Europe - Western Mediterranean
Joined the Costa Serena in Savona, Northern Italy in Costa's very efficient cruise terminal. Boarding was painless and the ship spotless. The crew were excellent in every respect as was the food on board. However, if you did not want to eat in the main restaurant in the evening, the only other option was the pizza buffet. The only drawback from a British point of view was the on-board daytime entertainment which was a little weak for British tastes. Although as over 80% of the clientele were Italian and who appeared to thoroughly enjoy this type of entertainment, there is little chance of it ever being changed to appeal to British tastes.
The drinks on board are expensive and I would recommend you taking one of the drinks packages which are cheaper to book directly with Costa.
For the money we paid for this relaxing pre-Christmas cruise, it was excellent and would recommend it to anyone.
Read more Costa Serena cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic's Costa Serena Review >>
Port and Shore Excursions
Although we only had 5 hours in Barcelona, it was a good taster for a later visit. The port run a shuttle bus from the terminal to the top of Las Ramblas for 2 euros each way. This is well worth the money as it is a 40 minute walk.
The ship berths in the port of Arrecife. It is a 40 minute walk to the centre and I would highly recommend taking the shuttle bus from the ship. We took one of the regular buses to Puerto del Carmen which was a pleasant area and the duty free shops were very cheap.
The ship berths a 20 minute walk away from the centre. If you have not been to Madeira before it is well worth taking a trip on one of the open top buses which you can pick up on the waterfront near the centre. You can also get the cable car from the far end of the promenade (40 minute walk from the ship) to the botanical gardens and Monte. This is where you can do the toboggan ride part of the way back down into Funchal centre. You would then need to get a taxi or the bus back into Funchal. The trip by cable car is well worth it for the views. Madeira is a beautiful green island with flowers everywhere. This was the highlight of the cruise for us.
The ship berths in Santa Cruz which is the capital of Tenerife which is a shopaholics heaven as all the shops are duty free. The port authorities put on a free shuttle bus from the ships to the port entrance. La Laguna which is a world heritage site is a 30 minute tram ride away. The tourist information office at the port entrance will direct you.