Marella Voyager Cruise Ship Review

Marella Voyager Cruise Ship Review: A Far From Perfect Ship

Embarking on a journey with Marella Voyager offers a distinctive cruising experience that blends the old with the new. As the latest addition to the Marella Cruises fleet, this Century-class cruise ship carries a rich history under its belt, having previously sailed as Mercury for Celebrity Cruises before undergoing transformations to Mein Schiff 2 and then Mein Herz for Tui. Despite its age of over 26 years, Marella Voyager has been given a new lease of life, raising questions about its ability to compete in the bustling UK cruise market. This cruise ship review delves into the various aspects of Marella Voyager, evaluating whether it stands up as a worthy choice for both new and seasoned cruisers.

Marella Voyager in Mallorca - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Marella Voyager in Mallorca / Sail Away Magazine

Design and Maintenance: A Mixed Bag

Externally, Marella Voyager presents a gleaming facade, with a fresh paint job that masks its years and might deceive the uninitiated cruiser into thinking it’s a newer vessel than it truly is. However, stepping aboard reveals a different story. Despite a comprehensive 36-day drydock that saw over a thousand contractors working tirelessly to revamp the ship—laying nearly 38,000 metres of carpet, installing over 6,000 metres of new cabling, fixing 70,000 tiles to bulkheads, and hanging more than 11,000 signs—signs of wear and tear are evident. This discrepancy highlights a refurbishment that focused on major overhauls while seemingly neglecting simpler maintenance tasks, leaving certain areas in need of attention.

Duct Tape to Repair Handrail - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Duct Tape to Repair Handrail / Sail Away Magazine

Interior Design: A Breath of Fresh Air

The interior design of Marella Voyager impresses with its character and thoughtful use of space. Compared to its sister, Marella Explorer, Voyager boasts more dining options, shopping venues, entertainment facilities, and children’s activities, reflecting a ship that’s been designed with the passenger experience in mind. Inspired perhaps by the interiors of Virgin ships, Marella Voyager manages to carve out its own identity, offering a myriad of spaces that cater to every type of cruiser.

Drinks at The Electric Rooms aboard Marella Voyager - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Drinks at The Electric Rooms aboard Marella Voyager / Sail Away Magazine

Cabin Comforts and Quirks

Our stay in a standard Balcony Cabin on Deck 8 was mostly pleasant, with fresh decor, new carpet, and light wood panelling creating a cool, airy atmosphere suited to the warmer climates it frequents. The cabin size and balcony offered adequate space, though the bedding quality and limited power outlets (one European and one US socket with no USB ports) left something to be desired. The bathroom, while modernized, had practical challenges, such as a shower door that failed to stay closed, leading to water spillage. These elements underscore a refurbishment that, while significant, overlooked some aspects of passenger convenience and comfort.

Standard Balcony Cabin aboard Marella Voyager - Marella Cruises
Credit: Standard Balcony Cabin aboard Marella Voyager / Marella Cruises

Dining: Hits and Misses

Marella Voyager’s dining scene is a blend of ambition and inconsistency. The Kitchens, a buffet-style restaurant, excels in variety and quality, putting it ahead of similar offerings on other ships, including those of P&O. Yet, the buffet’s static menu and the slow service due to understaffing at stations are drawbacks. Specialty dining venues like Surf & Turf excel, offering superb meals that justify their additional cost, while others, such as Kora La and Silver Fork, deliver a middling experience that could benefit from a more focused culinary direction. The main dining room, Latitude 53, and its Italian counterpart, Vista, offer decent meals but struggle with overcrowding and availability.

Silver Fork Dining Room on Marella Voyager - Marella Cruises
Credit: Silver Fork Dining Room on Marella Voyager / Marella Cruises

Entertainment and Activities: Beyond Expectations

Entertainment aboard Marella Voyager is a strong suit, with a wide array of activities and performances that rival those of larger cruise lines. The Broadway Show Lounge offers an impressive lineup of West-end theatre shows, and the daily and nightly activities ensure there’s never a dull moment. However, the ship falls short in providing enriching destination-focused talks and activities, highlighting its emphasis on leisure over learning.

Sail Away Party on Marella Voyager - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Sail Away Party on Marella Voyager / Sail Away Magazine

Service: A Tale of Two Experiences

The service at bars and restaurants aboard Marella Voyager is commendable, with staff members who are friendly, personable, and mostly efficient. This level of service contrasts sharply with the experience at Guest Experiences, where staff seem ill-equipped to handle even minor complaints, revealing a need for better training and customer service protocols.

Value for Money: A Complicated Equation

Marella Voyager offers an attractive package for its cruise fare, including flights, transfers, a drinks package, and more. While this presents exceptional value, certain onboard pricing policies, such as those for specialty dining, cabanas, and the premium drinks package, could be reevaluated to ensure they offer comparable value. Moreover, the ship’s WIFI service is notably outdated and overpriced, detracting from the overall value proposition.

Electric Rooms aboard Marella Voyager - Sail Away Magazine
Credit: Electric Rooms aboard Marella Voyager / Sail Away Magazine

Environmental and Social Considerations

Marella’s commitment to reducing its environmental impact is evident in its policy of limiting bed linen changes and other sustainable practices. However, the cruise line could further enhance its environmental credentials by addressing the broader sustainability aspects of its operations, including energy use and waste management.

Final Thoughts: A Ship with Potential

Marella Voyager, with its rich history and recent refurbishment, presents a unique proposition in the cruise market. While it offers a range of commendable facilities, dining options, and entertainment, the ship still requires attention in several areas to fully realize its potential. The disparity between the ship’s gleaming exterior and the varying degrees of refurbishment within, alongside the inconsistencies in service and dining quality, suggests a vessel in transition.

Joining Marella Voyager in Mallorca - Sail Away with Dan & Jay
Credit: Joining Marella Voyager in Mallorca / Sail Away with Dan & Jay

For those considering a cruise on Marella Voyager, it offers a solid, if not perfect, cruising experience that balances cost with comfort, variety, and entertainment. It appeals to budget-conscious travellers who value an all-inclusive package and a diverse array of onboard experiences. However, discerning cruisers with a preference for the latest amenities and flawless service might find the ship lacking in certain respects.

As Marella continues to invest in and refine its fleet, there’s hope that Marella Voyager will receive the necessary updates and attention to elevate it further, making it not just a ship of choice for those seeking value, but also a preferred option for those seeking a memorable and hassle-free cruise experience. In sum, Marella Voyager offers a gateway to the Mediterranean’s charms, wrapped in an experience that, while imperfect, is rich in character and potential.

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Marella Voyager Cruise Ship Review - Sail Away with Dan & Jay
Credit: Marella Voyager Cruise Ship Review / Sail Away with Dan & Jay