Marella (the new name for Thomson Cruises) unashamedly markets itself on the basis of value rather than luxury, and it has been able to keep its costs low by acquiring older ships from other operators rather than launching its own. Whilst that means that it has an older fleet than many of its rivals, its customers are by and large happy to sacrifice some of the technology and facilities that might be found on newer vessels in exchange for a holiday which allows them to stretch their budget further.
Without question, Marella's main selling point is value. It does not come close to competing with its main rivals on innovation or luxury, but what it does do is open up cruising to a whole new section of the market by providing basic quality cruise holidays at surprisingly affordable prices.
A combination of those low prices and a generally casual atmosphere means that Marella is an attractive choice for those looking for a family cruise on a limited budget. The one caveat to that is that Marella's ships lack a lot of the leisure facilities found on board newer vessels so children may not find quite as much to keep them busy as elsewhere.
Whilst it would be a bit of a stretch to describe Marella's aging fleet as being modern in design, the successive refurbishments over the years have brought some more up to date touches to many of the public areas and the overall ambience is a mix of the traditional and the modern.
Marella has done a lot to make cruise holidays available to an audience that wouldn't want or be able to afford the high end luxury offered by some other lines. Whilst there is some opportunity for formality, a good proportion of guests favour a much more laid back and casual approach to their time onboard.