I cruised on Costa earlier this year on the Serena and had a great time, so I was really looking forward to cruising with my boyfriend on the Fascinosa. I'll try to keep this brief because we did have a lovely time, just without any help from Costa.
The ship is brand new. We had a great balcony cabin (8260) with an interactive flat screen TV that had multiple English news channels and one syndicated TLC/Discovery channel. We ended up spending a lot more time in the room than we had anticipated (I'll get to that in a moment), so we were grateful we had the TV. We purchased the all-inclusive drinks package for a VERY reasonable price of $175/week (I believe it was 135 Euro). The package paid for itself. More cruise lines would benefit from this package deal, we didn't meet one person on the ship who didn't purchase the package. The bartenders were fantastic. Our cabin steward was great. No towel animals, but everything was very clean as he stopped by multiple times More
a day. The waitstaff were friendly. The excursions were alright, but way overpriced (as can begrudgingly be expected). Theoretically, the cruise stops were all fun places to be, had we been able to actually go to them.
That's about all I can say that's good about the Costa Fascinosa.
When I cruised on the Costa Serena, I could not understand what other reviewers were talking about when they referenced how terrible the food was. We must have lucked out on that one, because the food on the Fascinosa was nearly inedible. There were veiny bits and unidentifiable objects in the meat. There was basically one generic brown sauce goop on half the dishes. The pizza was worse than we can get in Baltimore (and this is an Italian cruise line!). I bit into a breakfast sausage one morning and it was raw. Raw, cold, ground pork (presumably). It was revolting. By the end of the trip we were laughing about how terrible the food was with people at our dinner table. There was definitely a mysterious black bean in the farewell cake.
The food was only surpassed by the entertainment for worst-thing-ever-on-a-cruise. There was nothing to do on the ship. Ever. Sure, they had a single schedule of line dances and aerobics classes and card games, and who wouldn't want to go to bingo every day?? This girl. From the excessive advertising, it seemed they wanted passengers to spend more time in the casino and spa, so they bored you to tears in order to get you to spend more money. Nearly every evening there was dancing as the big show. Just dancing. There was a magician one night, but we missed him. This particular cruise had a lot of English, French and German speaking passengers (there was even an Australian cruise director), yet no activities were in any other language than Italian. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem, but there was literally nothing to do on the boat but drink booze and watch TV.
Now, I understand that if there is dangerous inclement weather, that a ship will have to skip a port after giving it careful consideration. It's not common, but generally the situation is understandable and obvious to the passengers. Not so much on the Fascinosa, apparently. We docked in Santorini, Greece at 8am. It was the port stop we were most looking forward to, as it is supposed to be a relaxing day of stunning views and great food (and at this point we were SO excited not to eat ship food). At 8am sharp there was an announcement saying that debarkation is delayed because it's windy. Now, I understand that wind can interfere with the tender boats that we needed to get on land, but it was still very early and this port stop was a full day on land (leaving at 8pm I believe). The weather was terrific and the sun was shining. At 8:45 they announced that we were leaving Santorini and heading a day early to Rhodes, the next port stop, but it would take all day to get there so we wouldn't arrive until the evening. They gave it 45 minutes to see if the wind died down and then decided to take off. We missed an entire port stop because it was windy, without waiting even an hour on behalf of the passengers. We were livid and confused and felt very ripped off. As if missing the best port on the itinerary wasn't enough, they had zero activities planned for the day as a back-up for a surprise at sea day. It was very frustrating.
When we got to Dubrovnik, the last port stop, we were informed that the ship had to dock at a different port than normal. This port was further away from the city, and now in order to get to the city we had to buy shuttle tickets. We thought charging passengers for the extra expense was extremely tacky, especially given that we had previously missed a port day earlier in the week. Shame on you, Costa.
The last major issue we had with Costa was that the evening before we arrived in Venice for debarkation, we saw on the BBC that Venice was 150cm under water. There was video of people wading through waist-high water carrying luggage over their heads with a hilarious view of a Costa ship in the background. We were alarmed and wanted to make sure we'd be ok to dock in the morning, let alone get to our hotel. When we asked the guest services if they had any information, they told us "don't worry, it's nothing" and sent us on our way. They didn't try to help us out by looking into it or even listen to our concerns, they just brushed us off and said we're still getting off the ship in the morning. We honestly never cause a fuss, and we didn't cause one on the Fascinosa, but we were really turned off by how little they cared about the passengers. It turned out that our Venice hotel had indeed flooded, but we were able to stay there anyway.
I will be looking into a higher quality cruise line for our next vacation, Costa left a bad taste in our mouths (literally and figuratively). Less
Costa Fascinosa Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean
Good closet and drawer space, great balcony, quiet room, interactive flatscreen TV with multiple language channels, near stairs, near the central bar lounge, a bit far away from dining room because the layout of the ship requires you to go in an indirect route.
Bari is a great little town. You can easily see it all in a day. The city is walkable and there is no need to get a shuttle from the port. The streets of the old town look like a movie set. Be sure to find a little restaurant on the street dividing the new and the old town, we found the best food to be in that area. Things are very affordable in the old town, but rather expensive in the new town.
Dubrovnik is a very pretty, interesting town. We were there for merely 4 hours at this port stop, so we didn't have any time to take an excursion or do much else but wander around the town. We saw some gorgeous views, though we were on a road parallel to the walls (we could not find the darn staircases to the walls, then realized they were at the entrance to the city). I would recommend not going to the gift shops you see when you first entire the city. Instead, wait until you wander the town a bit more because there are more interesting and less expensive places to stop further in the town. The town is very walkable, we were able to see almost all of it in the 3 hours we walked around.
Katakolon is a town that exists for cruises. We did not spend any time in the town, we instead took an excursion to Olympia. I'm not one for ruins, but my boyfriend is into Greek mythology so he wanted to see them. After the ruins, which were predictably a bunch of rocks, the tour stopped in "downtown Olympia" for shopping. The Costa excursion description promised a shot of ouzo, but the guide just sent us off on our own to shop. The people of Olympia seem to be in dire straits at the moment, and each shop was basically an extremely expensive gift shop for Greece. The "recommended shop with very fair prices" that the tour guide took us to sold the same items as the other stores, but for about 3x as much money. The same pottery that we purchased for 15 Euro was being sold for 50 Euro at the recommended shop. Bottles of olive oil going for upwards of 60 Euro for no apparent reason. Interesting.
We arrived a day early in Rhodes because our ship prematurely skipped the entire day we had scheduled in Santorini. We were pretty upset about that, but when we arrived in Rhodes that evening we were actually pleased that we had the additional evening to spend there. The town is beautiful. We had an amazing dinner at Taverna Kostas, which was actually closed for the winter but the owner Elias welcomed us in with open arms. He literally treated us like family - by the end of the evening he called us his son and daughter. He was cooking dinner for his friends that night and emphatically invited us, random strangers, in to eat with them. The food was incredible and we will forever remember him and his hospitality.
The next day we took a tour of Lindos. It was nice, a lot of walking, left with many beautiful pictures. The tour guides were great. We had enough time after the excursion to wander more around Rhodes. We had a delicious lunch of fresh fish at Pizanias Kyriakos Fish Restaurant, which was a recommendation of a shop owner who we had spoken with the previous night.
Rhodes was a beautiful town and we loved our day there.