Well, our friend had never cruised, and asked if we'd help her out. So, for ease of arrangements, we flew independently from Liverpool to Barcelona with Easyjet. We have been to Barca before, so knew the transfers were easy enough. A 7am flight got us there for 10.30am, however our embarkation was 3.30pm at the earliest. Take the Aerobus to Placa Catalunya for 5.20 euros return (valid for 9 days). So, we'd looked at our options for luggage. There is a place called Locker Barcelona, near Placa Catalunya which looked ideal. So, our thoughts were, as we were nerfed out of the Cathedral last time in the city, that would be our main aim. So we turned up, and could go inside with our luggage. So, we didn't bother with the locker facility. When finished, it was such a nice day, we walked the whole way to the berth. We do walk a lot, so don't try if not so good on your legs. It was a steady hour and a half, but we did have time to spare.
We arrived at the terminal, disposed of our suitcases and proceeded inside. The process was somewhat disorganised chaos at 3.30pm. Basically, you were handed a numbered card and would be called forward. Now for me, 1st come 1st served, but the process was based more on Costa loyalty. We were number 12, so it took nearly 50 minutes to go aboard. The usual photo call, with 2 more security checks and we were on. We have sailed Favolosa before, so was familiar with the layout, so decided to drop off our handluggage in the room, and found our suitcases already inside. Great service, thats were we got our 1st come 1st served, i think.
The room was generous inside, and was an outside on deck 1. This is ample, as we looked at the balcony showroom and the size of the balcony itself doesn't warrant the extra money. A little small to say the least. The decor was nice and the interactive TV is more user friendly than P&O's equivalent. Proper wardrobes also, but the usual niffnaff string door opening is still poxy.
The ship itself is very nicely decked out with plenty of bars, salons etc., however the deck ayout doesn't always seem best for navigating. Some forward thinking required when moving around.
We were allocated 1st sitting for dinner at 6.45pm. Originally sat out of the way in the aft restaurant, we moved as a 5 to a central table after 2 nights. Much better when the staff did their Italian night and staff congratulatory parade. The food itself can only be at best average, as they have to consider so many pallets it would be impossible to satisfy everyone, and as the majority are continental Europeans, the menu did appear to cater for their pallets moreso than British.
The self service restaurant can get rather mobbed at times, so get there early if you can.
The staff are good at all they do, and it was nice to see some staff from our last trip more than 12 months ago. Clearly some loyalty with their employees there.
We did buy the Extra all inclusive drinks package, at 19.5 euros a day, and it is a bargain for anyone wishing to sink a few.
The entertainment was good again, but with a 6.45 dinner, was virtually impossible to get to the 1st show, so it was either rush the meal or go later. The best show was the ventriloquist who did his piece in 5 languages without pausing for breath.
Ashore, we did everything ourselves apart from Pompeii. This was a bit shambolic, but we only booked with Costa due to the limited time in port. We sat on the coach for 30 mins alongside, then arrived in Pompeii to see a cameo shop, then waited around for another 20 minutes. Once inside, the guide took an eternity for the 1st hour to actually get anywhere, then rushed everyone around for the 2nd hour without seeing some of the more important parts. Then, whilst the guide enjoyed her coffee, we all diligently waited around for another 20 minutes. Basically, over an hours time lost that could have been utilised in the monument, which is what we'd actually gone to see in the first place. My wife expressed her disatisfaction with the guide who just played the party line.
Disembarkation was effortless, meet in the Moliere lounge at 3.15pm, wait to be called and go ashore. We hovered around, and our luggage was the only ones left. We walked it all the way back, caught the Aerobus to the airport and effortlessly flew home.
All in all, a good return on Costa, our friend enjoyed the first cruise experience, and the weather was favourable for May.