Berthed in Palma de Majorca and fresh from a multi-million pound makeover, undertaken in the last four weeks at Navantia yard in Cadiz, the 76,998gt vessel is the largest in Marella’s six ship fleet.
Officially naming in Palma
The official naming will take place late tonight.
The 962-cabin Explorer(ex Mein Schiff 1 and built in 1996) can carry up to 1,924 passengers across a range of cabins from single insides to ten executive suites enough for four people.
‘Listening to customer feedback shaped some of the new spaces onboard, none more so than Indigo, bar, club and casino,’ said Hackney.
The top-of-the-ship spot houses a 17mtr long bar which hosts cocktail-making classes, plus a club with dancefloor, interactive touch screen DJ deck – The Emulator, slot machines and card tables and the line’s first LED blaze roulette table. ‘The space which really comes to life in the evening will become a favourite quieter spot in the daytime with its floor to ceiling windows and wraparound sea views,’ believes Hackney.
Champneys Spa - a first
A first for Marella is Champneys Spa at Sea with 12 treatment rooms, two VIP suites with private saunas, thermal suites, gym, hair and beauty salon, wellness centre and relaxation room. Some of the latest health treatments trending ashore are being offered in the spa including vitamin and mineral infusion IV therapy.
‘Customers tell us entertainment is important too,’ noted Hackney and Marella’s entertainment provider ted has created 12 new shows featuring a vast range of music taste from Metallica and David Bowie to Latin dance, a festival-themed show to 1950’s do-wop style, soul and sing-song family show. They are performed in the 800 seat Broadway Theatre.
Harding Retail provides complete store refit
‘Retail therapy is also popular with our guests and on Explorer we feel our partner Harding Retail has over delivered bringing many ‘First at Sea’ concepts,’ commented Louis Joy, ancillaries manager and responsible for onboard revenue.
Named Broad Street Shops, a complete store refit has taken place across 12 personalised retail spaces covering 4,500sq mtr and includes brands Chanel, Bottega, Pandora and Clarins, Ted Baker, Radley and Cath Kidston.
New offerings on sale are Apple products, Diego dalla Palma makeup, engraving on Thomas Sabo jewellery, Kipling embroidery machine for personalising handbags purchased and a world exclusive OPI nail varnish visualising machine where guests can select a nail colour and place their hand under and the screen will show an image of their hand with the chosen varnish.
More dining and bar venues
There are ten onboard restaurants and ten bars with Marella linking up again with supplier The Apollo Group, a partnership which started in 2004.
The Mediterranean eaterie offering pizza, pasta and tapas
New is The Mediterranean offering pizza’s and pasta, tapas and jugs of sangria and Med beers. This is located on deck 11 and has a retractable glass roof and features pastel furnishing of light blues, greens, reds and yellows.
Other new eateries are: The Market Place buffet, where chefs serve up made-to-order stir fry and stocked with different food stall; Scoops vintage-style ice cream parlour; Umi Sushi dinner only prepared in front of guests; main waiter service restaurant Latitude 53 & Vista (serving Italian in the evenings) are open all day and The Dining Club offers fine French dining at a cost of £34.95 per person and on Dress to Impress night is also available with a drinks paring for each course at £45 per person.
Surf & Turf Steakhouse and pan-Asian restaurant Kora La – both popular on Marella Discovery 2 – are located side by side and are larger on Explorer. The former carries a cover charge of £28.95 per person and the latter, £22.95.
Asian twist in Kora La
Also popular on the Discovery ships Snack Shack makes an appearance on Explorer for grab ‘n’ go lunches and snacks plus burgers and featuring beach huts and oversized deckchairs.
New drinking venues are 53 next to Latitude 53 for pre-dinner drinks; The Shack on Deck 12 serving frozen cocktails; Aperitif for classic cocktails and fizz; The Lounge a colour changing bar with hot-pink piano and funky ring-shaped seats and Squid & Anchor, Marella’s first pub at sea serving draughts beers and featuring a separate gin and whisky bar area.
Enhancing the customer experience
Technology has been ramped up on Marella Explorer, ‘as part of the continued modernisation strategy for Marella Cruises enhancing the customer experience onboard,’ said Hackney and includes digital card readers for all onboard purchases, digital wayfinding signage, self-service kiosks for shorex, spa and al la carte restaurant bookings.
In the atrium, instead of a three-deck long centrepiece artwork that previously appeared, there is a giant digital screen which changes image every three hours depicting sunrises, sunsets, the ship’s wake and hero images of the port of call, noted Anna Clarke, head of customer experience. ‘On Christmas cruises in the Caribbean we can even show falling snowflakes,’ she added.
The onboard Navigate app which is free to use and does not require internet is hosted on the ship’s network and enables guests to view onboard account and book extras and option to provide real-time feedback and book future cruises whilst sailing. Navigate TV channel is also provided in the ship’s top 100 cabins.
UK-based design consultancy 20.20 provided the concept for the design of the public spaces. It also worked on Marella's fifth addition the fleet, Discovery. Kevin Paintin, client director 20.20 onboard seeing the results told SCN he was very pleased on seeing how Trimline, responsible for transforming the interior public spaces for the ship’s makeover, had brought the concepts to life.
He picked some of his favourite spots: 'Indigo is a strong feature, Scoops is a fun idea which will great for families and the pink piano - all these will bring the TUI smile to passengers sailing on the latest Marella ship', Paintin remarked.
Trimline also carried out the interior rebrands on Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2, as well as refurbs to the other fleet ships.
Makinen refurbed the cabins and MJM Group the shopping area.
Vessel management is provided by Columbia Cruise Services GmbH and the casino managed by OnBoard Leisure.
Marella Explorer will sail in the west Med this summer before spending winter 2018 based in Barbados.
In summer 2019, the ship will be homeported in the UK from Newcastle and Southampton.