Travelers: two adults & one child, age 9
Experienced cruisers, we have traveled the world
First time on Costa, cruise date Jan 2011
We traveled round trip to/from Savona Italy, we chose this ship for the itinerary: Rome Egypt Israel Greece Turkey
The boarding procedure was unbearably slow.
Then we had a ridiculous time getting an on board account set up; there was almost a fist fight among the passengers.
Smoking was permitted throughout the ship, so everywhere we went we ended up stinking like cigarettes. The ship itself is beautiful.
The food was horrible!! Unless you like octopus prepared 3 different ways? The dining staff was nice, and apologetic, they say they hear the same comments all the time about the food. The sodas were 5e, ridiculous overprice.
Onboard currency is euros, btw. The ship exchanges US dollars for a fee! On the last day we wanted to exchange some money but they refused to open the exchange for us. The front desk staff was unhelpful.
We booked an inside cabin, which was fine at first. The 2nd day the ship had a problem with the propeller and it caused the ship to vibrate & shake & roll. The effect on our cabin was frightening! We called the front desk repeatedly to come to the cabin to see the problem. They acknowledged there was a problem but refused to transfer us to a different room. We were up ALL NIGHT because of this problem, the night before the Athens port! We slept through most of the day in Athens on the tour! Not the way you want to spend your hard earned $$. Finally after MUCH persistence they transferred us to a different cabin. No apology, nothing.
Room stewards did a great job. BUT no amenities in the rooms! No shampoo,etc! They lost our laundry (there's no guest self service laundry). No apology. Finally found it a few days later, charged us for it, no apology.
At the end they wouldn't deliver the "guest survey" to our room! After much persistence, we finally got that survey. One of the staff had the nerve to ask us not to put anything negative!
Regarding tours: We booked independent tours for some of the ports in advance, based on trip advisor. Those tours were excellent.Be aware that tours booked thru the ship may combine English speakers with other languages.
The tours we booked through the ship:
Olympia: The Greek woman guide was rude & refused to answer questions.We were combined with Spanish speakers, they had a separate guide.
Israel: We went to the Masada Fortress & the dead sea: English speakers were combined with French speakers on the tour bus. There was ONE guide who spoke both languages. His English was not great. He mostly filled us with propaganda. I didn't really appreciate his comments about how the Arabs are "taking over" the desert. There were several bus loads at the hotel where we swam in the dead sea. The tiny locker room at the hotel could not accommodate 100's of people & therefore made the visit unpleasant.
Alexandria: We boarded a bus & drove to Cairo. This is a few days after the protests had started, but things were still calm in Cairo. The guide was excellent.
You've been warned! I needed a vacation after this trip!