The weather was a lot warmer than I anticipated, and I would pack much lighter items than I did. Luckily, we booked the NH Darsena a day early. Fantastic location. We literally walked our luggage to the ship. Embarkation was very good. They really seem to have the system down; however, don't forget that they have two ports of embarkation: Rome and Savona. (We should have flown into Rome instead of Genoa. The interior room was just fine, and our cabin steward was exceptional. The ports were fantastic. Don't forget to check out the "Excursion package" online. That saved us a few $$$. It costs 100 Euros from Genoa to the ship. It costs a bit more when you return. We stayed in the Columbus Sea Hotel in Genoa on the way back. Not a good choice.
In Katakalon, we did Olympia. We had two days in Haifa. On one we went to Jerusalem and Bethlehem...rain, rain. Take an umbrella, just in case. What a wonderful experience. We're Christian, so it really meant a lot to us. The next day we did Fort Masada and the Dead Sea. Wow!! Don't miss that. I was worried that it'd be freezing going into the water, but it wasn't at all. We had a fantastic meal, to boot. You kinda have to be careful because the buoyancy is a bit tricky, and they tell you you cannot get your face in the water. I'm not a swimmer; don't worry you don't go out that far. Izmir came next, and we did Ephesus for the second time. By the way, at the end, go down a bit from the booths. There is a guy that sells scarves, etc...the REAL thing. Those in the beginning of the booths are not as good. Athens is a changing. With all the problems with the "Occupy" situation, Athens is now a city of graffiti. Sad. We'd been there before. Last was Rome. Since we'd been there before, we went to the castle and Bracciano. What a wonderful little village. It was just what we needed. The bad part was that we had to go with the French group because they cancelled the English tour. The same thing happened to my daughter and her husband in Rome.
Now for the ship. I don't understand why people said that it was ugly. Violins dot the elevators and doors; I felt that it was very tasteful. Now for the bad:::: When I read about the food being bad from other reviews, I thought to myself, "No big deal. I don't really care about that anyway." YOU HAVE NO idea.
How about lunch for 12 days...pizza, 3 salads...french dressing or Italian. Periodically, they'd have suckling pig, or some such meat. How about dinner: scorpion fillet, lots of veal. Very European. I ate salmon off the "ALWAYS" list. It was excellent. Our waiter was marginal, at best. I'd strongly suggest that you do the lunch in the restaurants. I did that at the end, and wondered why I hadn't done it in the beginning. Smoke filled the entire ship. It became nauseating. Every waitress, etc. had an ashtray in hand ready for any passenger. My daughter had called originally and asked about the smoking. She was told it was a nonsmoking ship. There were two areas that were nonsmoking...the gym (which was fantastic) and the restaurants at night.
All of us were sick. In fact, it seemed that you constantly smelled the sanitatizer they used on the ship to clean up after illness. We always wondered if it was the flu or food poisoning. When we talked with a crew member, he said, "I don't think it's the flu." The Americans at the table next to us in the evening all had the same thing. You'd feel awful. Lie down and about two hours later diarrhea would hit. If you were lucky, the throwing up could be caught in a receptacle. Three of us missed; only one made it. It lasted about 1 1/2 days.
The entertainment was not something that we stuck with. They translated in about 6 different languages, and everything was simply lost. Someone would say something..there would be a laugh and you had to wait for the English translation. It just was not fun.
So, all in all, this was our 16th cruise. By far it was our worst. Smoking, bad food, illness. lousy entertainment. Would I ever do Costa again...absolutely not. I learned a valuable lesson...do AMERICAN CRUISE LINES. The crew itself was fantastic...well, most. Leigh is the American liason, and she was great..