I’ve just disembarked a 3 night 90s-themed cruise where we saw and did things that would be unthinkable on any other mainstream cruise.
I originally booked this cruise way back in 2019, for years I’d promised my friends this amazing party filled with 90s bands and sunshine and fancy dress.
I’d brought 5 first-time cruisers on the cruise so I was feeling nervous, I hoped that they would enjoy it but there was a very real risk that this crazy cruise might put them off cruising for life!
This was a very busy cruise and not a normal cruising experience, at all.
We had a 7 am flight from London to Palma and some people drinking before the flight even left, I was personally just trying to stay awake and hoping that everybody had all of the right paperwork.
I didn’t want anybody to be turned away at the port and I was travelling with 17 other people, so it did feel like a very real risk.
The TUI Transfer Was Easy
When we got to the airport we were met by a TUI transfer and taken to the ship, that part was all very easy. We were involved in a little bus crash at one point during this cruise, but it wasn’t on a TUI bus, more about that later!
From the moment we went into the terminal the 90s theme started, we were given these lanyards and the schedule of the main bands that were playing.
I’m usually not a fan of lanyards when it comes to cruising but this one was very useful and very on-brand.
I Brought 5 First Time Cruisers With Me
For my first-time cruiser friends, this was their first time ever properly seeing a cruise ship up close. The ship that we were cruising on was the Marella Discovery 2, which used to be Legend of The Seas for Royal Caribbean.
She’s pretty small compared to modern-day Royal Caribbean ships but she’s been refurbished a lot since she was built for Royal in the late 90s.
There definitely are still some Royal Caribbean features but I don’t think you’d know she is as old as she is, for my friends anyway the ship seemed huge and the fact that she was built in the 90s, fit well with the theme.
I had cruised with Marella before, so I had some idea about what to expect. I’d cruised on the sister ship to the Marella Discovery 2 pre-pandemic, so I was excited to see if I could spot any differences.
I did worry a little that Marella would have to change things like the food in order to cope with the very different daily schedule and they did, bit it wasn’t a problem.
The Muster Drill Was in The Theatre
When we boarded, we went straight to the theatre to watch the safety video, it was odd having everybody back in one place for the safety drill, as usually now it’s completed on phones but I think Marella probably knew that they wouldn’t get everybody to do the safety drill if they didn’t physically make everybody sit and watch it.
There was a high percentage of people on board who had never taken a cruise before, much higher than on a normal cruise.
Our Cruise Cards Were Pink!
We were given our cruise cards, which were this bright pink colour. This was probably to stop everybody from losing their cards, we did lose quite a few things during this cruise, but never the cruise card, so that one definitely worked.
I Booked a Solo Inside Cabin
We went to our cabins next and I had friends staying in inside cabins, oceanview cabins, and also balcony cabins.
I, in true Emma style, decided to book an inside cabin.
Despite having an inside cabin, I didn’t actually have the cheapest cabin on the ship.
Because I was cruising with so many friends I decided that it would be easier if I had my own cabin. Often on cruises, you’ll find that if you want to cruise Solo you’ll end up paying a lot more for your cabin but this wasn’t the case.
The cruise cost around £550 for 2 people sharing a cabin and I only paid £663 for my ‘solo’ cabin.
I’d never stayed in a ‘solo’ cabin before and I knew that Marella did have some specific solo cabins. I didn’t know how small my room would be, or if I would have a small single bed, but I was excited to find out.
As it turned out my cabin was exactly the same as the regular inside cabins, the only difference was that I had it all to myself, which was amazing.
I was assigned cabin 3023 and I knew the person opposite me, to the side, and others down the corridor. I’ll talk more about the cabin later in the video but here’s a quick preview:
Onto The Snack Shack
We were so hungry by this point, so decided to go to the snack shack to grab some food.
The snack shack is a poolside venue that you’ll find on all Marella ships. It serves things like burgers, sandwiches, and most importantly… cookies!
I had some chips and of course, a cookie which was very good. On most Marella cruises the snack shack will close quite early but on this cruise, it was open until 2 am.
Late at night, the chips seemed to taste even better and they would hand out things like boxes of noodles.
We Found The Top Deck Drinks Carts
The weather was not fantastic on this first day, in fact, the weather was actually better back in England, which you wouldn’t expect.
We hoped that the weather would get better as the cruise went on but it didn’t stop us from sitting by the pool and enjoying a drink.
It was really windy though.
It was at this point that we first discovered Marella’s drinks carts that they wheel around the pool deck handing out drinks. The carts usually have beers, prosecco, and of course soft drinks.
I did manage to find SOME Pepsi on this ship, it was Pepsi light which isn’t as good as Pepsi Max but it was really good.
Around the rest of the ship, the drink that was served was ‘Coke’ and I’m pretty sure it was some kind of generic brand.
I’m not sure what Marella do to the fountain soda but it’s never quite right, I’ve found that on Marella cruises in the past.
On this cruise though it just made me more likely to order a cocktail or something other than diet Coke.
What do Marella Cruises Include?
Marella cruises are ‘all inclusive’ as standard but that doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING is included. There is a good selection of cocktails, wine, beer and soft drinks but there are also lots of drinks that aren’t included.
To find out more about what drinks are included in a Marella cruise, check out this post: Marella Cruises All Inclusive Drinks List (and Menus)
I just didn’t look at the drinks that weren’t included, I ordered what wouldn’t cost me any money. I came back from this cruise with the lowest onboard spend I’ve ever had, £0!
The cost to upgrade for the 3 nights of the cruise was only £60 but I didn’t feel that I needed to.
Upgrading means that you have more choice of cocktails, and beers, you can have soda in cans and coffee from the coffee port onboard.
The soda in cans would have been the most valuable bit to me but I wasn’t about to pay £20 a day just to improve the quality of the soda.
If you were somebody who really liked coffee, or certain drinks not included it might be worth it, but for me, the included stuff was just fine.
One of the reasons I like Marella cruises is that there is lots included in the cruise fare. All gratuities and tips are included and there are more included restaurants than on most other cruise lines.
I Had Packed ‘Fancy Dress’ For Each Day
Each day on our cruise there was a different fancy dress theme, fancy dress being an ‘unusual’ costume worn to an event. We had been planning our costumes for months.
I had bought and borrowed lots of things and hoped that I hadn’t left anything at home.
At least 50% of my suitcase was made up of my costumes.
The first night we went for a Scooby-Doo theme. I went as Velma, my friend Ruth dressed as Daphne and Tristan was our scooby doo along with his little scrappy doo.
Before I get lots of comments telling me Scooby Doo isn’t 90s, I know Scooby Doo came out pre-90s, but we were dressing as the early 00s movie versions.
Plus Scooby Doo was in the 90s and 00s and I think still today!
We decided not to get dressed until after dinner on the first night but as the cruise went on we got very used to seeing people in costumes in the main dining room, and we did the same.
The problem for me was trying not to get the hair from my wigs in my dinner or the sleeves of my costumes but it all went well and I really liked having the themes each evening.
I wouldn’t want to always have to dress like this on a cruise, but for 3 days it was lots of fun.
Marella Have Freestyle Dining
We went to the main dining room for dinner and had a big table for 10. Marella don’t have set dining times, you just arrive when you are hungry, we never had to queue or wait for a table, even when there were 10 of us.
I get the feeling that less people on this cruise opted for a sit down dinner, preferring to just grab food from the buffet while chilling on the pool deck.
We enjoyed a sit down dinner everyday though and it was a great way to catch up and to see what everybody was doing.
I had friends I knew from school on this cruise, friends from when I worked in ASDA, friends from my job in insurance and friends who I knew from the cruise world.
I just hoped that they would all get on or I’d have to go between groups constantly which would be confusing and very tiring!
The food was very much what I expected from Marella, sometimes really good, sometimes not so great, but more about that later.
Day 1 Entertainment – Vengaboys and More!
On the first evening’s schedule was a 90s gameshow, an Oasis tribute band, a Lady Gaga tribute, and the Vengaboys and Artful Dodger playing by the pool.
The tribute acts played in a couple of venues onboard called the Squid and Anchor and the Live Room.
The Squid and Anchor lounge is meant to be a pub, it didn’t really feel like a pub to me but it’s a nice big bright colourful lounge where everybody would dance to live music.
It used to be called the Anchors Aweigh lounge when the ship was owned by Royal Caribbean.
The Live Lounge was also very colourful and both venues were busy every evening.
The Live Lounge used to be a casino when it was owned by Royal Caribbean.
When Marella bought the ship they took out most of the casino machines and only left a few in one corner.
Most of The Casino Was Removed
A study by the economist found that Americans gamble on average more than Brits, so this may be the reason why they took out a lot of the casino.
Interestingly, Australians beat both Americans and Brits when it comes to amount spent on gambling per person.
The Atrium Spans Multiple Levels
The ship has a large wrap-around promenade deck and also an atrium that splits over multiple levels.
This really was the heart of the ship with everything coming off of this area. If in doubt of where I was, I’d always head to the central atrium at work it out from there.
They used to do acrobatics shows here when the ship was owned by Royal Caribbean.
It would have been cool if Marella did this still but there was plenty of acrobatics in the theatre and Marella’s theatre entertainment is my favourite at sea.
We watched a brand new theatre show for Marella, which was really really good.
We Got Changed and Went to Bar 11
After dinner, we got changed into our costumes and went to have a drink in a bar called Bar 11. Bar 11 overlooks the pool deck and is one of those distinctly Royal Caribbean features.
There are also a couple of speciality restaurants up here but we didn’t go to any during this cruise.
We went to see Vengaboys perform by the pool and this was definitely one of my cruise highlights.
If you’re not sure who the Vengaboys are, they sang the songs We Like to Party, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!! and We’re Going to Ibiza.
We Were in Port Every Day
I wanted to make the most of the cruise and go to see as many musical acts as I could. I knew though that we would have to be up each day to explore a new port, so I hoped that I wouldn’t be too tired.
We did find out on this cruise what happens if you sleep through the time that you’re meant to be out of your room by…
Late Night Pizza Was Always Available
After a night of dancing and drinking by the pool, we were so grateful that an area called The Glasshouse was open and serving pizza.
Usually it would be a sit-down dinner venue by an inside pool, where they freshly cook amazing pizza but I guess because of the different nature of this cruise, they decided that they would not be open for dinner but instead be open until 2 am, that definitely made sense.
It felt as though Marella decided to bulk produce lots of food that people like eating late at night, like chips and pizza.
It meant that there was less choice but I think it was a good decision from Marella. The last thing you want is for people to be hungry in the middle of the night.
Our First Port Was Barcelona
The weather was much better when we arrived in Barcelona. I’ve been to Barcelona quite a few times before and to be honest, if it wasn’t for my friends, I probably would have stayed on the ship.
My friends though had never been, so we decided that we would get the bus into the centre and spend some time looking at the main sights.
Marella did have a shuttle available but you had to book for a fixed amount of time in Barcelona and we wanted to be able to come and go whenever we wanted.
It is a long walk into Barcelona, usually I do do it but after a night dancing to Vengaboys, we thought it was best to get the bus.
The bus was very easy and we didn’t have to wait at all. The bus cost €4.50 each and they only accepted cash, so that’s the only thing you’ve got to think about.
We Did Get Into a Little Bus Crash…
We wandered around Barcelona before deciding to head back to the ship and we did get into a little bit of a bus crash.
There was a taxi that really didn’t seem to like our bus driver, I think they’d shared a few strong words before we set off but when the taxi pulled right in front of us, the bus had to emergency stop very suddenly.
We were standing up because the bus was busy, so we went flying but luckily the only casualty was my nail that broke and my bum which now has a ridiculous bruise from where I fell into a bar.
When I talk to people about Barcelona and the big roundabout around the Columbus Monument, it seems like that’s a pretty common occurrence.
Anyway, it was fine and just one of the bruises I got on this cruise.
We Found The Self Serve Drinks Machines
When we went back to the ship, we wanted to find the self-service wine and Fosters tap, this was one of the things I had promised my friends when selling the cruise to them back in 2019 and we hadn’t found it yet.
We did manage to find it on the buffet and there was a self-serve soda machine too with Coke, lemonade and some kind of fizzy orange.
We did end up sitting near this machine quite often. I love being able to get a diet Coke whenever I wanted, I’d prefer it if it was a Pepsi machine-like in the harvester or something but it was good anyway.
Day 2 – 90s vs 00s Fashion
The second dress theme was 90s or 00s fashion.
I decided to dress as Avril Lavigne and as a very specific look she did in 2004.
Looking back through my photos now, I don’t really recognise myself with the long blonde hair but I loved this outfit.
It was so easy to jump around to music and these camo trousers had such huge pockets that I could actually put my phone in my pocket!
I haven’t been able to do that for years thanks to whoever creates womens clothes, deciding that we don’t need pockets. Spoiler alert, WE DO.
The Italian Restaurant is Also Included
We got changed before dinner and ate in the Italian restaurant which was also included. The food here was good and I loved this trio of tiramisu.
I don’t actually like regular tiramisu, but the white chocolate and raspberry ones are so good, that I always order them. I just gave the original tiramisu to my friend.
We Watched Rockology in The Theatre
We saw the theatre show Rockology and because my friend Ian was dressed as Slash, the dancers and singers really interacted with him.
He was rocking his air guitar and I bet the production team aren’t used to that!
There weren’t many of us watching the theatre shows in the evening but those of us who were there, were very enthusiastic. We were always handed drinks as we entered the theatre too, which I really miss on other cruise lines.
The theatre team were brilliant and all of the crew onboard were really nice.
The Crew Were Busy, But Always Helpful
They were obviously very busy at times, like in the bars during the evenings but they were always friendly and helpful. I can’t fault anything with the crew at all, and I wouldn’t want to.
I can’t imagine looking at the cruise schedule and being told you’ve got a 3-day 90s party cruise coming up, collecting the glasses from beside the pool in itself was a never-ending task.
After the show finished, I ran to see the MacBusted tribute.
I literally ran and I lost all my friends in the process. The problem really with this cruise was that because it was so short, multiple things were on at the same time.
I missed most of the tribute but what I did manage to see was very good.
Busted were my favourite band of the noughties without a doubt. A couple of years ago, I went to see McBusted twice in a week, once in London and once in Brighton. I love them.
Day 2 Entertainment – More Dancing by The Pool
The day two acts included a Pink tribute, Gals Aloud and DJ Sash.
We danced away another night by the pool but I knew that we had booked an excursion for the morning in Valencia, so I didn’t want to drink too much or stay up too late.
My friend Patrick also said that he would have a go on the rock climbing wall the next day, so we needed to make sure that he was ready for that!
Our Next Port was Valencia
Our excursion in Valencia only cost £24.
It was mostly bus-based with lots of photo stops and a walking tour at the end. The weather reached the mid 20s °c, which for us brits was glorious.
It was almost, if not entirely British people onboard this cruise. It is possible to book a Marella cruise from outside of the UK but it isn’t easy.
This cruise sold out so fast, so I suppose Marella don’t need to worry about looking outside of the UK to fill their ships.
You Can Book Marella Cruises From Outside The UK – But It’s Not Easy
If you are from outside the UK though you can book a Marella cruise by booking cruise only and you might need to use something like PayPal, as Marella’s website doesn’t seem to like cards from outside of the UK.
If you are in the UK and a member of the cashback site ‘Complete Savings’ you can get 10% cashback on Marella cruises. This is a paid-for cashback site, so do your research before joining but I’ve used it without problems for almost a year now.
I Had a Look at an Oceanview Cabin
After coming back from our excursion, my friend Chris let me have a look around his cabin, he was in the oceanview solo cabin opposite me and his cabin was slightly bigger than mine.
The cabins are one area that I definitely think does date the ship, there’s nothing wrong with them at all, but the design with all of the wood is kind of old-fashioned.
I Stayed in Cabin 3032 – An Inside Cabin
In my cabin, I had LOTS of drawers, a big wardrobe, and a desk area.
I thought it was interesting that those of us in the inside cabins weren’t given kettles as standard and had to ask for them when my friends in other cabins were given them.
Just because we don’t like to spend a lot on a cabin doesn’t mean that we don’t want tea!
That said I spent barely any time in my cabin during this cruise, normally I’d ask for a kettle but there really was no point during this cruise.
I was in the cabin from 1 or 2 in the morning until 9am’ish and then back to change for dinner and that was it.
For the purposes that I needed this cabin for it was great.
There was a shower curtain which I know some people really don’t like but the shower was powerful and everything was very clean.
One thing that was a bit annoying was that there was barely any room to get around the bed, no issue for me I’d just jump over the top but if you were somebody who wasn’t as mobile, it might be an issue.
It was a nice big bed for me though and there was a USB outlet in the lamp which was great.
Lots of Guests Stayed Onboard
I’m pretty sure that around half the people on this cruise never got off the ship at all. Most people were soaking up the sunshine by the pool and enjoying the included drinks.
I hoped that my friends were enjoying the cruise, I think to be honest I cared more about if they enjoyed it than if I did.
It was around now that our letter arrived in our cabins letting us know when we would have to be off the ship. Our flight home wasn’t until 5 pm so we did worry that we could be taken to the airport at 9 am and left there all day.
That would have been very very boring.
Thankfully we were allowed to stay on the ship until 2 pm, we did have to be out of our cabins by 8:30, my friend Patrick didn’t manage that but we were meant to be out by 8:30.
The way that the ship changed on the last day was so funny for me to see.
The Marella Discovery 2 Has a Golf Course
We decided that we would go and have a game of mini-golf on the top deck.
While up here my friend Patrick decided that he was brave enough to give the rock climbing wall.
He did really well and got about halfway up, the rest of us made our excuses and played golf instead.
Day 3 – School Uniform Theme
The night’s theme was school uniform.
I don’t really like that theme, to be honest, but I decided to go as Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter. I thought Hogwarts was a school, and that would be a fun idea.
I did see others in similar costumes!
Dr Voltz – A Brand New Show
It was then that we watched a brand new show for Marella, the only way that I can describe it is like a modern Rocky Horror Show.
The songs were catchy, the dancers and singers were great, it was funny and it was very visually appealing.
Marella do win quite a lot of awards for their theatre teams and I definitely agree with that, they’re always consistently very good.
It was a bit more tricky to dance in a Hogwarts cape but I used my wand to point and reach when Reach by S-club 7 played.
Day 3 – Entertainment – Our Final Night
The day 3 acts were a Coldplay tribute band, a Robbie Williams tribute, atomic kitten and Vernon Kay DJing.
Vernon Kay had other people on the stage singing to win bottles of champagne.
I definitely wasn’t as drunk as a lot of the other people there but it was fun to see everybody having a good time.
I met so many amazing people on this cruise and everybody was so nice. I think it’s like how if you go out to a club or something everybody compliments each other in the toilets about their outfits, or hair, it was like that, but all the time.
On Disembarkation Day, Everything Changed
On day 4 the atmosphere of the ship really changed.
Lots of guests left the ship at 8am, 9am or 10am for earlier flights but we stayed on the ship as the next group of guests arrived for the next cruise.
It was really strange seeing children and older people wandering around the ship after what had been 3 days of adults mostly in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s partying at all hours of the day.
I often saw people drinking by the pool at 10 am as I went to breakfast to get my bread rolls. That is not normal for a Marella cruise at all and I hoped that my friends would know that.
Not that it ever bothered us, we never saw anybody being aggressive or bad drunks.
Everybody was just having a good time.
The food and service also changed on the last day, the buffet all of a sudden had a lot more choice, a lot more of things like salads and we were offered drinks instead of having to go and get them.
I tried to explain to my friends that THIS was what a Marella cruise was usually like.
Did My First Time Cruiser Friends Enjoy The Cruise?
Speaking to my first-time cruiser friends on the way home they said that they enjoyed the cruise and that for their next cruise they might like to do something more relaxed.
The fact that they said NEXT cruise and weren’t put off cruising forever was such a relief for me.
You may have noticed that in this video my hair changes a lot more than normal.
The day before this cruise my friend Ruth, seen on the cruise with me shaved my head as part of a charity fundraiser.
We’ve raised a whopping $41,000 for cancer support charities so far and the donation links are still open, if you haven’t donated yet but would like to.
Usually, I say something here to make the next video sound interesting, but I think ‘watch me shave my head here’ is as interesting as I can make any video. Check this out next: