Exploroer 2: A super addition of Marella's fleet!
This review is entirely my own opinion and doesnt include all facilities available on ship as I only used some limited ones. We had an inside cabin, 5010: Two hanging wardrobes, plus one wardrobe with shelving and drawers. Large vanity unit with mirror, behind mirror is safe and more shelving for storing items. Six drawers beneath vanity unit. Fridge (empty) with storage above, TV above that with another storage shelf above TV. Shower room holds a large shower cubicle (husband noted that we could both shower together!) with soap dispenser and two large corner shelves by sink. Also two cupboards beneath sink unit. Gorgeous, generous-sized fluffy white towels. Tea/coffee making facilities. One 1.5ltr bottle water to purchase for a reasonable 1.40 if required plus mini-Pringles and chocolate bar displayed. We didnt require these snacks and could have asked for them to be removed had space been an issue. In fact I had brought my own small water bottle and noted that there were water dispensers on all floors near lifts precisely for filling of personal water bottles really handy. I used the one on our floor daily. My advice would be to bring a .5l small bottle with you and just refill when required. Our cabin was at the pointy end of the ship and was very quiet and peaceful, with very comfy double. We slept really well here. The Market Place is the main buffet on deck 11 and had the usual array of foods you would expect. Speaking to officers later in the cruise they confirmed that they were hoping to receive feedback about improving the layout and watching passengers to see how they used the buffet, particularly at breakfast time. As I dont do breakfast I never saw how it worked at that time of the day and my husband only used the formal breakfast (for the smoked salmon) and he highly recommended this. In the buffet there was the usual large selection of teas (I am a tea jenny) plus caffeinated/decaffeinated coffee, three wines on tap, also beers on tap plus ice and water stands (hands free and great for filling water bottles). There were several other free to use food outlets for lunch and dinner options but I only used The Beach Cove for lunches as I spent a lot of time relaxing on the huge swinging couches in the conservatory next door. This was one of my favourite places because I was near the pools (although freezing!) and jacuzzis (four of them), could see the cinema, and listen to music. In my opinion the cinema (movies under the stars) was hugely under-utilised; only three movies listed for the whole week isnt enough. It wasnt used for daytime movies or sporting events or documentaries, and rarely other filmed events. Hopefully, as feedback and suggestions are given by passengers they will start to properly utilise this great resource. Additionally, my husband watched one movie and said that there were no padded covers/blankets nor cookies/milk and popcorn like on Princess ships. These would be a welcome addition if Marella really wants to enhance this resource. We ate at Latitude 53 (deck 5 and 6) usually earlier in the evening but there was also Vista on deck 5 on left hand side of Latitude which had two Italian-inspired menus depending on the day: highly recommended. Menus are pared down (no separate salad or soup courses nor a coffee course) but included available daily options including the rather marvellous caesar salad with prawns or chicken. I had this every evening (with the prawns, highly recommended) with one of the meat/fish dishes. The Food and Beverage Manager I spoke to stated that there is no such word as no to passengers requests and that waiters should make all possible effort to accede to special requests. After an initial hiccup, this did happen. Oh, technology, I forgot to mention. By all lifts are large touch screens where you can access all daily menus and loads of other information about the ship and events. A hugely helpful and useful resource. There is also a special app you can put on your phone, no internet access necessary, to access all same info. Even I managed to do this and I am not particularly technology minded. Additionally, when you first get your photo taken for your key card, facial recognition is then used to identify any further photos taken during the cruise and you can easily access these on smaller touch-screens around the ship so you dont have to look at hundreds of photos on display when trying to find your own. Then you can order any you want, or not in our case. On the first sea day there was a special Inaugural Gala Dinner but it proved disappointing so I wrote to Captain about it (and I presume many other passengers made their disappointment known too) and as a result we had another special Captains Evening Meal which was a vast improvement (I hope I have managed to upload a photo of the fantastic dessert ok). I mention this because it is clear that, whilst errors will be made in the early days of this new ships launch, I was very impressed by officers and staffs determination to ask for and act on passengers feedback, making changes when necessary. Captain Watkins spoke to passengers on stage one evening and stressed that he wanted to know what they were getting right but also what needed improvement (which was what lead me to write to him). I met him later in the cruise and he thanked me for my feedback. All inclusive drinks: there is a comprehensive list of all the A.I. drinks available on the ship and this includes three special coffees. However we saw that they are NOT listed on the dessert menu, only the premium special coffees (with an extra charge if you havent upgraded to Premium). This is a rather naughty omission and we had to insist on the first evening at dinner that a Jamiesons Irish coffee WAS available for A.I. even though it wasnt listed on the dessert menu. There are also two other special coffees on A.I. At all evening venues, including the marvellous Broadway Theatre there were tables of wines and cocktails handed out to all guests arriving for the shows, this was really handy and meant you didnt need to attract a waiters attention to order a drink, unless you wanted something specific (my husbands favourite tipple was a Jamiesons over ice). Incidentally, the shows were spectacular, really, really good. Must mention the Coffee Port, a large caf in the middle of the ship with great seating and tables for chatting, playing board games/jigsaws (a large selection of them available to use) plus a small informal shelf of books to borrow (no need to book in and out, just take one, read it, and return it to the shelf). My only gripe was that all the coffees and teas at the cafe were only free for passengers who had upgraded to Premium; no free coffee/tea available for A.I. As I only drink black coffee or tea this was very disappointing. Needless to say, never spent any time here. All in all, a very promising start to Marella Explorer 2s cruising journeys, and we are looking forward to booking another one next year. Anyone who has booked her is in for a treat and we found that all staff are keen to hear from passengers what they are doing right and what can be improved.
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