If ever there was a cruise to prove the ‘Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People’ thing it would be this one. I was recently invited by Marella to join them on their ‘Electric Sunsets, back to the 90s’ cruise and I jumped at the chance. I am a 90s baby and I had so much fun onboard. I’ve certainly never been on a cruise quite like it before.
The cruise was 3 nights long and it departed from Newcastle and arrived in Southampton. The cruise stopped in Zeebrugge (Bruges) and Ijmuiden (Amsterdam) and was on board the Marella Explorer. Next year’s cruise has already been announced and it’ll be the same itinerary. The next theme is 90s vs 00s which sounds AMAZING. You can find out more about next years cruise on Marella’s website here: Marella Cruises. (affiliate link).
I live in the south so decided to fly up to Newcastle the night before. I live quite close to Southampton so would have preferred the cruise to start from there but flight up the Newcastle only took 45 minutes. It definitely was worth the trip.
Arrival – Ooo eee oo aa aa ting tang walla walla bing bang!
From the moment that was arrived in the check-in hall we were greeted with 90s music and happy staff.
I’ve cruised with Marella before and have always been very impressed with the crew, they seemed particularly happy to be working this weekend. They often joined in singing/dancing in the restaurants and bars, all of the guests were in a good mood too so I suppose that helps the crew to enjoy themselves.
In the terminal, there were a number of look-alikes including Will Smith and Kevin and Perry.
We checked in and boarded a little bus to be taken to the ship. Walking up to the ship was SO exciting. We were cruising on the Marella Explorer and I had heard many good things about the ship. The last time I cruised with Marella I cruised on the Marella Discovery which is now one of my favourite ships.
Onboard the Marella Explorer
When we got on board we headed straight to the coffee port for a drink, the coffee port was a favourite place of mine on the Marella Discovery. Marella very kindly gave me the premium beverage package so I ordered a can of diet coke, my favourite!
All Marella Cruises are ‘all-inclusive’ but there are some drinks which aren’t included. Certain things like cans of soda (instead of fountain) and premium cocktails are available if you upgrade to the premium drinks package for £10 a day. An absolute bargain when you think that on some other cruise lines a premium drinks package can cost you £50+ per day! To find out more about what is included in a Marella Cruise check out this post: Marella Cruises – What Does All Inclusive Include?
We decided to have lunch at the buffet while we waited for our rooms to be ready. I found a Yorkshire pudding so I was happy! Its interesting to note that Marella also have wine and beer taps in the buffet so guests can serve themselves. These definitely were used during on cruise.
Our Cabin – Inside Cabin 4187
We headed to our room after lunch. An inside cabin on deck 4. I have a full cabin tour video on YouTube which you can watch here: Marella Explorer Inside Cabin Tour.
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The cabin was right at the aft of the ship, we were actually only 1 cabin away from the end. It made it pretty easy to find the cabin and I didn’t get lost as often as I usually do on cruise ships.
If you are worried about seasickness I would usually suggest a cabin in the middle and lower down. I do get seasick but there wasn’t really much sailing time on this cruise so that wasn’t an issue at all. To learn more about how I prevent and deal with seasickness click here: 15 Cruise Seasickness Tips (From Somebody Who Gets Seasick!)
The cabin itself was huge and really comfortable. There was so much wardrobe space and we had 16 drawers! 16! We were only on board for 3 nights so didn’t really have enough stuff to put in the drawers… I did consider putting one item of clothing in each drawer but decided against it. I’d definitely end up leaving something behind if I did that.
I could quite happily spend a week or two in this cabin, maybe even a month or more. The only thing that may be considered a negative is that the cabin did vibrate quite a lot when we pulled into port, this is common with cabins located in the aft! Personally I quite like it but I may wake up some people so if you are sensitive to sound/movement try to pick a cabin in the middle of the ship.
We were in the lounge Squid and Anchor with YouTubers Ben and David and Blogger Sanna when bar service was briefly interrupted for us to have a muster drill. It was the only muster drill that I’ve ever been to where passengers wooped very loudly when the captain said that there were no children onboard. It’s worth noting that almost all guests on board were from the UK and as a result, there was a lot of whooping and cheering whenever a glass was broken or something fell on the floor. I’m not sure why we do that, but I quite enjoyed it.
If you’re new to cruising it’s important you know what to expect in regards to a Muster Drill. It is mandatory and you will have to take part. To learn more check out this post: What is a Muster Drill on a Cruise? Everything You Need to Know.
Sail Away S Club Party
The sail away party featured Jo and Bradley from S Club 7. I was a massive S Club 7 fan growing up and grew up listening to them on my portable CD player. The CD player was great apart from when I went around corners as the CD needed to be flat!
It seemed to be a theme of the 90s that bands had a number in their name to represent the band members… It’s quite funny to watch 2 members of a club 7 and 3 members of 5! That said, the 90s were a long time ago and it’s to be expected that the bands won’t be all together anymore. The remaining members did an absolutely brilliant job and everybody loved it.
Here Comes The Rain
Jo and Bradley were amazing. It started to rain as we sailed away but everybody danced in their rain ponchos! The rain wasn’t going to stop us from having a good time, we’re British!
Main Dining Room
We decided to go to the main dining room for dinner. I’ve always been impressed with the food on Marella. Not just the quality but the number of options that are included in the cruise fare. Most cruise lines include the main dining room, buffet and maybe one other option but Marella seems to have 5 or so free options on every ship.
There weren’t many people in the main restaurant, most were still partying away on the top deck. The service was fast and the food was good. I couldn’t ask for any more.
I love the way that the main dining room is open over two decks. It feels very spacious and the huge windows at the back mean that you almost always have an ocean view.
To dine on a Marella cruise you turn up at the main restaurant. That’s it! There are no set dining times and you don’t have to table share. Each time I’ve cruised on Marella I’ve been in a 2 and have always been able to get a table for 2. They have lots.
Onto The Theatre
After dinner, we went to the theatre. I loved the design of the theatre and it reminded me of the theatre on the Marella Discovery. I actually shaved my head for Macmillan Cancer Support in the theatre of the Marella Discovery last year. We raised £5000 and you can see the video here. I was VERY relieved to not be on the stage this time around.
I loved that the theatre had tables for your drinks and it was spacious enough that one person could get out without disturbing the others. I hate being trapped in the middle row of anything, it makes me really anxious.
The show was ‘festivals’ and featured songs from various different genres of music. The singers and dancers were amazing as always. If you are cruising with Marella, do not miss the shows. They are the best at sea in my opinion.
Drinking Electric Lemonade
I found my favourite drink onboard. It’s called Electric Lemonade and is bright blue. After a couple of these in various bars we decided to call it a night. It had been a long day and we needed to make sure we were ready to party for another two nights! I’m not sure that many of the other guests slept at all.
Marella Explorer Ship Tour
I got up early and filmed my ship tour before most of the other passengers got out of bed. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss it: Emma Cruises YouTube Channel.
I loved the decor of the Marella Explorer. Each area had a very different theme which was clearly very well thought through. The ship is actually from 1996 but you would have no idea. She’s been through quite a few refurbs in this time and looked much better than ships a lot younger than her. Nothing was chipped or peeling, no furniture was damaged.
My Ideal Ship
The ship really has all the features that I like on cruise ships. A big atrium, promenade deck, lots of loungers and a fabulous theatre. The only thing that I would change about the ship is that there is an area at the back which used to be an inside pool, this was changed long ago so that it wasn’t a pool and I think this is a shame. I love solarium pools they are the best place for a sunbed nap. That said the area was lovely and we sat here having a drink on a number of occasions.
We decided to have a quick game of mini-golf and then head to lunch. One thing that I love about adults-only cruises is not having to share anything with any children. I had the golf course to myself!
The snack shack is one of my favourite features of Marella ships. It is located by the pool and features quick grab and go food like burgers, hot dogs and chips. They also have salads and fruit pots but strangely enough, the healthy food never interests me when I cruise. Everything at the snack shack is included in the cruise fare.
I decided to have a burger and chips which was really good. Jono had a hot dog which he said was good too. For dessert, I had a chocolate chip brownie with a mini marshmallow on top. It was incredible. They also have lots of cookies. I saw 3 varieties at one point. Amazing.
Cinema Time – Cool Runnings
I had never seen the film cool runnings before. Apparently this was an outrage and everybody on board told me that I had to go to the cinema to see it. So I did. I was actually very pleasantly surprised. I don’t really watch a lot of movies but I found it very funny.
The cinema probably held around 150-200 people. It was pretty big for a cruise ship! They played 90s films throughout the cruise which I thought was a great use of the space.
We picked up a drink before we went to the cinema and it was a great experience. I haven’t been to the cinema on a cruise since I was a child so it made a nice change.
Sail Away With Five
Today’s sail away party was with Five! The 3 remaining members of 5 anyway. They were BRILLIANT. I was in the front row singing along and it was such a brilliant atmosphere. By the side of the pool, there are tables with drinks lined up when you want a bottle of beer or a glass of fizzy you just walk up and get one. It couldn’t be easier.
I was wearing a dress which I decided was my technicolour Dreamcoat. Joseph and the amazing technicolour Dreamcoat (1999 film version) was always one of my favourites so this was my connection to Donny Osmond who plays Joseph in the film.
I still can’t believe I was in the front row for a Five concert. It was so much fun!
Main Dining Room
Back to the main dining room we went! I normally try to eat in the main dining room when I cruise rather than go to the buffet. It’s nice to sit down and be waited on sometimes. The main dining room was a little busier, maybe the other passengers were just starting to realise that the main dining room was an option.
There were a lot of first-time cruisers on the ship which was nice to see. Marella really do explain everything well for first-time cruisers so I always recommend Marella for newbies. I also always recommend Marella for families, to find out why check out this post: Best Cruise Lines For Families (Tried & Tested, Pros & Cons!)
The silent disco was one of my favourite venues onboard. It was so good to have the headphones on and be dancing away but then be able to take them off if you wanted to talk or order a drink. I do wonder if all clubs should be silent! It certainly makes things easier.
The silent disco had two channels which meant that you could decide what you were listening too. It was quite funny to be listening to a song and seeing other people jumping around to something completely different.
I’d never been to a silent disco on a cruise before so I’m really glad that we went.
Spice Girls Tribute
There was a lot of music going on on the top deck but we decided to head inside and to the Squid and Anchor. There was a spice girls tribute playing who were brilliant. It was here that I noticed how much effort the other guests had put into their costumes. I felt quite underdressed! I’ll definitely have to try harder next year.
There were lots of people dressed as the following:
- The Mask
- Toy Story Aliens
- Mario & Luigi
- Ali G
A personal favourite of mine was the person who came dressed as Mr Blobby and the two girls who came as slinky from Toy Story. They actually had a slinky between them. Very cool!
I picked up another Electric Lemonade, my new favourite drink and headed to the theatre. We watched a show called Rockology which was once again brilliant. The energy of each member of the entertainment team was just amazing. They all looked so genuinely happy to be there and performing for us.
Skipper The Alpaca
Skipper the Alpaca arrived in my room after breakfast. I’m not sure how he got in but he seems like a very clever Alpaca so I’m sure he can open doors… Ever since I took a cruise on the Marella Discovery I have become a bit of a ‘llama lady’, the Marella Discovery has lifesize pretend llamas around the ship which I fell in love with. If you’re a member of our Facebook Group you’ll know that I’m often tagged in Llama related things!
Skipper is Alpaca is a mascot of Marella and he’s very cute.
A Relaxing Morning
After filming my cabin tour we spent the morning going from bar to bar, watching various live music around the ship. I’ve definitely never been on a cruise before where the ship was so full of music. Everywhere you went there was a singer or a live band.
The atmosphere on board was so friendly and fun, everybody was very happy and onboard to have a good time. The average age of passengers was dramatically lower than any cruise I’ve ever been on before. I’d say that the majority were in their 30s with some in their 20s, 40s and some 50+.
Next on the agenda was b*witched! I was on the front row again singing along to the songs which I knew. I never really listened to b*witched growing up but that doesn’t mean I don’t know the words to songs like ‘C’est La Vie’. B*witched also sang some other songs like Abba and Ed Sheeran which really kept us on our toes. We never knew what was coming next!
To be in the front row of a concert like that was just amazing. It felt like such an intimate concert although a big percentage of the ship headed to the top deck to watch them play.
I wore my favourite Rugrats T-shirt!
For dinner, we decided to go to the Italian restaurant. The Italian restaurant is basically the top layer of the main dining room but it has an Italian based menu and is designed slightly differently. It’s all included in the cruise fare and makes a really nice alternative to the main dining room’s menu.
Our Last Night Onboard
The crew onboard the Marella Explorer can never be accused of being stingy with their serving sizes. I ordered a Vodka and lemonade and it might as well have been called a ‘vodka with essence of lemonade’. We chatted the evening away and actually went to bed pretty early, compared to the other nights anyway. I was amazed to see how many people were still dancing away late into night 3, most of us were worn out by this point!
Disembarkation was really quite easy. We had to be out of the cabin by 8.30 and we walked straight off with our luggage. We only bought a cabin bag between me and Jono so it was easy to carry.
I had SO much fun on this cruise. It was a crazy 3 days of 90s music, tv and costumes.
The event was organised really well and everything went without issue. The staff were incredibly friendly and made sure that we were all having a good time. It felt as though there were a lot of staff members working and I suppose there had to be to keep up with the almost 2000 guests who were having a good time.
The cruise was absolutely brilliant but I definitely felt as though I needed another cruise to get over it! It felt as though we were at a three-day festival but we had clean beds, toilets and unlimited drinks. Amazing.
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