9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was the old Celebrity Galaxy and not as well designed as the Marella Discovery ships. But the onboard facilities and service was excellent. Embarkation and disembarkation was faultless, although leaving the cabin at 8am on the final ... Read More
This was the old Celebrity Galaxy and not as well designed as the Marella Discovery ships. But the onboard facilities and service was excellent. Embarkation and disembarkation was faultless, although leaving the cabin at 8am on the final day was tiresome. Junior suite cabin on deck 12 was roomy, spotlessly clean and came with a large, furnished balcony, but a small bathroom. Dining in the main restaurant was average, but with plenty of places around the ship offering food all day, no one would go hungry. The all inclusive drinks package was excellent, although a charge for bottled water and an expensive, and unnecessary mini bar in the cabin caused some moans. Entertainment was average both in the theatre and around the ship, and the mournful choice of songs from the lady pianist in the lounge drove me, and many others to seek refuge elsewhere. Bigger ships had the choice of cruise terminals and we often ended up in commercial ports with views of containers and cranes. Shuttle buses were few and far between and passengers were left to either walk to towns or haggle with taxi drivers. The one and only tender service took four hours to get the last passengers ashore from the anchored ship. Shore excursions were expensive and many, like us, did the same trips with taxis at a fraction of the price. Can't be bad though, we have rebooked for next Christmas. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We choose this cruise as it was available at the right price and the timing suited our schedules, we were not disappointed with any aspect of the cruise, there can always be improvements, check in at the ship on day 1 could be better but ... Read More
We choose this cruise as it was available at the right price and the timing suited our schedules, we were not disappointed with any aspect of the cruise, there can always be improvements, check in at the ship on day 1 could be better but have had worse, cabin could have been a little more spacious, the all inclusive package offered a quite acceptable range of drinks, would be nice for bottled water to be included though, did not hear many people complaining throughout the cruise (there are always some) but having to pay for bottled water was mentioned. Good selection of places to eat with by and large good quality food, did not try any of the pay extra restaurants as was very happy with the others, the buffet tends to get a bit busy at lunchtime found it best to avoid at peak times. Could do with an earlier breakfast option as the first one opens at 7 am, 6 would be better to cater for early risers, could do with some improvements in the standard tea & Coffee making facilities Shore excursions are quite expensive and probably not worth the money, did find that the dress standards were lower than previous cruises with this company, not a move in the right direction in our opinion. Staff very good and helpful in all areas, based on our experience on this ship for the first time we will have no hesitation in returning to this ship, provided excellent value for money. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Our first cruise was chosen as our honeymoon. Embarkation went smoothly and our hold luggage didn’t take long to follow us to our rooms. Had read other reviews just before departing and made sure swimming essentials were packed in ... Read More
Our first cruise was chosen as our honeymoon. Embarkation went smoothly and our hold luggage didn’t take long to follow us to our rooms. Had read other reviews just before departing and made sure swimming essentials were packed in hand luggage, but as it so happens didn’t need them. First thing to point out is that only British money is needed on board. You can pay for any extras one of two ways. Either hand over debit card details, and any extras will be charged to that, or use cash. If using cash, you must ensure that there is always a positive balance of £200 on your account. I opted for the debit card and lowered the outstanding balance to be taken by paying some of it off with the cash I had taken. They have an app (doesn’t require internet access) which shows the balance of your account amongst other information (absolute must get when you first board). Each time you order/make a purchase they scan your cabin key and the account is updated immediately (mostly with £0 as its all inclusive. Second thing I wish I had known or thought about was the positioning of the cabin. Unfortunately chose an inside cabin and didn’t pre book a cabin ( novice mistake). We were given deck four towards the aft of the boat and the noise of the engine meant sleeping was very difficult for a couple of nights. Even once, we had got used to it, when the boat was put in to reverse to dock we were up like a shot, the whole cabin shook and noise was horrendous - PRE BOOK YOUR CABIN IS A MUST. As for the cabin itself, was tidy and only possible negatives were the lack of an iron or enough hangers. Wife was glad she took her own hairdryer as said the one provided wasn’t good enough. Toilets are vacuum based and ours only blocked once on the trip which was soon rectified. Wet wipes seem to be the main culprit despite constant messages about not flushing them. Wi fi needs to be paid for £50 for 1200Mb for the 7 days. Remember that on a ship you do not get the same rates as at home or when travelling in Europe. So basically saved using mobile data until on shore. That’s the only negatives. Didn’t need to use the premium restaurants or drinks as the normal restaurants were excellent and offered a good variety. Only premium items bought were ice creams. Didn’t have any problems getting a table. Some restaurants require smart clothing but this does not mean tux or even a suit. Chinos and shirts seemed to be popular choices for men. Visited the broadway show lounge most nights and entertainment was of good quality, but then it was throughout the ship. The service was nothing short of excellent and would be hard to find on any other holiday. Can’t praise this enough. We took a shore excursion on every day, and if you don’t know the cities then would recommend using one of their excursions. These can be pre booked before you travel or whilst you are on board. Palermo - opted for half day excursion (allowed us time to get back on board and get some sleep before we set sail again) to Santa rosarios grotto and morello beach - didn’t think much of this at all. The most interesting bit was seeing if the coach driver was going to manage to get the coach up the steep windy hills. Naples - full day excursion to climb Vesuvius and a guided tour around Pompei. Absolutely excellent. Having such a knowledgable guide for Pompeii was a must. Livorno - full day excursion to Florence and Pisa. Both require some time on the coach. Florence is a beautiful city and days are needed here rather than hours but the tour gives you an excellent feel for the city. Pisa was worthwhile if you have never been there before, but it is a once and done place unlike Florence. Good day. Villefranche - took half day excursion to Monte Carlo and Monaco. For those that might want to, you can’t gamble in Monte Carlo casino as is not permitted before 2 pm, but you do have time for a tour €17. For those that want to be able to say they have gambled in Monte Carlo, you can gamble in the cafe du Paris for a €5 entrance fee, but will need your passport (this is cheaper than a coffee at the same cafe which is €8). Monaco is a lovely place, coach drives along the start/finish line of the f1 track and you get to walk some of the course (an absolute must if you are an F1 fan). Again though, a once and done excursion. Barcelona - had the half day Barcelona Explorer excursion. Big mistake, wish I had chosen a full day one. Another city that requires more than one day. Would I do it again. Most definitely but probably for 14 days instead. The issues were minor and were novice mistakes. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Lots of bad reviews noted before travelling but need not have worried. This was our third TUI cruise having previously been on the Dream and Discovery 2. The Explorer was larger than both the previous ships and displayed positive signs ... Read More
Lots of bad reviews noted before travelling but need not have worried. This was our third TUI cruise having previously been on the Dream and Discovery 2. The Explorer was larger than both the previous ships and displayed positive signs of the recent refurbishment. The Latitude 53 restaurant was very good and had enough of a menu choice to keep us occupied over a two week cruise, we dined in the speciality restaurant Kora La and Surf and Turf paying a supplement and both were well worth it. The Balcony cabin was ok, maintained very well by Andrew our steward who was perfectly discreet but kept an untidy bunch from making too much of a mess in our cabin. The kettle and fridge were a useful addition and despite the cabins being 16m sq it was just big enough for us to not be on top of one another. The service delivery throughout the ship was magnificent as always, every member of staff was polite, courteous and couldn't do enough for us wherever we went or whatever we did. Definitely the company's best asset. A special mention for the show cast who were Broadway standard every night and even the guest entertainment was very good. There is not much I could criticise but if pushed Marella should look to improve their ports of call, or indeed stop mooring in commercial locations. We didn't mind this too much initially but on two occasions there was a charge for the shuttle bus which we thought was taking liberties given the cost of the cruise. Propriano in Corsica was a very nice exception to this to be fair however. Our final comments have to go to the bike excursion team, in particular Nico and Ahsleigh for looking after us on our Rome trip - different class!. In addition head waiter Carlos and his team of Chris, Mark, Frank etc etc were amazing. A nice ship with great staff and magnificent entertainment - shame about Marellas first pub the Squid & Anchor which brought an all inclusive hotel clientelle to an otherwise perfect two weeks cruising, if you just don't go there then it doesn't impact on you too much. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this cruise as we had done three other cruises with Thomsons and thought the new ships would be an improvement. I have to say we were a little disappointed. Good points were that staff were excellent and the cabin facilities ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had done three other cruises with Thomsons and thought the new ships would be an improvement. I have to say we were a little disappointed. Good points were that staff were excellent and the cabin facilities were good and very clean. Service was good. Bad points were the food in the inclusive restaurants was very poor we felt but the service was good. We didn't go in the other restaurants as felt we had paid enough for the holiday without paying more. As another review said we didn't like the fact that customers didn't follow the dress code and were too casual in the main dining room, I.e shorts in the evening. They should have been turned away. If they wanted to be that casual should have eaten in the self service. The shows were boring same old singing and dancing which we get fed up with. The swimming pool area was very noisy during the day and we did not even entertain the idea of sitting there. (There is only one pool). The cabin walls are thin and we could here almost every word from the family from hell next door with their screaming kids who banged and screamed with their mother shouting back. (I do have teenagers and would never have let them have such disrespect of others around them). My daughters bunk bed moved as a result of next doors kids jumping on their beds. Overall we had a good holiday but we thought that the food quality had suffered as a result of All Inclusive and maybe next time will pick an Adults only cruise. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
we chose this ship because we have always went with tui before and we wanted to try the latest ship.although it is not like any other tui ship overall the food and entertainment were good there are two many places where you have to pay a ... Read More
we chose this ship because we have always went with tui before and we wanted to try the latest ship.although it is not like any other tui ship overall the food and entertainment were good there are two many places where you have to pay a supplement for food and it does not come cheap up to £49 per person.and it is no better than the food supplied indeed we had to walk out of the Asian restaurant as it was grossly overcooked.whoever designed the pub the squid and anchor should be told are you having a laugh hardly any seats and half of them face the bar away from the stage.i spoke to the manager and the cruise director about this and they totally agreed and said it would be changed in January I hope so as we like a game show but if you go to the second show in the broadway forget about a seat and getting a drink to busy and not enough staff on.overall we loved the cruise but some of the ports are industrial and you can only look at so many cranes and containers and at a couple of ports tui have a cheek to charge you £7 return on there shuttle bus get a grip tui and take us to some nice ports Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Spent a week on the Marella Explorer at the end of July/beginning of August with my partner and our youngest (aged 9) and, all in all, had a good holiday. I have had two cruises with Marella previously which I had enjoyed - this one was ... Read More
Spent a week on the Marella Explorer at the end of July/beginning of August with my partner and our youngest (aged 9) and, all in all, had a good holiday. I have had two cruises with Marella previously which I had enjoyed - this one was not quite as good as these previous ones, but was still enjoyable. Firstly the positives: Embarkation and disembarkation were smooth and quick Ship well laid-out and easy to navigate Cleanliness of cabin and general areas very good and housekeeping attentive All staff friendly, polite and helpful Kid’s club very good All the shows in the theatre (bar one that did not work well at all) were very good Bands/musicians excellent Bar drinks/service excellent and inclusive drinks more than plentiful in choice Availability of sun loungers/hammocks good (especially on upper decks above pool) apart from sea day when it did take some time to find somewhere. Plentiful supply of water dispensers around ship very useful Proper shower screen instead of curtain Loved the cream teas! Now for the negatives: FOOD: – In general the food was not as good as we have had on previous cruises (included Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2). It was acceptable, but nothing particularly special and seemed to have been tailored for a bland, “safe” palate (on one occasion we ordered the “vindaloo” which was nothing more than a risotto with no spice or any heat at all – it would not even have passed as a biriyani!). The buffet had a good selection (but not as varied or extensive as previous cruises and again, fairly bland) and the ice-cream machine rarely worked properly as it was not freezing correctly. In addition on days when we returned from trips sometimes they were in the middle of changing from one meal to another so vast areas were shut with little choice of anything to eat. The pasta/pizza/tapas restaurant was mediocre and limited (although the idea of selecting ingredients for your pasta/pizza was an interesting concept). The snack shack sandwiches were OK but the salads were mainly lettuce and the burgers and hotdogs of very cheap quality. The menu selection in Latitude 53 was pretty limited (and two of the items were exactly the same every night) and most of the starters were very small portions, more like an “amuse bouche”. At Vista (the Italian) they offered the same, fairly uninspired, menu for 3 nights then changed it for the last 4 – the Italian on both Discovery ships is much better, with more selection, more courses and more changes) so we did not even bother eating here. I got the impression that they were pushing people to pay extra to eat in their speciality restaurants (as they were constantly plugging this over the tannoy system and in the Cruise News) and I believe that is why less effort was given to the inclusive restaurants. In addition the inter-active screens did not display the correct menus for the 2 waiter restaurants – it always showed the menu from the day before, which was of little use (I used to use this a lot on previous cruises to decide where to eat) They did not even display the menus outside the restaurants (again on previous cruises they were outside) so every night I had to go to the restaurants as they was opening to ask to see the menus (by the end of the cruise Latitude 53 was putting some menus out on a table in front of the restaurant about 15 minutes before it opened so people could have a look). The service in the main restaurant on our first two nights was ridiculously slow – on the first night it took over 2 hours to be served 3 courses (we missed nearly all of the show due to this), in addition to which our deserts (which should have been hot) arrived virtually stone cold – on the second night it took almost 2 hours to be served 2 courses so we decided to skip the 3rd course so that we could dash to the theatre just as the show was starting. Both these nights we were at the restaurant at 6.45pm (we did not really want to go any earlier as it would be too early to eat and by the time our son came back from kid’s club at 6.30pm, showered and got changed this was the time we could go). Another annoyance was that my partner asked for Peronni on the first night (which was freely available at all bars and was also brought round during the day on trolleys and is included as part of the all-inclusive) but was told they did not have any in the restaurant. He told them that the bar (literally opposite the restaurant) served it so could they not get one from there – they said they would check and after about 20 minutes my partner asked again and finally a further 15 minutes later they brought him a bottle. On the second night the same thing happened and my partner said it would be quicker for him to have just got up from the table and walked to the bar himself. By the third night, as there was a Barbecue on the pool deck, we decided we would try that as it might be quicker. Yes, it was quick, but all the food was stone cold (I mean everything – totally cold) even when new items were being put out they were already cold by the time we put them on our plate and sat down!! (I did complain about the service and cold food – see further down review for the ship's reaction). SOCKETS IN CABIN– there was only one socket (two if you unplugged the kettle and balanced your item on the tea/coffee making items) which, for a cabin for 3 of us, was really not enough when trying to charge phones, i-pads, kindles, cameras etc. DRESS TO IMPRESS – so few people bothered which made it a real shame as we really enjoy this night. The main restaurant had some people in ball gowns, cocktail dresses, three piece suits, tuxedos and even dress kilts, whilst others were just turning up in casual shorts and t-shirts! Firstly Marella/Tui should maybe make people aware of this night prior to their holiday by including a note about this before people leave the UK or add it to the information they provide or even send an email (I spoke to two families who had never been on a cruise before and they had no idea that there was a formal night and had not brought anything with them. They both said that, had they known, they would have loved to have packed something special to wear). Secondly, seeing as the main restaurant is on two floors, why can’t the staff direct those in formal attire to one floor and those in casual dress to another? My partner was in tuxedo and bow tie, my son in three piece suit and bow tie and I was in cocktail dress, so we felt a little uncomfortable as several of the tables seated around us were in t-shirts or casual polo tops! (I would suspect that, likewise, people turning up in casual day wear might feel awkward seated amongst people in full Black tie attire!) KID’S CLUB DRESSING UP PARTIES: This also applies to the kid’s club as there was a fancy dress night and also a super heroes night (had we known in advance we would have packed something for him to wear – as it was I did not bring him any fancy dress outfits!!). BRIDGE TOUR KIDS CLUB; this was my son’s 3rd cruise and both times before he has not made the bridge tour, as we had been off the ship on booked excursions, so he was very keen to do it this time. Therefore, on the first day when I registered him I asked about the tour and was told that a note would be put on the door to inform us of when it would take place. We checked every day, but saw no note so no idea if this ever took place – he was a little disappointed. REPEAT CRUISER'S DRINKS NIGHT: the cruise news asked for anybody who had sailed before with Tui to contact the reception. I did this and my name and cabin number were taken and I was told we would be invited to a drinks party with the Captain near the end of the week. I asked if they knew which night but was told I would be informed by way of an invite. We waited for an invite and by the last night had not received anything. When I went to investigate I was told that they did have our name but that we had missed the party as it was the night before and that the invites were given to housekeeping to hand out so there was nothing they could do but they would send us “pins” to our room (which we received in an envelope on the last day with a letter apologising) – strangely exactly the same thing happened when I sailed with them last time, when they again forgot our invite!! BILLS: I was charged for a drink that I did not have and had to go to reception to have this removed from my bill - again the same thing happened on my last cruise (so I would advise people to check their statements daily!). As mentioned above, re my complaints, a comments card had been placed in our room so I did fill it in with some positive comments but also mentioned that service in restaurants was too slow, food (in particular at barbecue) was cold and menus on interactive screens were out of date. And, to their credit, the next day I was approached during lunch by a member of staff who thanked me for bringing this to their attention, apologised profusely and said that they were looking into the slowness and that they were trying to work out a way of keeping the barbecue food hot (although I’ve had barbecues on cruises before and they have managed to serve hot food, so they must have experience of how to do this). In addition the following day a note was put in my room to say the head waiter would speak to me regarding my comments (but as I had already had the discussion with another member of staff I did not feel a further discussion was necessary). On the fourth night we finally received excellent service – and I must mention and thank Rajesh, who provided a most attentive, friendly and professional approach – the food came swiftly, the bottles of Perroni were flowing and he constantly checked on us. Likewise, Dimitri, who also served us, was most attentive and efficient. From then on we always asked to be seated in the area staffed by Rajesh and Dimitri and have to say the service for these meals could not be faulted. Also, on the morning before last, as we were in no rush to get off the ship, we ate breakfast in Latitude 53 and the service was swift and attentive and the food hot. We took three organised tours through Marella (which I had booked in advance) which were well arranged and enjoyable. Half-day tour of Pompeii; Inside the Tower of Pisa; Nice tour and little train. The other three days we explored shore on our own. Palma was a bit awkward as there was a taxi strike (although Marella staff did not seem aware and were not that helpful in suggesting other routes into town, they just kept telling us where to get taxis – even though we kept going back to tell them that there weren’t any – we eventually found a public bus). at Palermo we just walked into town and got a taxi back. At Palamos we used the shuttle bus. In summary this was a decent and enjoyable cruise for the money. If they can sort out the temperature of the food, provide a slightly better menu and improve the speed of service provided by all staff in the main restaurants then this would help immensely. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise for a short break to the Mediterranean. Good flight to Palma as part of the deal, easy transfer to the ship and fast processing to get us on board. Our room was ready when we arrived at mid-day, clean but lacking any ... Read More
We chose this cruise for a short break to the Mediterranean. Good flight to Palma as part of the deal, easy transfer to the ship and fast processing to get us on board. Our room was ready when we arrived at mid-day, clean but lacking any character, no pictures, flowers etc. Great cabin service, very friendly and helpful throughout the cruise. The ship is advertised as “new” but when you read the paperwork in detail you soon find it has been in service since 1996 and has had various names. As seems to be normal now on cruise ships, doggy toilets often blocking but a first for us was the Captain putting out a message to stop putting foreign objects down the loo ....... Plenty of places to eat, all clean and well presented. We chose the formal dining but were disappointed with the lack of variety as only one or two items changed each day. Portion size was small but in fairness when we asked for more we got it, unfortunately that was usually after we had finished the meal. Waiters were friendly but service was slow and they were clearly over worked as many mistakes were made with the orders which was quite frustrating. Entertainment was very good and a pleasure to watch. The entertainment team worked incredibly had and put on a number of great shows. The visiting Comedian was great and very funny, his show also very entertaining. One grizzle, the age old sun lounger problem. So many loungers with towels left all day while genuine sun worshipers were left to hunt for a bed. There was a 45 minute rule for unattended beds but it was never used. All in all, good cruise,friendly staff but room for improvement. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We decided to go on the Explorer's first voyage under the TUI flag. It was my 50th birthday, so my husband and grandchild came along with me. Embarking, we had no issues and since we had a "premier" suite we were allowed ... Read More
We decided to go on the Explorer's first voyage under the TUI flag. It was my 50th birthday, so my husband and grandchild came along with me. Embarking, we had no issues and since we had a "premier" suite we were allowed to skip waiting to board. Have to say there wasn't any queue anyway. We received a very warm welcome from the staff and crew and we were happy with our large balcony, complete with hammock, 2 chairs, table and 2 sunloungers. Our room was what we expected. Plenty of closet space, TV, tea/coffee facilities, safe, useless hairdryer (always, no matter what cruise line you use!) mini bar etc. We were perplexed about where to store our empty cases, so we stuck them out on the balcony. The socket for the kettle kept blowing. It worked once and then would blow again. Similarly, the loo kept breaking. There were problems the first day: 2 of our cards refused to go on the system, charged 3 times (refunded) for 1 ice cream, but again, we were expecting a few teething troubles. We were at sea the second day and the queues were unreal. Took over an hour to order a coffee in the nook, we left only to wait for 20 mins in a further queue for 2 cokes. Only one poor struggling barman with about 100 thirsty customers! This was soon resolved by the evening time. The food wasn't great. Basic "school dinners" in the market place. You had to bring your drinks in with you. Only beer, wine, water or milk available and no waiters. Quite a long wait for dinner in latitude 53. Also, I asked if I could do without the sauce on the steak and was told no. Only one potato at dinner and a small spoonful of veg. I had 3 green beans... We dined there 3 times, same every time. Again drinks are an issue if you don't drink wine. Kid's club was fantastic to the extent that my grandson huffed if it wasn't open. The staff are amazing, and my husband and I enjoyed the peace very much! Champneys spa and gym were fabulous. Cost the same for make-up as a blow dry. Thought £50 was a little steep for a blow dry but my hair looked great as did my make-up. The photographers were brilliant and we came home with some very nice shots. Entertainment was good. There was a celebrity on board. Unfortunately I didn't know who they were, but I rarely watch television. Says more about me than TUI! The excursions seemed to be well planned. We really enjoyed ours. Our guides were good and enthusiastic. Going home we were told in advance about departure times, where to disembark and get our cases/transfers. It went very smoothly for us. All in all, we enjoyed ourselves and have great faith the hiccups will be addressed with time and experience. Read Less
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 3.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.7

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