We took the 7 night Costa Classica cruise ex Trieste from June 30Th 2012.Despite reading bad reviews of 36% rating, we braved the booking, primarily for the interesting itinerary-Trieste,Ancona,Dubrovnik,Corfu,Argostoli,Kotor & Split & secondly for the pricing.Had we taken surface transportation,airport transfers,3+ star hotels with a continental breakfast, soup and sandwich for lunch & a 3course meal for dinner at a water front restaurant & seen 2 or 3 shows,the cost would have far outweighed what we spent on this cruise by 40%.
Family of 4,age group between 52-60 years,booked one suite on the 9Th floor Portifino deck & one inside cabin 5th floor Pisa deck.We got a good idea of the cabin quality & service levels from both ends of the Costa product.
Classica was a medium sized ship.Clean, well designed, with just the perfect balance of lounges,casino, spa,shops,swimming pool& restaurants etc for such a port intensive route.We would not have justified the time spent at the port visa vis on the ship had the ship offered more than what it did.
The food served is excellent- variety of spread for breakfast, lunch, high tea & dinner.High tea with sandwiches & cakes were a bonus.The continuous flow of pizzas from an an Italian liner was expected.Had read that the quantity in the sit down meals was small.True.But if one ate all that was on the menu as in a starter,soup,salad,pasta,main dish & dessert,one could barely complain of quantity.We were stuffed to the hilt.The quality of fish,beef,vegetables,salads & desserts at the dining was excellent.European menus served in style not clumps of meat and unhealthy french fries galore.
The service levels is & the human touch made the Costa experience a ++.Free cake given on birthdays and wedding anniversaries of cruisers & a special invitation for a glass of champagne for honeymooners or wedding anniversary celebrants at sundown with the captain hosting a small ceremony of re-affirming of wedding vows made it a very special experience of our group members who were celebrating their 23rd wedding anniversary.
The children are well taken care of with a lot of creative activity,small parties of juices & small eats while the parents are busy on shore excursions or the casino etc.
The entertainment on board are a tad boring but we were too tired after our shore excursions to even attend more than 2 programs on board.
The all inclusive drinks package is reasonable.We opted for single drinks as 2 were teetotalers. The price was equivalent to the rates applicable to a good water front restaurant ashore, so why complain of the rates on board, which had the ambiance plus live music & the Mediterranean as the backdrop.
The guests of all nationalities made the atmosphere vibrant and less formal.
On the negatives- 1)the inside cabins are tad weary in appearance.Large in size but the linen,upholstery,shower curtains & TV are age old.Clean but faded.There was a sticky tape stuck on the water sprinkler in cabin #5121!The adjoining cabin was not so badly off & the ones with the windows were bright and looked airy.2)Shore excursion knowledge was not in depth.I had done a fair bit of homework on Trip Advisor & Google, so it was not such an issue.All the ports can be seen on your own or through local agents without booking the ship's shore trips.3)The 24 hours coffee in the coffee urns were not fresh after mid morning, it was better to use the Nescafe sachets or drink tea.4)A ship's naturalist or commentator,like in the Alaska cruises would have been good, to explain the different land formations & coastal weathered features we were passing.
Over all,considering the horrific reviews I had read, the Costa experience was very good.We opted to cruise as an alternate mode of convenient travel to the far flung ports,like Kotor,Dubrovnik,Corfu etc, all in one trip and for that purpose cruising on Costa Classica served more than its purpose, in terms of convenience, quality of boarding & lodging & conveyance.