Marella Discovery Cruise: Treasures of the Mediterranean – Review
By Mason Oldridge, July 2022
“You can teach to serve but you can’t teach service” were the words of Harlequin, the Head of Entertainment on our cruise (and yes, that IS his real name). His words stood out as it was a pretty good overview of the outstanding service we received throughout our week aboard the Marella Discovery.
Arriving in Palma, we sailed towards our first stop, Sardinia. Italy is a beautiful country and from our first morning dock, it became apparent what astonishing views we would be waking up to each day. The next arrivals offered up trips to the eerie archaeological site of the destroyed city of Pompeii, monuments such as the Colosseum and the Vatican in the stunning capital Rome, before moving on to the French island of Corsica and finally back to Spain for the chance to visit Barcelona. However, despite the opportunity to visit so many amazing places, it was the experience on board that stood out the most.
The entertainment team, simply put, were fantastic. You’d maybe think that poolside sunbathers would wish to be left alone to sizzle in the sun but all the fun and games that the reps brought made our time on the pool deck a much funnier one (the 90s and 00s rave game was my personal favourite). Whether a quiz or a puzzle, the reps gave it their all and had both the port and starboard side in stiches. A massive shout-out to reps Ross, who was constantly hilarious and even played my song request in the nightclub, and Antony, a lovely guy despite always being on the losing side of the games.
The evening shows might not have been my cup of tea, but the cast were all fantastic in their performances and brought some impressive talent to the stage. At the helm of the entertainment was Harlequin who presented these shows and joined in with the fun and games in his friendly manner – a true credit to the ship’s crew.
The cruiseliner was packed to the rafters with food and drink venues. You could help yourself at the Islands buffet or alternatively be dined on hand and foot at the fancier 47O club. Whichever venue you chose, you were guaranteed top quality service from the kindest of staff that ensured your dining experience was top notch. Unfortunately, the waiter service offered at 47 was counteracted with miniature portion sizes. Luckily, there were plenty of other places to fill up at! These included 47’s Italian counterpart Gallery 47 and The Glass House, a refreshing restaurant centred around the indoor pool and located next to the gym and spa.
Specialising in pizza, pasta and tapas, the crew went overboard (pun intended) to cater to your every whim and were a real asset to the team. We would have perhaps eaten here more if they didn’t require a dress code. The Snack Shack was fantastic to grab a quick bite of lunch, offering all the unhealthy favourites such as fish and chips, burgers, hot dogs and fried chicken as well as pre-packed sandwiches. The remaining eateries were at an additional cost which defies the concept of all-inclusive and therefore we didn’t try The Coffee Port, Sushi Bar, Asian fusion restaurant Kora La or the Surf & Turf Steakhouse.
Come night time (or perhaps earlier) there was plenty of choice of where to drink. The Pool Bar was a favourite in the daytime and the Squid & Anchor was popular for the evening. Karaoke was always a fun feature here but for those who fancied a bit more class to their evening, they could head downstairs to the Atrium Bar or Live Room for piano sessions and music performances. The Live Room also featured a casino for those who wanted to try their hand at rolling the dice.
Understandably, Marella is going to tailor their holidays to their audience but it would have been nice to have seen some more inclusion of nightlife for the younger generation. Bar Eleven was a fantastic bar on the very top floor and would have made a brilliant nightclub for the youth on board and so it was a shame that when the lights came on and the dancefloor opened up, the soundtrack still matched the older demographic. Whichever venue you found yourself in though, there was a great selection of drinks on offer; frustratingly, many were on a separate premium list, once again defying the purpose of all-inclusive and it wasn’t always clear which fell under which list.
The pool was definitely the centrepiece of the ship and a mainstay for the daytime. A great way to cool down from the glaring sun and paired with two hot tubs, it was just a shame that the time in it was spent keeping our heads dry to avoid the saltwater. Furthermore, the pool was not of an adequate size in relation to the size of the ship. However, it was almost impossible to not look at the blue waves with the reflection of the sun and think how fortunate you are to be there in that moment.
For the more active guests, the ship offered an array of activities. This included a climbing wall, a running track, a mini golf course and table tennis, plus an escape room (at an extra cost). One evening, the pool deck turned into an outdoor cinema which received a positive turnout to say it coincided with the evening show. This was not the only occurrence of the pool deck becoming alive at night as there was a midweek party which saw the majority of the guests head up to celebrate.
However you spent your time, you’d retreat to your cabin at the end of the day to find a towel animal on your bed alongside chocolates. Whether you were returning to a swan, crab, or mouse, this particular gesture highlighted the dedication of the housekeeping team and so it was joyous to see them display their creations in the final night’s flag parade. Even when heading back to your room in the day, you’d be met with friendly smiles and polite welcomes across the whole floor, which is probably why Harlequin’s statement was met with an overwhelming applause.
In conclusion, despite the minor shortcomings, the holiday was one to really look back in fondness on and was a remarkable week of top quality service whether in the middle of the ocean or witnessing one of Europe’s stunning landmarks.
For info on booking visit: tui.co.uk/cruise