We chose Costa Favalosa because it was new and big but also because it visited ports we were very keen to see. It was a complete contrast to our most recent cruise - along the rivers from Amsterdam to Budapest with 100 other passengers. Favalosa holds almost 4,000 passengers and over 1,000 crew. It was close to full on our trip. The ports were all excellent, especially the two Turkish ports of Izmir and Istanbul. Having cruised a number of times before with different companies, we are cruise lovers. We really enjoyed our time on the Costa Favalosa but there were too many down sides to say it lived up to expectations. On the plus side the crew were welcoming and friendly. The embarkation was handled extremely well but disembarkation could be improved a little, particularly communication to passengers about progress. The cabin was generally excellent. The Formula One simulator is a lot of fun and really not too expensive (18 euros for a 15 minute spin). Unfortunately that is about where the positives end.
As the ship was in a port every day except one, there were limited on board activities. It is an Italian ship and Italian passengers are in the majority so most of the quizzes etc were in Italian. More effort needs to be made to cater for other languages in such activities. They do have a dedicated English staff member who does hold sessions for English speakers (and the same for some other languages I understand) but it was hard to feel inclusive because of the language issue. We found other passengers, particularly Italians, to be rude and pushy. Getting into and out of lifts was a nightmare with them bustling in and out or refusing to move to allow access or egress. In the meal buffet bars you had to be careful or you were left behind or knocked about. One small issue with the cabins is they have a ridiculous loop of rope for door handles, not big enough to fit a finger through and too small to grab properly, particularly for people with arthritic hands, so you wonder what testing was done on them before the build. Most doors or drawers are hard to open so it is a significant issue, commented on also by many other passengers.
The decor of the ship is good rather than great considering the amount that must have been spent on it. Yes it is flashy but I have seen better. It takes a full week to get to know the layout of the ship and unfortunately it is then time to get off. Particularly irksome is the difficulty of moving along decks 3 and 4 where the dining rooms are located. They block off large areas and you find yourself having to go up and down stairs all the time to get around them.
The on board shops are probably too high end for the demographics of the passengers and do not provide much variety at all, not sure why they bother. They advertise a section for those items you may have forgotten such as cosmetics, toiletries etc but it has a poor range. The Costa souvenir shop also has a poor range. The prices for things such as photos and drinks is bordering on rip off value - 15 euros for one a convenien ce photo, 3.50 euros for a small can of coke WITH lunch. Nothing other than water is provided free as cold drinks at lunch. We felt by the end of the cruise that Costa's attitude was to get as much money out of the passengers as they could while trapped onboard.
The food quality, quantity and variety was particularly disappointing. Of all the cruises we have been on it was by far the worst in all aspects. We expected (hoped) there would be classic Italian cuisine but apart from a really nice pizza late one night, the rest was a disappointing mix of all sorts of cuisine, mostly non Italian and just average quality. The food at the buffets was very ordinary, particularly breakfast and desserts for lunch. Bacon was cooked to within an inch of its life every single day, there was no variety from one day to the next for breakfast or lunch and lunch desserts were usually dry cake with no cream.
Night meals were at least in a good restaurant, white linen and waiter service but the quality was just good rather than excellent that it should be (and has been on other cruises). It was disappointing that on the two gala nights, where dress up was suggested, at least half the passengers made no effort whatsoever. For most other ships we have been on the standards have been conveyed to passengers as an expectation and most complied. I'm not talking about dinner suit and tie for everyone but a higher standard than the shorts, t-shirts and sandals many had on. Also there was a lack of any theme nights, again a highlight of other cruises. This contributed greatly to the feeling of a lack of variety in the food.
The entertainment was disappointing, both the quality and the theatre. The shows were somewhat disjointed -â€" a Chinese dragon suddenly appeared in a show that had no Chinese theme whatsoever. The best show we saw was that put on by cruise staff at the end of the cruise, very talented crew I must say. For a brand new theatre it has too many blind spots. The first three or four rows upstairs have a rail directly in front of your viewing field at about eye height. They seem to serve no safety purpose (higher rows don't have them) and simply block your view. Too many passengers are allowed to save far too many seats so if you arrive later than about half an hour before curtain time, don't bother. They have a movie theatre on board but it only shows 4D movies at a cost (and for about ten minutes each with a very limited range) and other movies are pay on demand in your cabin -â€" not conducive to a good night out at the movies and very disappointing. On previous cruises the cruise entertainment staff were very proactive in mingling with and engaging passengers. We saw NONE of this with Costa entertainment staff and the Cruise Director wandered the ship hardly talking to anyone apart from a cursory hello as some walked by.
The demographics were different to what we expected. I thought there would a clear majority of older passengers but there were a significant number of young families. This cruise had a large number of school age children on it. Apparently there was a deal that they traveled for free. They were all seated with their parents for meals and no separate dining option was available. Although some were a bit unruly at times, running unsupervised in public areas, it was not a huge deal.