This is going to be a difficult review to write. At 37 this is my 27th cruise and it becomes more and more of a challenge to be objective when writing a cruise review. I run the Cruise Division of Australia's largest retail agency chain. This cruise was my first taste of Costa - being a new product for us - and was basically for me to assess what a Costa Cruise is really like. Please excuse me if the review is long - or over-critical, I will try to make it as 'objective' as possible.
Embarkation The transfer from Genoa Airport to Savona was a smooth as it could possibly be. We were met at the airport by a Costa rep and were able to sit in a designated Costa lounge while waiting for other flights to arrive. The transfer seemed very quick along the Autostrada - no more than 40 minutes. The cruise terminal in Savona is very new and stylish - very pleasant - complete with outside sun deck and cafe. The terminal was a blessing though - as the embarkation process was SLOW to say the least. We arrived at about 12.30pm where we were handed a number (19 in our case). Boarding began at about 1.00pm and we did not board until about 3.30pm. A very long wait!!!
Cabin We were in a Balcony Stateroom - Costa Victoria only had balconies added in Jan this year. You couldn't tell that the balconies had been added - seemed like they were there all along. The cabin was an ok size. Seemed a little smaller than other balconies I have stayed in - I believe they did forsake a small amount of space in the construction of the balconies. Certainly not 'inconveniently small' however. Bathrooms were typically small - with a cylindrical shower. Cramped to say the least but again bearable. Unfortunately the shower tray didn't have a very high lip which meant a flooded bathroom floor every shower. Not really an issue - just don't leave anything on the floor!!
Public Areas Being used to more modern ships (Costa Vic is 8 years old) I found this ship lacked a certain 'wow' factor but was still clean and comfortable with 'nice' public rooms. Our BIGGEST issue with the ship was the smoking. We had christened her the 'Costa Ashtray' by the end of the cruise. Seems the ship was basically 'smoking' with only a few dedicated 'non-smoking' areas. Now - smoking does not normally bother me at all - in fact I am pretty tolerant of it - however in this case PHEW was there a lot of it. Not only was there smoking in all the bars, but people would walk along corridors smoking, stand in line for reception smoking .. basically EVERYWHERE.
Service In a word - inconsistent. On the plus side, 3 particular crew stood out. Ron, our cabin steward, was the best I have ever had on any cruise. At the beginning he introduced himself as our 'angel' and was true to his word. Every night on our return to the cabin we had a new surprise - whether it be a towel animal - or fresh flowers scattered all over the bed - there was always a nice, personal touch. Nothing was a problem for him. Just excellent. Christiana at reception was our God-send. You see, 3 of us in the party had luggage lost by the airlines. Not a nice way to start a cruise!! Christiana took ALL our details, told us not to worry about the luggage as Costa would find it .. no matter what. And lo and behold they did. She was a gem. The 3rd was Michael in the specialty restaurant. An excellent waiter. On the down side, sometimes the service was dreadful. Questions were answered with 'who knows', 'no' or simply ignored. On the first day we ordered tea and cookies for the cabin in the afternoon. They arrived. ON the second day we were told "no cookies on the room service menu" - but we insisted we got them the day before and .. so they came. On the third day we were told "no cookies on the room service menu" - and again we insisted that we had got them for the last 2 days. This time though .. NO cookies. And never again after that. Petty? Maybe - but this is an example of the inconsistencies we experienced.
Entertainment Don't even start me on this one. A shadow puppet show. A guy who created dresses out of one piece of material. Tragic to say the least ...
Food I am starting to sound like a whiner. Sorry!!! I usually only have good things to say - but .. I'm struggling!! The food was disappointing. We were expecting a feast of Italian delights. It wasn't forthcoming. The food was certainly OK .. but not outstanding.
Ports AHA - finally something good to say. Very unusual ports - Naples / Messina / Katakolon / Corfu / Kotor / Dubrovnik. None disappointing - particularly Kotor which is incredibly scenic. Really enjoyed the itinerary.
From the above you have probably worked out that I won't necessarily be recommending Costa as my first choice for Europe. The cruise was ... ok ... but by choice I wouldn't sail with them again. Perhaps the newer ships would be a different case - a few based on Carnival designs - I'm not sure. But i am hesitant to try one just in case.
For those of you who love Costa, I am sorry. But I would be curious to know ... is my review typical??