‘Dress to Impress’ was the code on board new cruise ship Marella Explorer in Palma last night, but there were two other essential items required for the launch party – an LED wristband and some shiny shades. Both had been left in our cabins.
As that evening’s ‘mystery guest’ Craig David strutted onto the pool deck to perform a set from his DJ show TS5, floating pool lights, lasers and more than 1,000 flashing wristbands flashing in time to ‘Fill Me In’ competed with the Spanish city’s impressive backdrop and illuminated cathedral.
The action-packed evening set the just right tone for Marella Cruises’ newest and biggest ship. With a ramped-up entertainment and spa offering, contemporary dining experiences and more premium suites the 1,924-passenger Explorer presents a modern face for the line. Marella Cruises is part of Tui UK and Ireland and the third largest cruise line in the UK.
Having spent a month in dry dock in Cadiz Explorer emerged last week after a 200,000 man-hours, multi-million-pound makeover that saw 45 sq km of carpet laid, 60km of data cabling installed, tens of thousands of litres of paint applied – including the hull’s signature wave design and three kilometres of bathroom trims fitted. A thousand show costumes have made their way to Spain for the ship’s 12 new shows.
With a focus on offering passengers more choice, six new restaurants and bars have been added, bring the total number of bars and restaurants to 20. Explorer’s flagship bar, nightclub and casino space, Indigo, features a touch-screen DJ system called The Emulator – a cool piece of kit that lets the audience see how the DJ is mixing and playing sets.
“It’s a great toy. There’s only a few of them in the UK,” last night’s DJ told me.
Cruise lines love a first. Besides Emulator – the first on a European ship – Explorer has the first Champneys spa at sea. Occupying an impressive amount of space it has a dedicated rasul treatment room, a soundbath suite (light, sound and heated chairs come into play), a ‘garden room’ with swing chairs and Astro turf, and a couples spa room with a private-balcony hot tub. Spa cabanas can be booked on the adults-only Veranda. The ocean-facing sauna could house a Hygge convention.
Unusually for a cruise ship, treatment prices are in line with those on land at Champneys UK spas, while a day pass to the large thermal suite costs a reasonable £15. Male cruisers are well catered for. According to group managing director for Champneys Alan Whiteley the Men’s Grooming Experience (£105 for 80 minutes) should prove popular: “With a head, shoulders, leg and scalp massage plus a hair, beard and nail trim he’ll be a new man in no time.”
Several buffed and glitter washed dancers on the swimming pool’s floating podium looked they may have benefited from a men’s grooming treatment before the party, but the night belonged to only one star.
“Craig David – what a babe!” screamed a Scottish travel agent as the night’s mystery guest exited the stage and made way for… boring old fireworks. …
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