We joined the 14 day cruise in Singapore on the 27th June and had a porthole cabin on Deck 3 amidship. We found this comfortable and sunny and ideal viewing when travelling up the river deltas in Saigon, Halong Bay and Shanghai.We had great views of Hongkong harbour at night and Singapore too.This was a quiet area (with no engine noise) that was convenient to get to Deck 4 and Deck 2 when leaving the boat or getting to the entertainment areas on Decks 6 and 7.
The cabin stewards were unobtrusive and always helpful in obtaining extra milk or teabags etc. Towels were changed twice a day and beds made up and turned down while you were at dinner or breakfast.
The whole atmosphere on the boat was friendly and considerate from the information staff on Deck 4 who were available 24 hours a day in person or by cabin phone, to the wait staff in all dining or drinking areas. The entertainment staff all spoke about 4 European languages and we didn't mind hearing quiz instructions etc being translated for all passenger groups.In fact, it was excellent practice for reviving forgotten French and Italian from school and uni days!
We had the X1 package each but would not do this again due to it being available only by the glass or bottle (though unlimited) at meal times. The quality of the wine, beer and water was not the same as offered to other passengers who ordered individually and we considered our limited choice quite dreadul so I drank water and soft drinks from the package while my husband offered drinks to the whole table.We had no difficulties in obtaining the drinks in the buffet or dining areas, in fact, my husband was always given doubles at lunch in the Almalfi or Yacht Club (which surprised us and surrounding passengers). Again, this choice depends on each individual but it didn't suit us due to the quality of wine, beer/water being offered and then, only available at meals.
We did 2 excursions with Costa. One in Halong Bay which was booked without realising we sailed up the bay in the ship anyway and that the tenders would take individual group bookings from the boat when anchored for the day. The other occasion was in Taiwan when we went to Taipeh and visited Building 101 (still the tallest inhabited building in the world).This was done with a local guide in the bus and an excellent member of the Costa crew ( a Dutchman) who lives in the city and who took 12 of us around the older part of Chang Kai Shek's Arsenal before doing the building. This was worthwhile for the commentary to and from the bus and the short tour provided of the main sights in the limited time available in Taiwan.The city of Keelung had wonderful volunteers at the terminal who had excellent English, maps etc and taxi information for those passengers wanting to explore local shops and temples.We wished we had longer in port to make use of this too.
For all the other ports, we did our own thing (either on our own, or with other couples from the ship), by hiring taxis, local transport such as buses, trains etc and asking directions. We had many adventures and will be imparting tales and hilights to family and friends (plus movies and photos) for the next couple of weeks while life settles back into routine.
We considered the whole tone of the ship with its friendliness, polite manners and passenger consideration, to emanate from Captain Massimo Pennisi. He was always a participant at the Dinners, Entertainment Nights and even standing at the gangway on the first day of excursions into Saigon (and being asked where is the shuttle bus) or popping down the stairs and taking the time to stop to greet and enquire about our health and interests while we were waiting for the lifts.(much to our surprise one morning).
The quality of food available in either the buffets or dining areas was very high and a large choice of times and places from casual to dress up would ensure everyone would find somewhere/something to appeal on the particular day.
The Almalfi had Elegant afternoon Teas at 4pm and often special lunch buffets so that is worth making a note to experience these sometime on the cruise.We never made a midnight buffet but one could eat somewhere/sometime almost every hour.
The biggest grumbles came with the price of the excursions and drinks.
Apart from the Happy Hours, drinking on board was not meant to be a social occasion but a cost watching occasion. We were seated at a table for 10 at dinner with some seriously rich people, who would only drink an occasional bottle of wine but mostly opted for the iced water.
The exorbitant price of shore excursions and the exchange rate of Euros, meant many people opted to do their own thing.
The Australian hostess Lilianna was another disappointment and fellow Australians felt embarassed with her lack of speaking skills in presentations and inadequate advice.eg ( She forgot to mention the time for the suitcases to be put out on disembarkation in Shanghai when giving a final Powerpoint presentation).
Everyone always went to the English hostess Rebekkah who was well-informed, interesting and had a bubbly personality. One would come away from her presentations feeling we had learnt so much especially when she introduced a Powerpoint of the workings of the whole ship !
We have experienced quite a few cruise ships over the years (with/without family/ young and adult), and can say, overall, this cruise was the more enjoyable for its size, itineraries and considerate friendly crew.