Sail Date: February 2019
This was our third Caribbean cruise with TUI but the first with Marella. The first two were on the Dream and the Celebration. Marella have brought a more commercial side to TUI which is not necessarily for the best. A sense of greed has ... Read More
This was our third Caribbean cruise with TUI but the first with Marella. The first two were on the Dream and the Celebration. Marella have brought a more commercial side to TUI which is not necessarily for the best. A sense of greed has crept in which is a shame. Having said that, we still enjoyed our one week cruise very much and have booked again for next year. In this review, I aim to review each element briefly with areas where improvement is necessary highlighted. Flight Departures and transfers - all very easy. The bus we were loaded into at Barbados to take us to the ship was too small for the passengers and luggage being transferred. MARELLA ISSUE. Flight out - very comfortable, good service and food Return Flight - I was in seat 27C. This should be removed. I was bashed at least 100 times during the night flight, therefore no sleep. The breakfast was horrible. Embarkation at the Port - very simple, takes a while. Met by Captain and senior crew. Drink available and Bajan music being played. Toilet nearby if required! Once you are through this process, you can go straight to your room. Our luggage arrived quickly. Ship generally - the Captain advised us that it is a vessel, not a ship! The Explorer is in good condition generally with some areas in need of refurbishment soon. Overall very pleasant. Crew generally - all very polite, courteous and helpful. The Captain was very informative and told dreadful jokes. We didn't take to the Cruise Director. Reception - generally very helpful. One lad never gave us a straight answer to any question which became a bit annoying. Wifi - if you wish to contact relatives about your safe arrival, do this before you get on board. Wifi charges when we were on board were absolutely disgraceful. MARELLA GREED. Cabin - we had an internal cabin on Deck 5 - it was a very good size with excellent storage and a really good shower. Electric sockets were poor - ours worked intermittently which we reported. Our cabin steward was very polite, helpful and thorough - a very clean room throughout the cruise. Water - there is a water point on each floor. You have a carafe in your room which you can use to fill kettles, bottles etc All inclusive package - totally adequate unless you like speciality drinks. Unless you have the Premium package, Marella seem to have made getting a coffee more difficult than necessary. Some bars will make you one, others won't and the Mediterranean bar wouldn't make us a coffee but would make us an Irish coffee???!! Bar staff were in short supply at times at all the bars but with the exception of one barman in the Squid and Anchor who took exception to me asking him regularly to reduce the amount of ice he used in cocktails, they were all very polite and helpful. Restaurants The Market Place (buffet) - great for breakfast with hot and cold options. The cumberland sausages and bacon warrant specific praise. Lunch and Evening Meals were not as good and seemed to lack choice, imagination and quality. We used the Snack Shack for lunch if we were on the the ship. Latitude 53 and Vista - less quantity, better quality, excellent service. Our favourites. Mediterranean Tapas - one specific meal carries a cover charge. Other than that, the food was delicious but did lack quantity. This was the only meal I left hungry. Service was excellent. Mediterranean Italian - nice food but service was below the standard of the other restaurants. The staff never really made an effort - they seemed aloof. Other restaurants - carry a cover charge of circa £25. Entertainment - as we have specific involvement in Song / Dance, we will limit the comments in this section. The main Auditorium is sizeable and well designed but will need decoration soon. The rake of the seating does mean a tall person can block the view of those behind quite badly. The professional dancers are very good, the female singers are better than the male ones but need to stop "screaming". The comedians (Harper Brothers) were excellent. There are other singers etc in various bars during the day. None of them left us wanting more. However, we really enjoyed The Collective, a Bajan Band who mostly sang during the day by the pool. Bingo - expensive, short games and poor prizes. We only played once. Photographers - pains in the backside!! Swimming Pool and Sunbeds - as would be expected, the pool is small but well used. There are a significant number of sunbeds over 4 decks with only Deck 11 offering shade. Despite this, the sunbed hogs are out early to stake their claim and keep them with limited use. However, the crew do make some effort to remove towels where beds are unused for 45 minutes. A good start but needs to be more stringent. Like the bars, you can have drinks served to your table / sunbed. Excursions - generally Marella try to pack you into small buses. MARELLA ISSUE. Curacao - we went on the Sea & See Island Tour. Beautiful Island with a stunning Town. The tour took us around the island to a Liquor Factory followed by a trip on a boat with a hull that makes you think you are in a submarine. You see a lot of smaller fish BUT this is NOT for those who suffer with sea sickness or claustrophobia. The bus we were in was cramped. There is an ice cream shop near the ship - excellent ice cream. Tour 7/10 Bonaire - we went on the Palm Beach Reef Snorkel. These comments are based on the fact that we don't know what Bonaire beaches are generally like. We were driven in a multi coloured children's bus, with no legroom at all, by a suicidal version of Lewis Hamilton and no guide, to a "Building Site by the Sea". There, we were dropped off and left with the people who run the snorkelling, the leader of whom was not exactly a people person. The sunbeds available offered no protection from the sun and the entry point to the water was across rocks and stones unless you were lucky enough to find the odd sandy patch. The only saving grace was the lady guide who took us snorkelling - she made every effort to ensure we enjoyed it. The fish we saw were only small. This tour was poor. From a snorkelling perspective, this is for novices only. Tour 2/10. Grenada - we went on the Highlights of St George's Tour - other than again being cramped in the bus, this was a very enjoyable tour with an excellent guide. Tour 8/10 St Lucia - we went on the Ultimate Sea and Land. This was an expensive and long but interesting tour of which 5.5 hours were spent cramped on a bus followed by 2 hours on a cramped catamaran (4 bus loads got on it). We had to stand for the first half an hour. The food at lunch time was at best average with water dispensers offering warm water!! The highlights were a visit to the Sulphur Springs and the chance to have a swim off the catamaran. Tour 5/10 Transfer to our Hotel - well organised other than a lady in the Port who seemed totally confused about everything. You are required to take your suitcases from the port building to the coaches for transfer to your hotel. Would we do it again? - Yes, we have already booked. We just hope that Marella improves some of its current failings and penny pinching. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We choose this cruise for the itinerary as we have done lots of cruises & out of the 11 islands we had only visited 3 before. As we had not cruised with Marella before we were keen to see what they had to offer. The cabin was a ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the itinerary as we have done lots of cruises & out of the 11 islands we had only visited 3 before. As we had not cruised with Marella before we were keen to see what they had to offer. The cabin was a decent size but lacked power points & the air conditioning couldn't be controlled. There was a kettle and fridge which was great. There was a lot of movement felt on the ship which we hadn't experienced before on the larger ships. It was impossible to get a sunbed on the 2 sea days unless you were up at 6.30am which is not my thing. We preferred to have a lie in. The MDR has very slow service & the menu didn't have much choice. Vista was good as was the Italian med & tapas for dinner. The late night buffet was very poor with little choice if you don't like curry! The snack shack was good for a take away salad at lunch time. We enjoyed the Squid & Anchor pub, plenty of quizzes, karaoke & game shows in the evening along with live music. The silent discos in Indigo were great. The shows in the theatre were not great compared to other cruise lines although the comedians were good. The all inclusive drinks package was good with plenty of choice so no need to upgrade. Embarkation was quick. We were taken off the plane & put straight onto coaches to the ship so no need for immigration at the airport. Coming home we had to put hold suitcases out side our cabin before 2am on last night and we didn't see them again until Manchester airport. We were picked up at 16.30 to go to the airport for our 18.50 flight and were herded straight through security so no check in at airport. We could still come & go on the ship as we pleased on the last day and could still order drinks on the all inclusive up until we left. Most of the staff and crew were very friendly and helpful. Overall we did enjoy our cruise despite the negatives, we visited some fabulous islands and met some fantastic people. We would consider another Marella cruise if the itinerary was right for us. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
The food was very good indeed, plenty of choice , cooked brilliantly served with huge smiles. The staff in all areas were fabulous, couldn't do enough for you and extremely professional and friendly, some of the best staff ... Read More
The food was very good indeed, plenty of choice , cooked brilliantly served with huge smiles. The staff in all areas were fabulous, couldn't do enough for you and extremely professional and friendly, some of the best staff we've encountered. The cabins were of a decent size with good bathroom (no toiletries anymore)! and kept extremely spotless. The captain, John was one of the best we've had on a Marella cruise, great fun and friendly. The theatre shows were amazing all the staff worked very hard. The rest of the venues were aimed at the young generation, in most bars and other entertainment venues. The ship is one of their new ones been re-vamped. We actually didn't like the layout of the ship at all, no central atrium coffee areas with no windows (we called it the dungeon), no flow to the venues, very higgledy-piggledy just didn't seem right by any means. I hate to say too that since it's gone all inclusive, its not the same for obvious reasons. Don't think we will be going with Marella cruises again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Background: We usually go with all-inclusive holidays, mostly with TUI First Choice. Lately we have thought that we spend too much time on the resorts and miss out on seeing much of where we are - hence the decision to go with a ... Read More
Background: We usually go with all-inclusive holidays, mostly with TUI First Choice. Lately we have thought that we spend too much time on the resorts and miss out on seeing much of where we are - hence the decision to go with a cruise. We chose marella as we are used used to TUI, and know their standards and the all inclusive is important - we didn't want to get hit with unexpected costs. The itinerary and ship were the result of research - we liked the small number of sea days, and a mid-sized but newly (partly) refurbished ship seemed ideal. Arrival and first impression: First impressions were fantastic - dropping luggage at the airport to next see it onboard was great, as was the get off the plane and straight onto a bus. Our flight was late (and was last of all the flights) so we were rushed on board and straight to muster drill, it was all well organised despite this. Cabin: We chose 9107 based on reviews (and paid to choose - but as a deal with booking extra space seats) - we wanted a large balcony so that we could use it if the ship was very busy on sea days, and its central position was ideal for stability. Central location meant its never too far to go up to pool deck or Market Place, and same not far down to bars and restaurants. I was very happy with 9107 - everything worked, it has enough room and storage, and got 2 cases out of the way under the bed. Cabin steward Prasetyo was brilliant, always friendly, greeted everyone by name, and learnt our routines to make sure the cabin was always cleaned and tidied while we were out. Dining: Market place buffet was just what I would expect from an all-inclusive buffet. There was always plenty of choice and I was happy to see staff always cleaning, and checking food temperatures etc. They also really try hard with sanitisers everywhere and strongly encourage guests to use them. Latitude 53 was fine, we ate here on dress to impress night and it was busy but we were given a pager and just had a few drinks while waiting. Again the staff were very attentive although busy, and my wife's drinks just magically kept being replaced without asking. The Italian in Latitude was great also, which a good choice, and attentive service. Kora La was a nice change and the food and service was worth the upgrade. The same was true of surf and turf - it was a very nice relaxed dining experience, and well worth the extra. The steak was brilliant - though the beef onboard everywhere was excellent - the sirloin I had in the Italian was gorgeous. The only slight niggle is pre-dinner drinks in aperitif - everything in aperitif is cost extra if you are on the std drinks package - just a small niggle. Bars: All the bars were excellent - I only ever had to wait a bit in the lounge on dress to impress night when it was really,really busy. Just about everywhere a waiter appeared as soon as you sat down and had drinks quickly. Even on the pool deck the waiters were constantly circling with trolleys of booze. I stuck with the std drinks package as it covered 90% of what I wanted and was happy of pay for the occasional cocktail (mudslide) and other drinks - like in the coffee port. I ordered what I felt like, and the bit extra I had to pay was still well less that the £200 to upgrade - but you may feel differently - read the menu online as make your mind up! Entertainment: This was the least impressive bit of the cruise. The team work hard, but the main shows were a bit lacking - Vocalists and the many voices of LIss Jones were very poor. Though rockology was great - so they can do it! That said the other bands and singers in the bars were great for the most part - especially the duo who were often in the lounge. It certainly didn't spoil my holiday - just a minor niggle that could be improved. Service: Service onboard was fantastic everywhere, staff were always happy to help. All the staff I interacted with from embarking/disembarking, shore excursion team, waiters, cleaners etc were all great. Ports / excursions: The choice of ports was good, though I think the paradise islands itinerary was a bit weaker. We did a mix of TUI excursions and DIY. To be honest I would do less TUI ones next time, as all of the ports had lots to do, and only the Antigua Lobster Lunch and Aruba Sea and see were really worth the extra cost of the TUI - they were the two stand-out excursions. Overall: A fantastic holiday, and now my wife wants to always cruise in future - so that says it all really! (And probably with Marella again as they match what we want/expect) I'd certainly cruise on the explorer again or any of the bigger Marella ships... Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I must say the standered of food in the resturant was good, and the Vista resturant very good, but the variety could have been more varied, the buffet resturant did not have choice of other cruise ships we have been on. The main resturant ... Read More
I must say the standered of food in the resturant was good, and the Vista resturant very good, but the variety could have been more varied, the buffet resturant did not have choice of other cruise ships we have been on. The main resturant was very random with service, one night 2.5 hours to get served the meal, another 1.5 hours to get first course, there was never any reason to it, some nights water and wine as you sat down other nights had to ask 4-5 times to get anything, many managers walking about but could not see the problems the waiters were having., each night was different with different problems, number of people complaining but no one seemed that bothered, that was the first time I have ever complained on a cruise. Pointed out the problems several times to resturant manager, and senior manger on ship, really made no difference. Went to the paying Asian resturant one night which was very good. Bars, on first day on board at sea there seemed to be no control on the amount of alcohol some people were drinking, which did result in several audications between passengers but any no one bothered. The entertainment team were very good and the shows excellent I must say we got on with the cruise and enjoyed our self, but having cruised with many companies we will not be sailing with TUI again, it has some way to go compete with the establish cruise lines. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose this cruise because we enjoyed our Caribbean cruise on Discovery last year. Our main grumbles were with the poor quality restaurant food and the shambolic service in the Latitude. The food presentation was poor and the meals ... Read More
Chose this cruise because we enjoyed our Caribbean cruise on Discovery last year. Our main grumbles were with the poor quality restaurant food and the shambolic service in the Latitude. The food presentation was poor and the meals didn’t resemble any level of quality that one would expect from a restaurant. Adjacent dirty tables were never cleared until required by other diners. Service was slow, meals taking up to three hours and drinks often arrived after food was served or even finished! The staff seemed inexperienced and lacking in training. We did complain to the catering manager, Wally. He ensured that on our next meal the service standard improved, but sadly this was not sustained for the rest of our week. We thought the buffet food was superior to the restaurant food. The wine served tasted awful and I frequently couldn’t finish my glass - very unusual for me! The bottle labels said 13% alcohol but it tasted watered down, as did many of the other drinks served. Theatre entertainment was average, our balcony cabin clean and comfortable and the ports visited were good. Cruise staff seemed happy and for the most part helpful and transfers were good. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first cruise. We booked 12 month ago. We always book our holidays via our bank but never having cruised before thought we would take advice from the local agent. We paid extra to book our cabin and took the agents advice of ... Read More
This was our first cruise. We booked 12 month ago. We always book our holidays via our bank but never having cruised before thought we would take advice from the local agent. We paid extra to book our cabin and took the agents advice of cabin. 8140. To be informed the week before we sailed our cabin was double booked. We were refunded £45 booking fee. We were also told we would be give £50 onto our account when we boarded the boat. We had to up grade to the premium package when getting on the boat. (noticed you can do this on line when you book your holiday on line) It took 4 days and three visits to the reception for the refund to be put on our account!! We had a good flight luggage outside our cabin within 2 hours. The cabin 8104 please note same numbers not necessarily in the same order!! Was very nice. The cabin stewards were excellent no complaints what so ever about the room. It was lovely having a balcony and being early risers waking up and looking out to see. We paid an extra £35 to keep the room we were informed it may not be the same room but would be of a similar standard. This was not the case we got a inside cabin 2 decks higher this works out at £10per hour getting the room at 10 having to vacate at 1.30 waste of money for us. The ship is immaculate very impressed with hygiene. Sun beds are reserved by people with towels. in 14 days only got sunbeds twice. The food on this ship was excellent the waiters are fantastic they work very hard and make everyone feel special. We ate at the vista for most of our cruise the food was excellent (Italian) credit to the head waiters all of their staff are trained to a high standard. Our favourite bar Was The Mediterranean Bar at the rear of the boat it was beautiful to sit through the day bar with a view. Breakfast in the marketplace was very good. The Squid and Anchor was like a 70's flashback to the wheel tappers and shunters for those old enough to remember. The only thing it lacked was Max & Paddy standing on the door. It was quizzes Bingo quizzes karaoke quizzes with a quiz master who could not read and had to spell some of the questions ! People were saving chairs a elderly couple asked a couple if they could sit down to be told they were saving seats for their friends this old couple had walking difficultys it worked out that it was two staff members who sat on the seats and one of the guests got up to get her a drink. On this I complained the girl soon got up and left. the old couple got a seat in the end oblivious to what had gone on. I was so annoyed I reported this to the reception to be told I should have taken names! (we were standing) it is a shame that the Gin & whiskey bar is located in this pub. Cooper the bar man was fantastic very professional and polite he made us some lovely Gin combinations. Being a none smoker everytime the door was opened we were exposed to the smell of cigarettes. Olga was fabulous in the apprietief bar. Lovely drinks made by a lovely girl. The Broadway Shows were fantastic we are big fans of musical theatre. Loved all the modern songs that were sang well done. We thought they would have more entertainment on board on through the day. Having stayed in the Caribbean in numerous hotels water aerobics yoga salsa dancing have always been included. Yoga on the boat is an additional charge no activities except shuffle board and one table tennis table for a tournament. Cameron the Entertainment Director should work out a routine for timing so when one show finished something else started. There is no consistency on this ship. It a shame just a couple of niggles in the entertainment can damage the reputation of such a fabulous ship with fantastic hard working staff Cabin Stewards and Waiters who sing better then some of the performers with their guitars. We had a relaxed holiday visited some lovely places and met some fabulous people. Could have not coped with out a balcony to escape to now and again. We don't know if we do another cruise undecided to many hidden extras to pay for Read Less
7 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
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our second cruise with Marella, having been on a seven nights cruise to Jamaica on Discovery 2 last January. Our experience on board Explorer was very good. The staff were all amazing, very professional, friendly and nothing ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Marella, having been on a seven nights cruise to Jamaica on Discovery 2 last January. Our experience on board Explorer was very good. The staff were all amazing, very professional, friendly and nothing was too much trouble for any of them. A special mention to Yonique, Fernan and Vladimir in Vista, Ana (from the Dominican Republic in the Lounge, Mediterranean, Coffee Port and Broadway Show Lounge areas) and Flavia, our cabin steward. They all contributed in making our holiday very special, with their constant smiles, friendliness and great service. The standard of entertainment provided by the team in the Broadway Show Lounge was second to none. The variety of shows and high standards of singing, dancing and acting were absolutely amazing and something we looked forward to watching every night. We cannot comment on the comedy acts as we didn't attend any of them. The standard and variety of the food on offer in the main restaurants was very good. The only criticism would be a lack of consistency with some of the drinks, particularly those where mixers were involved i.e Bacardi and Coke, Gin and Tonic. Depending on the bar attendant, they could be either the correct strength or very weak. However, taking into consideration the fact that the cruise is all inclusive, the overall impression is that it is very good value for money. The port of calls were all absolutely fabulous with a good variety of excursions on offer. The outbound and homeward flights were on time, with great staff and onboard entertainment. Overall, the cruise was a fabulous experience and we wouldn't hesitate to book again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
it was our first time on Marella and we enjoyed it. We usually cruise with P & O and we found them fairly similar. There were pros and cons. The dining room was superb as were all the waiting staff, so friendly. probably more menu ... Read More
it was our first time on Marella and we enjoyed it. We usually cruise with P & O and we found them fairly similar. There were pros and cons. The dining room was superb as were all the waiting staff, so friendly. probably more menu choice on P &O. The theatre group were brilliant with both singing and acting better than p& O but the actual performances were more quirky. the final show of Movies was brilliant. I felt they were sadly lacking with other entertainment on board. There were 4 grand pianos that were rarely used and when they were for the odd half an hour the singing wasn't that good. We have been used to better. There were no onboard talks or special guests and no choir which we like on P & o. The cabins were great, large shower with a glass door with just shower gel on the wall, no separate shampoo, lotion etc.The cabin steward was lovely and good at his job. we had a large balcony cabin and that was worth it because no chance of getting a sun lounger after about 7.30! One thing I did miss was the adults only pool. Although this pool only ever had about 8 people in at one time the decks were full. ( Why don't people swim?) so very noisy. There was an adults only part of deck but small and not near the pool. We chose this ship because of the itinerary and we weren't disappointed. Would however have liked the choice to do an afternoon one but they seemed to be all mornings. Read Less
Marella Explorer Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 3.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 0.0
Enrichment 3.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0

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