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21 Marella Cruises Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Well this was my first cruise so also my first time with Thomson and there ship the Thomson Celebration. We was both pleased on how easy getting your luggage from the car and on to the ship,it was so easy. We was given our ... Read More
Well this was my first cruise so also my first time with Thomson and there ship the Thomson Celebration. We was both pleased on how easy getting your luggage from the car and on to the ship,it was so easy. We was given our boarding/charge cards and after 5 minutes we was free to have a wander around the ship and find our cabin, We tipped our cabin boy straight away as a few people recommended this and I'm glad we did because our cabin was always kept spotless. The Food........ The food was 24/7 and always served with a smile and with great service. There was always a huge selection of food to choose from hot and cold. I always opted for a large cooked breakfast :)) then there was lunch again a wide selection of food. Most of the cruise we ate in the formal restaurant that offers a great selection and fab food (I recommend the Sea bass) Even 1-2am in the morning there was a food ranging from Burgers to Pizzas with fries. The Ship........... I had read a few forums where people had said the ship was rather dated, I would tend to agree that the ship is rather dated and the Lido restaurant reminded me of BHS food halls however I would stress although dated the ship was spotless. The Staff............... Wow the staff are out of this world and the service is fab fab fab they work such long hours and still find the time to speak with you and ask you how your day went :)) With Thomson Tips are included but I would personally stress that you tip staff at the end of your holiday because they are worth every penny. The Entertainment........... For me this was the only shortfall of our holiday :(( Although the youngsters do try there best it is still very second class acting and singing. There is also a band called "The summerland band" these are dreadful and are not even able to hold a note, the lead singer reminded me of Peters & Lee without the talent. There are a couple of entertainment staff that are great and manage to keep people laughing and smiling :)) Peewee Emma and Bren. In short if you are not worried or concerned about being entertained then this is a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
We chose the cruise for the ports of call. The crew were excellent and all ways very helpful And the food was as we expected good English fair. The celebration is showing its age in places especially in the cabins the one we had 542 was a ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the ports of call. The crew were excellent and all ways very helpful And the food was as we expected good English fair. The celebration is showing its age in places especially in the cabins the one we had 542 was a little noisey and the vibration is a little to much when at sea. The layout of the ship is unhelpful if you eat after eight in the lido restaurant and you wish to have a drink in Hemingway bar you have to go down two decks then walk along the corridor then back due the show in progress in the showroom. The shore excursions were mostly of good value although the one to Copenhagen had to start almost a hour and half away as the ship had docked on the other side of the island. We chose to dine at all three specialist restaurants mistrals and kora al were very nice but hot stone was very poor because it was overly complicated and in fact not a very good steak at all. The midnight meal of burgers and hot dogs was very welcome if get the munchies after a few drinks speaking of which the John smiths was always very nice. Although when there is a full complement of passengers there is a shortage of seat in all the bars. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We wanted to cruise the Baltics and also the fact that we embarked in Newcastle was a bonus. Embarkation went smoothly. The first day at sea was relaxed and there were plenty of areas to sit apart from the dining areas. Oslo was the first ... Read More
We wanted to cruise the Baltics and also the fact that we embarked in Newcastle was a bonus. Embarkation went smoothly. The first day at sea was relaxed and there were plenty of areas to sit apart from the dining areas. Oslo was the first stop and was a lovely place easily accessible without having to use the shuttle buses. The next port was Gothenburg which again was lovely. Despite being told there was nothing of interest in the port we found the Volvo museum which was worth the £8 approx. entrance fee, we could have spent hours in there. We also enjoyed a walk round the lake area. Stockholm was the next stop after another day and half at sea. This too was a lovely port and we found plenty to see without the shuttle bus again. Tallin in Estonia was a beautiful little place again easily walked to from the ship. The tours we had booked In St Petersburg were spoiled somewhat by the fact that there were so many ships and big ones at that docked where we were and obviously all wanting to see the same things but all in all lovely to get a glimpse of the city. Helsinki was a bit expensive but we had a pleasant walk from the ship round the harbour which is developing nicely. Wesmar in Germany was a real favourite of my husband and I, no more ships docked to spoil things and the town and people were so friendly, hope they don't spoil it by developing the dock areas too much and hence encouraging the larger cruise lines. That is me being selfish but it would spoil the town as well. Then the last port was Kalundborg in Denmark. We didn't do the tour to Copenhagen and were so p0leased we didn't. The town was lovely and again the residents very welcoming. We had a lovely reception and were treated to folk dancing and music for the sail away by the residents. The tours to Copenhagen were marred by the huge amount of ships docked near there and again the large numbers spoiled the trip for a lot of people. On board we really didn't see much of the entertainment. A favourite was Rod Taylor who spoke on 4 sea days and related tales about his time working with the media and stars of the time, he was very good despite having had cancer and a stroke last year. My husband saw the comedian and said he was very good. All the crew were very friendly and efficient. We ate mainly in the Lido and found there was always a good choice of cooked food items and varied salad options. There was also a wok station which seemed well attended. There could be a queue on sea days at lunch time but it usually sorted itself out in not too long a wait. Everyone behaved with patience, again the waiters were very good. My husband started to feel poorly on the last day and we put it down to the fact there were a few people coughing and sneezing and possibly the air con causing some discomfort, and he is still very poorly with a fever but despite this we enjoyed the cruise and would sail with Thomson again in the future but would hope to avoid all the large cruise ships. We found that all areas on the ship to be clean and didn't notice any threadbare carpets as reported in a review. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We have sailed with Thomson many times, but we consider that " penny pinching " is now in force. Menu wise - now only three courses, unless you request an extra starter, but food in general was ok. Ship just the same - charming ... Read More
We have sailed with Thomson many times, but we consider that " penny pinching " is now in force. Menu wise - now only three courses, unless you request an extra starter, but food in general was ok. Ship just the same - charming - but does show its age. Entertainment probably the worst we have experienced, no lack of effort, but the singing quality not up to scratch, fortunately the dancing was first class. The lectures on board very interesting. Having had my little moan I am sure we will travel with Thomson in the future, we like the smaller ships and without doubt the staff just cannot be beaten. The excursions we did with Thomson ok, but over-priced. In St Petersburg we did a 2 day Grand Tour with Alla Tours and would strongly recommend them. All in all we had a great fortnight and met with many interesting people Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Have been with Thomson to the Baltic previously but choose this itinerary as covered all the Baltic Capitals - Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen. St Petersburg is still the jewel in the crown and there is so much to see. Weather was ... Read More
Have been with Thomson to the Baltic previously but choose this itinerary as covered all the Baltic Capitals - Oslo, Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen. St Petersburg is still the jewel in the crown and there is so much to see. Weather was good throughout though some passengers got caught in thunderstorms in St Petersburg and Berlin when on tour. Sea conditions were OK apart from the open sea from Oslo down to Denmark. Captain did not mention this but crew said it was always rough there and a warning could have been given. The ship is comfortable and adequate for the passengers it attracts. This cruise was mostly middle / old age people with a large propotion from Newcastle area and Scotland. Some one said it was all the people who would not fly for a cruise! Food and dining was excellent and no complaints there. I think that they were not selling out the 3 charged for restaurants as they were touting for custom ever day on the lido deck. I had prebooked a cabin on deck 4 and it was quiet and well maintained dby our steward Hendra. Entertainment was a bit mixed as the game shows were all repeats and becoming dated. We won several quizzes but dispute some answers as the Thmson cards have clearly not been updated. Good show teamd and excellent Queen night. 2 live comedians were were good but the second suffered a bit as jokes used the previous week. Guest interview was Bobby George the darts player and received as just about satisfactory. Had a guest interviewer, Robin Ross, but 90% of passengers had not heard of him and he made little difference. Cruise Directot, Gavin Carroll was his usual cheeky self and was excellent when presenting Mr & Mrs. WE did paid excurions at all the ports but the value for money element is always in doubt. Had to in St Petersburg but were excellent including the Russian Songs and Dances evening. I always think Destination Services Staff have their own agenda and are not very open with passengers who just wish to go ashore for a browse. Trying o push the paid for shuttle buses too mich I thought when it was easily walkable. Getting on and off the ship was straightforward bearing in mind everbody tries to do it at roughly the same time. Woud return to the Baltic again with Thomson but next year they have the Discovery, a much bigger ship doing the these cruises which should be better. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
Seeing St Petersburg and Tallin were on our wish list and with the ship sailing from North Shields (30 minutes from home), this was a no-brainer! Embarkation was a little chaotic with staff everywhere shouting out what to do and where ... Read More
Seeing St Petersburg and Tallin were on our wish list and with the ship sailing from North Shields (30 minutes from home), this was a no-brainer! Embarkation was a little chaotic with staff everywhere shouting out what to do and where to go. Hundreds of people milling around being told to 'move forward' over loudspeakers with no idea which line of passengers was being shouted at. A Thomsons flag outside the terminal suggested that we should use the right hand entrance which was entirely incorrect. From here cross the entire building through the hundreds sitting down, to join the end of the queue inside the other entrance. Bags were being taken at the end of this queue and boarding cards issued along with medical questionnaire. Fill in your medical questionnaire and cross the waiting hoards again to a desk to collect a coloured card. Then join the queue to hand in the questionnaire. Then find a seat and join the waiting hoards to be called via colour to the boarding desk. At least one desk could be eliminated. A family arrived at the front of the boarding queue to discover that they didn't have a coloured card because they hadn't handed in the questionnaire…. However, the whole process took under an hour so despite the confusion it was swift. Boarding and into cabin was done in the rain but that isn't Thomson's fault although the top layer in my suitcase got wet! I had two pieces of luggage. One was suit carrier because we fancied attending the Captain's Gala which we probably wouldn't bother with again because all the queuing and waiting around added over an hour to meal-time. So if you want to avoid dressing up you can eat in the Lido or if you want to dress up but avoid the waiting and photos you can book Al La Carte. The other suticase was way over the 23kg limit (only noticed when I read the rules again on the way back!) but no-one complained to me. The bags were all safely delivered to the room within 30 minutes of boarding. Cabin 145 is on the starboard side and is billed as a deluxe. I agree with many other comments that the ship is looking tired and old-fashioned but we have travelled on Celebration before and like it so knew what to expect. What I couldn't remember was the electrical socket layout so here is the definitive for this cabin: two sockets. One is continental round two pin at 220v and the other US two flat pins at (presumably) 110v. I presume this because a hair dryer ran much slower in the flat pin socket than the round pin. I believe the flat pin to be inherently less safe so I bought a 3 socket extension lead from home and used it with an adapter in the round pin socket. Cabin 145 is a deluxe cabin on deck 7. I booked it because of the position in relation to the rear staircase and deck 7 because it is not overlooked. Deck 6 is the promenade which is below and 8 the lifeboats. It is fairly large with a double rectangular window and was set up as a double for us. Plenty of storage with two wardrobes, 6 large drawers and bedside lockers with 2 drawers. There is enough spare room in the fridge for your own bottles. Tea and coffee facilites although never enough milk sachets, as normal. Fabulous service from Glenn, the steward who managed to tidy the cabin 3 times a day! The cabin does look a little tired now with brown and pine- fairly dark for today's tastes. But with the exception of the old-style radio built into the end of the desk, everything worked except the hair-dryer. We did not bother to report this because my wife bought one having learnt to never trust hair-dryers in ships and hotels!The TV reception is pretty poor in terms of picture quality but both Sky and BBC World news are available and normally the picture was viewable. The one fault that constantly annoyed me was the lack of of water pressure in the shower. Turning it full on and holding the head upside down resulted in a fountain less than an inch high...We spoke to other passengers and were assured that on deck 2 this was not an issue. The drain from the bath (shower is over bath) blocked one day and was cleared within minutes by an engineer. I would book this cabin again. We spoke to many guests who were in cabins on decks 1 and 2 and no-one seemed to have a problem with cabin size or facilities. One couple on deck 1 claimed to have more room because their cabin did not have a bath. Because of 'enhanced hygiene' the self service laundry was closed as was the library. Breakfast was served by staff at the servery rather than self-service. When we were last on Celebration the area outside the library and card room was a sitting area with a piano. It has now been turned into a coffee bar (Coffee Port) and the excursions desk. The whole area has been done very well indeed and the coffee is Lavazza which was very welcome. Whilst it is a premium price anyone on the all-inclusive deal does get a discount and so 2 cups cost less than £2.50 extra. I am not a huge fan of the Meridian restaurant where I find the menu rather unadventurous. We therefore booked a meal in each of the Al La Carte restaurants. We were impressed with Mistrals last time so were looking forward to eating there again and had read good reports about the Asian restaurant. By Tuesday the enhanced hygiene was over and everything back to normal. On the Tuesday night we ate in Mistrals. We booked all 3 restaurants as there was an offer of all three for £47.95 additional charge. The standard of both service and food was very good.. A total of 7 courses, with an amuse bouche and sorbet not on the menu. I had comments only about the lobster, which I would not normally choose and I found tasteless, and the coconut crème brulee which had no coconut taste whatever. The rest was superb including the escargots and the fillet steak. A word to the wise here- if you are on the Al Inclusive tariff then wine by the glass is included. Don't buy a bottle- the waiter will fill your glass all night long anyway. Another night we ate in Kora La, the Asian Al La Carte. This was wonderful as the main course is specified by yourself in terms of both meat and heat. My Wife loved this. The quality was good and the service fine until it got busy and then slowed down to a crawl. We booked again in here for the final night and the standard of the chicken had plummeted. First time it was great- second time it was stringy and obviously leg/wing meat. This was raised with the Head waiter who told us that they do NOT use breast meat. Conclusion- we had been lucky first time! The Hot Stone Al La Carte is set up on the Lido deck each evening. A VERY hot marble stone is presented to you with a small selection of raw veg and the meat/ fish of your choice. You cook it yourself. This sounds great in theory but we couldn't see how it would work in practice. I like a rare steak- my Wife a medium. Surf and turf involved lobster tail so that would be a third cooking time. Whilst my steak would take 7/8 minutes plus 5 minutes standing time, what would happen with the chips which were hot when bought to the table? Other guests confirmed that the whole thing was just too much bother and created worry about raw food. So we accepted the option to have the chef cook our steaks and then used the stone to cook the veg whilst the steaks stood. Then the stone came in useful for warming the chips and steaks as we sliced it up- great! We also couldn't understand why the menu included a choice of 3 sauces- wasn't that going to create quite a mess? But then they came in little dishes so were more of a selection of dips than sauces. It does seem to be a rule that if you book early you get the All-Inclusive deal thrown in, if you leave it later then the price goes down but the AI cost goes up. To the point where it costs £400 if you leave it until boarding (£200 a week each!) AI is definitely worth if you get in early. Without the AI a cocktail costs £4.50. Some drinks (Pint of Heineken, premium cocktails) incurr a small charge even to AI customers. It wasn't until the last day that we worked out that we could have a coffee (outside the meals) on AI if we asked. It was perfectly acceptable coffee although not as good as paying a small premium in the Coffee Port. The entertainment was great. The showteam, a group that travels round the fleet 'filling in' for the other teams, were incredibly hard working. Not just learning 10 different shows but also all the routines within those shows. I wasn't impressed at first but realised later that I disliked the Queen show so much not because of the showteam but because I don't like Queen! As the time went on I became more and more appreciative of their skills. Their Tamla Mowtown show and Moulin Rouge tribute were the highlights for me. A particularly 'brutal' staging of Roxanne with the boys throwing one of the girls around the stage was both disturbing and skilful and bought the audience to it's feet. One show that didn't work at all for me was the 'International Music Awards'- if you are going to sing the songs of the most successful female artist of all time then you probably shouldn't change her music and words around- Adele probably knows what she is doing. Ian Bagshaw, the Cruise Director is also a very fine magician! (But terrible comedian!) Showtime is ruined some nights by the people in first sitting simply not leaving. Those who come in for the second show have quite a problem finding seats on popular nights. We had a fascinating series of lectures by Robert Simpson about The Russian Romanovs and history that we greatly enjoyed. Robert is obviously very learned and didn't shy away from giving his opinions. He seemed permanently surprised to find himself lecturing to full houses and received gratitude with humility. Even if you think lectures are not for you this series was great background to what we were going to see in St Petersburg and the contrast between Robert's true and historical representation of the facts (Catherine The Great was really quite ruthless) and the glossing-over of the facts by our Russian Tour Guide was marked! As far as te guide was concerned the 1917 revolution was just a natural course of affairs- Robert's depiction of the Tsar's incompetent governance explained it and even hinted at how it might have been avoided. Well done Thomson for having him on. I can't judge Liberties or Hemingways at all- we never went in there! I did try the casino for the first time in my life and left with a 50% profit on the roulette... £5! We love Horizons and an ideal evening would be meal>show>Horizons Cocktails. Truth is we had such a laugh with the fellow cruisers that we ate with at the 'Captains Table' that we often ran out of time. It was incredible how many of our fellow passengers were repeat cruisers, and the majority on Thomson ships. The reason is the staff and crew and the training that goes into making them friendly and approachable. No passenger seems to treated differently. Deck 1 to deck 8 is all the same to the crew and no passenger gets priority over another. In this way there is no 'pecking order' such as on ships with exclusive restaurants for high-paying passengers. Thomsons acknowledge repeat passengers with a Captain's Reception and a little badge- just a 'thank you'. A quick summary of the ports (we did only 1 Thomson excursion- Copenhagen); Fredrickstad- Nice. Local people had set out a trail of yellow stars into town to their craft shops and cafes. Fabulous photo opportunities around the star-shaped town moat. Not a lot of chance to spend money! Walk in. Aalborg- 'Europe's Happiest City'. Well, yes, I'm sure it is. We walked to the Modern Art Museum which was fabulous. Stockholm- We got the free shuttle in and then joined the mile long queue for the free shuttle back as all those who hadn't paid used it to get back to the ship. Stockholm is lovely and perfectly walkable. We did the Vasa Museum (like the Marie Rose but better!) and then walked through the City centre. Tallinn- Unbelievable old town. Could not be more attractive if purpose built by Disney. Again, perfectly walkable from the port and no need for excursions at all. St Petersburg- Having checked out the Thomson excursions we realised that to see everything would be extortionate. So after some intense research I booked a 2 day tour with Alla Tours. Do not believe Thomson's constant lies about 'you are only covered by a group visa if you book with Thomson'. 'Your head will explode at immigration if you do not book with Thomson'. All rubbish! All you need is your passport and a valid excursion ticket. The guide then meets you on the other side of immigration and, in a party of just 16, you set off with your headsets for the most intense 2 days of sight-seeing ever! Full review on TripAdvisor! Helsinki- Why? I mean, why Helsinki? When the highlight of a 45 minute cruise around the bay is Finland's last remaining submarine (in dry dock) and the ice breaker ships (moored up and tied together, it being summer) and highlight of the market square outside the parliament is a line of ladies knitting hats, then you know that your City is maybe not a tourist hot spot. Copenhagen- Yes! Bloody difficult to get to from Kalundborg where the ship berthing fees are obviously much cheaper. Thomsons can then also get passengers to pay £6 each for a seat on a shuttle coach and make a profit on that as well. 90 minutes there and 90 minutes back. Once there we found that 14,000 passengers from 3 giant cruise liners had moored next to the Little Mermaid and blocked the streets with their coaches before we got there. Very inconsiderate. But the Havyn area for a meal (£48 for lunch....) and a wonder around was fabulous. Wouldn't do a 'tour' if there again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to sail from Newcastle and we liked the itinerary - we wanted to see both Tallin and Riga and also the small Danish island of Bornholm which not many cruise ships go to. We also wanted to try ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to sail from Newcastle and we liked the itinerary - we wanted to see both Tallin and Riga and also the small Danish island of Bornholm which not many cruise ships go to. We also wanted to try Thomson Celebration as we have previously sailed on Spirit and really enjoyed it. We were not disappointed with the ship, its the right size for us and we liked our balcony cabin. The food was good and the staff were very friendly. Entertainment was as good as on the Spirit, fabulous shows and singers. The ports of call were mostly good and getting through passport control at St Petersburg was easy. We thought it might be complex but it was fine. Don't be fooled about the visa situation though - you can still book independent tours who will provide the same group visa for you - some of our passengers had had some better tours than the Thomson ones so do your homework. Tallin is amazing! Don't miss this port, it is just gorgeous. Sadly we had a complaint - they took more money from our credit card than what we had actually spent and more than 2 months on we haven't even had a response and we are dealing with the complaint through our travel agent. Not happy! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose Marella for the itinerary and we live 2 hours from Newcastle.We had great memory of Thomson Dream in the Caribbean. We chose Inter-cruise bus to get us to Newcastle.The sight at our arrival was like refugees with suitcases ... Read More
We chose Marella for the itinerary and we live 2 hours from Newcastle.We had great memory of Thomson Dream in the Caribbean. We chose Inter-cruise bus to get us to Newcastle.The sight at our arrival was like refugees with suitcases trying to escape.After 15 mins we were sent to a car park.Given our envelope with tags and cards.In the hall we were given a number.As we booked a suite we were priority boarding.In the noise of hundreds of passengers we heard the announcement ,we could go and register.It would have been helpful.if staff had been trained to advise customers about the announcements. No special dedicated lanes whatsoever. Discovery was suppose to leave at 4pm.We left at 8pm.BAD Once on board we were met by our great cabin attendant,from Nepal,Prakash. We had booked Junior Suite 8590.Back of the ship.Very spacious.Big bathroom with bath,Clarins toiletries,huge balcony.Tea and coffee machine as standard.Nice touch.Confortable bed.Safe and TV.Sofa and two small armchairs.GOOD We had problems with the water one night and it seems to resolve itself.Reception phoned two days later to check everything was OK and sent a bottle of bubbly at the end of the cruise.GOOD Unfortunately the cabin is under the Adult Veranda sun deck.Why put sun beds out at 6.30 am.Lots of rattling and thumping noises. We had spoken the Reception staff twice in the fortnight.Reception reaction,they would passed our comments on. The 2nd time, phone us and we will investigate.At 6.30am?BAD Discovery as an open dining policy.Restaurant47 and Gallery 47. The food is excellent.The Austrian executive chef does a great job.It is tasty,well presented,3 course menu.Vegetarien and allergy customers are catered for.The cruise is all inclusive and the wine is drinkable we like Sauvignon Blanc and it was good.You can also get breakfast.We had lunch at Island deck 9 at lunch time.Food again very good and varied.GOOD. Try to get 1000 pasengers in an 400 seaters restaurant.Does not work so you get a pager.Ready in 20mn they say.Fine you go to the bar order a drink and the pager goes after 5min.BAD A significant part of our cruise experience and enjoyment is the restaurant.We prefer to have the same station which enables us to develop a relationship with the hard working staff and this is reciprocated.The first week this was very difficult to achieve. One of the head waiters required a course at the" Charm School" , do as I say.Sorry ,I thought I was the customer.UGLY Our experience on the second week was vastly improved and thank you, Jose and Rubaih for looking after us.GOOD Surf and Turf is worth the money.Food is great.Wine by the bottle even better.GOOD Bar 11 with DJ Alasdair is a nice way to wind up the evening.GOOD. The two shows we went to see were good.Not our style but they were doing a good job.Nice to see Marella kept the staff show.GOOD A bit annoyed about having to pay to take shuttles bus in some ports as we we're not told it would happen.BAD Free water at the fountain in almost every decks.High standard of hygiene with antibacterial spray freely available everywhere.VERY GOOD We enjoyed our cruise,just thought I would point out the issues that need to be to be ironed out. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The Marella Discovery coming to Newcastle Port to sail the Baltic was a big promotion in April 2017 and a group of us booked straight away to choose the cabins we wanted. The embarkation was an absolute disaster. We were lucky we only ... Read More
The Marella Discovery coming to Newcastle Port to sail the Baltic was a big promotion in April 2017 and a group of us booked straight away to choose the cabins we wanted. The embarkation was an absolute disaster. We were lucky we only queued for one and half hours to hand our luggage over, some queued for three hours. ( if it rained ??? ). The Cruise itself was brilliant, visiting eight beautiful cites, using all of the ships facilities and enjoying the best weather in the Baltic Sea for 120 years. The cabin, dining, and service were above average with the entertainment superb. On shore, wherever possible, we used the Red Buses which provide great value and on the fourth trip in Stockholm it was Free. The ships excursions in St Petersburg were the identical ones that were available five years ago so there was not a great of choice for us but we had a brilliant time at Peterhof Grand Palace and Gardens, highly recommended. With the temperatures ranging from 22/27c for the cruise (until we got back to Newcastle) it was disappointing that the main swimming pool was out of action until the last day of the Cruise. The biggest disappointment of the whole cruises was the cost that we had paid a year in advance of the Cruise to those passages who booked only six/eight weeks before and paid half price for their cabins. So my main Advice to all would be never book a MARELLA CRUISE until SIX / EIGHT weeks before sailing as you will save a lot of money and enjoy the cruise even more. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
This was our second cruise with Thomson and the appeal was particularly to see St Petersburg . Paid far too much by booking early and in fact, cancelled and rebooked about 12 weeks before departure and saved £500. Booked an ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Thomson and the appeal was particularly to see St Petersburg . Paid far too much by booking early and in fact, cancelled and rebooked about 12 weeks before departure and saved £500. Booked an executive cabin which was impressive / had a few issues which should have been picked up before we boarded eg: dripping tap, damaged glass on balcony and light not working but these were resolved . Cabin stewards were excellent- special mention of Ferdinand ! Good selection of restaurants though there were only 2 menus in Italian 47 over the 14 days so bit repetitive. Ship was clean and tidy. Entertainment was variable with curious sessions like “ Ask the acupuncturist” and a dreadful live band with a girl who could not sing but there was a talented saxophonist and a good pianist so you can pick and choose what suits you. Evenings spent on the balcony with a drink and incredible sunsets on calm seas takes some beating ! We paid extra for the premium all inclusive but it wasn’t really worth it although was handy to have daily bottled water delivered to the cabin and the coffees in the Coffee Port are lovely and popular. WiFi was really expensive onboard and there was no logic to usage allowances - costs £90 but we were charged £180 for very little access. Worth waiting to get off at a port to download data and access emails etc. Destination staff were friendly but knew little about practical issues in the ports eg: where to get taxis, cost etc. With limited mobility, this was important for us and was a real problem in Tallinn and Copenhagen where there were no taxis or shuttle buses and it was a very very long walk into the main areas. In terms of excursions, we only did a few as we prefer to see places independently but the St Petersburg city tour was good although we missed a couple of key places because of traffic delays . Avoid the ballet excursion - was terrible - in the Aurora theatre which was more like a civic centre under renovation and the St Petersburg ballet was so amateurish. There were 3/4 excellent dancers but the rest were poor and didn’t dance in time - reminded us of dawn french in vicar of dibley - very disappointing. Beware of rip off bicycle rickshaws in Tallinn’s central square. A taxi is supposed to cost 10 euros although there aren’t any - we effectively got mugged by a girl and her accomplice and had to pay 80 Euro’s to get away safely . Favourite ports were St Petersburg , Oslo, Stockholm and Warnemunde- really pretty tourist resort . Overall this was a lovely cruise with friendly staff and a good itinerary. Main advice would be to go for the best cabin you can afford and if possible, a balcony to get great views all the time . Read Less
Sail Date May 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
Sail Date August 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
Sail Date September 2018
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
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
Sail Date June 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
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
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
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
As stated above ,this review is of 2 different cruises ,both from Newcastle ,to the Baltic sea on the 10th of August,with an immediate turn round on the 24th for another week around the Norwegian fjords,so if its overly long apologies in ... Read More
As stated above ,this review is of 2 different cruises ,both from Newcastle ,to the Baltic sea on the 10th of August,with an immediate turn round on the 24th for another week around the Norwegian fjords,so if its overly long apologies in advance. First of all,embarkation at Newcastle was not the perfect start for us. We arrived for the first shuttlebus from Newcastle station at 1145, to be told it was already full and the next one would be in an hour ,as there was a bus "missing".. Once at the port, checking in our luggage was fairly straightforward, there then followed a 50metre bus ride to a larger building where we waited a long time for our number to be called for boarding. The journey from our home in Sheffield took less time than all this. Our first impressions of the ship was that it had been partially, not fully, refurbished. The Atrium,shops and reception area were all brightness and bling, elsewhere the dominant colour was brown ,usually varnished wood, including most of the old furniture in the public areas, and the fittings in the cabin. We chose these cruises for their itineries, and in this case we were not disappointed. We had beautiful weather throughout the Baltic cruise, usually sunshine with low 20s temperatures, so in the majority of cases we did our own thing, eschewing museum visits and concentrated on outdoor activities .In Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki we took local boat trips with great city views. Marella provided a (good value) shuttle into Gothenburg ( which was mainly closed due to our early arrival and departure) and at Warnemünde we hired bikes to try and burn off some of the pounds gained on board. Along with most reviewers ,we felt St. Petersburg was the highlight, there we took a private tour for 2 days , very exhausting but well worth the money, with the advantage of a canal /river trip and early entry into various museums.This was specially good as otherwise we would have been queuing for hours! Our only disappointment was Tallinn, but this was because we were sharing the port with 3 other ships, all of which arrived simultaneously ,and the small capital was overwhelmed. So to the food.The Marketplace buffet had all the trappings of a cross-channel ferry, with a scrum and race for tables at breakfast time , but the quality was ok. The MDR (Latitude 53 ) had more or less the same menu but with waiter service and better wine. The menu changed each day. Best of all was the Vista Italian , only 2 different menus throughout the cruise , but top class, The only problem was that this soon became common knowledge and there was always a wait of up to an hour.. We found the Mediterranean Italian and Tapas both disappointing, and didn't try any of the speciality restaurants so can't comment there. Regarding entertainment and enrichment, this is where we felt Marella fell down and thought certain activities were inappropriate. The cruise was blessed with beautiful sailaways past islands and through archipelagoes. Was it necessary to have loud music and films on deck at these times? There was plenty of that to be had in the bars and cinemas, we would have preferred to sail away in peace and quiet, like in the sail -ins we usually missed due to early morning arrivals! Having said that, the music and games in the evening in the bars were fun, but the entertainment in the Broadway Show lounge (with the exception of the crew show) a bit so-so. We also felt Marella should have included lectures on board regarding the history and culture of the ports we were visiting, but all we got were talks about Baltic royalty, and a couple of shallow presentations from Destination Services who were simply trying to sell excursions. The staff were magnificent, and we'd give them 6 stars if we could. From the cabin staff, always there to help,bar staff serving drinks quickly and efficiently,to reception organising our transition from the 1st to the 2nd cruise.. There was only a slight problem in the restaurants, where service could sometimes be a bit too slow, or after a late start in Vista having 3 courses served in a gold medal winning time of 20 minutes. The 2nd cruise to the Fjords was only a week, but it was lovely to have the ship to ourselves in the 2-3 hours before the next group of passengers boarded, especially in the untypically warm Newcastle weather. There were more families with children this time, with pool safety regulations often being ignored, and bizarrely people who just wanted to drink all day ,which was a bit mystifying given the landscape. 2 of the ports here were tender ports, and Marella ,to our chagrin, always tendered people who had booked their excursions first. This meant in Olden, we arrived ashore too late to book anything locally. We used the ship's excursion in Geiranger, which was a long day, beautiful scenery but an amateurish guide.Not a patch on St.Pete. However, here the Norwegian authorities banned noisy sailaways. so instead we had classical music accompanying the fjord exits, which we found far more applicable. Indeed ,on one occasion we took our evening meal up on deck with us as the fjord slipped serenely by. Disembarkation back at Newcastle was a piece of cake compared to embarkation, and we got a train home an hour earlier than anticipated. Would we cruise again? Difficult to answer after all the adverse publicity the larger floating hotels have had, but Marella seems to pollute less than others, so its a possibility. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very good.We travelled to Southampton with Inter cruises who were very professional with no problems,but on arriving we had to queue to receive the luggage tags then again to get port side ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary which was very good.We travelled to Southampton with Inter cruises who were very professional with no problems,but on arriving we had to queue to receive the luggage tags then again to get port side with only one desk open even the ladies on the desk were complaining then again to get checked in where there was a "technical" problem with the computers-it took over 2 hours to get on board and it's the last thing you need when you've been travelling for 5 hours. We liked the ship with lots of space it was bright and clean.I booked our cabin 8004 as it looked bigger and we weren't disappointed it was huge.With Steward Prasetyo and team we were well looked after and nothing was too much trouble and surprised us with amazing towel sculptures. We had breakfast and lunch in the buffet and there was a good selection to please everyone,evening meal was in the main dining room and the meals were well cooked and beautifully presented again we were well looked after by Noel,Freddie and Vladlena? "The A Team" Entertainment was varied with something for everyone and we enjoyed going to the cinema a few times as well. Our favourite place for a drink was the Lounge after the show -a special mention for Alice who was a star. All the staff we encountered greeted you with a smile and they're all a credit to the company.We enjoyed daily announcements by Captain Peter -he's certainly got a sense of humour especially when explaining that we'd just got through a severe storm but now it 's just a storm-we were on deck 8 and the waves were hitting our window!! We enjoyed all the ports of call on this trip but again we were plagued with the dreaded queuing getting off and back on the ship Disembarkation was a breeze thank goodness very well organised We will certainly cruise with Marella again if the ports of call are what we want. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The itinerary and time of year are main reasons we chose this cruise and it did not disappoint. The crew and staff all so kind, helpful and humorous and most importantly skilful whatever their role. Special thanks to Willy and his team ... Read More
The itinerary and time of year are main reasons we chose this cruise and it did not disappoint. The crew and staff all so kind, helpful and humorous and most importantly skilful whatever their role. Special thanks to Willy and his team who kept our spacious room so tidy and clean and yes the monkey towel sculpture hanging from a mirror did make us jump. We enjoyed our meals in Latitude 53 and the Market Place for snacks. The Italian restaurant Vista came highly recommended by other guests but we only had the chance to visit once as so popular. Embarkation and security checks took a while but disembarkation was straightforward. The only disappointment was slight problems with most of our trips but they did not spoil the enjoyment of the trip...for us but did for some . Plenty going on throughout the ship and we especially enjoyed the evening shows but they did come over as very loud and the music was all very much the same whatever show they were performing but nevertheless, some very talented musicians and dancers. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
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