This post was sponsored by Marella Cruises, all information included is based on my experiences cruising with the cruise line and all opinions expressed are my own.
Marella Cruises are a British cruise line who focus on friendly, straightforward cruising. To date I’ve cruised on 13 different cruise lines and I consistently recommend Marella to my friends and family. If you’ve watched any of my YouTube videos or have read any other posts on this site you’ll know that Marella are one of my favourite cruise lines.
Are Marella Cruises Good?
Marella Cruises are a mainstream cruise line which are generally regarded as being of high quality. Guests enjoy the all inclusive pricing structure and the onboard experience which is geared towards British passengers. Passengers cruising with Marella range in age and Marella offer cruises all over the world.
Marella are a great option for people wanting to take their first cruise as they really simplify the process of cruising. I’m taking two first time cruisers on their first cruise with Marella soon!
Reason #1: All Inclusive Pricing Structure
In May 2019 all ships in the Marella Cruises fleet changed to the all inclusive pricing structure. Before this it was just the ships Discovery, Discovery 2, Explorer and Explorer 2.
What’s Included on a Marella Cruise?
All tips/gratuities are included on Marella cruises and tipping extra isn’t actively encouraged. Even the cruise cards have ‘the tips are on us’ written on them to remind passengers that they don’t need to tip extra. On many cruise lines the daily gratuities can be around $15 per person per night so this can add up extremely quickly. Having this already included in the cruise fare makes it much easier and I personally much prefer this. I find it really awkward when tipping envelopes are handed out on other cruise lines, perhaps this is because I am British and we’re not used to tipping in the same way that people from the USA are.
There are hundreds of drinks included on Marella cruises, cocktails, beers and spirits are all included. It is possible to upgrade to a ‘premium’ drinks package which gives you some extras such as speciality teas/coffees and premium spirits. It only costs £50 per week to upgrade so it may be worth doing this if you would like some of the things on the premium list. On some cruise lines you’ll pay over £50 per day for the things that are included! You’ll find the full drinks list here: Marella Cruises All Inclusive Drinks List
Food is included on Marella cruises, as it is on most cruise lines. The quality of the food has always been really good on the cruises which I have taken with Marella and I was very impressed with the number of free options onboard. On most cruises you’ll find that a buffet and main dining room is included but there aren’t usually many other options. The Marella Discovery has 5 included options! The 47 restaurant, 47 gallery, snack shack, glass house and buffet.
To find out more about what is included in a cruise as standard, check out this post: Are Cruises All Inclusive? Your Guide To What Is Included.
Reason #2: Budget Friendly
Marella Cruises aren’t a budget cruise line but their cruises do offer brilliant value for money. I would class Marella as being a mainstream cruise line with their cruises typically costing between $150-$200 per night. It is possible to cruise for as little as $130 per night but these cruises are usually out of season or start and end in different cruise ports.
Marella often have sales and frequently offer discounts. I was able to use a discount code for £200 off the 90s which cruise I booked recently. The cruise came to just over £400 for a 3 night cruise which isn’t bad considering that I booked a THEMED cruise. Usually themed cruises are much more expensive.
Example cruise costs:
7 Night Mediterranean Cruise (including flights) – June 2021 – £900 ($1200)
7 Night Caribbean Cruise (including flights) – January 2021 – £1300 ($1600)
7 Night Fjords Cruise (including flights) – July 2021 – £1000 ($1300)
One of the best ways to get a Marella cruise at a reduced price is to book last minute. At the time of writing this post the below cruise is considered ‘last minute’ and as a result is much cheaper. If you are unable to book last minute another great option can be to book as soon as new itineraries or ships are announced, this could be 2/3 years in advance.
7 Night Canary Islands (including flights) – Mar 2020 – £700 ($900)
Marella typically offer deposits of around £200-£250 per person per cruise. This means that the rest of the cruise fare doesn’t have to be paid until closer to the cruise date. This is usually 12 weeks before the cruise but if you book within 12 weeks of the sail date you’ll usually have to pay this up front. If you do decide to later cancel your cruise you will have lost your cruise deposit. Marella do occasionally offer £0 deposits although these aren’t typical.
Reason #3: Family Friendly
Marella do offer some adult only cruises but generally speaking Marella are a family friendly cruise line and I consistently recommend them to people cruising with children. To find out which other cruise lines made my ‘best for families’ list, check out this post: Best Cruise Lines For Families (Tried & Tested, Pros & Cons!)
Marella offer complimentary kids clubs for children who are aged 3 – 12. The main language spoken onboard Marella cruises is English so it is easy for the children in the clubs to make friends. I cruised as a child and I used to LOVE going to the kids clubs. I was able to make friends with people from around the world and I felt very grown up being able to walk around the ship by myself.
In the kids clubs the children often get the opportunity to do things in other areas of the ship instead of being confined to the kids clubs. These may include things like behind the scenes tours and treasure hunts.
Marella do have ‘baby centres’ on their ships where parents and guardians can bring their babies to play. These areas aren’t supervised and are more of just a baby focused room. There will be lots of toys and soft play areas for the babies to enjoy. This area is suitable for all babies under the age of 3.
Note: Babies must be at least 6 months to cruise with Marella.
The ships also have a teen area where teenagers can hangout. I remember cruising as a child I would spend quite a bit of time in the teen areas. They are usually full of things like video games and are more of a place to ‘hang out’ than a place for organised activities like the kids clubs.
Marella don’t have fixed dining times and this is usually appreciated by people that cruise with children. Not having to be at dinner at a set time means that the whole cruise experience can be much more flexible.
As mentioned above Marella also include a lot of dining options which means that even the pickiest of eaters can find something that they like. Marella also have children’s menus in their restaurants and are always happy to adapt dishes if required.
One reason why I think that Marella are particularly good for families is that their formal nights are relaxed and the dress codes aren’t strictly enforced. To lean more about Marella formal nights, including what you can and can’t wear, check out this post: Marella Cruises Formal Nights: Everything You Need To Know
Reason #4: Variety and Quality of Ships
Marella don’t build their own ships instead preferring to buy them from other cruise lines. There are currently 6 ships in the Marella Cruises fleet.
Discovery and Discovery 2
Discovery and Discovery 2 are sister ships. They were originally built for Royal Caribbean and the Royal Caribbean’s influence throughout the ship is evident in many ways. Marella Discovery was Splendour of The Seas launched in 1995 and Marella Discovery 2 was Legend of The Seas launched in 1996. As far as the onboard experience goes the two cruise ships are almost identical.
Both ships were transferred to Marella and renamed in 2017. The ships underwent a HUGE refurbishment at this time and it’s almost impossible to tell how old the ships are. I’ve cruised on much newer ships which appeared much older so I’d highly recommend a cruise on either of these ships.
I took a two week baltic cruise on the Marella Discovery and she is definitely my favourite cruise ship in the Marella fleet. The ship has a big atrium in the centre and an inside pool which I loved. I also really enjoyed the main dining room and the theatre was lovely too! I actually shaved my head on the stage of the theatre which is definitely a once in a lifetime kind of thing, to find out why I did it, check out the post I wrote afterwards here: Emma Le Teace – Head Shave
Explorer and Explorer 2
Explorer and Explorer 2 were originally built for Celebrity Cruises. Explorer was Celebrity Galaxy, built in 1996 and Explorer 2 was Celebrity Century built in 1995. The ships joined the fleet in 2018 and 2019.
Last year I took a cruise on the Marella Explorer, she is a really lovely cruise ship. I cruised on her for a 90s themed cruise and had so much fun that I’ve booked another for next year. Next year’s cruise is on the Marella Explorer 2 so I’m excited to be able to have a look around her sister!
Celebration and Dream
Marella Celebration and Marella Dream are both much older cruise ships and the difference in cruise ship design is evident. The Marella Celebration was built in 1984 as Noordam and Marella Dream was built in 1986 Homeric.
Both ships are considerably smaller than the Discovery/Explorer ships and provide a much more traditional cruising experience.
To learn more about the fleet, including a little bit about the history of each ship, check out this post: Marella Cruises, Ships by Size: Photo Guide and Reviews
Reason #5: Itinerary Variations
Marella offer a variety of itineraries and it’s possible to book almost all cruises including flights directly from Marella. As Marella are a British cruise line all cruises are priced in pounds and it is assumed that guests will be flying from the UK.
Marella cruise to the following destinations:
Northern Europe and the UK
Most northern Europe cruises with Marella visit places like Belgium and the Netherlands. These cruises tend to be relatively short and can often be less than a week long. I’ve been on a number of northern Europe cruises, they are brilliant and usually quite cheap although the weather definitely can be temperamental.
Fjords, Iceland and Arctic
Most Fjords cruises offered with Marella are 7 nights long although they do have some 14 night itineraries which cruise further into the arctic circle. I did take one cruise into the arctic circle in pursuit of the midnight sun which was incredible. I’d recommend it to everybody.
Baltic cruises with Marella visit places like Russia, Germany, Estonia, Sweden etc. I took a two week baltic cruise with Marella which was brilliant. There is so much to see and do in the Baltics but make sure that you bring an umbrella, it can rain a lot even in the middle of summer (it did for me!)
Eastern Mediterranean cruises include places like Greece and Turkey. These cruises are usually cheaper than some offers offered and as a result you can find a week long Eastern Mediterranean cruise with Marella for around £700 ($900).
Western Mediterranean cruises are the most popular and visit places like France, Spain and Italy. Most western Mediterranean cruises with Marella are around 7 nights and they start in various different ports.
To learn more about how much Mediterranean cruises actually cost (and how you can reduce the price) check out this post: How Much Does a Mediterranean Cruise ACTUALLY Cost? (With 21 Examples)
North Africa and The Middle East
Marella offer a lot of itineraries in the middle east which isn’t common for most British cruise lines.
Marella have a number of Asian itineraries, most of which are 14 nights long. There are a few which are 7 nights but I’d strongly recommend you cruise for longer if you can. I took an Asian cruise in 2018 and it is hands down the best cruise I’ve ever been on. To learn more about cruising in Asia, check out this post: 7 Asia Cruise Tips, Packing, Visas and More
Canary Islands and Atlantic
Canary Islands cruises are particularly popular because the weather in warm year round. Marella have a number of cruises which visit the Canary Islands, most are around 7 nights long.
Caribbean cruises are the most popular types of cruises and you have three main destination options when visiting the Caribbean. Cruises to the Caribbean are split into western, eastern and southern Caribbean cruises.
Cruising to far away destinations with Marella is great because the ship becomes your home from home. You’re very well looked after on a Marella cruise which makes travelling so much easier.
Reason #6: High Quality Entertainment
I’ve been on 29 cruises to date and have to say that Marella provide some of the best entertainment that I’ve ever seen at sea. They don’t have broadway style shows like some of the larger American lines but they do have consistently good content.
Each night a different theatre show will be put on by the cruise show team. On many other cruise lines the shows are repeated in order for all guests to be able to see the show. I do like going to the theatre each night so don’t really like it when the shows are repeated. I was incredibly impressed by the Marella Discovery show team who put on shows averaging around 45 minutes each night.
Every evening the theatre show would happen twice meaning that I was always able to fit in the show around dinner.
On Marella cruises you’ll find a busy schedule of entertainment everyday. Trivia, Gameshows and live music are always happening somewhere. The ships aren’t quite as busy/loud as the big American cruise lines but still have a friendly and relaxing atmosphere. The newer ships have things like rock climbing walls and mini golf courses if you’re into that kind of thing, I did find myself giving the golf a go although the rock climbing wall looked terrifying!
On themed cruises cruise lines tend to go above and beyond with the entertainment offered onboard. This certainly was true on the 90s cruise which I took on the Marella explorer. As well as famous acts like 5ive and S-Club there were constant cover bands and tribute artists which kept the atmosphere onboard lively. This was my first themed cruise and I had the best time. I’ve decided to bring two first time cruisers with me on the 90s cruise next year. It’s always a big thing to introduce new people to cruising but I’m confident that a Marella cruise is a good place to start.
Reason #6: Reasonable Excursion Prices
Cruise line excursions can be VERY expensive. On some cruise lines it’s not uncommon to find that the excursions start at around £50 ($65) per person for a tour which only lasts a few hours. Cruise line excursions can easily cost a few hundred pounds for a full day tour. On my Marella cruise I was incredibly impressed by the prices of the excursions offered. We managed to book multiple half day tours for as little as £35 ($45) per person.
Marella also offer bike tours on some of their cruises. We decided to take a bike tour in Tallinn which was 20 miles. Unfortunately it rained the entire time and we got completely drenched. Despite this I’d still recommend a bike tour with Marella to anybody who doesn’t mind a bit of exercise on their cruise. Our guide was knowledgable and helpful and although I hadn’t ridden a bike in a few years I still managed to keep up with the group.
Marella Cruises have an app which you are able to book excursions on. The same functionality is offered by big screens which are located around the ship. We found the process of booking and cancelling excursions extremely easy. If you are cruising with Marella make sure that you do download their app, it makes it really easy to keep track of what you are spending and it allows you to see what is going on around the ship.
When we arrived on the cruise there was a booklet of cruise excursion information in our cabin, we had no trouble booking the excursions while onboard and didn’t find that any were fully booked. It is also possible to book cruise line excursions prior to the cruise if you are somebody who likes to pre plan things.
Who Would I Recommend Marella Cruises To?
I seem to recommend Marella cruises to almost everybody! Marella cruises are great for families and young cruisers as well as older passengers. The atmosphere onboard is relaxing but fun and I can’t wait until my next Marella cruise.
To lean more about the itineraries offered by Marella cruises, check out their website here: Marella Cruises.
Where To Next?
There is not a lot that I love more than going on a cruise, meeting new friends and realising that I paid considerably less that everybody else for the exact same cruise.
Finding and booking a cruise is no easy task. I’ve been able to cruise for as little as $50 per night and I regularly save over 75% compared to advertised brochure prices. You can do it too!
If you have any cruise questions or stories/photos you’d like to share, please join us in our Facebook group!