My age 59, travelling with my 88 year old Dad. We have been on many cruises with different cruise lines, but this has to be my favourite.
We booked a very last minute cruise after being sent a great deal by our favourite cruise agents - too good to miss, even though previous reviews of the ship and line have been mixed. Although I booked an outside cabin with no number, I was delighted to find that we had been upgraded to a balcony. Our first experience, but definitely not the last.
We set off for Barcelona - an easy well-timed flight down from the UK to arrive there at 1.30 pm, and went straight to the cruise terminal. I was surprised to find very few passengers there, and we walked through to the embarkation desk where all they needed were our tickets and passports, and where we were issued with the usual ship cards. I found out later that on this cruise the ship had passengers boarding and leaving at almost every port, a bit like a ferry, but it meant that we had a long time in each port.
Up onto the ship where security zapped our cards and took security photos with a hand held device. Onboard there are numerous terminals where it is possible to register your credit card yourself by swiping your ship`s card, then your credit card - no waiting at customer services.
Our cabin 9210 port side, right at the bow of the ship, was gorgeous. Note - the beds were next to the window which meant we could lie in bed at night and watch the coastal lights. Having since looked at other balcony cabins on other ships, I think this is quite unusual - the beds are usually away from the windows. Plenty of storage and a neat little bathroom with a great big mirror. Everything was spotlessly clean.
Dining - we always like to use the buffet dining room, and were very pleased with the quantity and quality of food at breakfast and lunchtime. It was always very busy, and the type of food is not the same at each station - for example, pancakes are on one side of the ship, eggs are on the other. When we did have to wait for a table, it was only a few minutes. Great service from all the waiters and chefs who couldn`t do enough to help. We had a problem in the evenings though - I had read that it was just pizzas in the buffet after 6pm, but I didn`t realise it was just 2 types of pizza - margherita and plain cheese. A few salads, and no desserts at all, not even ice cream. I believe that after 9.30 pm, the pizzeria becomes waiter service with a greater choice of pizzas, but we prefer to eat at 7 p.m.
I would also like to say that it was the first ship we`ve been on where the girls on the reception desks were so helpful and polite, they really couldn`t do enough to help.
Decor - what can I say? It was a bit OTT, but maybe Italians like it that way! There was pattern and colour on everything, which gave me a headache for the first few days ;) The theme of the ship was Roman gods. One of the big bonuses was 10 lifts together at the central area = no waiting. There were 4 swimming pools, 2 of them with sliding glass roofs over the whole of the pool area.
The overall age group seemed to be 30s to 40s, with a great many children, but it was Easter. I felt this lent a really young feel to the ship, although it seemed to be very noisy compared to our other cruises. This applied to the evening shows in the Glove theatre - they were just too noisy for us. The glove theatre had a fantastic wrap-round design, with no obscured views.
One of the highlights of the ship was the 4D cinema, which showed short 15 min animations, buy one get one free for 8 euros. The first film we saw was haunted house, which was a fab experience with 3D glasses, moving seats, smells, and puffs of wind.
Ports and excursions: Marseille, cancelled because it was too windy to get into port, and replaced with Toulon: Savona; La Spezia, where we took the opportunity to walk to the train station and took the train to Monterosso, one of the Cinque Terre villages; Civitavecchia - we`d booked a trip to Cornetto, but it was cancelled; Naples - we booked a trip down the catacombs, but this was again cancelled, so we took the trip to Sorrento and Amalfi. Tip: sit on the right side of the bus to get the views, and don`t go if you suffer from travel sickness! A days cruising back to Barcelona, then an easy flight home.
Lovely ship, spotlessly clean
Great service from the girls on customer services and the excursion desk
Really interesting ports, especially Savona and La Spezia
The 4D cinema
Long time in each port
No selection at the buffet pizzeria between 6 and 9.30 p.m. It also had the atmosphere of a children`s playground.
Would we go with Costa again? definitely.