Marella Cruises christens new Marella Explorer in Palma

Marella Cruises christens new Marella Explorer in Palma

Marella Explorer is the largest ship in Marella Cruises’ fleet (Image: Marella Cruises)

Marella Cruises has officially welcomed Marella Explorer to its fleet during a christening ceremony at the Port of Palma in Majorca, Spain on 17 May.

Formerly sailing as Mein Schiff 1 for Marella Cruises’ sister brand TUI Cruises, Marella Explorer was named by two godmothers – Susan Stewart, the line’s hotel operations manager, and Mandy Galloway, a travel agent at one of TUI Group’s retail stores in Edinburgh, Scotland. They were joined on stage by Marella Explorer’s master Captain Peter Harris and 10 crew members, who each represented a different part of the ship and held a beam of light that released the champagne bottle to christen the ship.

“I will remember this special moment forever,” said Galloway.

During the ceremony, invited guests, Marella Cruises employees, suppliers, travel agents and media also enjoyed a performance by a Take That tribute band, a fireworks display and an hour-long live DJ set from multi-platinum selling and award-winning recording artist, songwriter and rapper Craig David. The DJ set was accompanied by a show of mappable versatube lights, floating pool lights and lasers that was masterminded by Black Skull Creative’s Dan Shipton, Ross Nicholson and Jay Revell. Guests also wore LED wristbands that changed colour to the beat of the music.

“It was great celebrating the launch and performing on Marella Explorer in Palma,” said David. “I loved surprising the crowd, the atmosphere was electric.”

Marella Explorer was inaugurated following a four-week, multi-million-pound dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, which involved a team of 1,600 partners, contractors and Marella Cruises’ employees. Together they transformed the 1,924-guest ship by adding Marella Cruises branding, multiple new onboard venues and amenities, 45 square kilometres of carpet, more than 60 kilometres of data cabling and 650 wi-fi access points. A total of 35 public spaces were renovated by UK-based marine interior outfitter Trimline, while Northern Ireland-based company MJM Group revitalised the shopping area and Finnish company Makinen worked on the cabins.

Many of the public spaces were developed in cooperation with UK-based design consultancy 20.20, including a new flagship bar, club and casino named Indigo, several restaurants, the Hideout children’s area, the shimmer wall and the 962 cabins, nearly 40% of which have balconies. Other public spaces include the Broad Street Shops area and the first-ever Champneys Spa at sea. The spa will offer a full-service thermal suite, treatment suites with their own showers and mini saunas, a Finnish sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows, and spa cabanas on the adults-only Veranda Deck.

Guests will also be able to choose from 10 bars and 10 onboard restaurants. New venues include The Mediterranean, which has a retractable glass roof; The Dining Club, which offers French cuisine; Scoops vintage-style ice cream parlour; Umi Sushi; The Market Place buffet; Surf & Turf Steakhouse; pan-Asian restaurant Kora La; and Latitude 53 & Vista restaurants that serve Italian dishes.

“The launch of Marella Explorer marks an exciting time for us as she is the first ship to officially launch under the Marella Cruises name,” said Chris Hackney, managing director of Marella Cruises. “Marella Explorer marks the next step in the continued modernisation and growth of the Marella Cruises fleet. We pride ourselves on continuing to offer more ships, new destinations and fantastic service and the futuristic feel of this evening have given a real glimpse of how we are continuing to look to the ahead.”

Marella Explorer will embark on her first customer sailing around the Mediterranean, leaving from Palma on 19 May. The ship will then sail in the west Mediterranean this summer before moving to Barbados for winter.

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Thomson Cruises to be renamed Marella Cruises

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Thomson Cruises is to be rebranded as Marella Cruises, at the same time that Thomson changes to Tui later this month.

Marella, meaning ‘shining sea’ in Celtic, was selected to give the cruise line ‘stand out in the cruise market’ and to give it its own identity from the company’s European cruise brand, Tui Cruises.

Distribution and cruise director Helen Caron said: “We don’t want British guests to be confused with the group’s cruise business in Europe. Marella Cruises will still have the Tui smile logo, but a new Marella Cruises logo in a blue box, similar to the way we would market Sensatori as part of the world of Tui.  The name was chosen to reflect the spirit of exploration and discovery across the seas.”

Confirming Marella cruises would still offer its fully-integrated fly-cruise programme, from 22 regional UK airports, across its fleet of six ships once Marella Explorer enters service in May 2018, Caron added: “Marella Cruises takes us to a cruise brand from a tour operator brand. We expect the new name to open us up to a whole new market of customers who haven’t considered a Thomson cruise before. It’s very exciting and come at the perfect time as we modernise our fleet and add more and more destinations.”

News of the rebrand came as Tui also announced a new homeport in Asia for winter 2018. The newly named Marella Discovery will sail from Lankawi to 18 new ports of call on 14 new adult-only itineraries, with customers also able to join from Bangkok. Ports of call include Ho Chi Minh City, Cambodia and Kuala Lumpur, and also to Mumbai, Mangalore, Cochin and Colombo.

Caron said: “Asia is an incredibly diverse part of the world and I have no doubt that our customers are going to love their adventures across countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India and Oman to name a few.”

For the first time in the company’s history, Tui is also going to base two ships in Barbados in winter 2018. Marella Explorer will be joined by Marella Celebration.

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