The 1,533-passenger, 54,763-tonne Marella Dream joined the Marella (then Thomson) fleet in 2010 and is one of the line's oldest ships -- alongside Celebration -- at 34 years old.
For the most part the ship feels elegant, with a traditional ambiance. This is especially true on Deck 8 where most of the ship's public spaces can be found and on the Promenade Deck, where teak doors and brass-rimmed portholes create a timeless look rarely found on new ships of today.
During a November 2018 dry dock the ship received a minor refresh, with new upholstery in some of the bars, water dispensers added to all decks with cabins, new sun loungers on Deck 11, and USB ports fitted in The Coffee Port.
Look out for the ship's phenomenal artwork, which can prove a real talking point over dinner. Most pieces were inherited from Holland America Line, thanks to Dream's spell sailing as HAL's Westerdam during the 1990s.
The crew is a highlight onboard. They build a wonderful rapport with passengers, particularly in the ship's restaurants, where crew and passengers share life stories and memories of past sailings.
The fact that gratuities are included in the price of the cruise fare makes no difference to the level of service delivered, either, which is consistently very good. The ship offers fantastic value for money and moved all-inclusive, with drinks included from May 2019 (though passengers can pay extra for more premium brands).
Despite a 2017 name change from Thomson to Marella, the tour operator is still very much the trusted go-to brand for package holidays for British holidaymakers. While Marella's newer ships might shake off that cheap and cheerful package holiday image, that picture is still very much true of the line's classic ships, Dream and Celebration. Dream's loyal passengers -- almost all repeat guests -- love this about the experience and it's why they continue to sail on the ageing ship.
If you're looking for an action-packed ship bursting with fun and modern activities -- the kind found on new-build megaships -- Dream isn't for you, but if you appreciate a more traditional style of cruising, with your home comforts -- PG Tips and HP sauce, chicken curry and fish and chips -- readily available, you're probably going to enjoy this ship.
Though the passenger base skews towards the fifty-plus, we found multigenerational families on our sailing, with grandparents, children and grandchildren sailing together with the ship catering reasonably well for all age groups.
All passengers are British and most are repeat guests who are loyal to the ship.
Daytime: Beachwear, including swimmers, flip flops and cover ups around the pool, outside and in the Lido Buffet is acceptable. Jeans or shorts and T-shirts or casual shirts and sundresses are also fine.
Evening: Two options are operated in the evening: Smart, which means you'll need to dress up with trousers and shirt, suit, dresses such as cocktail dress or smart two pieces, and the more formal Dress to Impress nights -- typically once a week -- which gives passengers the chance to go all-out glam. Jacket and tie are optional,
Not permitted: No jeans on Dress to Impress nights.
Marella Cruises operates an all-inclusive gratuities policy with tips included in the price of the cruise fare. Passengers wanting to tip their favourite waiter or cabin steward can still do so. The onboard currency is British pound.
Included with your cruise fare:
Not included with your cruise fare:
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Excellent cruise while it lasted!
My number one choice