This was the fourth time we had booked a cruise but the first time we managed to actually embark. Previous cruises were aborted due to cold feet, illness and snow.
The flights on BA and the embarkation process in Savona went smoothly with very little queuing. The ship is large with plenty of hiding places so only felt crowded between evening meal sittings when the bars get busy.
Information was pretty good with a newsletter delivered to your cabin every evening.
The staff are very friendly and helpful despite the long hours they work and the cruising public they have to deal with.
We were travelling on a low budget so had an inside cabin on the lowest deck at the front of the ship. This working out fine as we were out most of the time, if a little noisy when the shipped docked due to the side thrusters being nearby.
The food is adequate given the number of people on board. The restaurants are OK – we dined in the Portofino restaurant with 4 other Brits. You are usually allocated a table with people who speak the same language. The Bellagio buffet was pretty good with usually something to suit every taste, but get there early or late to avoid the crowds. There is also a grill serving junk food for those who need it.
We purchased the X1 drinks package through Costa before we sailed. This cost around £80 but allows you unlimited drinks at meal times. It states drinks by the glass but we were given a bottle of wine and water at each evening meal so it worked out as a good deal. It does not seem to be promoted on the Costa website or if it is not easy to find! When embarking we also bought the packages for soft drinks which we fully utilised and the one for water which we didn’t. Be aware that there are drinking water taps onboard, which you can use to fill up your bottles
The theatre entertainment was generally good - not London West end but professionally produced shows with the exception of the staff production on the final night. If you prefer a seat in the upper tiers arrive early.
The organised tours were mostly good if expensive. So much depends on the guide assigned to your group. They were OK but one was very difficult to understand and they had to give information in at least two languages so everything took longer. Next time we will do our own thing and use the shuttle buses, which operate at every port of call and charge a few euros to go into town. Incidentally, we are now experts on cathedrals in the western med.
There was a mess up with the restaurant allocation at the start. A card is left in your cabin giving the table and restaurant allocation. Ours indicated the restaurant Smeralda at the rear of the ship. When we arrived our table was occupied! After about 20 mins of furious keyboard tapping and discussions we were finally directed to the correct table in the Portofino restaurant.
We tried the Club Vincenza fine dining restaurant one evening but it was not worth the extra 20 euro p/p charge. My wife’s lamb was tough and the sauce and potatoes very salty.
The loo in our cabin stopped flushing twice but was quickly fixed.
The ship is not easy to navigate initially with confusing signs at the lifts. You are never sure which way you are facing on the ship. We weren’t alone in this respect!
There appears to be no air conditioning so bars and restaurants were often very warm, I dread to think what they would be like in summer.
The majority of the passengers were Italian with Germans, French, other Europeans and quite a few Americans. The Brits were in a distinct minority. The Europeans don’t do queuing, so be prepared for a bit of shoulder barging to get your own way or just chill out and let them get on with it, which is what we did.
Italians are extremely noisy with only 2 volumes – loud and extremely loud. If you value you eardrums try to find a table away from large groups. They also invade your personal space standing over your shoulder and shouting to friends and family and pushing recliners hard up against yours on the sun decks.
There is nothing exceptionally bad to report. My wife had a bit of a dispute with a large Italian, who wanted our theatre seats for his family. She told him in no uncertain terms to shift and he went of muttering about the English! Needless to say, I kept out of the argument to protect my health. Best policy is to have a laugh about the customs of our EU friends. Vive la difference!
We enjoyed our cruise on the Costa Magica and are now looking forward to Christmas in Australia and New Zealand on the Diamond Princess.