Exotic explorer/Cuban fusion.
Before I start, I do have to declare a liking for Marella. I realise that in the past their ships have been a bit like a pair of comfy old shoes, scuffed, well worn and leaky, not a good a good analogy for ... Read More
Exotic explorer/Cuban fusion.
Before I start, I do have to declare a liking for Marella. I realise that in the past their ships have been a bit like a pair of comfy old shoes, scuffed, well worn and leaky, not a good a good analogy for a ship, I know, but you know what I mean. So I looked forward to sailing on the Discovery 2, and I was quite impressed, even if they do still have shower curtains, have these people never seen Psycho?
One of the good, if not great things about Marella, is that the TUI 'planes take off from many regional airports, and once you've waved bye-bye to your luggage, the next time you see them is in your cabin. Well it's always worked in the past and I am an optimist. Getting on board was pretty straight forward, although the photographer wasn't too welcome after travelling for twenty hours or so.
Accommodation: We had cabin, sorry, state room, 3092 with a window. Although it was near the blunt end, it wasn't too far from the lifts and the main restaurant was one deck up. Although the room wasn't the biggest it had adequate space and storage for clothes etc. The bed was a king size and very comfy. There was also a credit card operated safe, provided free. Television, not too many channel options.
Food: There are many options, most of them included. The main restaurant, 47° is on deck 4, and on this cruise it was set up for any time dining. It does get busy between 7:30 ish and 8:30, so plan accordingly. There are many two seater tables, set up in a 2-2-2 format so that you can talk to your neighbours or be antisocial as the mood takes you, of course there are bigger tables if you wish to share, although being on one usually extends the meal time. Gallery 47° is an Italian themed restaurant on deck 5. It has a choice of two menus that alternate daily. Islands, well a buffet is a buffet, sometimes good, sometimes cold, however many times they stick the thermometer in. But that applies to all buffets. It does have beer and wine on tap for those with a serious problem. Snack Shack, a favourite of ours, provides, strangely, snacks. Cereals, hot sandwiches and a delicious ham and cheese pastry at breakfast and small portions of fish and chips, burgers, salads etc during the day. Ideal if you come back on board late. The Glass House. Is an evening venue that is a tapas style restaurant, we didn't like it that much, but each to his own. They also do the Hot Stone fad here, although there is a charge, why you pay extra to cook your own food is beyond me. There are two other restaurants, the Surf and Turf and the Kora La, both at a supplement, although we didn't try either of these. During these two cruise they did put on a deck BBQ once a week, which must give the safety engineer nightmares!
Drinks: (The important stuff) This was an AI cruise and there are a lot of different drinks included. Beer, Fosters, John Smiths and Strongbow on draft. Becks, Peroni in bottles. You can buy others at a supplement, although why you would buy a can of John Smiths smooth at £3:30, when Dettol is available is beyond me. There are also a large range of wines including Proseco by the glass and many cocktails included.
Entertainment: As usual this is very varied and very good. There is usually something going on especially in the evening, and the 'Game Shows' are very funny, the 'Actor Hosts', didn't they used to be the animation team? are exceptional.
Staff: Again, in the main they are exceptional, although the waiters haven't been taught the basics, ie after serving somebody look up. It can take 45 minutes between deciding you want a drink to getting it. If you think you can circumvent this by going to the bar, think again. The bar staff, once again haven't been taught the most important lesson, knowing who is next to be served, it can get very frustrating.
Excursions: We tend not to do too many excursions these days, being fortunate enough to have travelled widely, we have seen all the museums, the ABC tours and the old ruins we need to see, although my wife maintains that she sees an old ruin every day. However we did do three. Altan Ha, nearly an hour and a half in a poor coach, being lectured, loudly, all the way by two guides who thought they were funny. The place itself was very pleasant although you are only there just over an hour before the return journey. There was a city tour included, but blink and you missed it. Good Hope house, Jamaica. We both really enjoyed this, a trip to an old plantation house which included afternoon tea, complete with the ubiquitous jerk chicken, at 11:30 AM! Lastly the Parisien Cabaret in Havana. A good show spoiled by the cramped seating arrangements. After three hours we felt as though we could do with seeing a Chiropractor. We have seen the Tropicana before and it is the far better show, although it is more expensive. As I've said these days we are just happy to get off the ship and walk for a few hours, although in some of these ports there is not a lot, locally to see, eg Cozumel- Blackpool with sunshine, so excursions might be the best, if expensive, way to go.
So, thanks Thompson/TUI/Marella, no more name changes eh, it's starting to look suspicious. Read Less