Marella Explorer Review

This is the first cruise we have taken as a family in 10 years, the first time we cruised I took my son aged 8 and daughter aged 14, back before TUI purchased the Marella fleet. 

 Marella Explorer Review with Children


I had high hopes for this as our first cruise as a family was absolutely amazing, with the kids club being the best we had ever experienced on any holiday. There was SO much for children to do on our first cruise so I really bigged this trip up to my family, unfortunately, I was left a tad deflated. 

Marella Explorer Review

We took our family on a one week TUI Marella cruise around Greece and here's what we thought about the experience...

This review is solely based on the point of view of a family with children - It would have been completely different if we went adults only.


Overall Rating





>> Kids Menus Available

>> Kids allowed to eat from the Adult Menu

>> Kids Club until 9:30pm

>> Free Air Hockey Table in the Hangout

>> Staff make a fuss of the younger children


>> Kids Club wasn't great

>> No Family Screenings in the Cinema

>> Very Expensive Wifi for Teens

>> Hard to get beds by the pool after a day out

>> No Children Allowed in Speciality Restaurants


Here's a bit more explanation of the pros and cons listed above...


Marella Explorer Cinema

This was a really big letdown for us. There was not one family-friendly screening the entire week we were there. The film choices were repeated daily and diabolical.

Kids club even did a movie night and didn't take them up there! I found this such a shame. They watched a film on a tiny TV in the M club instead - another wasted opportunity on behalf of the TUI kids club team. 


Marella Explorer Mini Golf

marella explorer golf

We love crazy golf so were pleased there was a course on board, and we did make use of it twice. The view is incredible whilst you play.


There were no pens or scoresheets available both times we played.


Marella Explorer Pool Deck

marella explorer pool deck

My children enjoyed the pools as they are huge fans of water. Although it's very hard to get beds close enough to watch them on the days we left the ship. When we got back the beds around the pools were always taken.

As a parent with little ones, it's important that I can see them in the water at all times, especially when the water is so deep, so this was always a battle - we had to decide between going out and doing excursions and having bored kids when we got back or having a quick stroll around and getting back so they could have a swim.

Tip: The Pools are very deep so make sure you bring swimming aids for any non-swimmers.


Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult in the jacuzzis and under 12s aren't allowed in at all. 

Both Pools are freezing and saltwater which my twins hated 


Marella Explorer Hideout

marella explorer hideout

The Hideout is an area on deck 14 designed for teens and it's massively wasted. there's one board game that was broken, a few bean bags and a free air hockey table. But with no one in it, it was pointless.

In my opinion, and my teens there is absolutely nothing to draw them in. In every other hotel I have been in, the teens hang around the areas where the wifi is best and then they all start talking and hanging around.

I spoke to the kids club rep about it and asked why free wifi was not offered up there and she said it was due to the fact they didn't want them to be stuck on their phones. but honestly, that's what teens enjoy! So I thought that was ridiculous.


Marella Explorer Gamer Zone

There is a gamer zone available on deck 8 and although my girls weren't interested, and we didn't see anyone use the room, I'm sure my son would have enjoyed the area when he was younger.


Marella Explorer Kids Club (M Club)

Kids club ran 2/3 times a day for 2-hour sessions. Unfortunately, the quality of Marella's M Club was very poor. It was arts & crafts most of the time, which left my twins bored and they only went because they wanted to see a friend that they had met. Cruise kid's clubs are usually superior, but not on this ship.

Staff were friendly.


No breakfast wake ups - Most cruise lines offer this and my previous TUI cruise did, but not on the Explorer. 

They didn't leave the room! There were no cinema trips, no treasure hunts around the ship....nothing. 

No Pirate (or any other) theme day.

The evening kids club finished at the same time as the first Broadway show, meaning we had to leave early to ensure we weren't late.

No coordination! They had a chocolate party on the same day as the white party! 


Marella Explorer Family Cabins

We had a family cabin on deck 10, cabin number 10147 and it was very spacious. I was worried it would be tiny and we would be in each other's way a lot but it was honestly fine. There were two large double beds and a fixed dingle above the one. There was also a sliding privacy door between the children's room and ours. 

Tip:  There aren't many family inside cabins (3 in total) and the family balcony cabins cost at least £1000 more due to the cost being calculated per person, so if you want one, it's advisable to book early. 


Marella Explorer Family Entertainment

marella explorer entertainment

The daytime or evening entertainment on the Marella Explorer isn't catered towards kids in any way, shape or form. 

The Broadway Lounge - had one show that my children would sit through in the week and that was the circus show, the rest were just singing and one comedian show that they were too young to understand. 

Pool Deck - They really enjoyed the white party, they danced the night away to the amazing Muzzic Unlimited and played with their friends.

Squid and Anchor - It's a pub with quizzes, live music and game shows. Nothing particularly fun for the kids but we sat there most nights and played UNO with them which they enjoyed.

Indigo - Doesn't open until 11pm and children aren't allowed in after 12pm.

The Lounge - Nice for a drink, there's usually a pianist on, but not a place for children. 


Marella Explorer Food 

marella explorer latitude 53


The food on Marella Explorer for Children is exceptional as is the service and staff's attitude toward our girls. The staff made our girls feel like royalty.

Every free restaurant offers a children's menu which has the usual suspects such as chicken nuggets, bolognese, burgers etc, but they are also free to choose from the main menu if they wish. 


Children are not allowed in any of the speciality restaurants 


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Is Marella Explorer Good for Kids?

Yes and No! A holiday is what you make it and no holiday is a bad holiday in my opinion, but the Marella Explorer is not particularly catered for children, despite the facilities shown.  If family fun is important to you, the Marella Explorer really doesn't cut it. 


Is Marella Explorer Good for Teenagers?

There are things for teenagers to do, although they need improvement.

The hideout was such a wasted space. It comprises of one air hockey table, one board game with missing pieces and a few beanbags. There was absolutely nothing to draw the teens in and get them talking. In every hotel I have ever been in, the teen zone was a free wifi area, which always attracts the teens and eventually gets them chatting.

The gamer room did look good, but no one used it that we saw and it's nowhere near the hideout, which means the teens would be separated depending on what they liked doing.

A pool table is also something the teens love but there isn't one on the Explorer

There were a few teens on the ship and none of them would even look at each other. I did query the member of staff and she said they don't offer free wifi there as they don't want to encourage teens to be on their phones - which is very out of touch. 


Is Marella Explorer Child Friendly?

Yes, on the Explorer you will find family rooms, children's menus, a kids club, a teens hangout, two pools, three whirlpools, mini golf, mocktails, and the staff are very friendly towards the children. 


Do kids get Seasick on Cruises?

It's very rare for seasickness to occur on large ships, particularly when cruising in calm summer months. Stabilisers on cruise ships have come a long way in the last few years and really the only time you feel any movement is when docking, and then it's very little. 

My three children suffer terribly from travel sickness and never once complained and we did have one windy day. 



Cruise Insurance

You will need specialist travel insurance for cruise holidays. We paid less than £100 for a family of 5 for 1 year multi-trip, travel insurance with cruise cover - which I thought was very reasonable. We purchased our cover from Holiday Extras


Help and Advice 

There's a really good group on Facebook that I found really helpful for any questions we had regarding anything on the ship and also for the itineraries. You can speak with people who are going on the same date as you and also get answers from past cruisers. Visit Group



The Marella Explorer is a great ship, there's plenty to do and it was worth the money, but I wouldn't rush to go back as a family. I wouldn't hesitate to go back as a couple though. 

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Claire Roach Founder & CEO @ Money Saving Central

Claire Roach Money Saving Central Founder

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