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Like Cruising With American Cruise Lines? You May Enjoy Marella Cruises

This post is sponsored by Marella cruises, all opinions are my own. I have cruised with Marella multiple times and this post is based on my experiences cruising with Marella and the other cruise lines mentioned in this post.

If you are a fan of mainstream American cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Carnival, you may also like the British cruise line Marella. They are one of my personal favourite cruise lines and I continually recommend them to families and first-time cruisers.

I have taken two Marella cruises and had another booked for 2020, where I was planning on introducing two of my friends (first-time cruisers) to cruising! Unfortunately, 2020 did ruin those plans but we will be rebooking.

Below is a photo of me on my first Marella cruise, with the Marella Discovery in Copenhagen.

marella discovery
Me with The Marella Discovery in Copenhagen

Who are Marella Cruises?

Marella are a British cruise line, formerly known as Thomson. They have four ships in their fleet and provide all-inclusive cruises that include gratuities and alcoholic drinks in the cruise fare as standard.

Marella cruise all over the world:

marella cruise itineraries

I’ve been on two Marella cruises to date, the first of which was a two week Baltic cruise and the second a 90s themed weekend. This was my first themed cruise and it was brilliant.

To learn more about the 90s cruise I took onboard the Marella Explorer, watch the video below:

Two of Marella’s Cruise Ships are Former Royal Caribbean Ships

The first reason why cruisers that love American cruise lines may enjoy a Marella cruise, is that two of Marella’s cruise ships are from Royal Caribbean ships.

The Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2 originally started their lives as Splendor of The Seas and Legend of The Seas.

When cruising on the Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2, it is immediately obvious that these cruise ships are former Royal Caribbean ships. Guests who cruised on the ships when they were owned by Royal Caribbean would particularly enjoy revisiting the ships.

Both ships have many Royal Caribbean features, such as large atriums, open multi-level dining rooms, and bars around their funnels.

Marella’s Cruise Ships are Smaller Than Royal Caribbean’s or Norwegian’s

Marella cruise ships are much smaller than the large Royal Caribbean cruise ships that contain things like surf simulators and ziplines. If you are somebody who cruises with Royal Caribbean because you enjoy the large ships, a Marella cruise may not be for you. That said, many cruisers prefer the smaller size of the older Royal Caribbean ships.

Marella’s cruise ships have a friendly, relaxed atmosphere on board and all four ships in the Marella fleet hold around 2,000 passengers. Personally, this is my favourite size of ship.

Below is a photo of me with the Marella Discovery in Stockholm. Note the very ‘Royal Caribbean’ rock climbing wall on the back and the distinctive bar around the funnel.

Marella Discovery Cruise Families
Me with The Marella Discovery in Stockholm

Another benefit of cruising on a smaller ship is being able to fit into ports that larger ships may not be able to. It may be the case that a small ship can dock in a port where a larger ship would have to tender to land.

Note: Royal Caribbean does have some smaller ships in their fleet but the Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2 are smaller than the smallest ship currently sailing for Royal Caribbean.

To learn more about the Marella fleet, check out this post: Marella Cruises, Ships by Size – Photo Guide and Reviews

Marella Cruises Include More – Usually For Less

Marella Cruises are all-inclusive. The price that you pay for a Marella cruise automatically includes your gratuities and it also includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Marella Cruises Include Drinks

In the majority of bars onboard you will find two menus. One will include drinks that are included in your cruise fare and another menu will include drinks that are an extra cost.

There are hundreds of included drinks on Marella cruises. So when cruising with Marella, there is no need to buy a drinks package or spend extra on drinks if you don’t want to.

Below is a photo of two of my cocktails that I had onboard the Marella Discovery. Both included in the cruise fare.

Marella Discovery Drinks Venue

Marella Cruises Include Multiple Food Options

On Marella cruises. you’ll also find a lot of restaurants that are included in your cruise fare.

On all cruises, you’ll find that a buffet and main dining room are included in the cruise fare as a bare minimum.

There is no need to pay for any food when taking a cruise.

When cruising with Marella, there are multiple options included in the cruise fare, in addition to some specialty restaurants.

Marella Discovery Surf and Turf Restaurant

On the Marella Discovery, you’ll find the following restaurants included in the cruise fare, which is considerably more than the majority of other cruise lines:

  • Main Dining Room
  • Snack Shack
  • Italian Restaurant
  • Buffet
  • Pizza and Tapas Restaurant

Marella does have a number of specialty restaurants on board, but these are very reasonably priced and it’s not required that you spend any extra money when cruising.

Marella Cruises Include Gratuities

On Marella cruises gratuities are also included. Guests are reminded of this throughout the cruise and there is no pressure to tip anything extra. Some guests do like to tip extra in cash but this isn’t expected.

The majority of passengers on Marella cruises are British and British cruise lines don’t tend to expect tipping in the same way as the large American cruise lines do.

Having gratuities and drinks factored into the price of the cruise means that you can leave a Marella cruise with a bill of £0 should you want to.

To learn more about what is included in a Marella cruise, check out this post: Marella Cruises, what does ‘all inclusive’ include?

Marella Cruises Are Usually Cheaper Than The Mainstream American Cruise Lines

Cruises with Marella are usually cheaper than cruises with cruise lines like Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Line.

Many of the large cruise lines like Royal Caribbean are able to charge high prices because demand is high and because each ship has a limited capacity. This is particularly true on the largest ships in the fleet.

It is possible to find cheap cruise deals with both cruise lines but in my experience, it is usually cheaper to cruise with Marella than Royal Caribbean.

Marella offer many itineraries in Europe. including Adriatic cruises like the below:

adriatic explorer cruise

This itinerary visits Kotor, which is one of my favourite cruise ports. The sail is incredibly picturesque and takes quite a while, below is a timelapse of the sail in which I took onboard the Costa Luminosa.

If at all possible, I’d recommend being on the top deck (or your balcony) for the sail into Kotor.

In my experience, excursions are also MUCH cheaper on Marella cruises compared to Royal Caribbean cruises. I took part in a number on my baltic Marella cruise and was very surprised at the prices, having sailed primarily with American cruise lines before this cruise.

Marella 2021 and 2022 Offers and Discounts

Marella have some incredible discounts for 2021 and 2022 including:


£200 off all summer 2021 cruises (£350 off balcony cabins and £500 off suites).

The below price of £828 per person includes a 7-night cruise, with gratuities includes, flights from the UK and included drinks!

If you were to cruise with a major American cruise line, you’d realistically be looking at £300 for the drinks alone and almost another £100 for gratuities. I could definitely eat and drink the value of the cruise fare in a week!

Booking Cruises For Summer 2021:

I would strongly suggest that any 2021 cruises are booked directly through the cruise line with flights included. This limits any Coronavirus related risks ,as the cruise is purchased as a package.

I’d also suggest that all cruises are booked on a credit card for added protection.

If your cruise was cancelled, your flights would automatically be refunded to you by the cruise line, along with the full cruise fare.

Marella also has a travel with confidence policy, which means that for bookings made before 28 February 2020, guests are able to change their cruise for free up to 21 days before departure (for cruises until the end of October 2021).

marella Mediterranean cruise

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the full balance of your cruise doesn’t have to be paid at the time of booking.

Marella are also offering the £200 off discount into the winter of 2021 and summer of 2022!

Now is a REALLY good time to book a summer 2022 cruise. The prices that you currently see (plus the discount) will almost certainly be the cheapest you’ll find.

I always recommend cruisers to book a cruise a year, or more, in advance if possible.

Marella Offer a British Experience Onboard

The experience of taking a cruise with Marella is different from taking a cruise with an American cruise line.

Many cruisers from outside of Britain enjoy taking cruises with British cruise lines.

Many British people enjoy cruising with Marella, because they are surrounded by their home comforts such as British classics on the menu. The experience on board is geared primarily towards British cruisers, although you will find a variety of nationalities sailing on Marella cruises.

Marella makes cruising very easy, I remember heading to my cabin when I first boarded the Marella Discovery and I sat down on the bed to read all of the ‘welcome’ information.

Marella had explained things that other cruise lines didn’t even try to do.

Marella do have formal nights but in terms of formality and dress codes, these are very similar to Royal Caribbean’s. To learn more about the dress codes on Marella cruises, check out this post: Marella Cruises Formal Nights – Everything You Need To Know

Marella Cruises What To Wear Formal Nights

To Conclude:

Passengers who love sailing with mainstream American cruise lines may also enjoy a Marella cruise. Marella has a small fleet that has been well looked after, including two cruise ships that were previously owned by Royal Caribbean.

Marella cruises offer all-inclusive cruises at very reasonable prices, there is a lot more included in the Marella cruise fare than the fare for most American mainstream cruise lines.

As a result, they are a good alternative for many, me included!

Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources

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