I’ve had a bit of a travel flurry over the last few weeks, and after our fab few days on Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, Mr E dropped me off at Gatwick to spend the night at the gorgeous BLOC Hotel before setting off to Palma to join Marella Cruises for a lovely weekend to celebrate the launch of the latest edition to their fleet: Marella Explorer. So what’s it like to cruise on board this brand new ship? I thought it would be fun to give you a guided tour of Marella Explorer in pictures!
Last year, Thomson Cruises changed their name to Marella Cruises, and Marella Explorer is the first to use the brand new Marella name. You know I love a bit of recycling, and actually, Marella Explorer used to be Celebrity Galaxy (famous for being the setting of The Cruise, featuring none other than Jane McDonald) and also Mein Schiff. After a multi-million pound refurbishment project earlier this year, Marella Explorer was born, and the launch party was spectacular with a glittering dedication ceremony followed by a seriously cool onboard party featuring an exclusive performance by none other than Craig David!
I’d say the ship was medium sized: not as big as some of the whoppers, but a really good size. I still took a day or two to really find my way around. The ship has 13 decks and 962 cabins and I thought the new decor was gorgeous. So let’s get started with our guided tour of Marella Explorer.
Out on the deck
There are loads of bright pops of colour and a good variety of modern Mediterranean-inspired outdoor spaces. I absolutely love deck 11, the pool deck, with the brightly coloured poolside beach huts, relaxed food options and colourful cabanas:
Go up to deck 14 (there’s no 13), and you’ll find a gorgeous adults only area called Veranda. On the way up, you pass these brightly coloured cabanas, where you can even order a frozen cocktail by pushing a little button for waiter service (you can!
Down to the lower levels, then, there’s a stylish new atrium area where you’ll find the Coffee Port, perfect for a cheeky latte, or some of the delicious looking chocolates made by the in-house chocolatier.
The first ever Champneys Spa at Sea
The Champneys Spa on board is utterly divine, with treatment rooms featuring huge windows looking out over the ocean, and a very sophisticated thermal spa suite with all sorts of different saunas and steam rooms (plus a very strange blue light relaxation room with vibrating beds tuned to the music). It’s so sophisticated, you can even book in for Botox, or to hook yourself up for IV vitamin infusions! Prices are the same as on land, which makes treatments surprisingly affordable too (compared to some of the eye watering spa prices at sea). There’s also a lovely shop selling Champneys products, a hair salon and a large, well equipped gym too.
Shop ’til you drop
Of course it wouldn’t be a cruise ship without a few decent retail outlets, and the Broad Street Shops are pretty special, embracing all sorts of new technology and featuring brands like Chanel, Pandora, an exclusive Diego Della Palma outlet, Cath Kidston, Radley, Ted Baker and even an Apple tech centre.
Decadent dining, laid back lunching
Of course I can’t give you a guided tour of Marella Explorer without including a few foodie pics. On board, food and drink is all included (you can upgrade to the premium drinks package for £50 for the whole cruise which I would definitely do). The food options on board are phenomenal. If you want to push the boat out, visit one of the speciality restaurants, like Umi Sushi, pan-Asian restaurant Kora La, the Surf & Turf Steakhouse, or the incredible Dining Club, where a multi-course tasting menu costs just £35 per person. In the evening, main dining restaurant, Latitude 53, transforms into Vista, a contemporary Italian venue. We were really impressed with the food here.
The more relaxed options include one of my favourites: The Mediterranean, a relaxed venue split into two sections: Italian, where you can create your own pizza and pasta; and Spanish, which serves tapas. The retractable roof makes this a gorgeous place to dine under the stars too.
For pre- or post-dinner drinks, we loved Bar 53, complete with a sparkly, sequin clad ‘shimmer wall’, or The Lounge, complete with signature pink piano and colour-changing bar.
For nights when you want to feel like you’re out out (although clearly still in the ship), I highly recommend the clever Indigo, a combined bar, club and casino offering a range of ridiculously Instagrammable sharing cocktails, created in partnership with Bar Wizard. There are even cocktail classes if you’re interesting in recreating any of the clever range of drinks. Next door, there’s a club with touch screen DJ deck and an attached casino if you fancy a flutter.
Fancy taking in a show? The brand new Broadway Show Lounge features 12 brand new shows and is the largest in the Marella fleet. In typical Marella techy style, drinks are even ordered via iPad too!
All the cabins have had a makeover, with new cabins like the large balcony cabin, where I was staying, where you get a hammock on your balcony! If you really want to splash out, the top 100 cabins have elegant bathrooms with complimentary Clarins toiletries too.
So now you’ve had my guided tour of Marella Explorer, fancy a holiday on board? She’ll be cruising the Mediterranean this summer before moving to Barbados, which will be her homeport over the winter.
Marella Cruises offers a seven night Cosmopolitan Classics cruise on Marella Explorer from £1210 per person. This cruise departs from Palma, Majorca and visits Palermo, Sicily; Naples Italy, Livorno Italy, Villefranche France and Palamos Spain. Based on two adults sharing a deck 4 or 5 inside cabin on an all-inclusive basis, this cruise departs on 6th October 2018 from London Gatwick airport. Price includes return flights, transfers, port taxes, tips and service charges. For more information or to book go to tui.co.uk/cruise, visit your local TUI holiday store or call 0871 230 2800.
I always recommend APH Meet & Greet parking – we’ve used them for years and love the service. Just drive straight to your departure terminal, meet the APH driver, hand over the keys and walk straight into the terminal, leaving the driver to take your car away and store it safely while you’re away. I love the fact that you don’t have to worry about any sort of delay (they just keep your car safe for you until you get back). It’s all so easy. Then when you get back, you just ring them as you’re picking up your luggage and they wait for you outside the terminal building.
As usual, if you have any questions about this cruise or any other, feel free to drop me a line via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, via my contact form, or here in the comments section below. I’m always happy to help 🙂