We just got back from Dec 27th Costa Pacifica Cruise out of Rome RT to the Holy Land. I don't cover everything, so email me if you have questions.
Embarkation Luggage handling was very efficient. Embarkation was very organized, but it still took us about an hour. But the seating area was comfortable if not posh. We were given a plastic "number" when we walked in, and folks were called in groups. So no long lines. I thought it worked well.
The Ship The ship is beautiful; sparkling clean and those of you used to Carnival ship deck plans, will find many similarities, but the dEcor has been toned down from Carnival mode and is fun and lively.
Cabin We were in Cabin 8457 (Mini-suite); wraparound aft balcony on Deck 8. The cabin itself was an odd but fun triangle shape, with a door to the balcony and two extra porthole windows. The balcony; well, it took my breath away. It is HUGE, and the wraparound allows you to of course gaze into the wake of the ship and also run around to the side to check out the view further. The bathroom was of the usual balcony-type; in this mini-suite no tub due to the large balcony. We did experience serious vibrations in docking and we could hear noise from the bar 3 decks below on noisy nights. Also, some deck chair scraping from above (the Lido Buffet is overhead.) But the balcony was worth it to us. It's a trade-off, I think. If you're a light sleeper, don't book this cabin. This is a two-person cabin, no sofabed, just a chair.
The Staff Amazingly helpful. Our room steward, Lionel was probably the best we've ever had. Our wait staff Angel and Eden worked liked crazy to keep up happy. Waiters and waitresses were pleasant throughout the ship despite the fact we had a prepaid Costa X1 drink card. We did tip a Euro here, a Euro there throughout the trip and found we got consistent excellent service. All staff was smiley and truly gracious.
Food I liked it. A lot. It's not American fare; it is NOT a meat and potato 'Merican menu. However, we thought food was very, very good and plentiful. From the reviews I've read of Costa, I thought we were going to starve or something! We are South Beach health conscious, picky organic California types, and we delighted in the food. At breakfast we did the Buffet; amazing pastries and croissants to die for, fresh fruit (no berries), cheeses, yogurts, the usual yucky cruise scrambled eggs, omelet station and of course, we would buy an AMAZING macchiato latte each day. I don't know WHAT people are complaining about n these boards about lack of food on Costa. Anyway, lunch buffets were ample: meats, chicken, pasta, always pizza, and always a Specialty Buffet (Greek, Mexican, Indian, etc.) There is also a grill with burgers and fries and hot dogs. There was a large and varied Tea (4-5pm) which had finger sandwiches and a large variety of pastries and cookies. Dinner again had some unusual choices on the menu, but also you could always order salmon (which was truly excellent) if nothing else appeals. I always asked the waiter what he recommended for the entrEe, and if I wasn't thrilled (which happened once I think) he quickly whisked it away and brought something else. The desserts (especially the sugar free) were excellent and varied, unlike recently on Celebrity where all desserts taste the same just different shapes. So, bottom line, if you are a beef/steak person, don't book this cruise. If you are a fish, chicken, pasta person, book this cruise and sit back and enjoy. We cancelled our reservation at the specialty restaurant because the Main Dining room was fab. Note: Also, if you are someone who wants tons of room service, this is not the ship. Very limited.
Shows Musicians were good; production shows were, well, cruise production shows.
Casino Quite smokey and not an infinite selection of slots. It didn't stop me from playing though.
Spa The spa is the biggest and best I have seen (comparing now to the Celebrity ships, Carnival Splendor and Princess.) We bought the pass for the duration (11 days); it was 199 Euro per person, and we went every day; sometimes twice. Just a lovely facility.
New Years Eve They did a great job of ensuring all had a good time. Free champagne and wine with dinner; all the rooms decorated; handed out streamers and hats. And the tasteful Christmas decorations were still up around the ship, lots of white lights.
Ports We took this cruise for the ports: Jerusalem, Cairo, Rhodes, Athens, Cypress. Wouldn't you? We did private guides, except for Cypress, where we did a Costa tour. The tour was half English and half Spanish and worked out just fine.
Disembarkation Was quick and easy; we walked off with our luggage, jumped a cab and headed to the airport. There was no traffic and we got there in under an hour.
Fellow Passengers This is an Italian ship full of Italians. There were only 90 English speaking guests out of the 3,500 aboard. Our tablemates were all from the states and we had a fabulous dinner every night. I speak Italian and hubby speaks some French, so we felt very much at home. However, if you like the comfort of American ways, you might want to look elsewhere for a more familiar environment. But if you're like me and love the sound of 5 different languages around you, book now.
Bottom line, we had a blast, and would book Costa again in a blink of an eye.