I’m not sure if I was on the same Costa Deliziosa as other reviewers here as we found it to be an excellent ship with excellent staff and excellent food.
I traveled with my DW and DM. The cruise was Dubai to Savona, with stops at 8 ports.
We flew out on the Saturday and had an overnight in a hotel near the airport. There was a Costa rep waiting for us as we came out of immigration at about 1.15am. Well, I say he was waiting for us - I'm not so sure. He definitely wasn't there when I walked on ahead to find him, he only appeared when the DW followed by some 20 seconds later......her shouts across arrivals of “he's here, where on earth are you going?” were most unfair I thought.
The next day we were picked up at around 3pm and were transferred to the terminal where all formalities were completed very quickly and we were on board within 20 minutes or so. There were no queues and no long periods of sitting around as we have experienced before with other lines.
We were told that cabins probably wouldn’t be available until around 6.30 and this was the case, so we took the opportunity to grab a bite to eat in the buffet and to take a look around the ship. There were quite a few people hanging around waiting to disembark and I think it’s great that Costa allow people to stay on the boat – there’s nothing worse than being asked to leave the boat at 9am and being left at an airport for the next 12 hours. Not once did I give the little smile that says “oh dear, must you leave already, we've only just got here”.
The cabins were excellent, quite roomy with good storage space. There was a sofa-bed (as well as the real one of course), flat screen TV, mini-bar/fridge and a reasonable sized shower area in the fair sized bathroom. The balcony was one of the ‘large’ ones and was a great size, I just wish they had put a couple of recliners on there instead of the rigid chairs - that would have made all the difference. The downside to the rooms? The beds were on the hard side and the single pillow supplied was very flat and seemed to be of the cheap, firm foam variety, a couple of extra Euros spent here would have made the cabin that bit more comfortable. The Steward had no problem however in supplying a few extra pillows along with the extra chair for the balcony we requested.
Breakfast always brought an excellent selection of pastries and breads, the omelettes were also very good. The bacon and sausage were very poor however; the bacon very fatty and undercooked and the sausage had a strange taste and consistency to which mere words would not do justice. We used both the MDR and buffet for breakfast and found the quality and choice the same in both, so we just went where was most convenient for what we had planned for the day ahead.
Lunch time took us to the buffet. Here the food didn’t have too much in terms of variety, but we felt the quality definitely made up for that, although we only ever used it for a lunch time snack – and to maximise the use of the X1 of course! A few people have mentioned the poor quality ice cream in the buffet, in fairness it was more of a water ice than ice cream, and if you bear that in mind it was quite nice – and certainly not as fattening as free ice cream.
For the evening meal we chose late sitting knowing that was a bit too late for us, but the early sitting seemed too early especially bearing in mind the return time of some excursions. Once we had experienced the evening ‘entertainment’ (see below) we were convinced we made the best choice! We always found the food in the MDR to be hot, tasty and varied. There have been many accusations that the food was bland and the meat tough, but we found it quite the opposite. Pasta dishes were of course first class, but the beef, pork, chicken and everything else was always very appetizing. The desserts, although nothing outstanding, were fine – add a dash of ice cream to them and they got even better. Service and the friendliness of the staff were simply second to none.
OK – the critics have me here. The evening entertainment in the bars was basically piano music or silly fun and games. We were on late sitting so never went to any of the theatre shows as we prefer a G&T before dinner rather than 45 minutes of dancing and acrobats. We mustn’t forget there is the difficulty in catering to several languages, and there were plenty of people enjoying what was put on so it must have appealed to some – just not to us. Fortunately we were on late sitting so after a few beers and a couple of bottles of wine (see X1 below) we didn’t mind the entertainment too much, especially whilst sipping a cocktail or finishing a bottle of wine; if we’d been on early and had to put up with it all night that would probably been a different matter!
Simple – if you want some wine and beer with your food buy it, don’t think about it just buy it. It could be used it the buffet and MDR, but be aware that the buffet was rarely open at night – the area turned into a pizzeria and they would not take the X1. So - buffet 12ish to 2.30ish and the MDR during main meal times. Whenever we turned up for the evening meal in the MDR there was a beer and a bottle of red waiting for me and a bottle of white that my mum and DW enjoyed. If we finished a bottle there was no problem having another, even when we were about to leave. On a number of occasions we had a bottle of red, a bottle of white then another white or a rose to take with us.
In the buffet area not once did we have any issues with waiters not coming to us knowing we had an X1 as some have said. In fact the waiters everywhere were truly excellent, remembering your name and what you drank even if they had only served you once before. On more than one occasion a waiter in the buffet would come up and say “3 beers Mr Hansell?” without even having to beckon anyone across. No – I didn't tip an extra $/€, they were just great staff. Fantastic value.
I won't go into detail about each port as that information is easily available. I will just say that $US and Euros were freely accepted in each country, the port shop in Oman even had prices posted in £UK!
If you want cheap – and boy do I mean cheap – booze the port shops at Fujairah were the place to go (bear in mind it may get put away safely for you by ship security).
Our itinerary was changed slightly at the last moment. It was deemed too dangerous to go to Yemen, so we went to Jordan (Petra – wow, wow, wow – go there, whatever you need to sell to get there just do it) and Sharm was ruled out due to the accident a few weeks ago, so we went to Sokhna. Our tour to Cairo was moved from Alexandria to Sokhna and it made a big difference; it's a good 90 minutes quicker to get to Cairo from Sokhna than it is from Alexandria. So those last minute changes really suited us, but I imagine if you were really banking on a lazy day or a bit of snorkeling in Sharm your perspective may differ.
One thing that did annoy me was that the guides on each excursion always seemed to have something to sell. Now I'm all for free enterprise, but it was at times to the detriment to the commentary. We managed to get right through Cairo to the pyramids without our guide getting on the microphone once – and it's a big city.
What could have made it even better?
A commentary going through the Suez canal really should have been given. The maps on the TV were often laughable in their lack of detail. More port information for those not going on an excursion. It always seemed overly warm in the buffet area, granted it was a hot and humid part of the world, but so is Panama and I don't remember the buffet area on that ship being quite as hot.
This went pretty well, much the same as other lines. Meet in the theatre, file off in groups trying not to stand on other people's feet, search for your luggage and then try to find the right bus. A noticeboard with bus numbers/destinations on would have helped, even better would have been a 'look for bus number xx' note on your disembarking information. It was OK though moving 2000 people is never going to be straightforward
Would I sail Costa again?
No problem at all, and looking at how good some of their itineraries are I probably will do soon enough. Just wish they had ships with balconies doing the Far East.