We flew from Boston to Madrid and then caught a connecting flight to Barcelona. There were six adults in our group. We were told just days before we left that we were upgraded to a suite. Never had been in a suite before. Since we were told we couldn't board til 3 and we arrived in the morning, we had arranged with Barcelona tours for a 4 hour tour. The tour was very nice, although with little sleep, we were anxious to get on the ship. When we arrived finally at the port, we were very surprised to see we were the only ones there to board the ship. I guess the vast majority of our shipmates had boarded in Savonna. So, boarding was quite easy!
We all thought the ship was very beautiful, after all it had just been redone. Everything seemed new and sparkly clean. Although I had sailed before in balcony rooms, I had never really been bothered by the small rooms. Compared to those the suite we had on the 11th floor was very very roomy. Big comfy bed, a pillow menu, large flat screen TV that swiveled on its base so that you could watch it from the bed or sitting area. The bathroom was huge with both a tub and a shower. And of course a nice large balcony. There was a platter of assorted canapes, a basket of fruit, that was replenished every day and an ice bucket with a bottle of bubbly were all waiting for us. The butler...(butler!) and room steward came to meet us shortly after we arrived. They were both very pleasant and always asked when they saw us if they could do anything for us.
We had others from our group on one side of our room, but the other side was vacant until the next to last day. The ship hold around 1800 guests, but we were told that there were less than 1000 during our week on board. This of course was no problem for us and allowed us to get deck loungers almost anywhere and at anytime of the day. We loved that!
Although in a suite you get complementary room service, we really didn't use it that much. We did have a continental breakfast delivered each morning. Juice, coffee, fruit and rolls and danishes. But they weren't able to deliver a regular breakfast till 7:30 at the earliest, and well we were usually out and about by then. The continental came every day at 6 am.
Since our room was on deck 11 near mid ship, we wee only steps away from the mid ship pool and the lido bar. It seemed like a perfect location.
We had last cruised on Costa three years ago from Venice to the Eastern med. Although we certainly enjoyed the food on this trip, we all think we had enjoyed the last cruise food much better. Maybe our memories fail us.
We did use the gym. It is at the bow of the ship, and if you use the treadmills as your ship is entering the harbor, it feels like the faster you walk or jog, the faster the ship will get in! There is a small walking/jogging track on the top deck. We tried to walk off several meals there in the mornings. We usually had it to ourselves.
The ship has a cigar bar,wine bar, chocolate bar and a pizza shop. The entire week I rarely if ever saw anyone using these places. There was a specialty restaurant on board and since we were in a suite were offered one free meal there. We made a reservation, although it did not seem necessary because when we ate there we were practically the only ones there. This was our least favorite meal of the week. It wasn't terrible, just not as good as the others. Go figure. Since there were so few folks eating in there, well, the service folks could have backed up 2-3 steps and we might have enjoyed our meal better. But maybe that had nothing to do with the food.
I have never been much of a fan of the entertainment provided on cruise ships in the theater. So much lip syncing and well, I tend to avoid them. This ship did not have a large theater and I thought that was a plus. Between the cigar bar and wine bar there were usually some sort of quartet playing classical music. I never sat around to listen to them but always enjoyed walking by. Sometimes I paused for a few minutes, they sounded great.
There are 2 lounges on board. We usually spent most evening drifting from one to the other. The entertainment staff was great at getting people to dance together. We spent many a night dancing and very much enjoyed it. The singers and comedians were OK. I never stayed for a whole show but enjoyed it in little bits and pieces. The casino was very small and although I did win a little at the Roulette table, none of us really spent much time there.
We were lucky to have great weather for the week. The pools are very tiny and none of us used them. Nor did any of us use the hot tubs.. Did I mention we had a whirlpool in our room? I tried it once, I guess I am just not a tub person, but my wife used it every day.
We did purchase the all inclusive drink package before we left. Although we could have purchased it on board. It was easy to use at any bar or at any time of course. I had downloaded the list before I went, however any drink you asked for they were able to make for you and have it included. We were all glad we had the package.
We visited Palma de Mallorca, Malta, Catania, Naples and Savonna. I had never been to any of these places and liked all of them. In Malta, we rented a car and went to a nice beach. Driving on the left with a manual using your left hand took a little getting used to, but it wasn't hard. We did not book any excursions, as we do the research ahead of time and prefer mostly walking and exploring. I found Palma to be the most pleasant city to walk in, but all were quite walkable. I wasn't sure what to expect from Naples. We were there on a Sunday and well...we loved it. Its crowded and a little dirty, but still, has a great deal of charm. We even were able to find a place open for authentic Naples pizza.
We had really enjoyed our trip three years ago on the Costa Victoria and were looking forward to sailing with Costa again. We had been booked on the Concordia. I'm sorry for the tragedy that occurred with the Concordia, but I think for us, this was the better ship to be on. Much smaller and not crowded at all. I so often read negative reports on here about Costa. I just don't see what others are talking about. i am not at all bothered that as an English speaking American that I am in the minority. I really think that adds to the experience. And I have not, after two cruises on Costa witnessed the so-called rudeness of any Europeans. We always ate dinner in the MDR, but breakfast and lunch were in the two different buffets. I didn't witness any pushing or line cutting at all. Everyone. the ships crew and our fellow ship mates were always very pleasant and courteous.
It wasn't perfect, no trip ever is, but we all had a great time. One thing that I did find somewhat amusing though, had to do with Caesars salad. On our room service menu I saw it was offered as an anytime item. It was never on any dinner menu though. On our second night I ordered it in the main dining room.
It arrived with many many little bits of bacon. It wasn't what I expected but i just tried to eat around the bacon. As we were eating our desserts our waiter told us that if we wanted Caesars salad again, we should order it in advance. OK. Seemed we all wanted it for the next night, but asked if we could have it without the bacon. Sure, we were told. Well the next night they brought our salads. Now it had grilled chicken and bacon bits. I wanted croutons and anchovies..oh well. Never had a Caesars salad like that before. I just wondered why it was available always on the room service menu, but had to be ordered in advance in the dining room. Not a gripe, just found it amusing.
My only gripes are two. The promenade deck is always my favorite on a ship. I like walking the deck where the lifeboats are kept. I makes me feel like I am really on a ship. This was for crew only. Also i always enjoy the outside eating area in the stern near the buffet. Love to have my meals sitting outside. On this ship this spot is missing.
We will sail again with Costa. The food could be better, the stops could be longer, but the price is right and all in all everything was just fine.