There are currently 6 cruise ships in the Marella Cruises fleet. I’ve cruised a number of times with Marella and during this post we’re going to look at the positives and negatives of each ship. We will be looking at the ships by size, starting with the smallest and working our way up to the largest.
The smallest and oldest cruise ship in the Marella fleet is the Marella Celebration. She was built in 1984 and has been with Marella (previously called Thomson) since 2005.
My friends Paul and Carole cruised on the Marella Celebration and had the following to say:
We were sad to leave the ship and could of quite happily stayed for another week. We have been very impressed with the small and friendly atmosphere onboard, all grades of staff were excellent and couldn’t be faulted. From the booking to the flight home Thomson Holidays have impressed us. This was our first Marella Cruise experience and we know it will definitely not be our last! – Full review.
Marella Celebration History:
The Marella Celebration was originally built for Holland America and was named Noordam. She sailed with Holland America until 2005 when Thomson chartered her and renamed her the Thomson Celebration. When Thomson rebranded as Marella her name was changed to the Marella Celebration.
Cruise Ship Stats:
Marella Celebration Onboard Experience:
The onboard experience on a Marella Celebration cruise is very relaxed. The ship itself is pretty small and although she’s been well renovated the fact that she is from the mid 1980s is evident in the ships design. Guests wanting a laid back cruising experience would be very happy onboard but it’s important to remember the age of the ship when booking a Marella Celebration cruise.
Cruises on the Marella Celebration and Marella Dream are slightly more traditional than the other ships in regards to things like formal nights. Marella actually have a different dress code for their formal nights on these two ships compared to the others in the fleet. To find out more about Marella Cruises’ dress codes/formal nights, including what you cannot wear, check out this post: Marella Cruises Formal Nights: Everything You Need To Know
The second smallest and second oldest cruise ship in the Marella fleet is the Marella Dream. She was built in 1986 and was chartered to Thomson in 2010.
Paul and Carole mentioned above also have cruised on the Marella Dream and had the following to say:
The ship was kept spotlessly clean by it seemed a very happy crew, wherever you went there was some one cleaning something. The size of the cabin was very generous and the service we received throughout the ship was excellent. We had a fantastic week on the Thomson Dream and we would thoroughly recommend cruising on this ship. We know that we will be cruising again with Thomson in the future! – Full review.
Marella Dreams History:
The Marella Dream has had an interesting history and been owned by multiple cruise lines. She started life as MS Homeric for Home Lines before being bought by Holland America in 1988. It was then that she was renamed as MS Westerdam. In 2020 she was transferred to Costa Cruises where she was the MS Costa Europa.
In 2010 she ship was charted to Thomson who later changed their name to become Marella. The ship was named the Thomson Dream then Marella Dream.
Cruise Ship Stats:
Tonnage: 54, 340
Marella Dream Onboard Experience:
The cruise experience onboard the Marella Dream is very similar to that of the Marella Celebration. The Marella Dream is newer and bigger than the Celebration but generally speaking they don’t differ too much when it comes to the onboard experience. The ship has been refurbished many times to a very high standard but it is important to remember that the cruise ship was built in the mid 1980s.
When the Marella Dream and Marella Celebration were built they were both fitted with a number of specific solo cabins. This was quite rare back in the 1980s and to this day is still a sort after feature. To learn more about cruising solo with Marella Cruises and to find out which ships have custom built solo cabins, check out this post: Marella Cruises Single/Solo Cabins: Photo Guide and Review
Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2
Next we have the Marella Discovery and her sister Marella Discovery 2. The ships were both built for Royal Caribbean and were built to the same design. For the purpose of this article I will be talking about the two ships together since there is very little which differentiates the two.
Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2 History:
The Marella Discovery was built in 1996 as Splendour of the Seas for Royal Caribbean. The Marella Discovery 2 was built in 1995 as Legend of the Seas for Royal Caribbean.
At the time of launch the cruise ships were some of the biggest and most exciting cruise ships at sea. She was over twice the size of any other Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing in Europe at the time but by todays standard the ships are mid sized. There are some features onboard which are very Royal Caribbean like and will be evident to anybody who has cruised with Royal Caribbean before. The bar around the funnel is a great example of this.
The below commercial from the 1990s shows the cruise ship as she originally was designed. I love the outfits and hairstyles in this video!
Cruise Ship Stats:
Marella Discovery and Discovery 2 Onboard Experience:
Despite the fact that the cruise ships are from the 1990s the experience onboard is like that of any other modern cruise ship. Marella have an ‘all inclusive’ pricing structure that means that gratuities and drinks are included in the price. The approach to cruising is generally pretty relaxed and Marella are popular with families, young cruisers and older passengers too!
The cabins are the only area where I felt the age of the cruise ship. They just felt a little smaller to me than other cruise ships. That said, the cabins had been refurbished to a really high standard and I had a great time onboard.
The ship has an outside pool, inside pool, golf course and all other amenities which you’d expect to find on a cruise ship. I spent 2 weeks on the Marella Discovery cruising the Baltics and I was incredibly impressed with the ship. It felt remarkably spacious, the food and service were brilliant and I loved the laid back approach to dining and dress codes.
To learn more about what to expect from a Baltic cruise, including what to make sure you pack, check out this post: Baltic Cruise Tips: Your Biggest Questions Answered
Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2
Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2 are the biggest cruise ships in the Marella fleet, both are still ‘mid sized’ by todays cruise ship standards. The two ships are sisters meaning that they were built to the same design. For the purpose of this post I will be talking about them both in this section since very little separates them.
Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2 History:
The Marella Explorer was built in 1996 as Celebrity Galaxy for Celebrity. The Marella Explorer 2 was built in 1995 as Celebrity Century for Celebrity. The Marella Explorer was also owned by the german TUI cruise line between the years of 2009-2018.
Fun Fact: In 1998, Galaxy was the setting of BBC television’s docusoap The Cruise, which made Jane McDonald famous. – source.
Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2 Onboard Experience:
The experience onboard Marella Explorer and Marella Explorer 2 is very similar to that of any modern cruise ship. Despite being from the mid 90s there are no tell tale signs of the ships age. I’ve been on cruise ships which are only 5 or so years old which look and feel MUCH older than the Marella Explorer.
I took a 90s cruise on the Marella Explorer last year. Although this wasn’t a typical Marella cruise I did manage to film a full ship tour which you will find below:
The ship has multiple big restaurants, a multi level atrium, HUGE theatre and a promenade deck which I love. The ship has been refurbished multiple times since she was originally built and it is evident onboard.
Which ship should I choose?
I personally would always recommend a cruise on the Marella Explorer, Explorer 2, Discovery or Discovery 2 over the Celebration or Dream. Marella Celebration and Dream have been well looked after by Marella but for me personally I prefer cruising on bigger newer cruise ships.
If you would like to relax on a traditional small cruise ship then Marella Celebration and Dream may be perfect for you. The ship has been looked after to a high standard and by all accounts the food and service onboard is spectacular.
If you would like a more modern cruise then Marella Discovery, Discovery 2, Explorer or Explorer 2 would be the cruise ships that I would recommend.
It is worth nothing that because the Marella Celebration and Marella Dream were built in the 1980s the majority of cabins do not have balconies. Back in the 1980s this wasn’t a priority for the passengers in the same way that it is today.
The majority of cabins on Marella Discovery/Discovery 2, Explorer/Explorer 2 have balconies.
Why choose Marella?
I personally am a BIG fan of the relaxed atmosphere onboard, the included drinks and the budget friendly prices. To find out more about the cruise line, and who I’d recommend them for, check out our recommended cruise lines page here:
If you are considering a Marella cruise you may be wondering what the ‘all inclusive’ cruise fare actually includes. SPOILER ALERT: It doesn’t include everything! All inclusive very rarely ever does. To learn about what is actually included, check out this post: Marella Cruises, what does ‘all inclusive’ include?
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!