We selected this cruise for its itinerary and pricing. After reading other reviews we were well prepared for what to expect from the ship and crew. The cruise met our expectations but certainly wouldn't appeal to everyone's tastes.
We did all of our booking and planning over the Internet. We flew into Nice and took the train down to Abisolla Marina. We loved this quaint seaside village and enjoyed our evening there after a long flight and train ride. The next morning we boarded the local bus to Savona. We looked to Cruise Critic and Trip Advisor for advise and recommendations.
The embarkation process was a smooth as we have experienced on any cruise. The staff was efficient. We had no difficulties finding our cabin. It was good sized with lots of closet and drawer space. The bathroom was a good size. We enjoyed the large window and cabin decor. Our room steward, Leo, did an amazing job of keeping it sparkling clean the entire trip.
We had early seating in the NY NY restaurant. Our assigned table was right at the entry to the restaurant which was a very busy spot. Our request to change tables was graciously attended to, as were all other requests we asked of the crew. We found the restaurant servers and bartenders to be very attentive overall. The table service throughout other areas of the ship was very inconsistent so we usually just went to the bar and ordered ourselves.
We took advantage of the all-inclusive drink package which was a great deal. It included all non-premium brands, water, fresh juice, chocolate bar and espresso. We also signed up for the basic spa package which provided a restful respite after long days of walking, and noisiness of the ship. The spa was nice but seemed to lack some of the amenities of other ships.
Food was mediocre. Evening buffets were very limited which was disappointing as we didn't always feel up to spending two hours at dinner, especially after long port days. Entertainment was also geared toward European tastes and was mediocre as well. The cruise was great for ball room dancers, or those who understood the seemingly silly entertainment. The fitness center and spa provided most of our on-board entertainment.
The highlights of our trip were the ports of Haifa, Ashdod and Izmir. We hired private guides and were glad we did. The guides were awesome and we had much more flexibility in our tours having only eight people. I highly recommend this as an alternative to Costa excursions. We were comfortably able to see in one day what would take two cruise excursions to accomplish and the price was about the same. The guides were English speaking and we didn't have to hear the tour delivered in multiple languages. At Ashdod there were 42 large coaches waiting, and one small Mercedes van for us. We got some rather odd looks as we were whisked quickly so quickly.
We disembarked at Savona. The process was very simple and we had no waiting to get off since we handled our own luggage. After getting off the ship we took the local bus to the train station and were off to Milan. We stayed an an airport hotel that evening and departed on an early flight the next morning.
Overall we enjoyed the cruise. We met some nice people on board. We would rank the overall experience as average. I don't think we would choose Costa for future cruises (simply not to our tastes), nor would we elect an 11 day itinerary. Seemed a little to long for us.