleased. We found all the stewards on deck 6 to be very friendly. Every time we passed them, they were always smiling & passed the time of day with us & shared a little joke with us too, so much so, we almost felt like mini celebrities! In the Broadway Show Lounge, most evenings we were served by Tetyana & we found her to be an absolute delight. She was very efficient, friendly & helpful & always remembered what drinks we preferred. The entertainment was good & the Show team did very well. However, although the Show team performed very well, we found that some of the shows were not to our taste, for example, Best of Broadway, Medieval Madness & Legends Live. We also thought that some of the interactive screens in the background tended to be distracting, we were watching the screen instead of the Show team, especially through Medieval Madness. Our favourite shows were Mr Wonderful & Sebby Mercury, we thought them excellent. We also frequented Venue on deck 5 most evenings & found the game shows enjoyable & the surroundings very comfortable. The entertainment team did their very best to ensure guests had fun. The bar waiters very pleasant & efficient & did a good job serving drinks to everyone. We found excursion advisor, Lindsay to be very helpful & efficient. When we had a problem at the destination kiosk, due to the required tour not showing on the system, Lyndsey did not hesitate to come to our aid & assist us & booked our tour manually in the back office. Lynsey also demonstrated on how to use the Kiosks. The excursion Legendary Town, Legendary Beer in Tallinn, was a superb tour with 2 excellent guides, providing great value for money, it’s one of the best excursions we have ever done. By comparison, the Carlsberg tour in Copenhagen we thought was poor. Warnemunde & Oslo were also very picturesque & well worth a visit. The excursions information was not quite accurate for St Petersburg. Spilled Blood Tour listed as Moderate & we think should be listed as Active as it was a very tiring tour. Also, it was not described as a walking tour in the itinerary & we did lots of walking which may not be suitable for some guests. The Hermitage building is very beautiful and full of wonderful works of art; however, it was so crowded, it was difficult to see exhibits properly. On the Carlsberg tour in Copenhagen, at the Little Mermaid stop, we acquired 2 extra passengers on our coach as our guide did not do a head count. When we got to the Carlsberg Brewery, the 2 passengers told the guide they had got on our coach thinking it was their shuttle bus! I don’t think these 2 passengers actually paid anything when they carried on the tour with the rest of us. The guide Jane, also only told us her name at the end of the tour when we were near the ship. I think she needs a bit more training. On embarkation day, when we arrived early at the Port of Tyne, it was wet & windy & seemed a bit disorganised. We drove to the car park & were told to remove our luggage & wait for someone to instruct us next. We waited quite a while only to be told to cross to the other side of the large car park & wait in a queue at a shed. We then received our documents & got on a coach. 2 passengers were rushing behind also to board our coach when our driver drove off, even though there were still vacant seats on the coach. We got through the check in at the terminal very efficiently, but when we left the terminal, we were waiting in another queue as it was discovered the passenger gangplank was to small & had to be changed. It would have perhaps been better to leave the passengers in the terminal till everything was sorted properly. After we boarded the ship, on past experience, we have always been taken to our cabin by a member of the crew. However, on this cruise, we found our own way to our cabin. There was however, members of crew stationed on various decks pointing directions should any guests get lost. On our return to the Port of Tyne on disembarkation day, there was a delay of half an hour in leaving the ship due to the volume of traffic. When left the ship, we were required to board a bus to the car park. When we got to the car park, nobody actually advised us where to collect our luggage. We had to watch other passengers & hope we were going in the correct direction. It would have been better if the Port staff could perhaps have given a bit more direction to help stop confusion. We did a Baltic Cruise from the Tyne in May 2014 on the Thomson Spirit & the organisational system was better at the Port of Tyne at that time. Perhaps they could review how they can carry out the procedures. We found all the crew that we came in contact with to be very friendly, courteous & polite. They are a credit to Tui & Marella Cruises Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My first time on Discovery and most enjoyable, the cities were exceptional and lucky with the weather. I was lucky to discover an art class on the first sea day as I attended a lecture which was very entertaining about Pirate Radio and ... Read More
My first time on Discovery and most enjoyable, the cities were exceptional and lucky with the weather. I was lucky to discover an art class on the first sea day as I attended a lecture which was very entertaining about Pirate Radio and Interviews with some Graffitti information, well worth the time. i found myself attending the class with a Robin who was an excellent teacher and very patient. I now have an artistic ability I never knew about. Bar 11 was super in the evenings an oasis on board to enjoy a drink with a great view and excellent staff. The Entertainment in the evenings was much the usual with themed shows and quality speciality acts, all very good. just a warning there are no toiletries in the cabins so take plenty, however the cleaning staff were top draw. I believe that Marella will make changes but hopefully not too many. There was a charge for Shuttle Buses but all excursions were good value. St Petersburg is stunning and Aarhus was special but of course visiting so many cities its difficult to be critical. Docking in Copenhagen was a way out of the city which meant you couldn't walk to the city, but as it was raining not a bad thing, dock in Oslo was great. All in all I hope to return. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
First time cruiser and was in all honesty unsure if cruising would be my ideal holiday. Had spent a few weeks prior reading some reviews and Facebook group posts to learn what I could prior to departure and get some cruising tips. Some ... Read More
First time cruiser and was in all honesty unsure if cruising would be my ideal holiday. Had spent a few weeks prior reading some reviews and Facebook group posts to learn what I could prior to departure and get some cruising tips. Some proved useful, others although useful, turned out to be more personnal opinions so I’m sure some of my report will be the same to any readers of my review. Overall the organisation of the cruise by staff from embarkation at the port, to cabin staff, chefs, domestic staff, tour operators, bar and restaurant staff, everyone is fantastic. The only staff who seemed vague and less helpful were the Duty-Free personnel - they didnt seem as interested, more into selling, this is probably part of their job I guess, but I was less than impressed in this area whereas I was totally amazed by everyone else. A subject we all place high on our priorities is FOOD. Where do I start with food? I certainly can’t fault it. On board is the full range from casual snacks, to high end dining. Snack shack is so handy for lots of reasons – quick familiar food people are used to, ready when you need it and ranging from fast food pleasures including burgers, fried chicken, fish and chips there were also healthy options of fruit pots, granola with yougurt, salad boxes and a selection of sandwiches and wraps all available to eat in or to take away. Great for tours off ship. The Glass House during the day is pleasant and relaxed with a nice selection of salad, always a carving joint and snacks daily. The only thing that confused me here was the coffee normally in the All Inclusive - cappucino, latte was chargeable although I'd never seen anything to say this. It did have the standard coffee and tea machine available though. From 6pm a part of the Glass House becomes a pizza and tapas restaurant which are cool to share. Sharing plates of meats, cheese or a meat/cheese combo are an option and just be aware and you can order it all, not just a selection. Myself and husband enjoyed this location for food. It also extends its services at 21:30 to become the late-night food provider, again with a small but adequate choice of curry, chips and their accompaniment’s with salad and some sweet snacks too. 47 degrees - lovely a la carte restaurant with around half the menu as standard choices and the other choices varied over a period of time. It made it a nice dinner choice with waiter service and pleasant surroundings. It also served breakfast with a small buffet selection and a la carte choices including Full English, eggs and omelletes to order and varied cloices of french toast, pancakes etc. Breakfast seemed busy sometimes though, and sometimes, some, food arrived and wasn’t as hot as Id have preferred, but otherwise it was good and helps a bit with portion control as the food is plentiful from early till late. Gallery 47 degrees - Italian menu with probably less change on the menu selection, but we managed to go 4 times and had a lovely meal every time. The antipasti were amazing and I could have eaten this 3-fold with some of the delicious bread on offer and been happy that was my meal! Islands Buffet – The main restaurant and the busiest with the widest variety of food. I can only describe it as ‘standard buffet’ and don’t mean this in anyway derogatory. It offers what anyone who has been All Inclusive at a hotel on holiday would expect – lots of food choices to mix and match, salads, carved meat section, and a children’s selection, there was a station for dietary requirements which although I didn’t choose this food, looked to have at least a few choices every time I went past. Dinner time food seemed to have a theme that changed daily, from Mexican, Thai, Greek, Spanish and of course British with Roast Meat and all the trimmings. They also had an afternoon tea 3 – 5pm offering mini sandwiches and rolls with scones, jam and cream with cakes and desserts like crumble, strudel etc. I loved my scones from here. Something I noticed in the buffet was the plastic glasses were clean but so scratched that they never really looked that nice. Considering everywhere had plastic, the ones in Islands were by far in the worst condition, so much so, I didn’t have a drink in there but took a drink in with me from elsewhere. Now accommodation, I think overall the accommodation is basic but sufficient for the needs. We were basic so no frills whatsoever, but there was plenty of space to sleep, wash and changeover from one activity to the next. We never spend much time in our room on any holiday so basic was fine. If you wanted to have a drink or spend time with friends/family together in your room something less basic would be better so I think this is a very personal subject which people will choose and pay for within requirements and budget. Irrespective, they were maintained well, cleaned properly and nothing was a problem for the hard working cabin staff. The cleaning staff on board were always doing something, dusting staircases, polishing lift doors, stocking up on supplies and just keeping the ship in ‘tip top’ condition. All of them had a smile on their faces and never let you pass without a Good Morning/Afternoon or Evening. They are a credit to themselves. Drinks availability within the All Inclusive was excellent, as were the barmen who were constantly busy mixing cocktails and mocktails, pouring beers, soft drinks and coffees as well as clearing and cleaning up. They still managed to chat with the customers and get to know them. We had many a chat with Milos and Georgio at the Pool Bar and others who impressed us a lot were Anthony, Renalyn and Ogen, well done all of you! I used the Gym daily and it provided a very good service. Curtis who was the training professional on board put in lots of visibility to help gym users and also ran several classes – some complimentary, some chargeable and also seminars on several interesting topics these were held in the Live Lounge and were informative but laid back, he knew his trade very well and was clearly passionate about it. We did use the Oceans Spa although we hadn’t planned to. Top Tip – don’t go booking too early as they issue offers of varying choices as the cruise progresses. I choose a Top to Toe Massage when it was on offer and had the best deep tissue massage from Eka. Entertainment – There is a massive, diverse selection of entertainment on offer throughout the days. Something on for what must suit all age ranges and preferences frequently. It was a case of choosing what took your fancy and going along. I would say that on days ‘At Sea’ if the weather wasn’t warm there wasn’t too much for us once we had done the Climbing Wall, Crazy Golf and had a look in the Duty Free Shops. But that’s possibly our preferences and certainly not because there was nothing to do. Tours and Excursions – since this was our first cruise we decided to book our day trips by selection and in advance. The organisation on board meant this did work and getting information beforehand was available and getting on & off ship, using the transport and meeting guides was meticulously organised. On a couple of occasions we didn’t go back to the ship when the tour ended. Instead, after informing the guide that we weren’t going back, we did a bit of our own thing and went back on our own. This was in the locations where it was merely a shot stroll from the centre to the ship. I enjoyed this as it gave us a good mix of organised and ad hoc. Everyone to their own on how much they book and plan beforehand. I could type forever about the Cruise which in itself says a lot. I have glossed over some subjects because I didn’t want to be boring or voice my own opinion too much. A cruise is easily adapted to individual needs and requirements. I have decided that I would definitely do another cruise and most possibly with Tui/Marella. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
Even before the cruise Tui behaved poorly. Tui claimed the Kremlin was shut due to an extra national holiday when in fact it is always shut on a Thursday. We cancelled that excursion as a trip to a convent really wasn't worth almost ... Read More
Even before the cruise Tui behaved poorly. Tui claimed the Kremlin was shut due to an extra national holiday when in fact it is always shut on a Thursday. We cancelled that excursion as a trip to a convent really wasn't worth almost £700 per couple. I am still waiting for a response two months after submitting a written complaint about the misleading information. Not everyone was informed of the changes, there were some irate travellers after the excursion. The destination services team were fantastic, helpful, responsive, so apologetic when circumstances outside of their control caused issues but most of all they were willing to put themselves out for you. The cities we visited, the excursions and the guides were first class. Getting on was fine if you had priority boarding, for those that didn't I was told it took some 2.5 hours to check in. The ship is tired, dated and in many places needs refurbishing. The staff are amazing, they work so hard (particularly the cabin stewards) even though several told us they were severely understaffed, we were told over 100 short on board. Getting drinks sometimes took 45 minutes and the 47 degree restaurant struggled at busy times. We were new to cruising and when we asked the receptionist for a map of the ship so we could orient ourselves on the first couple of days I was told I should have brought a brochure if I wanted a map of the ship, the same receptionist was particularly useless when we had a plumbing issue. He was the only staff member who was poor. The food in the restaurants was excellent, the Glass House tapas was superb. Some of the bad points; I witnessed one man tasting the food off the spoons in the Islands self service and putting them back in the food (I did tell the staff they needed to change the dishes). During the first England game no security was present in the bar and there were pensioners pushing and shoving each other, arguing over the crowds blocking their view of the screen. The majority of people on board were lovely and as a couple sitting on tables with 2 or 3 other couples at lunch and dinner provided some brilliant conversations. Some of the clientele were incredibly selfish, reserved seating signs for disabled people moved on coaches so the front seats were taken. Seating in the show lounge was limited so when it was busy people would leave gaps so they had more room and tell others that the seats were taken. The constant noise around the pool during the day was more like Butlins or a resort in Ibiza - not relaxing. Fortunately we were able to relax on our balcony. The all inclusive drink meant so many people went on the beer early and all day with the expected consequences. You need to be careful for the extra costs, tea and coffee isn't free everywhere on the ship. Besides the coffee shop there's also a cost from the bar in the Glass House. Some areas were so busy that there was no where to sit during the day or evening - see earlier point about seating. The painting of the ship during port meant that our cabin was unusable due to the xylene fumes, although we were offered a move we really didn't want to pack everything up so if you experience this be prepared to stay clear of your cabin for several hours. Some of the great points; The staff Excursions Food Show team Destinations Most of the people on board The cruise was summed up by a young couple we spoke to from Birmingham, it would be interesting to go on a more upmarket cruise to see the difference. In summary, we chose this based on destinations and we have travelled with Tui before to Orlando. As a first time cruiser it is not what I had expected from the discussions with friends who are regular cruisers on other cruise lines. In hindsight from my perspective Tui are not good at cruising and Marella is a low end product in the market, it isn't for me but it obviously is for a lot of people as they go back time after time and the all inclusive booze is a big factor for many of the people we met. Read Less
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