We are a family of 3, myself 42, DH 42 and DS 13. We are from the UK and this was our 8th cruise but our first time on Costa. We flew into Rome the day before the cruise and stayed overnight at the Hilton Rome Airport hotel. We landed around 10.30 am and used the walkway to the hotel. We were able to check in straight away and our room was ready. The room was nice,recently decorated in a modern style with an attractive bathroom. We caught the hotels free shuttle bus into Rome and spent the afternoon sightseeing on the hop on/hop off bus. We ate pizzas sitting at a pavement cafe and caught the 7pm bus back to the hotel, ready for an early night before the cruise.
The next morning we enjoyed a good buffet breakfast that was included in the room rate and then had time for a quick swim in the indoor pool before checking out at 12. We walked back over to the airport to catch our Costa transfer to the ship.
The Costa rep was easy to find and when all the passengers had arrived she walked us over to the waiting bus. Our luggage was loaded and we didn't see it again until we got it in the cabin. The transfer took nearly an hour. When we arrived we were off the bus and onto the ship within 5 minutes. Unlike other lines, on Costa you set up your onboard account during the cruise not at the beginning(which seems a bit daft as there are always big queues to do so). We went straight up to the cabin to collect our Costa cards. Embarkation 10 out of 10.
We had a standard balcony cabin on deck 7. We have had similar cabins on other cruises and this was one of the best. It seemed a bit bigger than some of the cabins we've had, there was plenty of room and storage space for all 3 of us. The sofa was already made up as a bed and stayed that way throughout the cruise. Later in the afternoon our cabin steward Marvin introduced himself. He seemed pleasant and although we didn't see much of him throughout the cruise the room was always made up quickly and kept spotless. Cabin 10 out of 10.
Overall we quite liked the ship itself. The décor is typical Carnival style with lots of bright colors in the public rooms. Most of the bars are on deck 5 and this is the only place you can walk from front to back on one level which proved to be a bit of a nuisance. The buffet and pools are on deck 9. Both of the 2 main pools have retractable roofs which were closed much of the time. I .thought the main pool was a bit small for a ship this size. Instead of a larger pool much of the area was taken up with a large open space where daytime games took place. It always seemed to be crowded and noisy. Ship 7 out of 10
The ship has 2 main (no fee) restaurants each with 2 floors. We were in Milano on the balcony, table 203.We had requested late sitting but were actually given early at 7pm. As late sitting was at 9.30(a bit too late) and we liked the look of our table we decided to stay where we were. We were at a table for 5 with a retired English couple whose company we enjoyed. Our waiters were Patterson and Alexander, and although not the best we've ever had they were pretty good. The food in the dining room was very nice, not the typical menus on most American ships but lots we liked the sound of. The pasta course was always excellent. We had the x1 package and Alexander always had bottles of wine and water on the table for us. We tried both the dining room and the buffet for breakfast and lunch. The buffet was always crowded and it was difficult to find a table. Although the food was good there was not as much variety as on other lines particularly at breakfast. Overall we preferred the dining room. We did order room service for breakfast a couple of times but the order never came correctly so we gave up. Dining room 7 out of 10 Buffet 5 out of 10.
Most evenings after dinner we went to the show, for early seating this started at either 9.30 or 9 45. We really enjoyed all of the shows, our favorite was the mime artist on the last night. After the show we usually went for a coffee in the Helsinki bar and 'people watched'. Its amazing how you can guess peoples nationality by their clothes. On the two gala nights most people did not dress in the formal sense understood by Brits and Americans(tuxes and long dresses) but many did dress up in their own style. Most of the other evening entertainment started too late(for us) around 11.30 or 12. With no sea days and every port of call a busy city we were ready for bed by that time. There were not that many activities scheduled during the day but we did go to the Italian lessons and had a laugh and we even learnt a few words and have the certificate to prove it! The talks by the English speaking hostess Rose, were worth attending and gave us a chance to meet other English speakers who were few and far between. Entertainment 6 out of 10.
On all our previous cruises our son has always enjoyed the kids/teens club so much so that sometimes we've hardly seen him. On Costa he was in the 12-14 young teens group but he was the only English speaking person there. He went for the first few nights but only a few people spoke to him and the staff didn't bother at all. He said that on other ships when someone did not speak the language the staff would introduce them to a few of the kids and try to integrate them but this did not happen. After a few nights he gave up and came around with us. He is begging us not to book another cruise with Costa. Incidentally the teens program did not start until 10 most nights and ran until about 1am. There was occasionally something in the afternoon but not much else. Teen club(for English speakers) 0 out of 10.
There were no sea days on this trip,we were docked in port every day. We didn't do any ship excursions, just did our own thing. Savona was the main embarkation port although people did get on and off at every port except Tunis. We got off and walked around the town for a couple of hours and spent the afternoon back on the ship. In Barcelona we did not dock until 1pm so only had half a day which wasn't really long enough. We used the Costa shuttle for 5 euros return to the World Trade Centre. From there we walked up Las Ramblas and caught the hop on/hop off bus. We stayed on the ship in Palma as we have been several times before. We did not like Tunis at all, everyone just wanted money from the tourists and were very aggressive about it. We were glad to get back on the ship. Malta was our favorite port, a beautiful city and lovely friendly people. Finally we went to Palermo, it was the only day we had bad weather so we just had a walk around and got back on the ship. Itinerary 7 out of 10
Disembarkation was again very easy. We had to be out of the cabin by 8am and had red tags which were the first color at 8.45. We went to breakfast in the dining room and by the time we were ready to leave it was 9am. Our color had already been called so we walked straight off, picked up our cases and walked straight through customs where no one even looked at our passports. The Costa shuttle bus was waiting outside and we were at the airport by 10.30. Disembarkation 10 out of 10.
Overall we enjoyed our week. We thought that Costa in Europe is really geared up more to mainland Europeans than British and Americans as regards the food and entertainment. If you don't mind this you'll probably enjoy it. The x1 drink package is a bargain,we wish all cruise lines would do something similar. While Costa wouldn't be our first choice cruise line, for the right price and itinerary we would book with them again, in fact we signed up for the Costa club while onboard.