This was our first cruise out of Rome. So many factors were involved and things to worry about. I had done my share of research here and other boards. This was our thirtieth wedding anniversary, our kids paid for our cruise.
We were staying close to Rome Termini Station. Walked there with our rolled luggage and boarded a train ( Platform # 24,25, or 26) Tickets were about 8 Euro for first class. With in an hour we were at Civtavecchia station. The cruise port is about 10 minute walk. By the time we got there we were little sweaty. The shuttle bus was waiting there to take us to the Magica ship. Luckily it was not a embarkation port so not too much lines.The ship took off in time and spent a night with little sea sickness.
Next day We were in Savona. We had purchased cruise excursion from Costa Magica to take us to Principality of Monaco. I was told by several cruisers to take the ship excursions only. Well to my surprise a letter was waiting for me from Costa Magica. That there were not enough English speaking takers for this excursions and hence it was canceled. I would be credited in a form of a ship credit. The majority of passengers were Germans, and Italians. More about them latter. We were disappointed. As we were taking a six hour excursion we had not researched the port. We managed to get out and walked around in town. Luckily everything including the fort, were in the walking distance. There was a liquor store and we manged to buy a bottle of wine. Most of the ships crew were from India and few learned greetings did wonders with them.
Our next port was Naples. We were supposed to be there from 1 PM to 6 PM only, and it was a cold rainy day. We had planned to taking a train to Pompeii, but cold and rainy weather prevented that. We found other couple to share a cab to Pompeii. Cost was 22 euro per person. It was about 40 minute drive. The driver waited outside till we returned. We made a mistake in not hiring a guide. Without the guide they were all the ruins of old buildings.We were back in our cruise with in 3 hours. PLEASE BRING UMBRELLA OR A PONCHO WITH YOU. Should have found the best pizza in Italy there but rain and scare of pick-pockets, we missed it.
Next day we were at the sea on the way to Athens.
Costa Magica had entertainment every night, twice a night. It was adequate. Opera singers were magnificent. Cruise director repeated the same announcement in 4 languages. English speaking people were in minority.
After a day at sea we were in ATHENS. In this port I had taken a chance and had booked excursion with outside excursion company. Cruisingexcursions.com had sold me 3 excursions for 100 pounds( It is an company out of London). I was cringing that they would also cancel our excursion, but to our delight a nice car with a driver and English speaking guide were waiting for us.They took us on a ( Private!!!) tour of the city for next three hours.Excursion company did not cancel the excursion because only two of us were signed up with them. Grephiti all over the city. People do not seem to be happy. Eat lunch there but not that great. I think we get better Italian or Greek food in America. ( Please do not throw stones at me, this is my observation).
Bottle of wine was shared with friend that night.
Next day we were in Katakolon (?) Olympia Greece. This was Costas 65th anniversary. The port had arranged for traditional Greek dancers to welcome us. This was our 2nd excursion booked with Cruisingexcursions.com. There was a Norwegian Jade also embarked at the port, this time we had enough people for them to have a coach. It was waiting for us. They took us to Olympia and walked around the ruins. Can't think people were so advanced in those days too. We returned with in 4 hours. Now the Greek dancers were in full swing. Wife had bought Aurso ( Greek Liquor). Wish the Costa would serve some Greek food. But majority of passengers were Germans and Europeans. So the food was very bland. Salt and black pepper was the extent of the spice.
I had read in the posts here that the breakfast and lunch would be served in a buffet style. That the Italians will run you over. Our experience was opposite, Italians were okay, if you tried to talk to them in few Italian words, but it was the Germans who were rude and crude. They acted like they own the ship. I spoke to staff and other passengers about it. I guess they are bailing out he Italians and Greeks, they probably think they own them. Please again do not throw stones, these are my personal observations. My thinking was that, I was going to Italy and Greece, I need to be respectful to them and their culture.
By now someone else had copied us and bought in a bottle of Vodka. We had purchased Boys and Girls card, which allowed us 20 non alcoholic drinks for 50 Euro. It came in handy with Vodka. The normal drink price with tip was close to 8 Euro. All Inclusive drink card was sold for 160 Euro but we had to buy it for everyone in the cabin. We opted out.
Regarding the buffet, if you want to, you can have breakfast served to you at same restaurant were you at dinner and same with lunch. The hours were restricted, so check them. The staff on the cruise was very efficient and nice. Same two waiters took care of us for 8 nights. We left them extra tips and for the cooks too. The food was eatable. There were 5 courses but nothing to write home about. Mrs. and I are very good cook, so it takes a lot to impress us. One night we requested Indian food, it was much better.
Our next stop was Corfu Island in Greece. This was our third excursion with Cruisingexcursions.com. We walked out of the ship, went out of passport control. The passport was always with cruise ship. We had copied the picture pages in color, had emailed to our our self, kids and carried copy with us. To our surprise a driver and English speaking guide were waiting for us. It was a mini bus.They took us to the other side of island, beautiful place. Spring was about to come in full swing. The restaurant in the top of the mountain was fantastic. It was too early to eat there. by now we were getting used to drinking Capchinno (?). Our only complain was that it was served luke warm and not hot. The young guide took us all over the Island of Corfu. Out of all places I visited, I would like to go the that island again. It had past influence of Greeks, Romans, Venicians, and English. There were all different architecture, beaches that were totally different than here in Florida. We spent close to 4.5 hours with this young lady. She was delightful, she was from Chec Republic married to Greek and was very knowledgeable of Greek History. It was like a private tour at little expense. I am pretty sure that if I had booked these tours with Costa they would have been all cancelled. Latter on that night I went to Cruise Excursion desk to complain about our cancelled excursions. Attitude of the young lady behind the counter was that " what are you complaining about, you got you money back". When I told her about my experience with English company, she cared less. I as a business man tried to tell her that they could have offered us excursions with Italians may be at lesser price. We would have gone for it. But this was not USA, were customer service in a service industry is a Mantra.
In my posts I had asked if there were self serve laundry was available on the ship. There was non. First 5 days, if you washed any of your clothes, 1.50 euro for underwear and so on, but on 6th day they ran a special of washing 25 pieces for 20 Euro. We went for it. Check with your cabin steward for this.
Our next stop was in Dubrovnik. We were there at 8 AM. We had to pick up our passport, pay 8 Euro for a round trip to old town. People in this town were more English speaking. Walked around the old fort. Mrs was tired of all walking. The ship was departing at 1 PM. This was a German Lunch buffet day. Whole roasted pig, sour croute, potato salad and German beer was served. It was a riot. Went back to Cabin for an hour. By now I was craving for a good ole burger. Did found one. Satisfied at last. This was our last evening on the ship. On distant there were many islands, wondering what they were. It was very cloudy. I was hopping to go on deck and look for the stars but no luck. We put things off to do it next day, but it never comes.
Next morning we were in Venice. Disembarkation was kind of confusing but went easy.We had booked couple of nights at Hilton Malino Stucky hotel. It was easiest hotel to get to. We took a ALI LAGAUNA shuttle from cruise terminal ( 10 minute walk) at cost of 8 euro. Our hotel was a first stop. They dropped us at the front door. Same shuttle boat can take you to Airport ( cost 15 Euro, and takes about 1 hour or more.)
In all our cruise was great. We could not have gone to all these ports without to have to pack and unpack once. We thank all the crew members from India, Indonesia and from Philippines. They were the stars.
In all this was very relaxing cruise and well worth the money we paid.