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#1
6 Posts
Joined May 2018
Hi,
We're off on our first ever cruise Sat next week, on the Marella Discovery from Newcastle to the Norwegian Fjords, stops are Flam, Haugesund, Eidfjord, Rosendal. We're experienced travellers but never been on a cruise, so was after some hints and tips specific to cruising such as:


  • What to take
  • What to wear, eg are there dress codes in restaurants/bars?
  • Tipping practice
  • Excursions - are they cheaper to book online or when on the ship? Or the same? Do they vary prices with takeup or are they likely to sell out?
  • Any recommendations for excursions in any of the above ports? Whether ship's or DIY
  • We've booked an outside cabin, is it worth choosing a specific one or are they basically the same?
  • Any cash needed, or is it cards for everything?
  • Any other tips for a newbie?
TIA
#3
Andalucia, Southern Spain
2,357 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
Originally posted by zachari
Hi,
We're off on our first ever cruise Sat next week, on the Marella Discovery from Newcastle to the Norwegian Fjords, stops are Flam, Haugesund, Eidfjord, Rosendal. We're experienced travellers but never been on a cruise, so was after some hints and tips specific to cruising such as:


  • What to take
  • What to wear, eg are there dress codes in restaurants/bars?
  • Tipping practice
  • Excursions - are they cheaper to book online or when on the ship? Or the same? Do they vary prices with takeup or are they likely to sell out?
  • Any recommendations for excursions in any of the above ports? Whether ship's or DIY
  • We've booked an outside cabin, is it worth choosing a specific one or are they basically the same?
  • Any cash needed, or is it cards for everything?
  • Any other tips for a newbie?
TIA
Other people will have far more tips but hope this helps a little bit. Have a look the FAQs page of the Marella website for a lot of useful information https://www.tui.co.uk/cruise/onboard-experience/your-questions
  • What to take
  • Suggest you put some holiday clothes in your hand luggage to change into once on board as you can wait up to a couple of hours for your luggage to reach your cabin after you arrive
  • Take a light wrap for evening - even in the height of Summer it can be cool/breezy on deck and some inside areas of the ship can be very cool due to over-enthusiastic aircon.
  • If you are taking several electronic gadgets take a multi-plug adaptor.
  • What to wear, eg are there dress codes in restaurants/bars?
  • Long trousers or tailored shorts required for men at dinner in the two MDRs ('47' on deck 4 and the Italian 'Gallery 47' on deck 5); ordinary shorts fine at any time in the buffet restaurant or in '47' at breakfast and lunch. Smart casual generally at night although some people (including us) like to go the whole hog on 'Dress To Impress' night with DJs or kilts for the men and long or cocktail dresses for the ladies. Its your holiday so wear what you are most comfortable in.
  • Tipping practice
  • Tips are included in the cruise price so there is no obligation to give any gratuities. However, it is up to you if you want to thank crew members who have given you good service e.g. cabin steward, particular waiter/barman
  • Excursions - are they cheaper to book online or when on the ship? Or the same? Do they vary prices with takeup or are they likely to sell out?
  • Generally a couple of Pounds cheaper on line and popular excursions can sell out before you sail. No price change according to take up. Go to the 'Port Showcase' talk in the theatre (usually the day after you board) to hear about available excursions.
  • Any recommendations for excursions in any of the above ports? Whether ship's or DIY
  • Sorry, can't help on this one as we haven't done your itinerary.
  • We've booked an outside cabin, is it worth choosing a specific one or are they basically the same?
  • Cabins can only be pre-booked up to 3 weeks before departure so, if you go a week on Saturday, you are too late to chose now.
  • Any cash needed, or is it cards for everything?
  • You will be asked to either register a credit or debit card when you check in or, if you prefer, deposit some cash at reception that you would need to top up as required. Anything you purchase on board will be charged to your cruise card. The only place where you can use cash is in the casino.
  • Any other tips for a newbie?
  • Try 'Bar Eleven' (cocktail bar with large glass windows for great views) up on 11th deck. The main lifts do not go up to this deck so you have to use the glass elevators that start on deck 4 and, for some reason, many passengers never seem to find the bar. As Bar Eleven doesn't open until 5 p.m. it is a lovely quiet area if you want to read in an afternoon.
  • If you want to book one of the 2 speciality restaurants (charge applies), book this as soon as you get on board via the computer consoles on deck 5 as places can fill quickly.
  • Collect a port guide from 'Destination Services' on deck 5 each evening for info on the following days port.
  • And finally/most importantly, just enjoy yourselves.
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May 2018 Marella Discovery (Hidden Treasures of Europe), October 2017 Marella Discovery 2 (Colourful Coasts), May 2017 TUI Discovery 2 (Continental Coasts + Iberian Treasures), October 2016 Thomson Majesty (Catalan Promise), June 2016 Thomson Spirit (Iberian Treasures), November 2015 Thomson Dream (Spanish Escapes), July 2015 Thomson Dream (Mediterranean Medley), November 2014 Thomson Dream (Iberian Escapade), April 2014 Thomson Majesty (Spanish Sensations), October 2013 Thomson Dream (Treasures of the Mediterranean), May 2012 Thomson Dream (Mediterranean Medley)
#4
West Mids
2,114 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
Excellent advice only thing I can add is as its your first cruise go with onboard excursions if you do your own and are late back for any reason the ship will leave without you, we have witnessed this and its not good, always best to get a few cruises under your belt before you risk it. Have a great one.

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#5
Scotland
2,550 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
We did the Norwegian fjords with Thomson a few years back - it was their hottest summer in 40 years so t-shirt, shorts and sandals were the dress order, with plenty of sun cream applied.

If the weather up there just now is anything like the UK's ongoing conditions I would recommend going prepared in similar manner, and take a suitable hat to protect from the sun.

Flam is the only one of the above ports of call that we visited if memory serves - the railway excursion is a "must do" by organised tour, it's expensive but well worth it - it follows a circular route by coach after the train ride.

It gets cooler up at the top station, so take a light fleece.
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Sea Princess Oct./Nov. 2009 - Caribbean
Grand Princess Aug./Sept. 2010 - West Mediterranean
Thomson Celebration Jan./Feb. 2011 - Red Sea
Diamond Princess Nov. 2011 - Beijing to Singapore
Thomson Spirit July 2012 - Baltic
Thomson Spirit Sept./Oct.2012 - Idyllic Iberia
Thomson Spirit Oct. 2013 - Mediterranean Odyssey
Thomson Spirit July 2014 - Fjordland Splendours
Thomson Celebration Oct. 2014 - Ancient Wonders
Star Princess March 2015 - Californian Coastal
Thomson Majesty Oct./Nov 2015 - A Taste For Adventure
Thomson Majesty May 2016 - Mediterranean Medley
Thomson Dream Oct. 2016 - Adriatic Explorer
Braemar (Fred Olsen) July 2017 - German Waterways
Balmoral (Fred Olsen) June/July 2018 - Diamonds, Chocolates and Canals
#6
6 Posts
Joined May 2018
Thanks very much, very helpful. But a few more questions if you don't mind...

Re plugs - does the ship have UK style sockets?

How does the cruise card work - is it like a credit card, and do you need it for stuff that's free as well - is it easy to keep track of spending, do they give you receipts when you spend on it? Are activities like the climbing wall, cinema, pool, shows etc included or charged extra?

What are MDRs? What are the charges for the speciality restaurants (and are they worth it?!)
#7
52 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
When you check in you can register a credit/debit card so anything you spend is taken automatically at the end, or you can leave a £200 cash deposit. You do sometimes need it for the free drinks, but not always. You'll always have it on you because it's your keycard to get in to your cabin anyway. Couldn't say about receipts as I only drank the free stuff (there's plenty of choice)

Plugs are EU sockets, 2 pin rather than 3 so you'll need an adapter.

Everything entertainment wise on board is free, climbing wall, minigolf, pool, shows.

MDR = Main Dining Room, the waiter service restaurants. On the Discovery it's called 47 degrees, there's also an Italian restaurant above it on Deck 5 called Gallery 47. There's also the buffet, snack place, and other light bite restaurant on deck 9. The speciality restaurants are (I think) about £28-30, I was on Discovery at the end of May and didn't really hear rave reviews for them. Basically along the lines of "it was nice enough but not worth the money"
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#8
Andalucia, Southern Spain
2,357 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
Originally posted by OTrail
The speciality restaurants are (I think) about £28-30, I was on Discovery at the end of May and didn't really hear rave reviews for them. Basically along the lines of "it was nice enough but not worth the money"
We were on Discovery in May and ate at both speciality restaurants. Kora La (Asian) was 23 Pounds p.p. - not worth it in our opinion. The 'Surf and Turf' (Steakhouse) was 29 Pounds p.p. and was so good we went twice.
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May 2018 Marella Discovery (Hidden Treasures of Europe), October 2017 Marella Discovery 2 (Colourful Coasts), May 2017 TUI Discovery 2 (Continental Coasts + Iberian Treasures), October 2016 Thomson Majesty (Catalan Promise), June 2016 Thomson Spirit (Iberian Treasures), November 2015 Thomson Dream (Spanish Escapes), July 2015 Thomson Dream (Mediterranean Medley), November 2014 Thomson Dream (Iberian Escapade), April 2014 Thomson Majesty (Spanish Sensations), October 2013 Thomson Dream (Treasures of the Mediterranean), May 2012 Thomson Dream (Mediterranean Medley)
#9
6 Posts
Joined May 2018
Thanks again. So with the speciality restaurants you pay a flat cover charge and that includes anything on the menu? I see the Surf and Turf does lobster, might give it a try. I presume wine is included, is that on the same basis as elsewhere, ie a limited range is free?
#10
West Mids
2,114 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
Yes that is correct just one thing to note book early places go very quickly suggest as soon after check in that you can but you cant book prior to the cruise, why I don't know but that's how it is
#11
Andalucia, Southern Spain
2,357 Posts
Joined Nov 2011
Originally posted by zachari
Thanks again. So with the speciality restaurants you pay a flat cover charge and that includes anything on the menu? I see the Surf and Turf does lobster, might give it a try. I presume wine is included, is that on the same basis as elsewhere, ie a limited range is free?
Yes, you can have any drinks off the normal AI menu in Surf and Turf; we had different wines with each course (obviously that is wine by the glass not the bottle). Husband had the Lobster Tail and I had the Fillet Steak the first time then we both had the Angus Fillet on our second visit. The Chocolate Souffle dessert is superb (so good I took a photo of it before breaking into it the second time but am not clever enough to put it on here)!
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May 2018 Marella Discovery (Hidden Treasures of Europe), October 2017 Marella Discovery 2 (Colourful Coasts), May 2017 TUI Discovery 2 (Continental Coasts + Iberian Treasures), October 2016 Thomson Majesty (Catalan Promise), June 2016 Thomson Spirit (Iberian Treasures), November 2015 Thomson Dream (Spanish Escapes), July 2015 Thomson Dream (Mediterranean Medley), November 2014 Thomson Dream (Iberian Escapade), April 2014 Thomson Majesty (Spanish Sensations), October 2013 Thomson Dream (Treasures of the Mediterranean), May 2012 Thomson Dream (Mediterranean Medley)
#12
Kent, England
6,572 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by Pensioncruiser
Yes that is correct just one thing to note book early places go very quickly suggest as soon after check in that you can but you cant book prior to the cruise, why I don't know but that's how it is
I was told that if you could book before the cruise the restaurants would always be fully booked months in advance. This would be unfair to new cruisers many of whom do not read cruise forums or pages. Apparently advance booking of excursions should be limited to 50% of the capacity for similar reasons
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Include tips in the fare

Previously
Thomson Celebration x 4
Thomson Spirit x 3
Thomson Destiny x 3
Thomson Dream x 2
Thomson Majesty x 4
P&O Azura x 1
P&O Ventura x 6
P&O Oceana x 10
P&O Arcadia
P&O Britannia
P&O Aurora x 2
P&O Oriana
Marella Discovery x 3
NCL Epic

To come
Marella Explorer Sept 2018
Marella Dream Jan 2019
Marella Explorer April 2019
Marella Explorer July 2019
Marella Explorer 2 Oct 2019
#14
Scotland
2,550 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
is it easy to keep track of spending
Customer Services will give you a printout of your cabin account balance upon request - daily if you so wish.

If you've paid the £200 cash deposit upfront on boarding, rather than register a debit/credit card, they'll let you know as and when you are approaching the time for a top up payment, if appropriate.

Whatever method you choose you'll get a final statement late on the last day.

Now that credit card fees are history I suspect most guests register their plastic.
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Sea Princess Oct./Nov. 2009 - Caribbean
Grand Princess Aug./Sept. 2010 - West Mediterranean
Thomson Celebration Jan./Feb. 2011 - Red Sea
Diamond Princess Nov. 2011 - Beijing to Singapore
Thomson Spirit July 2012 - Baltic
Thomson Spirit Sept./Oct.2012 - Idyllic Iberia
Thomson Spirit Oct. 2013 - Mediterranean Odyssey
Thomson Spirit July 2014 - Fjordland Splendours
Thomson Celebration Oct. 2014 - Ancient Wonders
Star Princess March 2015 - Californian Coastal
Thomson Majesty Oct./Nov 2015 - A Taste For Adventure
Thomson Majesty May 2016 - Mediterranean Medley
Thomson Dream Oct. 2016 - Adriatic Explorer
Braemar (Fred Olsen) July 2017 - German Waterways
Balmoral (Fred Olsen) June/July 2018 - Diamonds, Chocolates and Canals
#16
6 Posts
Joined May 2018
Hi, re booking tables, is it just the cover charge restaurants you have to book? And can you book days ahead eg for the last night on the first day?
#17
Kent, England
6,572 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by zachari
Hi, re booking tables, is it just the cover charge restaurants you have to book? And can you book days ahead eg for the last night on the first day?
Yes, just the cover charge restaurants. I would advise booking on the first day whatever night you want to dine, otherwise you might find they are fully booked by day two
Expand Signature
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Include tips in the fare

Previously
Thomson Celebration x 4
Thomson Spirit x 3
Thomson Destiny x 3
Thomson Dream x 2
Thomson Majesty x 4
P&O Azura x 1
P&O Ventura x 6
P&O Oceana x 10
P&O Arcadia
P&O Britannia
P&O Aurora x 2
P&O Oriana
Marella Discovery x 3
NCL Epic

To come
Marella Explorer Sept 2018
Marella Dream Jan 2019
Marella Explorer April 2019
Marella Explorer July 2019
Marella Explorer 2 Oct 2019
#18
Huddersfield
1,120 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
Discovery has large app screens on deck 5 either side of the atrium You can look at the menus for the speciality restaurants and book using these Kora La often has special offers on price for 6.30 and 9pm sittings
You can also look at excursions here and book them If you do book don't forget to pick up your tickets under the screen - lots of people kept leaving them on our last cruise thinking they'd be delivered to their cabins!!
#19
31 Posts
Joined Apr 2017
Originally posted by zachari
Thanks again. So with the speciality restaurants you pay a flat cover charge and that includes anything on the menu? I see the Surf and Turf does lobster, might give it a try. I presume wine is included, is that on the same basis as elsewhere, ie a limited range is free?
Hard to tell if it’s worth the cost, it’s expensive considering you can have a good quality meal and service for no extra charge. Most people (including ourselves) think Kora La is better than Surf and Turf and it makes a nice change from the main dining room Italian and pizzza/tapas options.
#20
West Mids
2,114 Posts
Joined Feb 2015
Originally posted by Vitalsign
Discovery has large app screens on deck 5 either side of the atrium You can look at the menus for the speciality restaurants and book using these Kora La often has special offers on price for 6.30 and 9pm sittings
You can also look at excursions here and book them If you do book don't forget to pick up your tickets under the screen - lots of people kept leaving them on our last cruise thinking they'd be delivered to their cabins!!
Much better explanation of what I tried to explain in my previous post

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