Marella Explorer 2 Review and Specifications
Specifications of Marella Explorer 2
|Year built||1995 / Age : 23|
|Builder||Meyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany)|
|Building cost||USD 450 million|
|Owner||TUI AG and RCCL (Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd)|
|Operator||Marella Cruises (Thomson UK)|
|Speed||22 kn / 41 kph / 25 mph|
|Length (LOA)||248 m / 814 ft|
|Beam (width)||32 m / 105 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||72458 gt|
|Passengers||1814 - 2177|
|Decks with cabins||10|
|Sister-ships||Marella Explorer, Mein Schiff Herz (TUI)|
|Former names||MS Century, Celebrity Century, SkySea Golden Era|
|Christened by||Maria Chandris|
Review of Marella Explorer 2
Marella Explorer 2 cruise ship (formerly "SkySea Golden Era") was launched in 1995 as "Celebrity Century", It is one of the Century-class vessels, with sisterships Mein Schiff 1 (former Celebrity Galaxy, since 2018 Marella Explorer) and Celebrity Mercury (former Mein Schiff 2, currently Mein Schiff Herz). The vessel was sold to "Marella Cruises" (TUI's UK brand) in 2018.
History - construction and ownership
The 1900-passenger ship was built for the Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Cruises company, renamed to "Celebrity Mercury" in 2008 and joined TUI fleet in 2009 after an extensive drydock refit. The reconstruction project resulted in adding 314 cabin balconies, 14 new suites, 10 new cabins, new specialty restaurant (Murano, with glass-blowing performances), larger spa, upgraded (Millennium-class) shipboard amenities and services.
The ship entered the fleet of Marella Cruises (TUI's UK brand) in late-2018. In March 2018, TUI Group announced that to Marella will be transferred SkySea Golden Era (not Schiff 2), with scheduled delivery in December 2018.
January 2014 news reports from France (including the CDF website) said Century will join the CDF fleet in 2015. CDF is a RCCL Royal Caribbean brand operating the French market with 2 ex-Celebrity vessels - MS Zenith and MS Horizon. The news said Century will replace MS Zenith, which will join Pullmantur (RCCL's brand in Spain). For 2014, CDF expected to carry around 100,000 passengers, and with the Century they expected nearly 120,000 customers in 2015. Program 2015's updates also included new shore excursion packages (3 to 5 tours, depending on itinerary) priced just EUR 100 per package.
Initially was announced that in March 2019, the old Schiff 2 (Herz) will be transferred to Marella and operated as "Marella Explorer 2". However, in March 2018 was announced that it stays in TUI fleet under the new name "Mein Schiff Herz" (announced in April).
Explorer 2 joined Marella's fleet as the 4th liner transferred from other RCCL-owned brands. The vessel was preceed by Marella Discovery (2015, former Splendour of the Seas), Marella Discovery 2 (2017, former Legend of the Seas) and TUI Explorer, now Marella Explorer (2018, the old Mein Schiff 1).
The ship features fleet's first kids pool, innovative entertainment program, 10 dining venues. Another fleet-first for Marella is the tasting menu-type restaurant in one of the brand new yet-unnamed venues, described as "an intimate space, suited for couples or friends".
The Indigo flagship bar is ship's focal point. A new high-end London style bar venue (named Aperitif) links Kora La and Surf and Turf restaurants. Other features include The Scoops (ice-cream parlour with bicycle-themed quirky seating), The Lounge (new venue with colour-changing bar and brightly-coloured piano), Umi Sushi (counter), The Mediterranean (glass-roof covered restaurant with taverna-themed decoration, housing two complimentary restaurants - pizzeria and tapas), Hot Stone Grill (specialty dining venue / at fee).
Cruise itinerary program
Marella Explorer 2 itinerary program is based on Adriatic and Mediterranean 7-day cruises leaving roundtrip from homeport Naples, Italy. During winter 2019-2020, the liner is deployed to Caribbean and homeported in Bridgetown (Barbados) with 3 roundtrip itineraries visiting St Lucia, Aruba and Grenadines.
Marella Explorer 2 has a total of 962 cabins, around 40% of which have private balconies. All cabins are with individual air-conditioning, wardrobes, flat TV, hairdryer, tea and coffee-making facilities, en-suite bathrooms. The accommodations consist of:
- Indoor (16 m2, fleet's largest), Outdoor (17 m2), Single Indoor / Outdoor cabins (Decks 4, 5, 8, 9)
- Balcony cabins (17 m2), 14x Family Balcony (20 m2; decks 9, 10, 12, each with 2 twin beds)
- Suites - Balcony Junior Suite (22 m2) and Executive Suite (49 m2).
Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks
Marella Explorer 2 has a total of 10 dining venues, including Surf and Turf, Kora La, Snack Shack, Umi Sushi and open air Mediterranean Restaurant with Pizza and Tapas areas. The Kora La features Oriental-style lanterns and paintings paired with pan-Asian menu of noodle dishes and curries. This is a fine dining addition and there is a small premium to eat here.
Dining venues onboard are located on decks 5, 6, 7 and 11. Follows the complete list of Marella Explorer 2 restaurants and food bars.
- Latitude 53, situated on two decks, 5 and 6, is the main waiter service restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and gold-and-grey colour scheme.
- Vista on Deck 5, situated in Latitude 53. In the evening, it transforms into an Italian restaurant for regional favourites prepared with authentic ingredients.
- The Dining Club on Deck 5 is a fine dining restaurant which serves experimental cuisine. There is a charge to dine here.
- Umi Sushi on Deck 7 serves sushi, sashimi, nigiri rolls that are prepared in front of the guests of the eatery. Umi Sushi is open for dinner only, and costs extra.
- Kora La on Deck 7 has oriental-style lanterns and paintings paired with pan-Asian menu. Passengers pay a cover charge to eat here.
- Surf and Turf Steakhouse on Deck 7 specialises in all things meat. Its menu includes mains like lobster, grilled chicken and pork chops, but the highlight is the 28-day-aged steaks. There is a chopping board artwork as well as leather booth seating. Cover charge is applied for dining here.
- Snack Shack on Deck 11 is a laidback eatery featuring food stalls, oversized deckchairs and beach huts. It offers grab-and-go snacks and lunches along with a drinks station.
- The Market Place on Deck 11 is a buffet restaurant where guests can watch the chefs prepare dishes from around the world. It is made up of different food stalls.
- Tapas at The Mediterranean on Deck 11 is specialised in tapas dishes for both lunch and dinner.
- Italian at The Mediterranean pizzeria on Deck 11, with wood-fired oven and salad bar.
- "Beach Cove" serves barbecue specialties providing "on the beach" al fresco dining.
- A new cafeteria (pizzeria-type restaurant) offers traditional made-to-order Italian pizzas (oven-baked).
Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport
A couple of the largest new features aboard the 13-deck Marella Explorer 2 include the flagship bar, club and casino Indigo (situated at the top deck), and the first at sea Champneys Spa. Indigo is home to the longest bar onboard the ship and features the Broadway show lounge able to accommodate 1,000 guests. The Broadway street lounge is on Decks 6 and 7, which also house other entertainment facilities. The venue hosts cocktail-making sessions and demos. Entertainment facilities include Indigo Club with a DJ booth and dance floor, and Indigo Casino with card tables and slot machines.
The swimming pool is on Deck 11, which also homes the Oceans Gym and Champneys Spa. The wellness complex also includes a Finnish Sauna (with floor-ceiling windows), full-service Thermal Suite, treatment suites (with showers and mini saunas), spa cabanas (on ship's adults-only Veranda Deck).
Follows the complete list of Marella Explorer 2 lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens and adults.
- The Lounge (Deck 6) has a colour-changing bar, ring-shaped seats and hot-pink piano.
- Bar 53 (Deck 5) is a bar situated next to Latitude 53, perfectly placed for pre-dinner drinks.
- The Shack (Deck 12) offers cool-down drinks between sunbathing. It is above Snack Shack, and overlooks the pool.
- "Bar at The Mediterranean" (Deck 11) wraps around The Mediterranean and runs from the inside to the outside. It serves Mediterranean specialities, the usual drinks and frozen cocktails.
- Indigo Bar (Deck 12) features fleet's longest bar. Cocktail-making sessions and flare demonstrations take place here.
- "19th Hole" is a clubhouse bar with golf buggy-seating and two golf simulators. Here are served craft beers and golf-themed cocktails.
- The sophisticated "Flutes" (bubbles bar) caters for Champagne and Prosecco wine lovers and is best bar for pre- and post dinner cocktails.
- "Broadway Show Lounge" is on two decks (6 and 7) and has a capacity of 1,000 people. It offers waiter service and brand-new shows.
- Indigo Casino (Deck 12) is ship's gambling lounge fitted with gaming tables and slot machines. Indigo Club is in the middle of Indigo.
- Aperitif (Deck 7) is a stylish bar with Champagne and Prosecco on the menu. It is a great spot to head for a drink before or after meals at one of the speciality restaurants.
- "Squid and Anchor Pub" (Deck 7) is Marella's first ship pub. There are 2 bars to pick from, the one of which deals in premium whiskies and gins, that are chargeable. The spot is home to quiz nights and a live band.
- "Scoops" is a vintage-looking ice-cream parlour serving gelato. The seating is quirky and includes a collection of bike seats sit that face out to sea. A charge is applied here.
- "The Coffee Port" (at fee) serves Lavazza and gourmet sweets. It overlooks the Atrium and offers live piano performances.
- "The Cinema" offers family-friendly movies, plus extra screenings during high season.
- "M Club" is ship's Kids Club, with games from M Crew (ship-exclusive character).
- "Hideout" is ship's teen club lounge fitted with comfy seats and video gaming consoles. There is also an al fresco terrace with colourful hammocks.
- Gamer Zone (arcade) is for everyone onboard, fully stocked with machines.
- Broad Street Shops are ship's boutiques stocked with travel essentials, duty-free merchandise, perfumes and cosmetics, jewelry, gifts and souvenirs.
- Photo Studio & Kiosks (Deck 6) provides professional photoshoot. Photo kiosks allow passengers to view and buy photos made by liner's photography team.
- For "Champneys Spa" Marella Cruises partnered with Champneys Luxury Health Spa Resorts (UK brand). Passengers can book premium treatments (facials, body wraps, massages) and also use the Beauty Salon. Champneys Spa is marella fleet's largest and also includes Relaxation Room, treatment rooms (with bathtubs), made-for-two suites, adults-only Sauna Room (with floor-ceiling windows), Steam Room, modern Fitness (Oceans Gym).
- The outdoor swimming pool (Deck 11) is split in two by a show stage for live entertainment and other daily scheduled activities. Pool Bar serves the pool deck with various beverages (including frozen cocktails). Three whirlpools surround the swimming pool.
- The Veranda is adults-only venue and has Balinese beds and cocoon chairs.
- At the Sports Court can be played basketball-volleyball and mini-football.
- Minigolf and Table tennis are on top deck (called Sports and Family Deck).
Marella Explorer 2 wiki
In the period 2015-2018, the ship (as "SkySea Golden Era") served the newly-established, China-based company "SkySea Cruise Line" (joint venture of RCCL-Royal Caribbean and Ctrip International Ltd). In late 2014, RCCL decided to sell the vessel to Ctrip for USD 157 million. The ship was transferred in April 2015 and started operations in China. In the period 2015-2018, the liner completed nearly 300 voyages and carried around 0,5 million passengers.
SkySea Golden Era ship review
Starting roundtrip itineraries from homeports China in May 2015, Celebrity Century became “SkySea Golden Era” – fleet's first (and only) vessel. In 2018, the liner was homeported in Xiamen and Shanghai, operating on roundtrips to Japan (visiting Miyakojima and Naha Okinawa), Vietnam (visiting Da Nang and Halong Bay) and Philippines.
On March 29, 2018, SkySea Cruise Line announced ship's last voyage. The 4-night (roundtrip Shanghai itinerary August 29 - September 2, 2018) visited Japan (Fukuoka). The last cruise featured unique onboard events, including Champagne Reception party, Farewell Dessert, commemorative gift (for each passenger), onboard discounted shopping coupons, 10% booking discount for past passengers. "SkySea Voice" (shipboard singing competition show) had its grand finale on the 4-day voyage August 25-29.
SkySea Golden Era had a total of 907 cabins, of which 75 were Suites. Cabin grades number was 26. Dining venues included The Grand Restaurant (main dining room), The Murano Restaurant, The Islands Cafe (Lido buffet restaurant), Veranda Grill (poolside grill bar), Sushi Bar, Sunset Bar. The list of lounges and bars included Rendezvous, The Crystal Room (disco nightclub), Cova Cafe, Martini, Michael’s, poolside bars, Hemesphere (nightclub). The ship had Aqua Spa, 4 jacuzzis, 2 swimming pools.
Onboard entertainment was of good quality and adult-oriented. Inaugurated on January 24, 2018, the SAMAJAM was a new music show introduced the ship. It was interactive (allowing audience participation) and allowing private booking (providing customized performances during corporate events at sea / held on the ship). The new show was scheduled on every SkySea cruise in 2018.
- Celebrity Century's first cruise was on December 20, 1995, initially named "GTS Century".
- In April 2006, the ship stayed 5 weeks into drydock at Fincantieri's shipyard. This was company's most expensive refurbishment (refit and upgrade). During the refit, the vessel received 14 new suites, 10 new staterooms and to 314 rooms were added balconies. The ship also received its "Murano" specialty restaurant (French cuisine) and the spa complex was expanded.
- Prior to the SkySea service, Celebrity Century was refitted and refurbished in Singapore. Among the changes done was renewing the ship's restaurants (to offer meals more appetizing to Chinese tourists), new trampoline, mini-golf course.
- The ship had fleet's only "AquaSpa Cafe" (healthy food choices). Fun fact is that the liner was the setting for the episode "Ship of Fran's" from the series "The Nanny" season 3.
- Celebrity Century was the first cruise ship with an ice bar - called "Martini Bar & Crush". It's very attractive with a liquid wall that freezes (forming a crystalline appearance) and the bar counter freezing into stone. The liquor behind the bar is in a solid ice block. Century also has a cigar bar and the Michael's Club - with hand-rolled cigars, port wine and fine cognacs.
- Celebrity Cruises parent company RCCL (Royal Caribbean) sold in the end of 2014 the ship to the Chinese travel company Ctrip for the price of USD 157 million. The ship joined the fleet of Exquisite Marine (a Ctrip Holdings subsidiary) in April 2015. Among the deckplan changes on the "Chinese ship" were new restaurants, new ice bar, added trampoline and mini-golf course.
- Ctrip is China's leading travel agency, and also one of the largest travel brands in the country. The company's business is in transportation ticketing, accommodation reservation, travel tour packages, corporate travel deals. Ctrip is also a cruise booking agency, holding over 10% of China's cruising market.
- SkySea Holdings was founded in 2013 with Stone Capital - Shanghai-based private equity company that invests for China's wealthiest families and entrepreneurs. However, the company was not announced until the RCI partnership. Both RCCL and Ctrip each have a 35% stake, while the remaining 30% are held by Stone Capital. SkySea Cruises is managed by Min Fan (Ctrip's Vice Chairman, President and co-founder) who is the company's CEO and Chairman. Management staff comes from both RCCL and Ctrip. Ctrip provides the marketing network, technical expertise, customer base and travel agency services, while RCCL handles cruise operations and crew management.
- RCCL's SkySea brand targeted China's middle- to high-level cruising market, focusing on 30 to 60 year-old consumers. The company had plans to add a ship a year (acquiring older vessels from other companies) and eventually to order a newbuild. In 2014, an year before SkySea Cruises started operations, the number of Chinese cruise ship tourists reached 90 million.
- In Spring 2017, SkySea Cruise Line added South Korea as departure port option to the ship's homoport Shanghai itinerary program. Passengers had the option to board the ship in Busan, cruise to Japan, disembark in China (Shanghai) and from China take home flight back to South Korea.
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Marella Explorer 2 Itineraries
The below listed Marella Explorer 2 cruise prices on itineraries are only indicative and Per Person (in US dollars, based on double occupancy). These are the cheapest Marella Cruises fares on the ship’s lowest category cabins available for booking. Cruise fares typically change with departure dates approaching, last minute deals, discounts, promotions, independent travel agency offers.
|Date||Cruise Name||Departure Port||Price from|
|2019 Apr 02||7 days, round-trip Treasures Of The Mediterranean||Palma de Mallorca|
|2019 Apr 09||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Medley||Palma de Mallorca|
|2019 Apr 16||7 days, round-trip Treasures Of The Mediterranean||Palma de Mallorca|
|2019 Apr 23||8 days, one-way from Palma de Mallorca to Naples||Palma de Mallorca|
|2019 May 01||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 May 08||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 May 15||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 May 22||7 days, round-trip Greek Getaway||Naples|
|2019 May 29||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Jun 05||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 Jun 12||7 days, round-trip Island Discovery||Naples|
|2019 Jun 19||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 Jun 26||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Jul 03||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 Jul 10||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Jul 17||7 days, round-trip Greek Getaway||Naples|
|2019 Jul 24||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Jul 31||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 Aug 07||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Aug 14||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 Aug 21||7 days, round-trip Greek Getaway||Naples|
|2019 Aug 28||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Sep 04||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 Sep 11||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Sep 18||7 days, round-trip Island Discovery||Naples|
|2019 Sep 25||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Oct 02||7 days, round-trip Greek Getaway||Naples|
|2019 Oct 09||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Oct 16||7 days, round-trip Adriatic Splendours||Naples|
|2019 Oct 23||7 days, round-trip Mediterranean Gems||Naples|
|2019 Oct 30||18 days, one-way from Naples to Bridgetown||Naples|