What a week! Where do i begin? My boyfriend and I were not looking for a cruise, in fact i sent him into down one dreary day in September 2017 to go book a week away for some winter sun for valentines day. What about a cruise the travel ... Read More
What a week! Where do i begin? My boyfriend and I were not looking for a cruise, in fact i sent him into down one dreary day in September 2017 to go book a week away for some winter sun for valentines day. What about a cruise the travel agent in TUI (back then Thomson's) said?
What about a cruise? Always wanted one and seems cheaper than a land vacation! We settled on Marella Dream and the Canarian Flavours Itinerary. Everything was easy to book and in fact we booked the No. 1 lounge at Gatwick as we had an early flight (highly recommend as this also allows you priority access through security).
The flight was delayed a little as two passengers missed the plan! Other then that the flight was uneventful, i am glad we upgraded to extra legroom seats!
Embarkation was easy, the coach transfer from the airport to the ship was smooth and it was easy to find a Marella representative. Quick and efficient embarkation. The only issue I found was i registered my credit card for the room account but if my partner used his card that night and we woke up to a letter through the door telling us to register a card. A quick trip to reception soon sorted that. We decided to upgrade to the premium drinks package and booked some restaurant early on as it was valentines on this cruise and they were almost booked up at this time!
Our cases were delivered within the hour so we unpacked and soon set off exploring. The Muster drill was just after 9pm, i was shattered after the travel and quite glad not to have to wear my life jacket for this.
We had prebooked our cabin, 6140 and outside plus. Very spacious with out double bed under the picture window, a sofa with a small table, a large dressing table with storage and big mirror with lights around, lots of wardrobe space and a good sized en suit with a shower over the bath. We never saw out cabin attendant but they did a great job (sadly no towel animals :( ).
Our first full day we docked in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. We booked a beach transfer excursion and enjoyed the 26 degree temperature and lazing about on the beach! The next day we docked at San Sebastian, no excursion booked here but the town was lovely to go and wander around. Plenty of placed for a nice coffee and beautiful scenery. Sadly we only had till 2pm to enjoy here but off we went on our way to the lovely Funchal in Maderia.
This was the trip I was most looking forward to. We booked the cable car excursion with the botanical gardens. The cable cars are very easy to find and you could easily do this on your own. Just 10 short minutes walk from the ship (2 minutes by bus), easy to navigate and the views were stunning! We went all the way up into the town of Monte where we had an hour to visit the old church and enjoy a coffee in the square. It was like something out of a fairy tale and stunningly beautiful. We purchased our Madeira wine and cake for very reasonable price (15 Euros) for the folks back home. Now here was the fun part! You had a choice, back down the hill on the bus or using the traditional toboggans! We chose the later and what fun it was! Quick drink at the cafe at the bottom and back on the coach en route to the botanical gardens. The tour guide gave us a choice of a guided tour around these or an hour to explore ourselves. We decided to break away from the group and explore on our own. Very pretty and well worth the money. We got back on the bus and went to sample some Madeira wine and look at the local embroidery before heading back to the ship. We got back to the ship about 1:30pm, as we weren't due to depart until 8pm we decided to go explore the town. We paid 5 euros and took a classic Mercedes to the Market were we sampled local tapas and looked around the street. Found a great place for ice cream amongst the streets so make sure you go and explore!
The next day was at Sea, i had been suffering with seasickness a little as the waters were quite choppy so i was worried for this day if I am honest. I had been getting tabled from reception (£2 for 4 seasickness tablets) but they didn't help me. Whilst docked in Funchal i visited a local pharmacy and got strong tablets. Thankfully these worked and I enjoyed the day at sea. A little lie in, late breakfast and a walk around the promenade deck. We enjoyed the whirlpools on deck 9 but as it was half term week there was a lot of children and some very misbehaving with no parents in sight! I thought the whirlpools are for over 14's only but this rule wasn't adhered to. Some of the kids were fine, but a lot decided a game of splash was in order and proceeded to climb over me and other passengers whilst splashing profusely...not the ships fault but i did comment about where the parents were. They held a Texas Hold 'em Up Poker tournament in the casino at 3pm, £25 buy in with 70% of the pot as the winnings. I signed up for this and came 5th so enjoyed myself. The casinos are good fun but remember to buy in pounds as the exchange rate is horrendous! 50 euros was about £38 so you are losing before you even play! But hey, that is gambling for you!
The next day we docked at Arrecife in Lanzarote. Here we booked the dune buggy excursion and it was great fun! Saw some amazing sights but you don't half get dirty! It didn't help whilst everyone else drove around the pools of muddy water my boyfriend drove through them and soaked us. Great fun and good value for money. I would definitely book an excursion here as there isn't much to do in the port. The same can be said for the last port we visited on this trip, Puerto del Rosario in Fuerteventura. We didn't book and excursion and the town was a bit of a disappointment. A few cheap souvenir shops but not much else. We would recommend booking an excursion or preplanning this port if you do this trip.
We were very sad to leave the next day but disembarkation was very smooth and the staff are always happy to help.
About the ship, yes she is dated, but she is also 31 years old and has character! I loved her as i do not really fancy cruising on a floating shopping mall. We ate in all the restaurants. I preferred the waiter service in Orion and my partner liked the Lido buffet. We both enjoyed the late night curry at 11:30pm which was lovely after a few cocktails in the evening. We also tried all three premium restaurants, Kora La, Hot Stones and Minstrals. All were lovely but Minstrals was amazing. We were lucky to enjoy this restaurant on valentines night with a wonderful seat next to a big window watching the sunset. All the women were given a single rose by the waiter and the food is out of this world. Marella do a package deal for all three restaurants for £49 per person, a great deal and well worth it.
We spent most of our evenings in Waters Edge or at the back on deck 10 above the swimming pool. The entertainment in Waters Edge was good. Didn't see any shows as not really our thing but the services was great and the staff are only too happy to help. The shops are good, sampled the spa but found it too pricey in my honest opinion (and made my seasickness worse!)
Our safe malfunctioned half way through the cruise and reception sent someone down within 5 minutes of us reporting. Soon fixed with no issue. Yes you can use the safe without paying, but, you have to sign a form when you pay and without this signature you insurance is invalid. It would have been incredibly embarrassing had we not paid but used the safe and our passport ended up locked inside!
We loved this cruise, the ship and the fellow staff and passengers so much we are hooked and one whole week after arriving home, we booked a 2 week cruise on the same ship for March 2019. Fantastic crew and service. We were worried as lots of reports of hygiene issues and the dreaded Norovirus before we embarked, however, there is hand sanitiser everywhere and the only time I felt it unhygienic was fellow passengers not washing their hands after going to the loo!
So to conclude, lovely ship, she is an old lady but has real character and charm about her which we adored. Wonderful attentive staff and beautiful ports of call. 100% recommend for those who like the personal feel of a smaller ship. We loved her so much so we are going back and cannot wait. However, if you do not want the whirlpools to be hogged choose to go during term time. Read Less