Marella Dream Entertainment & Activities
Dream's proficient and professional singers and dancers are kept busy with a succession of shows throughout the week in the double-height Broadway Theatre on Decks 8 and 9 --everything from an Abba tribute to Britpop, collections of songs from West End musicals, and a pastiche of Las Vegas' Rat Pack. Seating is a combination of red plush theatre-style chairs and banquettes, with tables for drinks.
There's a once-weekly show of crew talent, at the disappointingly late hour of 11:45 p.m.
A visiting entertainer, usually a comedian, is airlifted in for a couple of shows each week; standards can be variable, and it's pot luck whether you hit a rising star, a fading has-been or a never-was-and-never-will-be.
The large, airy Medusa Lounge on Deck 8 was recarpeted and refurnished during the 2012 overhaul. Top Men, a five-piece outfit that performs in the lounge and out on deck by the Siren's Pool are a note-perfect covers band. The lounge is also used for daily bingo sessions, quizzes and occasional auctions of sporting memorabilia. Also on the Medusa Lounge stage and out on the pool deck when weather permits, the ship's entertainments team involves passengers in popular performances on panel game favourites, such as "Mr and Mrs", "Family Feud" ("Family Fortunes") and "Wipeout".
The Elegant Touch duo performs standards in the Ocean Bar, and the Ge'za violin and piano duo provides classical recitals in the Argo Lounge and as an accompaniment to the captain's cocktails.
Moving further aft, we come to the Ocean Bar, which manages to create intimate spaces and secretive nooks and crannies. Next up is the casino, with about 30 fruit machines and tables for roulette, blackjack and stud poker. Alongside is the dark, panelled Delo bar, where a resident pianist and singer entertains throughout the evening.
The Waterfront night club comes alive in the late evening, by which time karaoke and dancing can become a bit raucous.
There are bars outside by the aft Lido Pool (Deck 9) and by the main Sirens Pool on Deck 11. Bar prices are extremely reasonable, especially considering spirits are sold in 40ml measures (60 percent larger than British pub measures). For example, spirits are £3.30, cocktails start at £3.75, and beer starts at £2 for a half pint.
Less welcome are the charges levied for use of the in-cabin safes and even £6 to have an announcement ("Happy Birthday"!) published in the daily Cruise News.
The ship's daily enrichment is limited to port talks and seminars.
There is a big choice of shore excursions. Some examples from our weeklong sailing include a three-hour trip on St Kitts Scenic Railway, a visit to a butterfly farm on St Maarten and a swim with dolphins. The ship also carries a small number of mountain bikes, and escorted rides are offered in most ports. Given the steepness of some of the roads we encountered on a mini-bus tour of Tortola, we would suggest checking with the organisers on the fitness levels required before booking.
As TUI can pick from its portfolio of land-based packages, it can offer a huge choice of pre- and post-cruise stays in resorts, hotels and apartments.