We booked this trip at the last minute through an agent. We were slightly apprehensive having read some of the reports on this site just before we left especially when we had not received any confirmation from Costa themselves or given any times for boarding.
We dropped our main suitcases at the kerbside drop-off and parked our car in the car park next to the ship before taking the short walk to the departures lounge. Boarding had commenced at 1pm. We arrived at 3.30pm and found no queues in the departure lounge. After completing a health declaration we went straight through the scanner, photo ID check and we were on board and straight into the beautiful Atrium. So very civilised compared to Airports! Members of staff welcomed us on board and directed us to the lift. Once out of the lift numbered signs pointed the way to the cabins as in a hotel. Our cases were already outside the door to our room (6158). This was our 8th cruise and the ‘suite’ one of the best cabins we have ever had. A bottle of champagne, bowl of fruit (which was refreshed daily) and canapés were waiting for us. The cabin was much larger than we had expected with plenty of storage space - a double wardrobe and several drawers and cupboards in the main bedroom. A door led to a dressing area with additional double wardrobe and dressing table then beyond that the bathroom with twin basins and a Jacuzzi bath. Both dressing room and bathroom had yet more storage space. We had opted for a panoramic suite which had a private balcony and sun loungers. Our stewardess appeared very quickly and was then followed by our butler.
We had asked for second sitting for dinner but discovered we had been given 1st sitting – a good choice as the second sitting often did not receive their 1st course until 9pm. On the day on Cozumel we did not get back to the ship until 30 minutes before dinner but apart from that the early dinner was never a problem. We had a very good table at the opposite end to the door and had four Americans on our table who we will keep in touch with. It was very simple to register our room key and credit card for all onboard expenses. Our bill could then be checked anytime on the TV in the bedroom. The room key was also used as a swipe card for the safe.
For the first morning we had ordered breakfast to be delivered to our cabin. The scrambled eggs and bacon were luke warm but we were at the furthest end of the ship from the galley. After that we ordered cold breakfasts and coffees for days we were going on trips or ate in the main restaurant for days at sea. We also found the pillows fairly flat but two more were quickly provided by our steward when we mentioned this.
We had booked our trips online and had email confirmation to say tickets would be delivered to our cabin. As there was no sign of them we asked the tour desk when we would receive them and were told we were not even on their list of bookings! Fortunately all the tours we wanted to join still had spaces. We had already visited the first port of call, Key West, and used the frequent Conch Train (provided free by Costa) to have a walk around the main town. From Cozumel we took the ferry tour to mainland Mexico where we toured the Mayan ruins at Tulum. We were in a small party of 8 English speaking people and had an excellent guide. We would have preferred more time at the lagoons at Xel-Ha but time did not permit it. At Grand Cayman we took the island tour which ended with swimming with the opportunity to swim with sting rays from a sandbar. In Jamaica we took the ‘yacht’ tour to Dunns River Falls. The yacht was a grey boat which looked as if it had been built in the 1950’s. In fairness the travel desk had warned us that it was not a gleaming white yacht as most people would imagine. First stop was the beautiful Dunns River Falls and beach (the beach where Ursula Andress steps out of the water in Dr. No). Being of an age where we are more cautious of risking broken bones or injury we declined the opportunity to climb to the top of the waterfall in the water which involved clambering over rocks. Instead we climbed the steps at the side of the waterfall where there were plenty of viewing points along the way . This was followed by snorkelling over a reef.
When on board we tended to snack at lunchtime from the self-service buffet on deck in order to enjoy the evening meal. Dinners with 7 courses were always excellent. The portions were not large but just the right size for us to enjoy trying several courses. Being an Italian ship there was always a pasta course. We did have dinner one night in the Club Atlantica which was a superb meal.
No public announcements were made in the cabins but we preferred that. There was plenty of information given on the sheets left in the cabin each evening.
We were impressed with the way announcements were made in the public areas in several languages. The cruise director would repeat each sentence in several languages rather than say the entire message in individual languages. That way everyone had to keep quiet until he had finished speaking while listening for their particular language.
The evening entertainment was some of the best we have ever come across on a cruise ship from the ships dance company to a Jazz/blues singer and an opera singer. We would have been more than happy if we had paid for such talented performances.
From the Captain down to the most junior of staff we never came across anyone who was anything but very pleasant and always spoke to us but in particular we were very grateful to Margaret (stewardess), Illuminator (butler) Caesar and Christopher (waiters) who were could not do enough to make our trip more enjoyable.
We have kept in touch with our table companions and hope we can meet up again on a Costa cruise.