Having cruised with P&O many times, Princess and Thomson cruises and having already booked a South America transatlantic crossing with Costa for next March,the oppurtunity to take a mini cruise around ports in the Med presented itself. The price was very good and included a drinks package and although we were a little wary after reading some of the views, we went ahead and booked it as it also gave us the chance to become members of the costa club. This review is our opinion on what we experienced and therefore only represents our views,other opinions may vary.Please also do forgive any spelling and grammar mistakes.
We flew into Barcelona airport and spent the night before in a hotel and then used the Metro to get down to the port.The weather was'nt kind and we had torrential rain.There was a little confusion on where to get the shuttle to take us to the cruise terminal but once we found it we boarded the coach at a cost of 3 Euros and were dropped outside the costa cruise terminal at about 3 15pm.We were given health declaration forms to fill in and then went through to the departure lounge where we were given our cruise cards and directed to the ship.We were welcomed on board and asked what language we preferred to communicate in (Italian,English,French,Spanish,German and Russian) Told where our cabin was and then told that the buffet restaurant was open for snacks and that our safety drill was to be held at 5pm in the theatre. So far so good,Embarkation went smoothly and efficiently (9 out of 10,1 point deducted for lack of signage to the shuttle coach)
We had chosen an inside cabin towards the rear of the ship as i like almost total darkness to sleep. Plenty of hanging and cupboard space,very comfortable beds and pillows, a nice touch was a colored pillow case with a bed runner for daytime use. Bathroom was a little dated, with shelves for toiletries and no cabinet,but it was functional. Johnny our steward was extremely friendly and efficient and kept everything spotlessly clean. You could have Room service in the cabin for an additional charge. TV showed mainly international channels and if you wanted a movie there was a charge. (9/10)
So many different bars to choose from, all kept clean and tidy and all had different entertainment, some of it not to our taste, but they did an incredible job of trying to diversify. As i stated before, we had a drinks included package but here are some of the prices for drinks if you wished to buy them individually.
Free tea and coffee and jugs of water available from the buffet restaurant during opening hours
I'll leave you make up your own mind about drinks prices but in our opinion considering the price paid for the cruise we found them comparable to hotel prices.(10/10)
Buffet restaurant. breakfast 7am-10. always lots of choice and no trouble locating a table. We can't tell you what b'fast was like as we didnt use it for b'fast.
Main Dining room. diff opening times anywhere between 7am till 9.30.
If you like to stay in bed then chances are for breakfast you wont use the MDR. We are fairly early risers and so headed for the Turus rest every morning. You are shown to a table and then you have a choice. You can head to the extensive buffet tables with a selection of breads,pastries,cereals meats cheeses fruits yoghurts and a hot selection of bacon, sausage eggs. Please dont expect english bacon or sausage,the bacon is what the english call streaky and the sausage is continental,small spicyish sausage that i personally found very tasty. none of the buffet hot items were very hot.IMO food served on the continent is never served piping hot.
you can aso elect to have a fresh to cook order breakfast. bacon ,sausage ,eggs, pancakes, waffles, smoked haddock, oatmeal etc but do bear in mind that there will be a wait. Waiters bring round tea, coffee and juice.
buffet noon-4pm. always a good selection of dishes as well as a pizza station.I'm not normally a lover of pizza but i did try and ended going back up for more.Theres also a grill serving hot dogs and bugers.Again no problem finding a table.
Taures MDR. You are shown to a table and given the days menu. There is a choice of 6 courses. starter, soup, pasta. main course, cheese and dessert. None of the portion sizes are huge but you can ask for more and the waiters are very obliging. After the first days lunch we knew not to take all courses,there was more than enough for us.
Afternoon tea,buffet restaurant. 4-5pm
a small selelection of rolls and pastries.not a huge choice but very tasty.The pastries were very light and crumbly. the savoury rolls are spread with flavoured Mayo not butter.
Dinner. buffet restaurant and pizzareria 6pm-9pm
For those noy wanting a waiter served main meal there are slices of pizza available and a very limited selection of meals from the dinner menu available, All guests are encouraged to use the MDR for dinner.
Taures MDR.1st sitting 6.45pm 2nd sitting 9.15pm This is an Event,nothing else can be used to describe it. You are shown to your table on the first night and then eat at the same table every night. a 7 course menu is offered. starter, soup, pasta.salad.main,cheese.dessert. Water is available by the jug if you ask. Coffee was never served after the meal. What can we say, Do not expect a sedate dining experience.There is a buzz from different nationalities all seeeming to converse at the same time.The waiters perform different rituals every night as well as having a different style of apparel.Diners are encouraged to join in with the fun,if you are prepared to do this,believe me, you'll have a fantastic time.Dinner was certainly the Highlight of the cruise. There was no Lobster, Snails etc for formal night but every meal we had was most enjoyable. Service was speedy and Efficient and Cielito our waiter,was an absoloute delight,nothing was too much trouble. I'm hoping that you arent finding this review long and boring.Having looked for an extensive latest review and not finding one i decided to make this as complete as possible. Here is the Gala Night menu.
prawns served on a bed of mango and rice with a fruit sauce
Terrine of Rabbit with an apple compote and brioche
Cold andalucian soup
oxtail consomme with juliene carrotts
papadelles with a seafood sauce
Hallibut with cherry tomatoes and a tagliatele of vegetables
beefsteak with roast potatoes herbs and vegeatbles
roast pork in mustard jus with peas and pumpkin mousse
millefluer of vegetables in a cheese sauce
Cheese. edam, gouda and feta served with nuts,raisins,strawberry marmalade and bread
dessert. light fruit sponge covered in marshmallow fondant cream
ice cream or sorbet.
the only minor complaint is that although there were lots of tables for 2 all tables were so close together
At 11.45pm in all lounges a diifferent themed snack would be brought around
Entertainment. During the day there were different things to do,from flower making to aqua aerobics, quizzes and poolside games. not as much as on a p and o ship but still enough to break the day up.
evening entertainment we felt timings were much better. theatre shows
7.30pm for 2nd dinner guests and 9.30pm for 1st sitting guests.
the resident group in the theatre were the starlight dancers who performed 3 different shows.(all dance so no language barrier.) colorful costumes and spectacular laser lighting. they did very well
there was also a chinese acrobatic troupe who got a very well deserved standing ovation. musiians in most bars.
has speciality restaurants for an extra cover charge. is very easy to navigate with deck numbers by all the stairs.The use of subtle covered lighting throught the ship was very pleasing on the eye. staff were always smiling and cleaning,they were all a joy. outside areas were kept clean. pools although on the small side were perfectly adequate, Children were kept amused in their various zones and were never a problem. One of the issues we were most concerned about was the Smoking. Although Smoking is allowed in ceratian areas of the ship,passengers never abused the non smoking areas.There was a smell of smoke coming from the casino area but it was never very intrusive. The library has a very small collection of english language books. The announcements are made in a rotation of languages but we found that there were less announcements made on here than on any other ship we have been on.
There is an english speaking rep on board available to speak to every day but to be honest most staff do speak english anyway.The daily Today programme is delivered every evening in your cabin so you know whats happening when and where. There is a cocktail of the day every day
You do have to pay shuttle charges at most ports of call eg costs. Ship to ibiza town return or you could walk in but it is a good 2 miles each way. Marseilles return, a good 20 minutes drive. Savona dock in town and a very easy walk.
The english speaking passengers are very much in a minority, it is predominantly Italian,however we had a very enjoyable cruise and have no hesitatation in reccomending a Costa cruise. For us the Costa Luminosa was Illuminating and we look forward to our next one.