We are a Sydney couple with 2 adult children, both uni students. I found the Costa Concordia Western Mediterranean April 13 cruise on the internet and booked through our local travel agency. We flew into Rome about 36 hours before the cruise embarkation time and stayed at Hotel Welrome, handy to Termini station and the Costa cruise transfer point. I had read reviews of Costa Concordia and was a little apprehensive.
We found the transfer point easily and embarkation was painless. My husband and I had cabin 6336 on Grand Bretagne level. It is a category 8 cabin with a balcony. It was very clean and pleasant with a comfortable, big bed. Very occasionally there were messages over the loudspeaker repeated in various languages, but we did not find this a problem and the stateroom was generally quiet, with good soundproofing. Our impoverished kids had cabin 1432, an inside cabin on the lowest deck, Orlandia. They were perfectly happy with it and said that it was quiet and comfortable. All of us found the cabin staff efficient and helpful. Clean towels appeared more often than once a day.
The ship is comparatively new and in excellent condition. The only wear or damage I noticed was a stain on the carpet in our cabin near the balcony door. One night we had rough seas. I looked outside to see spray pouring over our balcony. My husband, who gets seasick, had not even noticed as the stabilizers were very effective. He was impressed also with the daily activity sheet with updates in several languages on entertainment, excursions etc.
We had the first sitting for dinner in Ristorante Roma. Drinks packages were available on the ship. There were also moderately priced half litre carafes available at the table. The quality of the food was good with plenty of choice and the waiters very helpful. We went also to Ristorante Milano for breakfast, but were impatient if we wanted to rush off to our excursion, because the service takes time. For breakfast, our family tended to use the buffet because it was quick a wider range of hot food (for English speakers - the Italians tend to eat pastries for breakfast). It is not haute cuisine, but if you take the time to be selective, you should find food that's OK. I liked the tea, fruit, waffles and pancakes.
We didn't get off to a good start with excursions at Savona, because of the 4 of us, 2 intended to take the Portofino and 2 the Albissola & Savona tour. The latter was cancelled due to lack of interest and the former because of poor weather (this turned out to be justified). We all ended up on the Genoese tour, which we enjoyed despite wet and cold weather.
In Barcelona the only English tour was the Panoramic Tour & Shopping. I had been to Barclona before and know it's great, but felt that this tour didn't quite do it justice. We were only there for a few hours, though, and the young ones left with a favorable impression, wanting to return. From then on, all the tours we wanted were available.
In Mallorca, my husband and I really enjoyed our tour of Valldemosa and the ancient residence 'Son Marriog'. We can now understand why Mallorca is a preferred holiday destination for the British. The young ones went to the Caves of the Dragon, which they didn't think was great value for money.
In Tunis, we visited Carthage and the Bardo Museum with a good guide. Both were very interesting. The mosaics at Bardo are definitely outstanding. We didn't like the market at Sidi Bou Said much, although the blue and white buildings were attractive.
Malta was a favorite destination for us all and we were so pleased that we were able to approach from the sea on a sunny day, as all the stone fortifications and buildings looked spectacular. We were delighted to have our ship balcony from which to enjoy our entry to La Valetta. We oldies took the full-day highlights of Malta tour and loved every minute of it, as our excellent guide showed us around. One of the young ones took a morning tour of La Valetta and the other did his own thing on local buses. Both thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The stateroom balcony was put to good use again as we watched our departure, sadly, from this beautiful place.
There was heavy traffic in Palermo, which hindered our progress on the Palermo and Monreale tour. We made our way to Monreale, with the fabulous mosaics of the Duomo. Nearby, there was a lookout over Palermo, but unfortunately a haze made the view less dramatic than it would otherwise be. We returned to the city to see the cathedral and while its exterior was interesting, it couldn't compare with Monreale. The traffic was still bad, so we returned to the ship. The kids found a hop-on, hop-off bus that took them around Palermo. Then they had fun ordering pizza and trying to communicate in a small café. They were happy with the outcome.
We had come for the excursions and not for the onboard entertainment, so we can't comment much on that. There were musicians and singers in several lounges a lot of the time. Their music was quite good, but there tended to be quite large crowds around. Also, while in Australia nowadays there are strict smoking regulations in public places, these lounges were occupied by smokers. A couple of public rooms were pleasantly smoke and crowd free; the library and the Vienna lounge.
I met a family with young children from New Zealand who spoke highly of the kids club on board. My daughter had an accident and injured her hand and the medical staff were quick, caring and capable in their response. There were not a lot of English speakers, particularly young adults, on this cruise and our kids were disappointed about that, but very happy with other aspects of their Costa adventure.
The cruise was family oriented and perhaps more informal than some other cruises. Overall, we have very happy memories of this trip and would go on another Costa cruise.