Ports of call. Port Louis, Mauritius, Victoria, Mahe (Seychelles), Nosy Be, Diego Suarez, Tamatave (all 3 in Madagascar) and St. Denis (Reunion).
Travel to Port of Embarkation: With the long plane ride, I decided to stay in Mauritius for 5 days before the cruise (get rid of jet lag). I stayed at a guesthouse in Blue Bay (less touristy than other areas of Mauritius), and about a 45-minute taxi to Port Louis.
Embarking: I have to admit it was the best embarkation ever! By the time the taxi dropped me off, I was on the ship within 15 minutes. (There was no line up when I arrived, so keep that in mind)
Stateroom: I liked my stateroom, however, I had the worst sleeps on a cruise ship ever (and normally I get my best sleeps on cruises). It was noisy. The second week was the worst (would have been too late to try and change but my error for not trying to ask). Creaked all the time while sailing (I heard others say the same thing of their room). The cabin crew's workroom is behind my room so I heard noises from them.
Ship and other miscellaneous: 1. Costa Romantica is a baby in size compared to other ships (53,000 tons) so less people BUT when it came to eating outside on the deck for lunch, it felt crowded then. 2. The one thing that I love about Costa is that the air conditioning isn't freezing. Unlike other ships, I didn't need a sweater! That was great! I do not like when the air condition is so cold. 3. There are five languages spoken (e.g. the cruise director announces the show in all those languages). The only thing that's done over the intercom in all the languages if the safety drill that all passengers must participate in. Anything else, they'll only announce if it pertains to the specific nationality, which didn't happen too often. 4. They took passports and kept them for the two weeks! I think that's a great idea as one less thing to worry about even though there is a safe in the room. 5. The biggest annoyance was the amount of kids on board and how misbehaved they were. Others who commented as well on the ship had not one favourable thing to say (comments such as: what kind of vacation is this for the kids; there was no way our kids would have gotten away with behaviour like that). I was advised by the social hostess to next time maybe ask for the demographics of the cruise. Others as well as I never thought we'd see so many kids on the cruise this time of the year (though I realize for the islands it's summer holiday but lot of kids were from Europe). 6. Our social hostess held a meeting (9:30 p.m.) the first evening at the same time I was having dinner (I wanted to see who my table mates were). I managed to get in the last 15 minutes and do a catch up the next day. 7. I ordered for myself 7 bottles of water and 4 bottles of wine as a package deal for 69 Euros (regular priced 107.) I thought that was a deal considering a glass of wine was Euros 6.00 plus service charge and a bottle of water was Euros 2.50 plus service charge. And for the two weeks I used all coupons except one for the water, which I gave away the last day to couple. 8. Tea, coffee and water (in the buffet area) are available all day. 9. Wait until you get ashore to use the Internet, way too expensive on the ship plus I heard from other people it's too slow! 10. Daily activities, but staff has to translate in the five different languages, which some people may like, or not have the patience to hear ... I honestly didn't mind but I didn't go to a lot of activities 11. Charged Euros 6.00 return for shuttle service in Port Louis (to the Cauldron Waterfront) and Tamatave (to the market). In Port Louis you could take the water taxi for Euros 1.00 (but no scheduled departure as they'll wait until they can fill the boat). Personally I don't think we should have been charged for the shuttle, but hey, that's business these days
Dining: 1. I had the best tablemates ever!!!!!! We had a lot of laughs. 2. The food was good (I'm not a fussy eater). 3. The waiters were good, attentive. Hard workers! 4. The buffet breakfasts and lunches were good. Again I'm not a fussy eater.
Entertainment: 1. The shows were OK, but like almost everywhere you go it's the same type of entertainment (not to take away from the talent of the young kids who work hard). I only went to 3 shows (the second last night was good with the other staff and one waiter was absolutely excellent he should be in the entertainment field.). 2. One night was local music/dance from Seychelles. That was OK. 3. There was entertainment before dinner in the Piazza Italiana ... was OK.
Port/shore excursions 1. They dropped Kenya, which I found out two months earlier (3 days after I got yellow fever shot!). That was a disappointment. The cruise line extended Port Louis and Victoria each ½ day more and added Tamatave. I think what would have been better was stay overnight in Reunion (see points #4 & 5) or maybe added a port in South Africa. I think they could have skipped the Tamative port. 2. It was understandable due to heavy rain causing impassable road, all tour excursions in Nosy Be were cancelled (I was looking forward to my jeep tour)............ 3. ......... but they cancelled my tour in Reunion because not enough participation. I found out there were at least two or three others. They could have still gone on the tour and hired a small van. In fact, the half day tour to St Denis (which I thought would be the most popular) was cancelled as well! 4. The lecturer on the ship sucked for a lack of better word. I don't really need to hear a lot of history of a place as I can find out myself, but what he needed to tell us how to go about getting somewhere, what to do, etc. He messed up big time. With the ship docking very far away, he didn't give good directions on how to get to St. Denis from the ship. He was right that a cab would cost between 30 -50 Euros to get there. BUT he missed the boat when he told us it was a 20-minute bus ride costing Euro 1.40. Not so! It was a 20-minute bus ride to Le Port first at Euro 1.50 THEN about a half an hour bus ride to St Denis for Euro 1.40. Total approx. 1 ½ hrs. includes waiting for buses. The bus ride to St. Denis was scenic. 5. And sticking to St Denis, Reunion. Some of the passengers I talked to couldn't figure out why the ship had to dock so far away. It would have been nicer if they anchored near St. Denis and had tenders go in, or if that was not possible, then overnight in Reunion so we didn't have to feel rushed. 6. If you need to cancel your tour due to illness, forget getting your money back unless you go to the doctor first (which costs Euros 35.00) to get a medical certificate then you can get your tour refunded. Send in the medical bill to your insurance and see if you can get your money back. 7. The tour (Praslin/La Digue) was a disappointment for Euros 184. Yes, it was the ferry that was expensive I was told, but still. I felt like being herded like cattle couple of times. In La Digue, it would have been better to stay longer at Anse Source D'Argent beach with calming waters and more shade than Grand Anse beach (we had lunch here) hardly any shade which most people scrambled for under one tree or back inside where lunch was served until the next group of tourists came along to eat. I'm not a swimmer so waves were too strong for me. We only saw one thing on Praslin and were rushed through because we had to hurry and catch the ferry back. This tour was a real disappointment. 8. I booked my tours online simply to avoid line-ups. I don't think I'll do that again. I think I'll wait next time and if not, hook up with some people to share a cab ........ some did that and had fun ... you are taking chances though.
Disembarking: 1. Luggage had to be outside your cabin the night before disembarking no later than 11 pm. Next day pick up the luggage at the dock. 2. I had to be out of the cabin by 7:30 am. Passport pick up was between 8-9 am (earlier in the morning for those that had to leave early). 3. Even though my plane didn't leave until seven that evening, I was able to stay on the ship. 4. They would provide a cabin should you need to shower and change, and held your carry on in another room. I used neither.
After the cruise: I decided to stay a week in Mahe (Seychelles) before heading back to the long cold winter ahead.
Summary: I had looked forward to visiting the island, especially the Seychelles. What would I have done differently? I'll give you a tip should you decided to take this trip, which I would like to say I am not sorry I went even though it wasn't the most exciting wow trip I've ever had. 1. I would definitely take the social hostess advice and ask what the demographics of the cruise would be. (i.e. kids on board) 2. For my stay in Mauritius, I would have stayed at another area first near Port Louis, where I caught the cruise, stayed only 3 or 4 days in Mahe then gone back to Mauritius and stayed at Blue Bay (which is closer to the airport by about 20 minute taxi) for the last 2 days. 3. I wouldn't book all tours online ... I'll take a chance and wait ......... except for maybe Madagascar where I'm not so sure I want to hire a cab by myself.
Would I recommend this cruise? Yes and no. This is a tough one to answer as I enjoyed the cruise (with the people I met, the staff were good, the itinerary wasn't bad) and yet there were some disappointments. I guess you'll have to decide for yourself with this article, which I hope is helpful.