We've just come home from our first cruise ever - with Costa Favolosa - travelling the eastern Mediterranean for a week.
We are a family from Denmark consisting of two adults and two children aged 16 and 12. We had read quite a few bad reviews on this inter net site before leaving for our holiday and were a little worried - but we had not needed to worry at all!
We absolutely loved our cruise and had a wonderful vacation and can only highly recommend it!!!
We drove to Venice in our car. Had booked a parking lot with Costa Cruises just next to the ship, that cost 95 euro for a week. It took 5 minutes to deliver our bags to baggage-check-in, another 10 minutes to park the car and at 1.15 pm we entered the embarkation hall. We had been told the embarkation started at 2 pm but when we came it had already begun quite a while ago, it seemed.
After waiting for 50 minutes our number was up an we could enter the ship.
We went straight to our cabin on the 7th floor and our luggage arrived about 30-60 minutes later. It was very nice and spacious, there was a big double bed and a 'bunk bed' (a single bed with another single bed 'hanging out from the wall'). The mattresses were great and we slept so well. The pillows were a bit hard to my liking, but our cabin steward Michael promptly arranged a change to a much softer and better one. Nice! The little balcony was wonderful, we spend quite a lot of time there, watching sunsets or sunrises - or the full moon at night.
There were sufficient cabinets to pack your luggage in to, everything was very clean and neat. Small but efficient bathroom with shower. The towels were changed at least twice a day, in the morning after your morning shower and in the evening while you ate dinner. The staff was constantly working and cleaning around the clock to make your holiday the best possible. The staff came from 40 different countries and spoke pretty good English most of them. A majority of them seemed to come from Indonesia and the Philippines.
We were very happy with our two waiters, our food-waiter Arwin and our wine-waiter Nur. They made a great effort to make our meals pleasant. We had the same table and the same waiters every night, and our restaurant was Duca di Bourgogne almost mid-ship. Two of the evenings were gala nights, with a special gala menu. The other nights you could choose between 7 courses (starter, soup, pasta dish, main course, salad, cheese, dessert). We had paid for 'all-inclusive' drinks, so both in the restaurants and the bars we could choose between a lot of different drinks, but of course the most expensive ones weren't part of the all-inclusive package. The drinks that weren't included in the all-inclusive-package were marked with a star (*) so it was very easy to see what you could get with out having to pay extra. I was positively surprised of the big variety of drinks we could get via our all-inclusive - water, soft drinks, juices, beer (best beer in the world: Carlsberg), wine, coffees, liquor, cocktails etc.)
I had worried quite a bit about the smoking/non-smoking issue, as we are all incarnated non smokers. I too would prefer that it was only allowed to smoke outside in the fresh air, but that said we didn't find it to be a big problem, maybe because we didn't sit in the bars a lot in the evening...?
Everyday in the evening, when you came back from dinner, you would find a 'ship-newspaper' in your preferred language, telling you lots of things about the next days schedule (what port we were on our way to and some historic remarks, news of the weather, when what happened on the ship, what kind of dinner you could expect (gala or not), what show was on that night, other forms of entertainment etc. ) It was very informative and a great help also to see when the different bars and restaurants were open.
Our English-speaking hostess Mikol was also a great help, she had an hour everyday where we could meet up with her if we had any questions or problems of any kind. Since we speak no Italian at all it was very important that there was somebody that spoke proper English, so she was very valued.
The ship was pretty new, had 1-year birthday in July 2012 and was beautifully decorated. The chairs and sofas and furniture all together were very comfortable and in pretty colours with all in all a very luxurious interior. There was also a lot of interesting and beautiful art.
We were very positively surprised about the shows in the evenings, they were very professional and not just your average-5-star-hotel-show performed by the guides.
When we were in the different ports we didn't care to participate in the excursions arranged by Costa, we thought it was too expensive. In stead we paid a taxi driver to take us around town, and that worked very well. Getting on and off the ship was also very easy and fast, you just had to have your Costa-card scanned and didn't need to bring your passport.
In Dubrovnik we couldn't get all the way into port, so we were sailed in to shore in the tender boats, that were lowered - that was fun!
We were pleasantly surprised about the cleanliness on board and the quality of the food was good.
The only complaints I can think of, apart from the smoking, is the fact that our security drill took place just before leaving Venice, which was annoying as we had very much looked forward to sitting on the top deck watching as we sailed out of Venice (I suggest you have the security drill earlier or later than it is now) and then the fact that the doctor on bord doesn't speak more than 10 words of English!! That is very uncomforting when you get sick and you can't communicate with him at all. I think he understood what I said, but couldn't speak back or answer any of my questions.
But, all in all, we had a wonderful vacation, we won't hesitate to recommend it to anybody going on a cruise and would certainly like to go back!!! We miss it already!!!