I quickly learnt that cruises are great for solo travellers. It is a good way to see a snippet of several destinations. You may decide you really like a particular destination and will feel confident about booking a longer stay at a later date. There are organised activities onboard which you can get involved in if you would like to meet other passengers, as well as organised socials especially for solos to meet other solo travellers. Once you are in port, there are tours you can sign up to with others if you do not feel sure about exploring alone or, catch a bus into town and look around at your own pace. I can highly recommend the TUI Marella Celebration Cruise, Greek Mystique, for solo travel.
The ship has 9 decks comprising of cabins, bars, restaurants, sunbathing decks and swimming pools.
On arrival at the ship you will be given a cruise card and a swipe will be taken of your chosen credit/debit card. The cruise card needs to be shown when you get on and off the ship as well as when purchasing goods onboard. Goods purchased will automatically be charged to your designated card. If you purchase one of the upgraded drinks packages, an additional sticker will be applied to your cruise card and it will need to be presented when ordering drinks.
Luggage arrives separately, usually an hour or 2 later so make sure you pack essentials in your hand luggage if you want to go exploring straight away or, maybe go for a swim onboard.
Each evening a booklet is left in your cabin telling you about the next day’s events and activities on board the ship. It will also provide information as to times of sunrise, sunset and expected daily temperature.
My single cabin on deck 2 was more spacious than I thought it would be. I had heard they were very pokey rooms. It comprised a double bed, shower cubicle with wash handbasin and WC, mini bar (chargeable), flat screen TV, wardrobe and hairdryer. I was aware of vibrations from the engine when I went to bed at night but it didn’t disturb me. I was also surprised that there wasn’t a window. There were curtains where it should be giving the impression that there was one.
A safety drill takes place on the first evening and everyone is expected to attend. A muster station number is printed on your cruise card and it is important everyone knows where that is to meet should an emergency arise.
Health & Safety
Health and safety is taken very seriously onboard the TUI Marella Celebration Cruise. Hand sanitisers are located in multiple places throughout the ship and passengers are expected and encouraged to use them often to minimise the risk of sickness onboard.
There are 5 plans for wifi onboard and they are all chargeable…
- 1 hour – £8 max 75mb data allowance
- 1 day – £15 max 300mb data allowance
- 3 days £25 max 800mb data allowance
- 1 week – £49 max 1600mb data allowance
- 2 weeks – £90 max 2400mb data allowance
- Drinks Premium all inclusive – £50 per person per week will give you a further range of beers, ciders, cocktails, premium spirits as well as premium hot drinks and a 1.5 bottle of water delivered to your cabin each day.
- Restaurant upgrade– £47.95 per person per week will allow you to dine in 3 other restaurants (1 time each). The standard is far higher in these restaurants and I highly recommend paying the extra. Kora La is an Asian dining experience, Hot Stone allows you to cook steak and seafood on your own hot stone and Mistrels serves surf and turf combinations in a more intimate setting.
- Thursday – Fly to Dubrovnik and board the ship
- Friday – At Sea
- Saturday – A day in Crete
- Sunday – A day in Athens
- Monday – A day in Kalamata
- Tuesday – A day in Corfu
- Wednesday – A day in Montenegro with an overnight sail back to Dubrovnik
- Thursday – Fly home from Dubrovnik
Activities onboard are varied and include live music, discos, pianist, crazy golf, quizzes, bingo, table tennis, shows, indoor curling and computer games.
Wine tasting with cheese pairing is an additional cost of £7.95 per person if you wish to book a place. This was a very enjoyable experience and worth doing in my opinion. The host was funny and informative.
There are 2 main restaurants to dine at in the evening and for breakfast:
- The Lido self-serve buffet offers a casual dining experience with a good variety of food available, including pasta and noodle stations. However, because it is self-serve, it does tend to be a restaurant where you can dine and go within half an hour.
- The Meridian offers waiter service in a more formal setting.
Kora La is one of the restaurants that requires an additional charge. The food is Asian influenced and was fantastic. Shumms, the waiter was extremely knowledgeable about the food served. You could choose from a variety of meat and fish and inform him how spicy you would like it. Nothing was too much trouble. A complimentary fruit appetizer was served. This was followed by 3 courses with a choice of selection of bread, dips and finally a choice of herbal teas. and a selection of herbal teas.
This poolside grill is a casual snack bar by day but at night when sun goes down, it becomes a Hot Stone Restaurant with superb service and a choice of fish, lobster or steak to cook on a hot stone. You will have the choice of 3 side dishes to accompany your meal as well as a selection of desserts. Make sure you are hungry for this one!
Mistrals is a relatively small dining area serving wonderful selection of surf and turf options. Service is excellent and food quality and presentation was superb.
Broadway Show Lounge
Most evenings you will have the option of watching a show performed by the Entertainment team. Generally there are 2 performances so if you want a seat you can choose to come along before or after dinner. There is a different performane every evening. Some of the shows were good but don’t expect West End standard. While in the theatre area, waitresses come to the tables and seats to take drink orders.
Captain’s Gala Dinner
Every cruise has one apparently and people arrive dressed to impress! Complimentary champagne is served while the Captain of the ship introduces the key members of staff to the guests on stage. There are photo opportunities with the Captain followed by a gala dinner with lobster and steak.
Explorers Lounge serves premium Lavazzo coffees and cakes. Drinks are included here if you are on the premium package but muffins and cakes need to be paid for.
Horizons is a wraparound cocktail bar with comfortable seating, some of which overlooks the water. It is particularly enjoyable sitting here with a cocktail in the evening once the ship has set sail.
Hemingways is a large bar which often has a pianist playing. I found the service in here to be quite slow.
When the Marella Celebration ship is sailing, you can get a range of products duty free from the shops onboard.
There are gaming tables and fruit machines for use and lessons are available if required.
A spa offers a range of treatments such as hot stone massage and facials. Male and female therapists work here so make sure you mention at the time of booking if you have a preference.
For those solo travellers who would like to meet other people travelling alone, a welcome lunch is arranged for the first full day at sea. They also arrange a pre-dinner drink for solos before dinner on one of the evenings.
The main pool of the Marella Celebration has entertainment during the day whereas the one on deck 8 is much quieter. Both pools use filtered sea water. A towel will be left in your cabin which if you leave on the shower floor in the evening, will be replaced ready for the next day.
Some of the tours available on the TUI Marella Celebration Cruise are very popular and it is recommended you book as soon as possible. The tours in Montenegro, Crete and Corfu Town are written about in detail in my blog posts below so click on the links for further information. Visit TUI’s website for further information on other tours available.
Suggested Further Reading:
Other destinations recommended for solo travel