Costa Romantica 10/26/09 Review
Ok I know a lot of you have been looking for a review of this ship, so here we go. I was just on the 10/26/09 cruise that departed from Civitavechia and had an itinerary of Catania-Sicily, Sea Day, Izmir-Turkey, Santorini-Greece: Mykonos (same day), Athens, Sea Day. I have been on several cruises on NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, as well as a previous Mediterranean cruise in 2005 on the Costa Magica so I will be comparing much of the experience to those sailings.
The Ship Yes the ship is small. The ship was much cleaner than I anticipated. They did a great job making sure everything was spotless. It is well designed for its size and age (1993). There is very limited entertainment on board besides the shows which I will highlight later. Besides attending every show I played in the casino a little bit which is about half the size of other ships. There was a foosball table and ping pong table on board. There is one lounge (Italia) where they have silly events and games and this is where most of the Italians gather around dinner and show times. The weather was actually warm enough to lie out on the top deck for 2 days. We had fantastic weather on our cruise, we were quite lucky. The internet cafe is adequate but expensive at 1 Euro every 2 minutes. After dinner the only thing going on was at the Tango Lounge where they would have a live band with various theme nights, this is where we had the most time. The disco was the only other option at night and it was mostly filled with younger people so I would say 16-25 year olds and they played the traditional club techno garbage so we stayed away. The announcements in several languages did not bother me AT ALL. They were very limited and exactly what I expected.
The Shows I would have to say that the entertainment in the theatre was one of the biggest disappointments on this cruise. The dancers and singers were all average although almost all of their songs were in English so I give them credit as you can tell this isn't their natural language. The non dancer/singer nights were just horrible. I just kept thinking of the show America's got talent because every single one of the acts would have been stopped within 2 minutes. Either way we had nothing else to do so we watched all of the shows and pretty much just made fun of how awful they were. Also, Italians for some reason insist on showing up after the show starts and most of them decide to walk all around the theatre to find a seat in the dark while talking most of the time. Quite annoying actually, also, about every other seat was comfortable so you had to search around to find good seats.
The Passengers and Staff I give the staff a rating of 10/10. They were excellent. I really have no complaints at all, they were extremely friendly and most seemed very happy. Our ship had 1200 passengers on board. Of this 800 were Italians, about 150 were English speaking, 100 French, and the rest a mix of Spanish and German is my guess. No complaints with any of the passengers. The Italians are very pushy and like to use their elbows in the buffet lines. Also, they seem to go by the rule of "whoever pushes to the front first wins". Lines and order seems more like a guideline to them. Once you get used to this mentality it was ok. It was also fun to feel really big. I am only 6'2 but was probably the fifth or sixth tallest person on board. This came in handy when the Italians would try to cut around me in lines as I glared at them with disapproval.
The cabin We stayed in an inside cabin in the front of deck 4. It was probably the cheapest room on the ship but our cabin steward went above and beyond. Our cabin was quite lovely and actually was much better than I anticipated for an inside cabin. No complaints here. 10/10.
The Food and Drink Because of the itinerary we were able to eat most of our meals in the dining room. Most mornings we had room service delivered for free. They would also give us cappuccinos for free although they charged up on deck. We generally tipped the person who delivered it 1 euro although it wasn't required. The food in the dining room for lunch and dinner was better than I expected. The food wasn't as Italian as I expected but it was good. We had the X1 package and they always had a bottle of wine and mineral water waiting for us. Most nights we shared a bottle but some nights we drank 1 ½ bottles of the house red. The house red was tolerable but obviously cheap wine. It was just hard to drink the same thing every night, compare it to Traders Joes Charles Shaw wine. They were very quick to bring us any drinks we requested. The buffet lines at lunch were sometimes crazy as it seems that every Italian eats at the same time. The buffet food was worse than I expected so we stayed away and ate in the dining room as much as we could. When we did eat we sat outside on the deck. Once we sat down the drink people would constantly be around asking us for drinks. WE COULD USE THE X1 ON DECK DURING THE BUFFET TIMES no problem. I wasn't sure about that going in, but they would bring us coke, beer, wine, the usual. Good perk to have.
The itinerary The port was very easy to get to from Rome. From the Termini station we took a train for about 70 minutes (6 euro each way) and walked about 5 minutes from the station to the harbor. From here a shuttle took us to the ship. Check-In went smooth and took about an average amount of time to get through. In Catania Sicily the ship docked. We walked around the city for a couple of hours and didn't really do much. They drive crazy here and the city is quite hectic. Izmir Turkey was much better than I anticipated. This was by far the cleanest city that we visited. The people were friendly and didn't bother you or heckle you in shops and on the streets. Izmir probably had the best looking people and most western looking clothes and culture of any of the ports. The ship docked at the pier and again we just walked around town for a couple of hours. There was a military parade the day we were in town (I think it was their independence day or some city holiday but either way it was fun to watch and security was extremely tight). The next day we went to Santorini and Mykonos (both tenders to shore) and in both cities we just walked around town for a couple of hours. In Athens we did a DIY to the Acropolis which was very easy and probably only took about 3 hours from the time we left the ship until we were back near the ship. I didn't describe the itinerary here very much so just ask if you have more questions.
This review was much longer than I anticipated so please just ask if you have any questions and I will make sure to answer them. Overall I was very pleased with the experience and it met my expectations for the price. It was a very cheap cruise and I think it was a GREAT VALUE! I wouldn't hesitate doing it again at all but if you are spending a lot of money on a cruise, I wouldn't pick this ship.