This was our first tie taking a cruise aboard Costa, although we're not new to cruising. This was my tenth cruise having sailed with NCL, RCC Princess and Cunard previously.
We chose this short 5 night cruise as it fell on the dates we were looking at and was really very good value. It was departing Barcelona and took in Palma, Civitavecchia, La Spezia and disembarking in Savona.
We weren't sure what to expect, but for the price thought we'd give it a try. We're a young couple 20s/30s, from the UK.
Embarkation was dead and didn't take longer than 25 minutes. The safety drill was long and laborious - perhaps new measures in place after Concordia.
English was spoken widely and the changing between languages on PA announcements was no more or less obvious than we'd experienced on other cruises around the Med on other lines.
First off, the Pacifica is a good size ship for us - big with plenty of room and space on board. It is however, one ugly ship. From the outside it's fairly typical, but the inside is god-awful. Brash is probably the fairest I could come up with. The design inside is really terrible for such a young ship. It's verging on holiday-camp at times with a giddy mish-mash of style, colours and design that is really quite horrid. Perhaps I'm influenced by my last sailing which was in February this year onboard NCL Breakaway - yes it's brand new, but it's a different world inside. Modern, classy and a world away from the 70s yellow and orange tiled pool decks or the tacky oversized musical crotchets littering the atrium.
After adjusting your eyes, you do get used to it and start to value the spaces on offer. Two great pool areas with fully closeable glass roofs - great for off-season Med sailing. One was adults-only and strictly enforced, which was welcome as the main pool area was an absolute zoo on the sea day. You couldn't see the pool water for kids dive-bombing and running wild. The dedicated kids-area was hardly used. Sun-loungers were plentiful on the open decks, although somewhat limited under the closed-in spaces.
Our cabin, a standard balcony, was a good size with a good amount of storage. The bathroom seemed big, although with a grim shower curtain which didn't stop the bathroom being flooded each time. However, the space was usable and the balcony lovely in the sun, with plenty of room for two chairs and a small table. The decor was less frenetic but equally bad. Like a hospital room with an 80s mix of peach and lime greens for the walls and soft furnishings, coupled with light wood furniture. The strip flourescent lighting was noisy and not very welcoming. There was only one English-language tv channel (BBC World News) although this only lasted for the first 2 days. The other 20 or so were all Italian, Spanish or German. there were no free movies. The bed was comfy, our room steward lazy. In fact the first time I've ever experienced a bad room steward. He seemed to do the bare minimum, shelves were dusty when we moved in, as were the mirrors. Not enough to put you off, but noticeable all the same. Through our stay, the towels were often not replaced despite them being sopping wet from the bad bathroom design. In fact we hardly saw him, there was none of the usual hellos and informal chats and smiles one would normally expect. A bad egg in an otherwise good and enthusiastic Filipino crew.
The food was generally good in the main restaurant, which was split between two venues and had set seating times with set table mates. The food was of good quality here and varied. Just as well, as there are no other options for dinner. The small for-fee restaurant 'Blue Moon' was fully booked for the duration of the cruise and is on an a la carte operation rather than cover charge. The buffet does not operate after 3pm! Yep, the only food option after the lunch-time buffet is the choice of a slice of pizza (normally Margherita and one other) and a very small salad bar. This is in operation until 9pm. After this, you can order pizza off a menu (normally a choice of three, depending on the day of the week), but that is it. It's MDR or pizza. Also, for an Italian line, the pizza is fairly disappointing. There is room service with a small menu of sandwiches and salads although you pay $2 delivery regardless off time of day. When we did use it, nothing we ordered came, it was completely different! but edible. The lunch buffet was ok, a reasonable choice, but usually the same thing every day. Breakfast was limited, with only a handful of hot options and the lines were huge every day, with most hot dishes running out within 2 minutes of it being brought out. We ended up sticking to cereal and pastries but the pool.
This is a late ship. Everything happens well into the night (the second seating for dinner is 9pm). The majority of the ship still seemed to be up and about at midnight with many bars still buzzing at 2am. There's the usual nightclub, which didn't get going until 1am. We made the mistake of going in at around 11:30pm and the teen club was still on - playing a strip game... Not sure the parents of the 13 year old kids would have necessarily approved. The Ents team were there too, it was an organised event. Perhaps it's an Italian/Spanish thing - the vast majority of guests were from theses two countries. In the other lounges there were a variety of live music acts and dancing. The theatre was big and hosted the usual bland cruise ship shows with average singers and dancers and the obligatory magician. It was great family entertainment, but anyone over the age of 15 seemed fairly nonplussed.
We'd been to many of the ports before, so just took the time to get off and stroll around before returning to the ship for a drink and lay by the pool, which takes me on to the best part of the cruise - the all-inclusive drinks package. An absolute bargain at 19euro a day (if you book it pre-departure, online) or you can sign up on the first or second day at 23.5Euro a day at any bar - both inclusive of service charge. This package includes pretty much all the drinks onboard including brand-name spirits, but not the higher-end ones. So, for example, Gordon's gin is included but not Bombay Sapphire. Cocktails, Prosecco, Asti, espresso coffees and house wine and beer were all included and unlimited. However, bottled water incurred a charge which was bizarre.
We had a good, relaxing time, but missed some of the features on the American lines we've cruised before. There's very limited day time activities and certainly no climbing wall, mini golf etc which you might expect on a ship this size. We might cruise with Costa again, if the dates and price were right, but we wouldn't go running back.