We sailed on the CostaMediterranea from Savona(Nov. 4, 2005) to Fort Lauderdale(Nov. 20, 2005). There were 4 couples, 2 from Missouri and 2 from Florida. Three of the couples had multiple cruise experiences.
Selected this sailing because of the specific dates we were available to cruise, wanted to do a trans-Atlantic crossing on a new ship with balconies and a reasonable price. This was the only cruise that met the criteria. We made our reservations in February after comparing prices with various TAs. We all used Costa Air. Our Florida friends added a 5 day Venice to Savona cruise on the Mediterrenea for a BTB. We opted to arrive a day before sailing and stayed in Genoa with transfers and hotel arranged by Costa. This all worked very smoothly.
We talked with the Hotel Director and asked about the make up of the passengers. Said there were 2094 passengers. 850 were Italians, 800 English speaking and that about 175 Spanish speaking boarded in Barcelona. Included in the English speaking was a very large tour group comprised of US and Canadians. This tour (several hundred in size) had a 5 day bus tour in Italy prior to the cruise. Heard neg. comments from this group, but it was directed to the tour operator, not about Costa. We were expecting a cruise of only senior citizens, but were surprised with the number of young Italians. Not sure the reason for this.
We were all concerned about previous reviews and the quality of food. However I think we all agreed these were (as a whole) the best meals we have ever had on a cruise. Sure there were a couple of entrees that were not to our liking, but I've had that happen in top notch restaurants. All in all the food was great. I especially enjoyed the pastas that were available before the main course, both in the dinning room and the buffet. Also gave me the opportunity to try certain seafood that is not available in the Midwest. Desserts were nothing special. Overall, I was very pleased with the food. I did not go hungry and gained 8 pounds. Those that panned the food in previous reviews must have had Cunard Grill expectations at Costa prices.
Service was the best we have ever had on a cruise. Waiters, cabin steward, were all excellent. They always addressed you by name. Room service was prompt and efficient. The cruise staff (Melanie) went out of her way to assist with a problem. My wife brought along a 4 string banjo. About the 4th or 5th day one of the tuning pegs broke. We saw Melanie on deck and ask her if the musicians on board had any ideas at what port we could find a music store that could help. Melanie called us twice to tell us about music stores (with a street name) in various ports that we would be stopping. We were very surprised that she even pursued the question, as we thought this was above and beyond a reasonable request. Yes the music stores were there as she told us, but they didn't carry the correct size peg. In fact, it is going to be hard to find such a peg here in St. Louis.
The Captain was very accessible, saw him at least once a day, making the rounds. He was happy to chat and answer questions. He also gave a presentation on the ship, in English with slides, in the main theater. Since I like ships, I found it to be very enjoyable. He also gave the talk in other languages during the cruise.
The language issue was not really a problem (other than with the entertainment). Ship wide announcements in five languages were few and far between. The staff was able to converse in English as well as other languages.
The boarding process in Savona was not acceptable. Our bus arrived at 1:30 pm and we were given a boarding number of 18. At that point they were boarding number 11. Our number was called at 4:30pm. When you number was called, a mob formed around the security check in entrance. When the mob size got small, the next number was called. No attempt was made to have a line or to have any sense of order. The terminal is new with an outside patio area. Drinks and snacks are available to purchase. Since the weather was nice, we spent most of the time outside.
The entertainment was spotty at best. The production shows with the Costa dancers and singers were on a par with other cruises. The weak spots were the individual acts. Saying everything in 5 languages was disruptive. One bright spot was an Italian tenor. Sang all the classics and naturally brought the house down, however it was scheduled for 4:30pm. (Maybe he only does one show a day?)
There was a toga night on the last night. It was combined with a talent show and provided for a fun show. The sheets for your toga appeared on your bed, but no promotion was done in the daily "Today". Had there been a little fanfare and promotion there would have been more participation. This, in my opinion, should have been scheduled for the mid Atlantic. Selection of movies on TV was limited for a 16 night cruise. Several days the same movie was shown. The entertainment appeared to be a dry run for the upcoming 7 day cruises.
I felt the shore excursions were a bit over priced. However the tour guides were all very professional and did a better job than on most cruise ship tours. Also the disembarkation for the tours was done in an efficient manner. No waiting around or long lines. I guess it evens out.
I had a cultural shock concerning the rudeness of certain people butting in line as if you were not even there. Always have heard of that, but first time I have experienced it. After a couple of days, I sharpened my elbows, honed my passive aggressive tendencies and stood my ground.
Joe Farcus designed the interior of the vessel in 17th and 18th century Italian palazzo (palaces) motif. It is eye catching, to say the least, but very enjoyable. There is always something new to discover. It is certainly appropriate for an Italian vessel. Would I do it again? YES. Would I recommend this cruise to someone else? YES, if you like 5 sea days in a row. Did I get value received? YES.