Better than expected: Costa Mediterranea Cruise Review by teraji
Overall Member Rating
Better than expected
Embarkation: Crete (Heraklion)
I think there are some differences between Costa and MSC, who mainly market to the Europeans, and the US cruise lines sailing in the Med. First, nearly all the passengers were from Europe so all announcements are made in More six languages. The ship had roughly 2300 passengers and we met only two other Americans. Second, the only dinner option is the main dining area. No dinner buffet, so if you have the early seating and get back to the ship after 7pm, late night pizza or paid room service are the only options. Third, the shore excursion options may be limited since they will only offer an English speaking tour if there are enough English speaking people taking the tour. This didn’t affect us since we normally don’t take the cruise line shore excursions, but beware if you do.
Embarkation was very fast since we boarded off peak time in Heraklion, Crete. The port is right in downtown Heraklion. You may need to take a free short shuttle bus ride from the terminal building to the ship. You drop your luggage off at the terminal building before getting on the shuttle bus. There is an emergency drill your first night.
Since Alanya, Turkey was not on the port of call listing, I am including in the ship review.
Alanya, Turkey: This was the sleeper port of the cruise. I wasn’t expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. Great beaches, stunning mountain scenery, magical coastal views, a hilltop castle, Roman and Greek ruins, white water rafting, waterfalls and a quaint waterside area with cafes, shops and a scenic harbor. You can even ski if there in the winter. Definitely take a boat tour (one to five hours). The best beach is Cleopatra, a 20 minute walk from the ship or a few minute taxi ride. If interested in archeology, visit Side and some of the area ruins via private taxi or shore excursion.
Disembarkation: Very organized and no issues. They will actually allow you to stay on board until 6pm if you have a late flight, but you need to vacate your cabin by 8am. Less
Similar to other cruise ships. Reasonable space with good storage.
Port and Shore Excursions
Crete: Fantastic! If you start/end your cruise here, plan to spend a few days if not longer. There is so much to do. At minimum, go to Knossos, Elounta/Spinalonga, Agios Nikolaos, Krista and Rethymno. Heraklion has excellent cafes and top rated museums. Rental cars are reasonable and there is a good highway that runs along the North shore to all the above mentioned places. Several nice tourist developed beach resorts lie along this region. There are great restaurants in all the places, good markets and wine tasting.
Nazareth and Galilee
Haifa, Israel: Skip Haifa and take a shore excursion to Jerusalem, Dead Sea or Sea of Galilee. Yes, it will be a long day but this is ground zero for Jewish, Christian and Muslim religions. You will only have time for the highlights, but it will still be a magical experience.
Cyprus: We only had a half day, so we opted for a shore excursion to a mountain wine making village (Omodhos) and some Greek and Roman (Kourion) ruins. The town of Limassol was a let down compared to the other ports, but there are some nice cafes and shops along the waterfront and nice beaches close by.
Rhodes: Old Rhodes town is one of the best and most scenic medieval walled cities in Europe and only a few minute walk from the port. Rent a car and go beach hopping or visit Lindos.
Santorini: Everyone’s favorite Greek Island. I highly recommend the towns Oia and Fira. If interested in archeology, go to Akrotiri. Unless you are diehard beach bum, skip the beaches here and save for the other port of calls. The white washed villages hanging on the cliff sides are the main draw.