My husband and I decided on this trip as the itinerary was right up our street - visiting all the places we have on our bucket list. We booked 10 months previously and only then were there two inside cabins left. We thought long and hard about the cruise line but were assured that Costa had put in several safety measures on board each of its ships. We really shouldn't have been worried at all as the whole cruise was better than we had ever thought.
We had met some people on the cruise forum (high recommended) and joined with them on some of the excursions. We learned a lot from them as they had been on several cruises before. We arranged to meet on the 9th deck just after sailaway on the first day in Dubai. We hit it off straightaway which is unusual for four couples to do so.
The ship's embarkation procedure was really easy - we arrived in Dubai docks about two hours earlier and there was a small cafe to buy drinks and snacks which we did and sat and chatted to other couples who were as excited as we were. We were onboard within a couple of hours but weren't allowed in the cabins til 8pm. However, this didn't stop us wandering around the ship, the self service restaurant was open and we tucked into a lunch. As we had the all inclusive drinks package, which by the way, worked out really well for us, we were happy. We found that if you had one cappuccino, a couple of sodas, wine and a cocktail a day, you were quids in, so to speak.
The itinerary was amazing - we visited Mumbai, Goa and Cochin, Maldives,Sri Lanka, Phuket, Langkawi, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. All places were wonderful and apart from the very high humidity, as the trip went on, nothing could have stopped us from enjoying ourselves. During sea days of which there were 7 days, we met and chatted to other passengers, kept ourselves busy with cards etc and went to some very interesting talks.
The downside of the trip was trying to disembark at ports when you weren't on a Costa excursion. We had pre arranged for people to meet us at ports and we weren't allowed off the ship until all Costa excursion passengers had disembarked and this made us late for a couple of people who were meeting us. This should have been made clear to us on the website, under excursions, although i can't see any point in separating passengers so long as all get off in an orderly fashion.
You couldn't fault the meals and restaurant services. The staff were all very attentive, polite and helpful.
The evacuation and drill practice, which obviously needs to be done, took a long time as about 5 different languages were spoken and we had to stand through all of them. For some people, the sun was shining right on them and they were looking very hot. It must have taken about 30 mins. Some of the elderly people were complaining that they felt ill after this.
The entertainment, generally, was very good, especially the ones who were not part of the animation team. One or two of the shows were particularly outrageous and although some of the audience were enjoying it, most people left and had we been at the end of the row, we would also have left but to be courteous to the other guests, we stuck it out.
The English speaking rep, Danielle, was great and very helpful. She had a lot to do and probably a great deal to deal with but coped well.
The dining times changed from 7pm to 6pm when we boarded which was a little early but the second sitting was at 8.30pm.
The cabin was very spacious and every time we went out of the cabin, it seemed to have been cleaned again. Towels changed and bathroom tidied up regularly.
The wifi was very expensive on board but most ports had a wifi corner or else we found a local cafe offering free wifi if you bought a cuppa. Singapore airport was something else. We got there fairly early but we explored all three Terminals, finding the Sunflower garden, the Butterfly garden where you can walk through a load of butterflies and they land on you... and the koi carp pond, free leg massage machines, free movies and free wifi!
Another slightly annoying thing was the compulsory tipping at the beginning of the cruise. We felt quite bad that we didn't tip people that we had seen on a regular basis and who had helped us and we wanted to know that the tips were evenly spread out to the whole of the ships company and we weren't given any info on this. I know we could have but that would have defeated the object of paying the tips upfront at the beginning. I don't believe there would have been any refund if your cruise was bad.
Smoking was kept to one side of the ship (!) but it drifted over the other side. There were designated areas for smoking but you had to walk through them to get to the dining room etc.
There are so many brilliant points to this cruise and not many downsides. If you go with an open mind, with the ship looking good and intending to have a good time, you will. We loved it but as we don't have any more leave left from work, we won't be booking til next year....