This was my 2nd cruise and first time with Costa. I last cruised 30+ yrs ago on the Fairsky to the Sth Pacific. This was my wifes first cruise and she was really apprehensive to travel,fearing sea sickness. Overall: Our expectations before this cruise was to relax, make some new friends, visit exciting ports and enjoy the food. Overall the cruise I would rate a B+
Positives: - Cabin Service: (A+) - Cabin: (A) little crammed however we spent very little time in the cabin, it was clean and homely. Bed was comfortable and we were not bothered by any outside noise. I slept like a log. Food: (A)the food was really good and plentiful, however the steak and chops were always very tough. The prawns on the cruise were as big as small lobsters and the cakes were a plenty. I gained 5kgs in two weeks so I ate very well- Hot Tubs:(B+) Hot tubs were comfortable however jets were poor. Entertainment: (A+) The dancers we very professional and friendly! The singers were entertaining and interacted well with the audience. My wife and I enjoyed relaxing in the Murano Bar playing cards and listening to the background singers or recorded music which had an 80-90s theme.
Negatives: - Smoking was permitted on one side of the ship and did waft into non smoking areas,this included internal bars and was unpleasant at times. Drinks: There was a charge for non-alcoholic drinks on board and they were grossly overpriced. We did pre-purchase soft drink cards before the cruise but A$4.50 for a can of soft drink was over the top. Cocktails were good, however very expensive around A$13 each, most passengers purchased these during the two for one happy hours. Airconditioning was very poor in the main theatre and the Yacht Club bistro was always very hot. When disembarking onto tenders we at times were delayed for up to 15mins standing in crammed and humid conditions.
Phukett Thailand was very picturesque and the ship anchored off the coast. We boarded tenders for a quick 15min trip into port. Upon arrival we were greeted by the local Taxi throng who were very quick to negotiate a fare to where ever you wanted to go. My wife and I teamed up with another two couples and shared a taxi van trip to Patong beach located about 60 mins drive away. The cost of this taxi service was about TB500 (A$16)all up. Patong beach is a travel buying bonanza with a beautiful beach, a relaxing massage for TB200 an Hour(A$6). The highlight of this stopover was going to Funtasia which is a Thai theme park. The food and show package we negotiated down to TB1800 per person (A$60 Aprox)we had a shuttle bus pick up service provided, Scrumptious smorgasbored banquet in a eating area that served over 1000 people at a time. Gold seats at the stunning and breathtaking show, which included live animals, acrobatics, illusions, and traditional costumes. You could even ride an elephant if you wished. Patong beach was a mecca for shopping and we were disappointed we had only limited time here as the bargains were just fantastic. Overall Thailand in our opinion is a must return country the locals are so friendly, the streets are reasonably clean and you need at least 7 days to really appreciate this region properly.
Mallaka in Malaysia is a port we visited next and this city is very old and quaint. My wife and I purchased a ride where a man riding a bicycle pushes a cabin built for two around the city. This is a must do as these riders are fantastic tour guides taking you to temples and interesting places around there town and they are great value at aprox MR50 per/hr. Before we left we purchased some traditional sate at a local eating house close to the warf. We purchased 20 sate sticks and two soft drinks for about A$4, great value.
Jakarta (Indonesia) was our next port of call and was our first taste of true poverty. The ship docked in a container port and shuttle buses were provided by Costa for A$12 each to travel the 25 mins into town. Time was limited here and frankly this was a port I would have been glad to have stayed on board the ship and given the trip a miss.
Bali (Indonesia) The ship once again set anchor of the port and we took a tender boat service onto the mainland. Here the fun begins with the locals who just will not leave you alone. All you want to do is jump into a Taxi to get away from the ravenous local traders. The now famous Kuta beach was located nearly 70 mins drive from we we disembarked and the roads are very busy and narrow. Our Taxi driver was very friendly and drove us for the whole day 7 hrs for A$100. I was advised by others on the cruise that I paid about A$40 more for my taxi than I should have, yet I still believe we got good value for this 7 hrs going to Jewelery houses, Temples, Massage houses, Traditional Eating cafes and a department store that had armed guards checking all visitors cars upon entry. Back to the throng at the port and a quick tender back on board the ship. Bali is probably the pick of the Indonesian ports, but give me Thailand any day, given the choice.
Komodo (Indonesia) This is a very picturesque area and the home of the Komodo dragons. Many passengers took trips onto the island to see these interesting reptiles, however this was a port well worth a sleep in and a sit down by the pool whilst taking in the beautiful scenery the area had to offer from a distance.