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23 Costa Fascinosa Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

The ship was excellent always clean and well maintained well done to the captain and his entire crew. The Latin dance lessons was brilliant and well presented best we've had. The entertainment was Plentyfull something for everyone ... Read More
The ship was excellent always clean and well maintained well done to the captain and his entire crew. The Latin dance lessons was brilliant and well presented best we've had. The entertainment was Plentyfull something for everyone on board. A high standard was set by the entertainers on the ship. The crew in general was excellent. The service on deck 9 in the buffet lounge was good the food was always of a high standard. Ariel our waiter on deck 3 was good in coping with the guests food was excellent. The lady singer on deck 3 in front of the hospitality desk was a pleasure to listen to the variety of songs was phenomenal. Leaving the ports was an experience and a brilliant atmosphere music and all. Joel (cabin 6257) you did a brilliant job with our cabin thank you, you made us feel special. Will definitely recommend the Costa Fascinosa to other Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The ship, cabin and staff (apart from some waiters in the dining room) were good. There were about 200 teenagers on "school trips" on our cruise, they took over the swimming pools, jacuzzis and were noisy,especially at night ... Read More
The ship, cabin and staff (apart from some waiters in the dining room) were good. There were about 200 teenagers on "school trips" on our cruise, they took over the swimming pools, jacuzzis and were noisy,especially at night (we had to change cabins) Also a lot of families with young children There was very little entertainment in the day time, no lectures, cinema, etc plus no information on the places we were visiting (only tours they were selling) nothing in english on the tv apart from cnn news repeating The announcements over the tannoy system (in 4 languages each time) seemed to be excessive. The 7 nights we were on board the evening entertainment was mainly dancing. If you choose a late dinner sitting it works out you had to go to the show first. We had to pay for all but one of the shuttle buses from the ship to the local town. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
I had cabin 7395 on the Costa Fascinosa (Venice to Venice - November, 2014 ) which was nice size, comfortable and had a balcony with two chairs and a small table. There were three closets -- two clothes closets and one with shelves and a ... Read More
I had cabin 7395 on the Costa Fascinosa (Venice to Venice - November, 2014 ) which was nice size, comfortable and had a balcony with two chairs and a small table. There were three closets -- two clothes closets and one with shelves and a safe. The room had twin beds, made up as one king size bed, and there was a sofa that could be made up into another bed for three people in the room. I was by myself so there was plenty of room. Three people in this cabin would be tight. Be aware that this company can be considered the “Ryanair” of the cruise world. When you pay a discounted amount for a cruise, the ship will make money from you in many MANY other ways. First some pluses: personnel such as cabin stewards, waiters/waitresses are wonderful, considerate and seem to have your best interests in mind. The food is imaginative and very good - menus have several courses and you can make substitutions, such as fresh fruit instead of a calorie-laden dessert. One of my table-mates who had been on three Costa cruises, said this was the best food of the lot. 3. Room service, especially for breakfast is especially prompt. They were right on the button with the delivery time I requested on the days we were in port early ( Santorini, Corfu and Dubrovnik). This is especially important as departures for the excursions start early. 4. The ports of Bari, Corfu, Mykonos, Dubrovnik and Santorini are interesting. The ship has some nice packages -- for wine, soft drinks or bottled water. They are a decent deal. If you don’t have a drinks package you will not get water (even tap water) at lunch or dinner. 6. No problems with hot water or water pressure in the shower. Water from the tap tastes tinny - which is a good reason to buy their bottled water package. 7. Passenger makeup is mainly Europeans (mainly French (1500!) on my sailing), Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish and small groups of Austrians, British and Americans. Things to be aware of : 1. Embarkation is a horror. You would think since Costa runs this cruise just about every week for nine months of the year, that they would know how to handle this procedure. My advice is to go early (embarkation starts at noon) or go late (just before 4pm) to avoid the pushing,shoving crowds around 2 to 3:3-pm Make sure the Maitre’d assigns you a dinner table in your language group. I was first at a table with a Dutch couple who didn’t speak English. The next night my table was given away to a group of French and I ate alone at a table for 4. Finally I was assigned to a table with four people who spoke English. I could hear the angels singing Alleluia! Lunch is open seating, so you can usually find someone in your language group to sit with. 3. Everything is extra. There are charges for: in-cabin continental breakfast (5-euro per person), water,juice, iced tea,etc. at meals, cappuccinos at breakfast, coffee at lunch and dinner, fresh orange juice at breakfast (though a tang-like concoction is complimentary) and a service charge for room service (unless you have a “premium cabin”). 4. there are no “port talks” - showing slides, or providing information for those who want to go on their own how to get into town,etc. If you ask at the customer service desk -- no one knows anything, though they are happy to sell you an expensive tour, or shuttle ticket (usually around 10 euro.) 5. Because of the design of the ship, it is difficult to find a “promenade” where you can walk outside. The only places you can be “outside” is by 9th level the pool and buffet areas which are noisy and crowded, and (I was told) on a veranda the 4th level of the ship. Some suggestions: 1.If you arrive in Venice by train,use the Cooperativa Portabagagli di Venezia to transfer your luggage from the station to your stateroom. It is the biggest bargain of the week at 5euro per bag. 2. Bring some cheap wire hangers with you. The hangers in the closets are lovely, but very wide so there are only 6 in each of the two clothes closets. 3. bring your own bar of bath soap. There is a dispenser in the shower for something that serves as body-wash as well as shampoo. I liken this to janitor-in-a-drum 4.If you need to charge several electronics at the same time, bring or buy an extension cord - Italy uses either two or three pronged plugs. There is one 110 and one 220 outlet in the room. There is another outlet behind the bed, but two lamps are plugged into it and it is hard to get to as you have to move the beds to access it. There is an outlet in the bathroom about two inches from the ceiling, impossible for anyone less than 6 feet tall to reach. 5. check the “My Account” page on your interactive TV every day. Also check every receipt you are given for drinks, water,etc. At one dinner, I was billed for a bottle of water I never asked for or received, and also for a very expensive ship-to-shore phone call I never made. It is best to take care of these problems right away as,no doubt, others might also have account problems on the last day. SOME SUGGESTIONS FOR PORT STOPS This is what I did in port and it worked well: In Bari, walk out of the terminal and turn left -- just outside the port entrance you will see cute little sightseeing trains. Cost is 20 euro for a 1 1/2 to 2 hour tour. There are also pedicab tours for 25 euro per person (2 people in a pedicab). This is the exact same tour that the ship offers for 30 euro traveling in 50 passenger busses. The guides are multi-lingual and the little train drops you off in front of the ship when the tour is over. In Corfu, there were two excursions sold: a. Visit to Corfu and Achelleion (#801) b. Visit of Paleokastrita and Corfu Town (#802) But only one excursion was really offered (a) and those who were on the bus who had signed up for excursion b, found that it didn’t exist and they had automatically been put on excursion a. They were not happy that they hadn’t been told about the change. Be forewarned! So, in Corfu it might be best to do an excursion as the ship shuttle (7.50 euro) just drops you off at shopping area, which is good for about 45 min.and you don’t see to much of the island. In Mykonos, head right to the water taxis on the same dock as the ship, and for 2euro, take a beautiful 15 min. ride in to the center of town. Look for the nearby “Taxi Square” if you are interested in negotiating for a tour of the island. But I enjoyed walking the town, up and down the white-washed lanes and without working too hard, found all the “important” places by myself: the Windmills, “Little Venice,” several churches and lots and lots of stores. Because November is the “end of season” many of the stores offered substantial discounts. If you want to save about two minutes time, buy a round-trip water taxi ticket right after you get off the boat. Be forewarned that the ship charges 10.95euro (round trip) for its shuttle and their bus does not leave you in the center of town, but at a bus park about a 15 min. walk away. The water-taxi is much more convenient experience. In Santorini - the best use of time was to take an excursion. I took the “Oia Villages Tour”. Our ship moored by the “New Port” at Athinios (about five miles from the main town of Fira) and used tenders. At the end of the tour, we were given cable car tickets down to the port of Fira and we were tendered back to the ship. Those on excursions leave the ship first. So if you are on your own, you will have limited time in Santorini as you wait for the excursion folks to disembark. Our local guide was Chrysa and she was excellent. Pray you get on her bus! She spoke English well, answered all questions, was very personable and helpful to everyone. Santorini and its villages are built on cliffs and there is quite a bit of mountain driving. If you are prone to motion sickness, try to sit near the front of the bus. The only negative is that it was a 45 min. queue to board the cable car at the end of the tour. I found Santorini was a good place to use an ATM’s (rather than in Venice) as it seemed safer. Special note: the excursion I hoped to take to the archaeological site of Akrotiri (which dates to 1630BC), and is one of the 10 beat archaeological sites in Greece, was cancelled. So when our “Oia Villages” excursion got to Fira (the main town), I went to the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, which presents items from the site and also from the Cycladic era (2700-2300BC). It is a gorgeous little museum and very manageable. Dubrovnik is very easy. Taxis are right on the dock and charge 10euro (for 4 persons in a taxi) for the ride to the gate of the old city. So buddy up with someone. You will be left right at the Pile (pronounced pee-lay) Gate. The main event in Dubrovnik is to walk its magnificent walls. The ticket office (right across from the big fountain at the entrance) opens at 9am and they accept only Kuna (Croatian currency) or credit cards. No euro. Cost is 100 kuna (equivalent to 12.50euro). Go, even if it is raining -- it is worth it for the views. It took me 50 min. to do the entire circuit but I didn’t stop for many photos. There is a clean and supervised toilet (free!) half way thru. Also, there is an exit about 3/4 of the way around if you are running out of time. Merchants in the old city seem to prefer cash Kuna or euro - no credit cards. In conclusion (and I know this has been long), get the best cabin you can on this ship. I had a balcony and loved it. The room was my sanctuary from the crowds and the commotion of 3700+ people. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
It was a wondeful family cruise visiting Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini and Dubrovnik. Our kids had the chance to participate in many activities on board and really enjoyed playing and the karaoke. My wife spent a lot of time in the spa and ... Read More
It was a wondeful family cruise visiting Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini and Dubrovnik. Our kids had the chance to participate in many activities on board and really enjoyed playing and the karaoke. My wife spent a lot of time in the spa and fitness classes and I did a lot of wine tasting. Our parents loved the casino though. The service was very good and the food was great. The cabins were always clean and were really cosy. We didn't book any shore excursions as we found them really expensive. In Corfu we walked around the city, in Mykonos we took a cab and visited Super paradise beach, in Santorini we booked a minibus tour and in Dubrovnik we just wandered in the old city. We had a wonderful time! Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We have just returned from a great week on the Fascinosa. We booked this holiday at a cruise show in March, quite on impulse. However, once I started to read the reviews on Cruise Critic I was beginning to wonder what I had done. We have ... Read More
We have just returned from a great week on the Fascinosa. We booked this holiday at a cruise show in March, quite on impulse. However, once I started to read the reviews on Cruise Critic I was beginning to wonder what I had done. We have cruised before with P&O. Embarkation at Venice was no different to Southampton. We gave in our bags, took a number and waited for the number to be called. We then went to check in, passed through Security and then got on the ship. It took a little longer than we were used to, but it was very easy and we knew exactly what was happening at all times. When we got on board, we went to our room and one of our bags was already there. The other arrived about an hour later. Our Steward, Giovanni was marvellous. Couldn't do enough for us. All staff on the ship spoke good English. All were very courteous and the service was very good. The food in the buffet area was pretty much the same each day, but there was plenty of it so you didn't have to go hungry. Yes it could get busy, but we never had trouble finding a table. The trick is to find your table before you get your food. Breakfast was the only meal that I found not good. The eggs were awful and the sausages worse. But there was always cereal and rolls and bread and fruit. The Italian's are different to the English but amazing to watch. But if you want everything English don't do a European cruise. Food in the restaurant was very good and with 6 courses you did not go hungry. The Gala meals and the staff on these nights were marvellous. We did not do any of the excursions and chose to explore on our own. Getting on and off the ship, again was very easy and organised. We always managed to get a sunbed and did not encounter any problems here. Our cabin was cleaned at least twice a day. Every part of the ship was spotless. Overall we had a lovely holiday and I would not hesitate to book with Costa again.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This was the first time my husband and I had taken a cruise. The good points first! We spent a couple of days in Venice which is amazing! The Costa Fascinosa takes your breath away - its size and it's immaculate inside and out. We ... Read More
This was the first time my husband and I had taken a cruise. The good points first! We spent a couple of days in Venice which is amazing! The Costa Fascinosa takes your breath away - its size and it's immaculate inside and out. We booked an inside cabin and it was a lot bigger than we expected. Our cabin steward Ivan cleaned the cabin twice daily and was always close by. Nothing was too much trouble. We took out a drinks package which covered anything from coffee to cocktails. The buffet breakfast was excellent - something for everyone. Depending on the time in port a buffet lunch was also sometimes available - again excellent. You are allocated a table in the restaurant for the duration of your stay - 6 courses, not gourmet, but very good. There's also an a la carte restaurant and a pizza restaurant which you pay extra for but we didn't use them but were told they were very good. There are many different bars and various musical entertainment. There's a beautiful theatre but the standard of shows is very poor, apart from the acrobatic show. The cabin, bar and restaurant staff work incredibly hard and are a credit to Costa. The Customer Service staff could do with lessons from them - they can barely smile! The embarkation and disembarkation was well organised and to the minute. Incredible considering there were over 3,000 passengers. Ports of call. We didn't do any of the organised tours - they were expensive and we were told very rushed. We did our homework before we went and did our own thing for a fraction of the price. Bari - not a lot here at all. Corfu - beautiful but could have done with more time here. Mykonos - what a surprise this was! Had a swim on a beach close to where we were berthed and then got a sea taxi into the main port which is dotted with while and turquoise buildings - beautiful! Santorini - a bit disappointing after seeing Mykonos. You are brought to the base of the cliff by tender boats and then we took mules to the top. Great fun but very scarey! Dubrovnik was our favourite. Stunning. Will definitely be going back. When we told people we were going on a Costa cruise they obviously referred to the Concordia but I said "it will be the safest cruise line in the world now". How wrong was I! On the first night we sailed into a storm. At round midnight the ship started to list starboard. Over a period of 30 minutes there were two severe lists. During the second one I was thrown against a wall and badly bruised my arm. We were given no warning. There were people being thrown everywhere. We saw no staff apart from the restaurant and bar staff who were walking knee high in broken crockery, glass and bottles. One waiter even had his life jacket on! People were thrown out of their beds. Draws flew open and the contents were thrown over the floor. The corridors were full of bewildered and very angry and upset people. After the second list an announcement was made "I speak on behalf of our Captain. We have experienced a slight navigation problem but the ship has now resumed normal navigation." I sailed with my father who was a Chief Engineer in the Merchant Navy and my husband was Second Officer in the Merchant Navy, we live on an Island and make frequent visits to the mainland but we have never experienced anything like this! Some people spent the night on the stairs with young children in lifejackets - too scared to return to their cabins. We didn't sleep that night and spent the rest of the week with the bathroom light on! Some people left the ship at Bari. Those who had to visit the ship's doctor with injuries were charged for this and for any medication! Those who stayed on board to finish their cruise were obviously very nervous. We were on that ship for a week and never once were addressed by the Captain, the Safety Officer or any other officer with an explanation or apology. The safety procedure when we embarked was a joke. Very disorganised and the staff looked totally uninterested. You couldn't even see them over the heads of other passengers. Obviously Costa have not learnt from their last disaster! Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We just got off the Costa Fascinosa on August 25th, after spending a great week with a Kosherica tour. The Boat The Fascinosa is a large cruise ship, very new and it shows. There are no signs of wear or tear, and everything is very well ... Read More
We just got off the Costa Fascinosa on August 25th, after spending a great week with a Kosherica tour. The Boat The Fascinosa is a large cruise ship, very new and it shows. There are no signs of wear or tear, and everything is very well taken care of. I think it was designed to evoque the Italian Golden Age, the Dolce Vita. Paintings, rugs, wallpapers, even the marble in the bathrooms, resembles 20th century Italy. I don't know if that is a plus or not, as I'm more used to modern ships that don't try to recall the good old times. The cabins are good sized and decently appointed, although the bathroom is rather small. And the weird thing is that the shower only has a shower curtain that, on purpose, doesn't cover all the way down and so water always spills out when taking a shower. We had cabin 9280, which had easy access to the main pool area and the Tulipano Nero main buffet restaurant. Embarkation Embarkation in Venice wasn't as bad as other reviews. We got to the Venice cruise terminal around 3:30pm (took a 20-minute, 50 Euro taxi from the airport to the port), received ticket number 17 when we handed our bags. Then we waited in the embarkation hall about 20 minutes until our number was called. Then we went through registration and waited in line for some 20 more minutes before getting on board. Not too bad. Customer Service We were very pleasantly surprised by the service on board the Fascinosa. Everyone we talked to was always helpful (and spoke very good English). I actually had a big problem: my bag was lost by Lufthansa and didn't arrive with me to the boat. When I told the Customer Service Agents about my problem, even though it wasn't their responsibility, they were extremely helpful, specially Federica. She contacted the airline on behalf of me every day to track my bag, gave me a survival kit and use of the laundry services, and even allowed me to call the airline from the ship (probably a couple of hundred dollars worth of roaming charges). I visited Customer Service at least twice a day and everyone knew of my problem and were very helpful. The stops We had stops in Bari, Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos, and Croatia. All of them were beautiful and really enjoyable. Costa even extended the time on port at the last minute. To me, that's the most important part of the cruise experience: the ports of call. The one problem was the disembarkation for the tendered ports (Mykonos and Santorini). Costa has a ticket system that opens the day of disembarkation to give out tender tickets. But no one checks the tickets and there is a mess when trying to disembark. It wasn't that bad and it was probably unavoidable, but it could be improved. Food This is one of the weak spots on the Fascinosa. The food was repetitive, unimaginative, and bland. The buffets had weird hours and would close down quickly. And the service in the main dining room was nothing out of the ordinary, even slow. Most of the waiters didn't understand good English and were slow. Another issue was the MDR beverage issue: if you didn't have an all-inclusive drink plan, you would have to pay to get even a bottle of water at the table. And the all-inclusive plan would run you close to 300 Euro per couple (since you have to purchase the plan for all people on the same reservation). Definitely a weak spot in Costa policies. If you're a foodie, Costa might not be for you. By the way, we could bring water and soda on board at all of the stops, but any wine or liquor got held until the last day of the cruise. Social Areas Another weak spots in the Fascinosa are the social areas, meaning the pools and the Jacuzzis. They are way too small for the amount of people on board. All the pools and Jacuzzis were at full capacity all the time, and no sun chairs were available after 10am. Entertainment The shows on board were not on par with other cruise ships. The singers and dancers were third-rate, although the acrobatic act was actually quite good. On the other hand, there were more than the usual number of bars and places to hear music. Almost all day, there were piano players and live singers in different places around the ship. And the entertainment staff was there to always start a line dancing set (I have no idea why Europeans are so in love with line dancing, but all of them seemed to really enjoy it!). The Spa The Spa on board was very complete, although most of it very expensive. Friends of ours had massages, and were turned off by the therapists that tried to upsell creams and lotions to them after their treatment. However, the highlight of the Spa was the Thermal Suite / Thalassotherapy Pool package, which was 160 Euro for a couple for the entire week. We could use 3 different steam rooms, a relaxation room, a tea room, sun rooms, and the thalassotherapy pool that was almost as big as the main pools. It was extremely relaxing and not crowded at all. We didn't have a need to go to the main pools, we could just go daily to the Spa. Highly recommend it and very much worth the investment. Overall, our Costa cruise was enjoyable, although you have to be aware of the pitfalls and walk around them. I personally prefer Royal Caribbean ships, but Costa is definitely not as bad as other reviewers have made them out to be.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
My family and I have been on over 20 cruises and consider ourselves experienced cruise veterans. This was the first and last time we will cruise with Costa. First of all, the first and primary language spoken by the staff and cruise ... Read More
My family and I have been on over 20 cruises and consider ourselves experienced cruise veterans. This was the first and last time we will cruise with Costa. First of all, the first and primary language spoken by the staff and cruise director is Italian. This made us feel left out of many activities, even though there weren't many to begin with. The casino was empty most of the time with only two blackjack tables. The shows were very amateurish and the only event they had every night was a DJ in the back of the ship that played until people stopped dancing. The food was a disappointment. For an Italian owned cruise line, there was no caesars salad, tiramisu for dessert or any steak, shrimp or lobster served. The pasta was mostly spaghetti and the salad was the same mixed salad every night. There were no peppermills and the parmesan cheese sprinkled over the pasta was powdered. The dinner portions were very small, which made you hungry later in the evening. Unfortunately, after 10:00pm you could only get pizza. The ice cream and water/ice machines by the pool closed at 3:30pm every day, which had people going into the buffet restaurant to find water to drink. There was no iced tea available throughout the cruise and after dinner you could not get coffee in the dining room, you had to go to one of the bars throughout the ship, which was an additional charge. Speaking of additional charge, room service cost 5 Euros and at dinner if you wanted water, you would have to buy a bottle and serve yourself. I complained about this to Guest Services and they told me they had recently implemented a new policy where American bookings were exempt from having to pay for water. Unfortunately, our waiter never mentioned this. The staff was not friendly at all, always looking away when you walked by them and never offering a good morning, good evening or any welcoming gestures. Some of the crew members also made my 15 and 18 year old daughters feel uncomfortable with the way they looked at them and even invited them to their cabin for a so-called "crew party". It all starts from the top because even the captain walked right by me and did not say hello. As for the ports, the average time we spent was about 4-5 hours which left little time to enjoy. It seems to me they preferred to have the passengers spending their money on the ship instead of in the ports. The lines to get back on the ship at most ports had a wait time of about one hour. Going forward I will stick to American cruise lines where I know they will provide the type of service that I have been accustomed to. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
I sailed on the Costa Fascinosa for seven nights in a party of eight, and thought it was a wonderful experience. Our embarkation point was Venice, and everything ran very smoothly - yes, it does take quite a bit of time to board, but I ... Read More
I sailed on the Costa Fascinosa for seven nights in a party of eight, and thought it was a wonderful experience. Our embarkation point was Venice, and everything ran very smoothly - yes, it does take quite a bit of time to board, but I think passengers need to remember that there are 3,500+ people that need to board in a small amount of time, so there is obviously going to be a bit of a wait. Our cabin was a balcony premium for two on the port side, and could not have been any more perfect. It was spacious, had all the facilities you need, and was incredibly comfortable. The rest of our party also loved their cabins as well. Our cabin steward was fantastic, our cabin was cleaned two times a day, and we often got back after a show to find a little towel animal on our bed. Very cute! I cannot fault any of the crew members - the customer service was above and beyond! Not only was our cabin steward friendly and just a lovely person, but our waiter for dinner was also wonderful. He was polite, funny, and very attentive. It was wonderful having a dance with him on Italian Night! The bartenders, shop assistants, and entertainment team were also fantastic. They are a credit to Costa. One example I'd like to share about the brilliant customer service was in the restaurant. Our party had a table in the Gattopardo restaurant, and on our second night, we were asked by the maître d whether we would mind switching to the Otto e Mezzo restaurant for the remainder of the cruise, as there was another group of passengers that requested a table together. We agreed to switch, and it was the best decision we ever made! The staff accommodated us so well with an even better table that was nice and private. And we were still all sitting together! I'm confused about previous reviews commenting on English being the fifth and last language on board - this did not seem to be the case on this cruise. In fact, most of the staff spoke English more so than Italian, and it was the Italian passengers who struggled to communicate with the crew. Announcements were made in English right after Italian and were always clear, so that wasn't a problem either. The food in the restaurant was first-class. So much to choose from, and different options every night, as well as standard food that you could order every night. It was like dining in a first-class restaurant. Everyone on our table commented on how delicious the food was. The buffet food was repetitive at some stages, but hey - you're on an Italian cruise liner, of course you're going to get pizza and pasta everyday! We bought the all-inclusive drinks package, which was well worth the money. There are a few drinks that are not included in this package, but you barely notice this – the variety of drinks that ARE included on the package is huge! Coffees, cocktails, spirits, wine, fruit punch – you’ll never go thirsty! The port stops were also enjoyable, and plenty of time was allocated to each one (the ports we stopped at were Venice, Bari, Corfu, Mykonos, Santorini, and Dubrovnik). The tenders ran very well, and getting tickets for the tenders was quick and efficient. I didn’t do any of the excursions, so can’t comment on this, but I can say that the ports are quite small, so are easy to walk around by yourself. There are three negative aspects of the cruise that warrant a mention. Firstly, the entertainment is below par, and I would expect better from Costa. The singers were abysmal, and even though the dancers tried their best, many of the shows felt like a high school production. I’ve cruised on a very similar ship with another Italian cruise company, and their entertainment was a million times better than Costa’s. The only show that I actually liked was the acrobatic show – WOW! Costa, DO NOT let these performers go, they are incredible! Secondly, the adults only pool at the back of the ship needs to be just that – an adults only pool. It wasn’t until halfway through the cruise that we realised it was an adults only pool – the amount of children in it made us think otherwise! When a member of our party commented on this to the security guard manning the pool, he just shrugged his shoulders and said ‘What can we do?’ This is a terrible response from someone who actually has the power to regulate this rule! Ironically, when we went up to the water slide pool on our last day, it actually had far less children in it than the adults only pool! The last negative aspect of the cruise I’d like to comment on is the behaviour of the Italian passengers – this is not a reflection of Costa, as they have no control over this, but it is just a warning to other passengers looking to travel on this ship. I was absolutely appalled by the behaviour of some of the passengers, both at the pool and in the buffet. Although we are told not to reserve deck chairs, this rule was blatantly disregarded by many passengers. By the end of the cruise, we needed to get up at 6:30am in order to go outside and grab a deck chair – many mornings were spent sleeping outside as a result! In many instances, passengers would drape towels over five or six deck chairs, leave the deck chairs unattended for three or four hours while they visited a port, and then saunter back in the early afternoon. It was dreadful. It got to the stage where a fight broke out between my father and an Italian woman who insisted she had reserved our deck chairs, and that we had ‘stolen’ them. Children were not attended to in the pools by parents or minders, and ran around screaming and dive bombing – a swim usually ended up being a quick five second dip so as to avoid these children. The buffet was just as bad – passengers climbing over each other to grab food, pushing and shoving to get tables, it was ridiculous. At one point, I lost my balance after being pushed and shoved so many times, and very nearly fell backwards – luckily, a very cranky and rude Italian teenager stopped me from toppling to the floor with a plate of food! Passengers used hands and fingers to grab food when there were clearly utensils to use, and I was astounded to see the amount of food piled high on plates by some passengers, to only then be discarded when returned to the table. Eight or nine slices of pizza, ten croissants, six hot dogs – all just left uneaten on the tables to be thrown out. I understand this doesn’t affect me directly, but it was so sad to see so much food being thrown out and going to waste. Again, I’d like to say that this is not Costa’s fault at all, but perhaps non-Italian passengers should be warned about this sort of behaviour before booking a cruise on this ship. All things aside, I really enjoyed my time on the ship, and was very sad to disembark. Apart from the negative comments mentioned above, everything ran so smoothly, and the seven days were just pure heaven. I’d recommend Costa Fascinosa or any other Costa ship to anyone wanting a bit of relaxation and fun on the Mediterranean. First-class!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Checking in was like a war zone from the custom entrance. Mulitple entries point created bottle neck group of angry passengers. After dumping our luggagues, we ttulught things will be easy. Arriving to the cruise embarkation area on the ... Read More
Checking in was like a war zone from the custom entrance. Mulitple entries point created bottle neck group of angry passengers. After dumping our luggagues, we ttulught things will be easy. Arriving to the cruise embarkation area on the upper floor. We were in for another bigger round of chaotic situation! Everyone was looking around for instruction on where to check in as thecrowd was unbelievale messy. All in all, we waited 3 hours to go on board! What a great way to welcome your passengers! On board didn't make things much easier, multiple instruction given on their PA system was confusing and mainly the English one wasn't clear. It rather seems to us this criuse ship is not meant for English speaking guest. Food- Buffet spread was a total shame to the word 'Buffet' because they have limited choices and the usual Maragarita pizzas and was as hard as a stone with virtually pathetic toppings or only tomato sauce on it only. Services- Don't expect any services as their staff are not pronactive and when we need them, it seems they are too unhappy to serve you. For a moment, we feel not welcome at all and it seems they are only interested to serve better who speak in their language only. (Mainly Italia and Spanish Langugae.) they also seems abit racist towards the asian passengers with luke warm attitude. Punctuality- costa doesn't seems to understand the importance of being on time with the excursions organised. To be late is like a notm and they doesn't apologise. We were totally upset with costa even on our last day of disembarkation. Timing to gather was 915AM and we were only release after 1015AM! Again, the huge messy crowds gathered at the exit which is quite unbelievable! Overall- unless the world has only Costa as the Cruise liner. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BOARD THIS HORRIBLE CRUISE! Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect and this lengthy account of our experience is to help cruises novices to make the most of the cruise and to avoid pitfalls that we experienced. To summarise we had a fantastic ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect and this lengthy account of our experience is to help cruises novices to make the most of the cruise and to avoid pitfalls that we experienced. To summarise we had a fantastic time with a high standard of customer care and excellent food. However, there were three main complaints: Embarkation; disembarkation and excursions that hijack you to waste your time at a sales venues. Embarkation in Venice We left our luggage at the Port and went into Venice for lunch – so far so good. However, when we returned to join the ship there was a hall of sheer chaos! We were standing in various lines for almost two hours. There appeared to be an inadequate amount of staff to board over 3,000 people. This could easily set people in the wrong frame of mind which could cause some customers to view everything negatively after such an awful experience as there seemed to be absolutely no concern for the customer. Myself I saw this on a par with having baby: horrendous at the time but afterwards it is so wonderful you soon forget about it. Our cabin We were allocated cabin 8439 which was a lovely with a balcony providing splendid views. Our luggage had arrived in our cabin along with our all inclusive cards (which were well buying at €19.5 a day) and our fantastic steward Richard arrived to check that everything was in order for us and explained the need for the compulsory safety drill. Dining The food was excellent, although sometimes a little cold. I do not know how people can say the portions were small considering there were seven courses! However, there is a reluctance to accept that meals are for enjoyment rather than pure sustenance. Initially we were put on a table with two ladies of different generation and who spoke a different language! Breakfast was even worse with waiters like prefects marshalling you in to fill up the tables as you filed in! It was just like boarding school! I felt sure we would be singing grace in Latin at any moment! Tulipano Nero Buffet Restaurant On the Carmen Deck there was self service restaurant which seem to be open most of the time. It was always very busy with people push and shoving. I just could not understand why people would choose to have meals here as it seemed like a zoo but it was useful for getting a glass of water or a cup of tea. Formal evenings There were two formal evenings where guests were expected to dress up. Having found the standard of dress very informal, I felt a little awkward about wearing a formal dress at 5.30 p.m. for the Captain’s cocktail party but I need not have worried, officials were beautifully dressed and this brought up the sartorial standards of the guests Entertainment There were two shows every evening to suit your dining sitting. The entertainment was of the highest standard and well thought out especially considering the shows were for an international audience. The shows ranged from Russians dancers to amazing magicians. Although there were professional performers, my favourite show was the one put on by the crew. These talented people were an enormous credit to Costa and illustrated a very good brand image. There were lots of other entertainment and parties such as toga parties; Ladies night etc. but with the early start for the excursions all we were fit for after the show was a nightcap in the Piano Bar. Excursions On the whole we were rather disappointed with the excursions especially when were hijacked to a carpet factory to listen to salesmen trying to sell us rugs! If I was going to make a £5,000 or even a £500 investment I would have come prepared with colour charts and swatches! It was not easy to escape the sales pitch and when we did we sat captive on the bus thinking of the lunch and that glass of wine on the deck that we were missing on ship! We found that the best trips were the ones that you take the shuttle bus to the site and view at your own pace. Even in November there a large number of tours and it was difficult to hear what the tour guide was saying. Disembarkation I thought embarkation was bad but disembarkation was far, far worse! It was hell. Instructions were incorrect, no matter how many officials we asked we were just fobbed off to somewhere else. One official told us to put our cases in the trunk of the coach whilst another told us we could not take that coach and to go back into the terminal. After standing in front of the bus to stop our luggage leaving without us and after some considerable dialogue we were allowed on the bus! We had done everything to avoid the ramifications of this administrative problem - Costa had done nothing and we were the victims and had to suffer! This was customer abuse in the extreme and is such stupid corporate strategy to leave the customer with a very negative feeling about the cruise. Hotel in Venice The hotel in Venice was very substandard. It was supposed to 3 star but would not qualify as such in Britain. Furthermore with the cost of taxis to and from hotels that were so far out of Venice made this cheap hotel expensive. Customers would be better off making their own arrangements for a hotel in Venice at a better hotels in the centre of Venice could prove less expensive than a cheap hotel outside Venice because the cost of taxis. Summary The crew are very committed professionals working hard to ensure that guests have the very best experience but these teams are let down by the administrative staff that nether support guests or the crew. The Administrative Staff have not embraced the ethos of hospitality and regard customers as problems and there was a lack of attention to detail. In fact embarkation and disembarkation are bordering on customer abuse as there is no concern for people having stand in queues for hours and for old people to struggle with cases being sent from pillar to post!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
having cruised on many lines,and reading the negative reviews on costa ships,i thought it cannot be that bad,i was wrong,i should have listened,IT WAS AWFUL.the ship itself is really nice,and well decked out,the balcony cabins really ... Read More
having cruised on many lines,and reading the negative reviews on costa ships,i thought it cannot be that bad,i was wrong,i should have listened,IT WAS AWFUL.the ship itself is really nice,and well decked out,the balcony cabins really nice,but goes downhill frof there. 3 hours in the terminal before you can board,find your own way to the cabin, the food onboard in the buffet is tasteless and repetitive and is the same every day,pitza and pastaif you feel like a late snack all that is on offer is a pitza,breakfast is not that brilliant you end up walking around trying to find somewhere to sit.food in the retuarant is nice,but small portions,the staff onboard are not the happiest I have comme across on cruise ships,but waiters in the restaurant are brilliant, it is mostly Italian spoke over the tannoy. the theatre is nice but most of the entertainment is of poor standard and narrated in Italian,great when you get a comedian telling jokes in Italian.end of cruise you get a bill ofover £100 service charge,even though you feel obliged to tip your water and cabin steward.if you have cruised with royal carribean,STICK WITH THEM costa is a world apart. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
If you have already booked this ship and are leaving soon then I shall start with the positive aspects of our cruise. Firstly the ship is splendid, clean and constant maintenance being done to the ship to keep it looking sparkling. The Spa ... Read More
If you have already booked this ship and are leaving soon then I shall start with the positive aspects of our cruise. Firstly the ship is splendid, clean and constant maintenance being done to the ship to keep it looking sparkling. The Spa is one of the most beautiful I have ever been to on both land and at sea and is well worth the money as a place to escape from the hustle and bustle onboard for the whole of the cruise. We found the food okay and on some occasions excellent in the restaurant (ours being Otto e Mezzo). Our balcony cabin (deck 7 no. 7370) was great, the bed very comfortable and the shower a good size. Our steward (Melchor) was very friendly and helpful and kept our cabin clean and well stocked. The ports of call Bari, Katakolon, Izmir, Istanbul, Dubrovnik and Venice were very interesting and the tour guides excellent. Now for the bad. Embarkation at Venice is a nightmare, poorly signposted, rude Costa staff, long queues and lots of waiting around. This is not a good way to start a holiday and then once on-board you have to find your own way to the cabin and in our case having found the cabin we then had to attend a drill. This to me was ludicrous, we had been travelling for over 12 hours by this time and I can honestly say that I wasn't listening to a word that was being said as we were made to stand and listen to the same announcement in 4 languages! Obviously this cruise is aimed at the Italian market and as such is predominant throughout. All entertainment is in Italian and worst of all every other language French, German & Spanish all get movies in their own language whilst the English only get BBC World News. We could not get an explanation from the Customer Care person for this. As mentioned in previous reviews the smoking can be an issue and you are aware of the smoke, but it is possible to find areas away from it. What we couldn't get away from were the screaming, crying and generally badly behaved Italian children. Our last 2 nights in Venice more than made up for the disappointing cruise and whilst we would NEVER go with Costa again we will definitely go back to Venice. In conclusion I feel that Costa should not be marketing to English customers as they do not cater for our needs. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I booked this cruise for my friend and I, based on (a) the sailing date, as we could only sail on a specific day, (b) the itinerary, which had some interesting ports of call and (c) the price, which was very reasonable for a 'mini ... Read More
I booked this cruise for my friend and I, based on (a) the sailing date, as we could only sail on a specific day, (b) the itinerary, which had some interesting ports of call and (c) the price, which was very reasonable for a 'mini suite' cabin. Booking was made online and quite straightforward, similar to other cruiselines, and we were able to customise our cruise by selecting our dining preferences as well as book the optional all-inclusive drinks package (at EUR 19.50 per day) etc. Embarkation We boarded the ship in Venice. We had no idea where we had to drop off our luggage and when we finally found a Costa crew member, they quite rudely pointed us in the right direction (which was quite far from the actual ship!). Thanks to the fact that we had booked a mini suite, we were saved the horror of having to queue for hours to wait our turn to go through the check-in formalities and board the ship. There's a priority lane for suite cabins (although this isn't mentioned to you by any member of the crew so you have to work it out for yourself by looking for the small signs!). We found our own way to the cabin and the cabin steward was there to greet us and give us our ship passes, which were inside the cabin (they don't hand them out when you board the ship). Cabin We opted for a mini suite, at the back of the ship (cabin #8459) which was on the starboard side. The cabin was a decent size, with plenty of cupboard / wardrobe space for clothes, a large double bed, decent sized bathroom, plenty of light thanks to the 3 windows, and a huge L-shaped balcony (which had a table and 2 chairs and a lounger for sunbathing). The ship is only one year old so the cabin was in very good condition. There were however several drawbacks to this cabin (and probably to most cabins situated on this deck) : (1) Deck 9 is a public deck, and passengers above were always looking down on to our balcony, and were often smoking, which made it very unpleasant. Cigarette ash was all over the balcony floor and hand rail and furniture, and the cabin steward didn't clean it as often as he could have done. In hindsight, I should have opted for a mini suite on decks 7 or 6, which were further away from the smoke and overlooking passengers of deck 9. (2) We were woken up every single morning at 6am by a loud 'clanging' noise, which came from the crew stairway which was located next to our cabin door. Unfortunately, there were crew stairways on both the port side and starboard side at the rear of the ship, so there would have been no way of avoiding this disturbance, even if we could have changed cabins. Apart from the above, the cabin was well soundproofed and you could rarely hear any noise from deck 9 above, which is where the adult pool is located, and there was virtually no noise from adjacent cabins or from the outside corridors. Plus, we were oblivious to the noise of the ship's engines, and could hardly notice that we were moving (the sailing was very smooth for this cruise). The cabin was kept relatively clean throughout the cruise. However, the steward would frequently forget to replenish the pool towels (on this ship, 1 shabby-looking pool towel per passenger is given per day, in your cabin, unlike other American ships where they're readily available on the pool decks...). The bedding wasn't changed throughout the cruise, and the balcony was infrequently cleaned. The Ship Costa Fascinosa is just over one year old so it still had a 'new' feel to it and was very clean and well maintained throughout. The public decks seemed to get cleaned on a daily basis and public toilets etc were clean. The automatic sliding doors for toilets / public areas work well. You can find all of the facilities that you expect to find on a ship of this size (several swimming pools, gym, spa, several dining options etc) and surprisingly there always seemed to be enough sun loungers for everyone to enjoy the sun (although the back of the ship was always jam-packed with passengers, so we always opted for the front of the ship which was quieter but cooler because of the breeze). Smoke - everywhere ! One of the biggest and most offputting things we noticed on this ship is that passengers can smoke almost everywhere ! With the exception of the restaurants, we could smell smoke throughout all of the public decks (in the bars, the casino, the lobby, and around all of the pool areas). It was really noticeable for two non-smokers and something we've never experienced on the American cruiseships. As mentioned previously, we could smell the smoke from our balcony whenever we went outside, and the inconsiderate passengers who would lean over the edge of the ship above our balcony would let their ash fall down onto our floor, which was really unpleasant. Dining The dining was probably one of the most disappointing aspects of this cruise. We would have breakfast and lunch at the buffet restaurant (on deck 9, just above our cabin) and dinner in the restaurant (2nd sitting). The buffet for both breakfast and lunch was more limited in choice than the other cruises I've taken. You could tell that the vast majority of the food was taken from the freezer and reheated by microwave, so the taste and appearance was pretty disappointing. You had to go either very early or very late to avoid the hoards of Italian passengers battling their way to the serving counters. Costa should try to come up with a smarter queuing system. Service was appalling, unpleasant, unfriendly, and you honestly felt like you were an inconvenience to the crew. You have to pay Eur 5 per person if you wish to have room service breakfast in your cabin, so we just decided to go and get the food and occasionally bring it back to our cabin so we could eat in relative peace (despite the cigarette smell / ash) on our balcony. The lunch choices were always the same, with a couple of pizza options and pasta options, some salad and a few hot dishes, but the options didn't vary much throughout the week. We were sat at a table for 6 at dinner time, however only 4 of us used that table. We had to find the table ourselves on the first night (which isn't an easy task). The worst aspect of the evening dining 'experience' was the appalling service. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very unfriendly: for the first 4 evenings (i.e. up until the moment when we went to complain!) they didn't come to greet us (i.e. a simple 'Good evening'!), there were no explanations given about the evening's menu, we had to ask several times for water, the wine would be served well after the first course had been finished, and food was basically 'thrown' at you and you felt like you were a huge inconvenience to them. It was by far the worst service I've ever seen on a cruise ship. The Head Waiter was non-existent, until we decided to make a complaint at the customer service desk. On day 5, we went to complain at the customer service desk, where we were 'greeted' (for want of a better word' by an extremely surly and rude Italian crew member (who looked like she had lost the will to live). She refused to help, so we tried another customer service officer (this time, Brazilian) who was slightly more attentive and took note of our complaint and called the Maitre d' to pass on our feedback. That evening, and for the remaining 2 evenings, we received a better level of service. However, don't expect to receive any kind of proactive service in the dining room. Not once were we offered tea or coffee after the meal. We had to beg for water, and the waiters failed to grasp the concept of you wanting to eat your meal at a relaxed pace. Instead, your fellow passengers would be served their main course whilst you were still having your appetizer, etc. We concluded at the end of the cruise that the crew were taking the automatic (and compulsory) daily onboard gratuity for granted (which is EUR 7 per passenger per day, i.e. EUR 49 per cruise, which is added to your account onboard). Entertainment The vast majority (I would say 85%+) of passengers onboard were Italian, meaning that the entertainment was geared towards them and not towards any other nationality. Therefore, music and any other performances were generally in Italian. The musicians and singers were quite poor, and we decided to go elsewhere to try and get some peace and quiet. The bars onboard were so full of smoke that we would usually just go for a walk on the open deck of the ship after dinner, to get some fresh air. There were no late night performances in the theatres. Those passengers who had second sitting dining were expected to attend the performance at 7.30 pm, which was too early for us. Itinerary The ports of call were one of the main reasons for choosing this cruise. The ship stuck to its original itinerary, and was cleared by the port authorities promptly. We didn't experience any issues getting off the ship, even in Dubrovnik where we required tenders to shore (but this was because we got up at 6.30 am to ensure that we had tickets to get on the first tender boat, which are handed out on a first come first served basis!) We felt that the ship could have stayed longer in most of the ports of call, particularly Dubrovnik and Izmir, as each time, we were only given 4-5 hours max ashore. Istanbul is also an amazing port of call, but we had to be back onboard by 5, which was slightly too early, considering that this was probably one of the highlights of the cruise. We went on one ship excursion in Greece (to Olympia), which was generally well organised and interesting, and we were provided with an English speaking guide. However, it was not good value for money (EUR 42 per passenger), and as soon as we got off the ship, we saw local tour companies providing a similar tour for less than half the price! Conclusion: Despite the mini suite being fairly good value for money and the decent itinerary, I would never take a Costa Cruise again (not even if they were giving me the cruise). This is mainly because I am used to receiving a much higher standard of service from the crew (on Costa, the service was consistently poor), and because I would prefer to take a ship that caters more towards English-speaking passengers in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
If this was the first cruise I've been on, I would probably never go on another cruise again. Thankfully I have been other on cruises and am not turned off from the experience only from ever booking with Costa again. Ship Staff: ... Read More
If this was the first cruise I've been on, I would probably never go on another cruise again. Thankfully I have been other on cruises and am not turned off from the experience only from ever booking with Costa again. Ship Staff: First off, while getting on board the ship there was not a single person at the port to direct us to where the ship was and had to ask other cruise ship liaisons where to go. Once we found the ship, the lines were completely unorganized with a mass mob trying to push their way to leave luggage before boarding the ship. Once we get in we are asked to fill out the medical form, without being offered any pens, so as I am about to fill out the form with my own pen, one of the Costa members grabbed it out of my hand then asked if she could borrow it, used it and threw it on a table then ran off. This was clearly a personal pen and not a ball-point or anything generic, so our first reaction to Costa was that they were very rude. Thankfully this was only 50% correct. Overall when once we were on board we received mixed reception from the staff. Half were very nice and eager to help and the other half couldn't be bothered to do their jobs. This is not a language issue, if it were I would easily make an exception. This is me asking for water at a restaurant or directions or ketchup, etc. and them giving me a disgusted look as if what they did wasn't enough for me and I should be happy that I am getting anything at all. Several times I had to ask for water more than 3 times before receiving anything from a waiter. Food My wife and I love food, we love to try new food and experience new delicacies and have been on other cruise lines and enjoyed the food very much and were excited for dinner. When the soup came out as buillon water with something floating in it (a small piece of frozen carrot?), we were very surprised and passed it off til the other dishes arrived. Each dish was worse than the last and culminated with a piece of rancid meat that was supposed to be steak. I don't just mean the taste, the meat was old and looked like it had been sitting out for a week before being cooked. We couldn't even eat it. We had several different pasta dishes on the ship and every single one of them tasted exactly the same. It seemed that all the food we ordered from there on out was of the same quality throughout our trip: old and on the verge of rotten or flat out frozen foods that had been put in a microwave. If this is incorrect about the way it was prepared, then every cook on that ship should be fired and hope for a job flipping burgers, because they are incompetent. When it came to the buffet for breakfast the eggs looked like soup with lumps in it and the bacon changed colors depending on the way the light shined on it. The hashbrowns were frozen and barely edible and the last day we ate them, made us both sick. The hamburgers at the grill seemed to be about 49% filler as compared to meat and were worse than the food I remember as a child eating the hockey pucks they served in elementary school lunches. After the first night we ate on the ship, we were so depressed, angry and filled with dread over the food, since we would be stuck on the ship with nothing else to eat for 7 days. Sadly we were forced to eat on the ship all week and by the end of our time there, we were so frightened to order anything that we decided, we'd rather be hungry than eat the food on the ship. On a positive note, the Maitre d' did his best to try and make our meals better, but it was not his fault, it was bad food and bad cooking. Entertainment Frankly all the activities on the ship seemed to be aimed solely at Italians age 60+ with very little consideration towards the other guests. Every piece of entertainment for large groups seemed to move in the same way, with everyone line dancing to bad choices of music. We were bored almost the entire time we were not on a shore excursion or sleeping. In the theater the Russian Dancers were great, but the "stories" and costumes of those performances were atrocious. The Magician we saw was perhaps the worst magic show I've ever seen from a main entertainer and he seemed more interested in getting applause than doing his tricks, which were mediocre at best. The "Circus Artist" was actually just a juggler that we walked out on because he kept dropping everything and for some reason people seemed to cheer him on more for that. The best thing on the ship for entertainment was Giorgio, who is far too talented to be on this cruiseline. He was the only thing we enjoyed and would make an effort to sit in on his shows when we could. Bar and Waitstaff Drinks, for the most part were good, however not a single drink was made with fresh items, but I should have known better since the menus all said "Half Fresh" in regards to the fruit used in the cocktails. The Mojito I ordered and the Mai Tai my wife ordered were undrinkable and the Daiquiris were not the right consistency, simple drinks were fine though. Our only savior on the cruise was Luane who would constantly come back and asked if we needed anything else to drink, most of the other waiters would kind of ignore us as if they couldn't be bothered to do their job since they would have to actually do their job. Shore Excursions We loved the shore excusions and the majority of them were excellent. Our biggest issue was that some tour guides decided to take too much time and not allow us any of our own time to explore the cities or the areas. This was vitally important since we needed to eat something at the ports because we were unable to find anything edible on the ship. The Istanbul tour was ill planned as the lunch planned took more than an hour of travel time to get to the restaurant which could have been used for exploration. I think there was not enough time planned by the ship either in Croatia when a tour is supposed to end 10 minutes before having to be on board the ship. The Ship Overall the ship decor and layout was fine with a few major exceptions. One of the main things we were hoping for was a nice relaxing evening in the in the hot tub after dinner and late into the night, but unfortunately on this ship that was impossible. The tub's temperature was 10 degrees (F) colder than any bath I would ever set foot in and also they all close by 10pm, which was extremely disappointing and made us very upset. If you like to stay up late and drink into the evening and party it up, well you can't because by 1:30 all the bars close and they turn the lights all the way up and all the wait staff disappears and you are forced to just go to bed, cause there's nothing else to do. Cabin If you are expecting anything beyond your room being cleaned up, you're fine. If you expect anything more, don't bother. One of the things my wife was looking forward to was towel animals in the room. Apparently if you book a cabin below Balcony level they don't bother to do that or turn down the bed. Also do not give your clothes to the laundry unless you want your shirts back with industrial staples put through them, ruining them. Overall I will never, ever go on board another Costa ship unless they paid me   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Having cruised several times with Royal Caribbean and Princess, myself and my Husband thought we would give Costa a try. We booked an ocean view guarantee cabin at a really reasonable price. We sent an email to Costa to ask about dining ... Read More
Having cruised several times with Royal Caribbean and Princess, myself and my Husband thought we would give Costa a try. We booked an ocean view guarantee cabin at a really reasonable price. We sent an email to Costa to ask about dining allocation and options as there was no facility to choose dining time or table size at booking (it turns out that this was because I booked a guarantee classic cabin) unfortunately, our questions were ignored but they did inform us that they kindly upgraded us to a samsara balcony cabin. Just to note, as I know that the question has been asked on the message boards, you do not get any of the other samsara perks if you are upgraded, which I completely understand as some of the perks included spa treatments etc. Embarkation was the most disorganised that we have ever experienced. Despite staff being at the port in the check in area at 11:30, they did not start embarking people until well after 13:30. You were given a numbered tag when you dropped your luggage off which were then called in order when embarkation began. The announcements were very difficult to hear. There were screens displaying boarding numbers, but these worked intermittently and bore no relevance to the number that was actually boarding. Hordes of People were crowded around the check in area so you could not see where the queue began. They did ask people to move once, but no one took any notice and it was very chaotic. It was also very slow, I think there were three staff checking people in out of the 8 available check in stations, which then became one member of staff. We finally boarded at around 3:30. I am not sure if this is usual or if we were unfortunate. The Ship actually sailed an hour late as people were still boarding at 5:30.There was a lack of information when boarding, and it is different to other lines as your sea pass is found in your cabin and you then need to go and register your credit card at a self service station of which there are several located around the ship. We found this out for ourselves, no one explained this to us.The ship itself is stunning, the cabin was lovely and is of the same standard as the balcony cabins we have had on other lines.We pre booked the all inclusive drinks package, this is well worth the money with a good range of drinks included.I purchased a spa pass for the entire cruise. I thought that 79 euros was very reasonable and the spa is without doubt the best that I have visited at sea. Its beautiful.There are a lot of smoking areas on the ship. My other half is a smoker and even he was surprised how widespread the smoking areas are including being able to smoke on one half of the atrium. I am a non smoker, and although all of the bars had non smoking areas this doesn't really work in practice, to be honest it didn't worry me too much but if you are very anti smoking you would struggle.Food - The buffet was almost identical every day, with a very limited choice of food for breakfast and two different pizzas, spaghetti, couple of cheeses, couple of cold meats and a basic salad bar for lunch(there is no evening buffet). If you have experienced Princess or RCCL buffets do not expect anything near the choice available. Personally we were disappointed with the quality of a lot of the food, although one or two of the dishes were fine, in general it was bland and well below par. We found that every bread roll/piece of bread we had was stale to some degree - shockingly appalling.The main dining room dishes were fine, one or two were exceptional, although again not as much choice available.Room service - don't bother unless you are ordering fruit. We ordered breakfast twice, the first time hot dishes were cold, and again bread was stale (worst eggs Benedict we have ever had). The second breakfast was really late, we called to chase it up and were told it was on its way, twenty minutes later it arrived luckily hot dishes were tepid, but again cold stale toast!On our second night on board we attempted to book the club Fascinosa restaurant using the interactive TV service in our cabin, only to discover that it was fully booked for the entire cruise. On our fifth night, we used the interactive totems (of which there are several throughout the ship) to look at the Samsara Restaurant, whilst at this totem we thought we would check if any tables had become available for the Club Fascinosa restaurant and found that almost any time any evening was available - we ate 45 minutes after booking, and the restaurant was practically empty. So do not rely on the TV booking system. Food was good quality in this restaurant.Although there are several aspects that would deter us from cruising with Costa again, I think the biggest problem Costa have is with their staff. Never have we experienced such unfriendly, unenthusiastic, inattentive staff, maybe they are demoralised, but you rarely saw a smile and at times we did experience rudeness. Do not expect waiters to come and ask you if you want a drink, we had to seek them out a lot of the time, this is really an area that Costa need to look in to as there seems to be something fundamentally flawed in their customer service. It is almost the polar opposite of other lines.On the fourth day of our cruise we were informed that there would be three changes to our itinerary but in fact there were four changes, two of which were due to political tension in Turkey which is completely understandable and explained to us in a note delivered to our cabin, but mysteriously we were now arriving back in Venice at 7am as opposed to the advertised 10am, with no explanation as to why, we were disappointed, but got up at 630am for the sail in, unfortunately this was marred when we got soaked in dirty water in the clothes that we were travelling home in as they were washing the deck above our balcony. Nice. When we booked the Cruise the itinerary stated that we would dock in Dubrovnik from 12:00 - 17:30. We actually ended up anchoring at 8am and again there was no explanation for this change. The tendering process was disorganised, it took us an hour and a half to get to shore (and we were up and had collected our tender tickets at 730) and half an hour to get back so we only got four hours in Dubrovnik as opposed to five.Obviously Costa is aimed at the Italian market, if you do not speak Italian, and are thinking of booking Costa, just bear in mind that all of the entertainment on deck and in the theater is generally in Italian, it didn't bother us, but it really is not geared towards the British and American market.We didn't let any of the negatives spoil our holiday, but in the future, will spend a bit more and get a much much better all round experience and stick to what we know. We were concerned when we read a lot of the bad reviews Costa has received on cruise critic, but we decided to go with an open mind, unfortunately we found out that many of the bad reviews are accurate and if you have experienced other cruise lines and expect Costa to be of the same standard, you will sorely disappointed as they fall well short on almost every facet. We would not choose Costa again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This was our first cruise on Costa, we were due to sail on Concordia last year Feb, but due to unfortunate circumstances we rescheduled for this cruise on the Fascinosa.It was my 40Th so it was a special cruise for me and my partner, it ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Costa, we were due to sail on Concordia last year Feb, but due to unfortunate circumstances we rescheduled for this cruise on the Fascinosa.It was my 40Th so it was a special cruise for me and my partner, it was his first cruise and loved every minute of it. Everything went smoothly from the the check-in, we were booked in a mini suite, so had priority boarding and that was great, we were one of the first few people to board the ship.The staff were friendly and approachable and the service was great. Seeing as it was the newest of the Costa fleet, everything was Clean and New. Our suite was spacious and comfortable the beds were very comfortable & our Balcony was great L shaped at the back of the ship and huge.We were on the second seating for dinner, and was quiet impressed with the food, the menu change every evening and we also went to the dining room for most lunches, Don't really like the buffet on deck 9, especially when the ship was full, +-3600 passengers, at least in the dining room you have table service and order of the menu. We also did breakfast in the dining room, much more comfortable. who wants to stand in long queues when u on vacation.The entertainment was great, a Russian dance troop and also an acrobatic couple and they also had a crew show which was fabulous. The bars were busy and the cocktails were worth buying the drinks package which we did prior to joining the ship. At 19.50 euros a day including the gratuity it was a bargain as we enjoyed our wines with lunch & dinners and cocktails at all the bars and our cappuccinos with breakfast, it was definitely worth it for us.We also loved the Spa, the treatments were a bit pricey for us so we opted for the thermal suite pass, which gave u access to the different wet rooms, the oriental steam, hot steam, ha-mam & Turkish bath as well as Hydrotherapy pool and the Japanese Tea garden, that was definitely worth the 149 euros for both of us, but must be booked on embarkation. we used the facilities for the entire cruise and was most relaxing.The ports were great, just wish we had more time in some of them, we never did any excursions as i had been there before, so we explored on our own.Seeing it was a special birthday we booked the Ala Ca-rte restaurant Club Fascinosa, which was definitely worth the 50 euros for both of us the food was amazing and the whole ambiance of the restaurant was very Romantic. The highlight of the cruise for was the ship as i had been to all the ports, 7nights was way to short, so definitely a longer cruise for us next yearOn a whole we loved our Costa cruise, and we would recommend and we will cruise Costa again.Thank you for an amazing cruise Costa and see u again Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
I cruised on Costa earlier this year on the Serena and had a great time, so I was really looking forward to cruising with my boyfriend on the Fascinosa. I'll try to keep this brief because we did have a lovely time, just without any ... Read More
I cruised on Costa earlier this year on the Serena and had a great time, so I was really looking forward to cruising with my boyfriend on the Fascinosa. I'll try to keep this brief because we did have a lovely time, just without any help from Costa. THE GOOD The ship is brand new. We had a great balcony cabin (8260) with an interactive flat screen TV that had multiple English news channels and one syndicated TLC/Discovery channel. We ended up spending a lot more time in the room than we had anticipated (I'll get to that in a moment), so we were grateful we had the TV. We purchased the all-inclusive drinks package for a VERY reasonable price of $175/week (I believe it was 135 Euro). The package paid for itself. More cruise lines would benefit from this package deal, we didn't meet one person on the ship who didn't purchase the package. The bartenders were fantastic. Our cabin steward was great. No towel animals, but everything was very clean as he stopped by multiple times a day. The waitstaff were friendly. The excursions were alright, but way overpriced (as can begrudgingly be expected). Theoretically, the cruise stops were all fun places to be, had we been able to actually go to them. That's about all I can say that's good about the Costa Fascinosa. THE BAD When I cruised on the Costa Serena, I could not understand what other reviewers were talking about when they referenced how terrible the food was. We must have lucked out on that one, because the food on the Fascinosa was nearly inedible. There were veiny bits and unidentifiable objects in the meat. There was basically one generic brown sauce goop on half the dishes. The pizza was worse than we can get in Baltimore (and this is an Italian cruise line!). I bit into a breakfast sausage one morning and it was raw. Raw, cold, ground pork (presumably). It was revolting. By the end of the trip we were laughing about how terrible the food was with people at our dinner table. There was definitely a mysterious black bean in the farewell cake. The food was only surpassed by the entertainment for worst-thing-ever-on-a-cruise. There was nothing to do on the ship. Ever. Sure, they had a single schedule of line dances and aerobics classes and card games, and who wouldn't want to go to bingo every day?? This girl. From the excessive advertising, it seemed they wanted passengers to spend more time in the casino and spa, so they bored you to tears in order to get you to spend more money. Nearly every evening there was dancing as the big show. Just dancing. There was a magician one night, but we missed him. This particular cruise had a lot of English, French and German speaking passengers (there was even an Australian cruise director), yet no activities were in any other language than Italian. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a problem, but there was literally nothing to do on the boat but drink booze and watch TV. Now, I understand that if there is dangerous inclement weather, that a ship will have to skip a port after giving it careful consideration. It's not common, but generally the situation is understandable and obvious to the passengers. Not so much on the Fascinosa, apparently. We docked in Santorini, Greece at 8am. It was the port stop we were most looking forward to, as it is supposed to be a relaxing day of stunning views and great food (and at this point we were SO excited not to eat ship food). At 8am sharp there was an announcement saying that debarkation is delayed because it's windy. Now, I understand that wind can interfere with the tender boats that we needed to get on land, but it was still very early and this port stop was a full day on land (leaving at 8pm I believe). The weather was terrific and the sun was shining. At 8:45 they announced that we were leaving Santorini and heading a day early to Rhodes, the next port stop, but it would take all day to get there so we wouldn't arrive until the evening. They gave it 45 minutes to see if the wind died down and then decided to take off. We missed an entire port stop because it was windy, without waiting even an hour on behalf of the passengers. We were livid and confused and felt very ripped off. As if missing the best port on the itinerary wasn't enough, they had zero activities planned for the day as a back-up for a surprise at sea day. It was very frustrating. When we got to Dubrovnik, the last port stop, we were informed that the ship had to dock at a different port than normal. This port was further away from the city, and now in order to get to the city we had to buy shuttle tickets. We thought charging passengers for the extra expense was extremely tacky, especially given that we had previously missed a port day earlier in the week. Shame on you, Costa. The last major issue we had with Costa was that the evening before we arrived in Venice for debarkation, we saw on the BBC that Venice was 150cm under water. There was video of people wading through waist-high water carrying luggage over their heads with a hilarious view of a Costa ship in the background. We were alarmed and wanted to make sure we'd be ok to dock in the morning, let alone get to our hotel. When we asked the guest services if they had any information, they told us "don't worry, it's nothing" and sent us on our way. They didn't try to help us out by looking into it or even listen to our concerns, they just brushed us off and said we're still getting off the ship in the morning. We honestly never cause a fuss, and we didn't cause one on the Fascinosa, but we were really turned off by how little they cared about the passengers. It turned out that our Venice hotel had indeed flooded, but we were able to stay there anyway. I will be looking into a higher quality cruise line for our next vacation, Costa left a bad taste in our mouths (literally and figuratively). Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Firstly the ship is first class. From the immaculate decor to the motion activated main entrance doors to public toilets to the original artwork on the stars it was all outstanding. As for our cabin steward, he could not have been more ... Read More
Firstly the ship is first class. From the immaculate decor to the motion activated main entrance doors to public toilets to the original artwork on the stars it was all outstanding. As for our cabin steward, he could not have been more helpful and kept our cabin clean and well stocked. He was also most helpful and would freely give advice when requested. I regret that it is all down hill from here. The embarkation was the worst I have ever known after queuing to queue again we ended up going to our open cabin to get our room keys to then find a machine to register our Bank card with. Smoking. For two non smokers this had a big impact on us. The main swimming pool had two decks and one side was for smokers and the other not. This was fine on the first day until the second day when the roof was closed and the whole area was full of smoke. The bars had non smoking areas but might not have bothered as it was smoke filled by the end of the night. The restaurants were smoke free. Food and drink This is an Italian ship catering for predominately Italian passengers. I was very disappointed with the standard of the pasta based dishes and pizza. The quantity was fine not the quality. We used as various times the buffet and restaurant for breakfast, lunch and main dinning. If you want to avoid the Italian elbow mamba avoid the buffet unless you go early or late. The waters I found to be nothing short than below the accepted standard and would reach across someone to server the person opposite, and at some point became quite surly. We did take advantage of the drinks package and is very good value. We did have the chance to meet some very nice people at our table. We have sailed with P&O, Celebrity, NCL, Royal Caribbean and Cruise and Maritime and this has been by far our worst experience. Having said this, at the end of the cruise we were given a questionnaire and poor featured a lot, but the last question was something like," Having regard to how much you paid for your cruise, would you say it was good value for money?" We each paid £290 with flights for 5 days, so the answer is,"Yes". Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
It is amusing after reading comments on this forum how people view the same ship and the same cruise so differently. Before embarking on this cruise I was eager to experience it myself and form my own opinion, having read comments on this ... Read More
It is amusing after reading comments on this forum how people view the same ship and the same cruise so differently. Before embarking on this cruise I was eager to experience it myself and form my own opinion, having read comments on this cruise and cruise line. After having taken the last cruise of this season in Eastern Mediterranean, November 12-19, now I can relate my own impressions. My overall impressions of the cruise are very positive. Frascinosa is a brand new and modern ship, gloriously kitsch (not in a bad sense) with acres of polished marble, including both flooring as well as table tops and Italian designer furnitiongs. All modern amenities that are to be expected were there, surprising how the cruise ship design has been standardized. The ship was extremely stable with hardly a sign of movement, however we did not encounter particularly heavy seas during this voyage. Boarding: Uneventful, quite efficient. Baggage delivered before we reached the cabin. Cabin: Our inside cabin was about 150 sq. feet, standard configuration, adequate bath-room with shower, large sink, etc. The beds were very comfortable, firm and supportive. Sound proofing was remarkably good. One could not hear the operation of toilet flush in adjoining cabins or hear people passing through the corridor. Only thing lacking was a stuffed chair to sit upon and relax, just a cushioned stool was provided. Food: There is a wide range of opinion on this forum about the quality of food. I think the food was very good, if one does not insist upon having American style meals with emphasis on meat. The cuisine was Italian as to be expected. Both the buffets for breakfast and lunch and sit-in dinner were generally very delectable. The portions were small but given a seven course meal never left feeling hungry. Menu went like this: - Appetizer - Soup - Pasta - Main course - Cheese - Salad - Dessert Those interested in booking for the drinks package should do so at the time of cruise booking, the packages available after boarding were only for bottles of wine of various vintages and bottled water, besides a package of non-alcoholic drinks for "Boys and Girls" available to grown-ups as well. Fruit juices were only available at breakfast and tea or coffee the whole day. Pizza at the self-service buffets was mediocre, but those ordered on the 10th floor late at night were excellent. Costa gave away a secret of dining and I will disappoint the Epicureans . The menu indicated with an asterisk what dishes were from fresh ingredients and what were frozen and thawed for serving. In fact all the elaborate preparations on dinner menu were marked as the latter. This appears to be an Italian regulatory disclosure, this ship is registered in Genova, the restaurant menus in Italy are also similarly annotated. Undoubtedly all cruise lines practice this manner of factory food. I had always wondered how within a ship's confined kitchen prepare such elaborate dishes for thousands of guests and how could so many highly trained chefs were found; the mystery is now solved as far as I am concerned. Other peculiarities of this ship or cruise line: - No art auctions. - No hard sell for the Casino. - Very good entertainment, including super Russian dancers. - Level of service in the cabin and restaurant on par with other major cruise lines. - Staff at customer service very courteous and efficient Other details are amply covered by other contributors thus I shall refrain from repeating them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Inexperienced to cruising we were unsure of what to expect,the embarkation was a little congested and seemed long winded,not sure if this is normal elsewhere? The ship is lovely,little bit glitzy but very modern and well equipped,the ... Read More
Inexperienced to cruising we were unsure of what to expect,the embarkation was a little congested and seemed long winded,not sure if this is normal elsewhere? The ship is lovely,little bit glitzy but very modern and well equipped,the cabin was spacious and well furnished and the service we received from Mervin was fantastic,towel sculptures and even a birthday card. We called at Bari,Katakolon,Santorini,Rhodes and Dubrovnik all the ports were very picturesque and were easy to reach so no need for expensive on boat tours. Onboard the English speaking hostess Darling Debbie was a great laugh,very informative and not pushy over selling the tours,she would often sit with us and chat in a bar. We found the food to be great,we opted for the early sitting as 21.00 is to late for us,the problem with the early sitting is we missed the sail aways and sunsets. We met some wonderfull people from all over the world and hope to keep in touch. Bar staff and waiting staff worked tirelessly to keep your drinks flowing,in particular Christine from Brazil in the piano bar was superb,always smiling. We recommend the all inclusive package as it takes all the apprehension about a final bar bill away,plus you get to try different beverages,thanks to Chris and Nuthen we are now fans of prosecco and bellini,s All in all a fantastic trip,a few little niggles to start but as the week went on you get into the swing. The sun shone and the sea was very very calm,what else can you ask for???? Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Conducted a seven-night Greek Isles Cruise on the Fascinosa out of Venice. We used cruisedirect.com and believe we got a rock-bottom price. Purchase via the Internet was easy and we booked about 45 days prior to sailing in October. ... Read More
Conducted a seven-night Greek Isles Cruise on the Fascinosa out of Venice. We used cruisedirect.com and believe we got a rock-bottom price. Purchase via the Internet was easy and we booked about 45 days prior to sailing in October. Three weeks prior to launch, we were upgraded from Interior to Oceanview. We booked a package of excursions to see Olympia, Santorini, Rhodes and Dubrovnik. We booked Bari separately as it was not on the package options. Regardless, all inexpensive for what you see. We also purchased the Extra All Inclusive drinks and feel as though we saved big, as we drank several cocktails at the shows prior to dinner, and our server produced a bottle of wine (20-25 Euro) for our dinner--all $0 in the end. Pros: Venice Port is very easy. Park at the pier which is 100M from the ship. Just to get the reservation done online. We showed early and were able to water taxi to St. Marks for a few hours and then in-process for the trip. Excursions were fine. Excursions: Typical bus ride to/from and many shops. Thought the port times were grand. Having done other cruises with only 2.5 hours, etc. for a stop was too hectic, but this was great at 5-10 hours per stop. Cleanliness: new ship and they take great pride in keeping her clean. Crew always keeping up with us. Our cabin steward was Johnny on the spot--If we left at anytime, he would take great care in picking up after us, although we did not expect this--as much as 4 times/day. Theater shows were top quality--nothing too hokie, just the magic show, but everything else was comparable to a short-Vegas style event. Cons: Food was not so great and limited outside of lunch and dinner, but with a population of 3,800 guests, for us it was fine. Nice to see that the portions are not overwhelmingly large. Other than this, we think the ship, crew, port and customer service were superb. You cannot beat the price and experience. Would love to sail with Costa once again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We (DW and I) just returned from sailing on the Costa Fascinosa September 10-17, a seven day cruise departing from and returning to Venice. For those not interested in reading this whole thing, here's a synopsis: loved this cruise and ... Read More
We (DW and I) just returned from sailing on the Costa Fascinosa September 10-17, a seven day cruise departing from and returning to Venice. For those not interested in reading this whole thing, here's a synopsis: loved this cruise and had a great time. Here are some thoughts from two seasoned cruisers who have been on fifteen previous cruises (Crystal/1, Princess/6, HAL/2, RCI/2, Celebrity/3, Costa/1): Pre-cruise. We spent four days in Venice prior to sailing. We stayed at the Hotel Antiche Figure. We wanted a nice hotel close to Piazzale Roma and the People Mover tram that is located there. As you may know, the People Mover offers a quick, easy and inexpensive way to get to the Marittima cruise terminal on embarkation day. We could not have picked a better hotel. Its stellar reputation on TripAdvisor is well-deserved. Superb location, superb staff. Recommended. Leaving home we managed to get the belongings required for the pre-cruise stay and the cruise itself into two pieces of luggage (one each) in order to avoid the charge ($100) that Lufthansa extorts for a person's second piece of luggage. We also were able to keep the weight of each piece a hair's breadth under Lufthansa's 50 lb. (23 kg) per piece limit and thus avoid the odious $150 charge that the airline sticks to people if any item of their luggage exceeds the weight limit. Think about this: Lufthansa punishes travelers to the tune of $150 for a suitcase that weighs but a few ounces over their 50 pound limit; yet a 250 pound passenger's airfare is exactly the same as the one that a 40 pound child pays. Go figure. But I digress. That's "lug"gage as in lugging, and in Venice this of course means hauling 50 pounds times two up and down centuries old bridges that have steps, not handicap accessible ramps. One of the best features of the Hotel Antiche Figure is that schlepping from P. Roma to the hotel involves traversing just two manageable bridges. If you plan to stay in Venice before your cruise, do yourself a big, big favor and pick a hotel near Piazzale Roma because that is as far as your bus or taxi from Marco Polo airport will be able to take you. Embarkation Day. We went walked from the hotel back to P. Roma and on to the People Mover. After we got off the People Mover at Marittima stop (first stop after boarding at P. Roma and reached in just a couple of minutes) we headed straight to the terminal with our bags. From the tram it is a several minute walk along a marked path to the entrance to the terminal. We entered the terminal and soon realized we were the only ones there with bags. At the terminal we found out that the actual boarding protocol is that you must first drop off your luggage at a separate building apart from the terminal. So we had to retrace our steps and wheel our bags for a couple of minutes back along the pedestrian path and then cross the street in order to make our way to a half circle building (a Quonset hut-looking thing) which is the baggage drop-off point. You leave your bags and you get a boarding group number (we got #12) and a health questionnaire. Then you go to the terminal. As it turns out, and as we belatedly discovered, there actually is a (small and easily missed) sign indicating baggage drop-off. However, if you exit the People Mover and obliviously follow the marked pedestrian path and the Costa signs to the terminal as we did then there is a high likelihood that you will never see this sign since it is completely across the street from where you are walking. Final note: it was interesting to me that when you leave your bags you are not in any way hustled for tips by the baggage handlers as you are at almost every US cruise departure terminal. You just drop them off. Quite refreshing as well as unexpected. We made it back to the terminal at around 1PM. The terminal itself is modern and clean with plenty of seats. Although it was 1PM, and 1PM is the official start of boarding time, Group #8 was already being called. I have no idea when the first group was called; it may have been before noon. I also have no way of knowing how crowded the terminal was when they first called group #1 but at this time it was not crowded at all. Our group, #12 was called at about 2:15. Once called, you queue waiting to see an agent. The agent checks your boarding pass and passport. This moves quickly. Note that you do not receive your Costa card room key before boarding. The cards are waiting for you in your cabin. Then another queue to go through security. This also moves quickly. Then on to the gangway to head on to the ship. This does not move quickly. The hold up is that the ship's photographer makes everyone boarding pose for the usual "Welcome Aboard" shot. When we made it on board we headed to the cabin and lo and behold our bags were already there outside our door. This is the fastest we have ever gotten our luggage. On board. The ship is lovely. Yes, a tad ostentatious and glitzy, but, after all this is Costa. But not overly gaudy or over the top. We had a mini-suite, cabin 7438, at the very aft of the ship. Tastefully decorated. It was a corner unit so our balcony actually wrapped around two sides of the cabin. This also gave us windows on two separate walls. It was really nice. Two deck chairs, a lounge chair, and a small table on the balcony. We were on the port side and this gave us a perfect spot to watch Venice glide by when the ship headed out. Unlike mini-suites we have had on other ships, there was no tub, just a shower, but this was not a big deal for us. Small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and after-sun lotion in the bathroom. There are bars of soap but also a body wash dispenser in the shower. There is a hinged makeup mirror in the bathroom in addition to the vanity mirror. Everything was functional and pretty. Other than the wooden chair at the dressing table, there was only a single chair for sitting in the cabin; there was no love seat nor a coffee table as we have had in mini-suites on other ships. This may have been because it was a corner cabin, but I don't really know. There was a three section closet with two sections for hanging clothes and a third with shelves and the safe. Adequate storage overall. The draw pulls are the same as on other newer Costa ships, small loops of heavy cord. Not the most convenient configuration. One bureau drawer in particular required and iron pinch with thumb and forefinger and a hearty pull. There was a wall-mounted flat screen TV with (I think) 4 English language channels (international CNN was one, but no ESPN for sports fans). No towel animals and no chocolates on the pillows. Cabin service from our steward Orlando was superb. Food. We sailed previously on the Fortuna and the dinner offerings on that ship left a lot to be desired. A whole lot. On the Fascinosa I am happy to report that dinner was terrific. Appetizers to entrees to desserts were wonderful. Dinner was equal to, and occasionally better, than anything we have had on any other cruise line with the exception of (no surprise) Crystal. Before this cruise we would always say that the dining room food on the Fortuna was at the bottom of the list. Not any longer. Interestingly enough, we learned that in the last two weeks the Fascinosa had fired the old executive chef and brought on board a new one. Considering that the Fascinosa was only just launched in May, Costa must have been getting some bad feedback and didn't waste much time making things right. And dinner was very right. We received first class service from our waiter Rogelio. We had late seating, table for two. Late seating starts at 9:30PM, the latest starting time of any ship we have sailed on. Yes, I know this is Europe, but on the first night I still found it a tad bizarre to be surrounded by not one, but two tables for 10 both filled with parents and their (crying) infants in highchairs as well as their cranky toddler siblings still eating dinner at 11PM. In the Gattopardo dining room there is an entire row of tables for two across the back of the dining room; they are sort of sandwiched in an aisle in front of a row of tables for 10. This is where we were. It sure seemed like Costa had designated these big tables, located at the far back of the room, to keep families and their noisy monsters, oops, I mean youngsters, on the fringe of the dining room. A noble gesture, but, unfortunately, also making it extra dumb to put the tables for two right beside them. Aren't the tables for two going to be requested by couples seeking solitude and quiet? On our way out that night we spoke to the matre de and asked for, and were switched to on the second night, a table less evocative of a meal at Chuck E. Cheese. Our second table was fine. Breakfast and lunch? Oh, well. The breakfast and lunch buffets are still at the bottom of our list. Tasteless, boring, uninspired. No, we did not go hungry, but neither did we ever look forward to breakfast and lunch as we have on other lines (RCI excluded). There is a pizza station in the Tulipano Nero, the self-service buffet. Pizza service is a woefully inefficient setup even with two lines. From either line people can serve themselves from one red pizza and one white pizza. The red pizza always disappears first so expect to always wait in the line for the next red pizza to be put out. There is no such thing as "grabbing a quick slice of pizza". I wondered this on the Fortuna and I am still wondering: how can an Italian cruise line not be embarrassed to offer such mediocre pizza? It's edible but it is not even close to good. The pizza on Princess is sublime, both Princess and Costa are owned by Carnival, what is going on here? There is a panini area one staircase up from the Tulipano Nero. But unlike Holland America where the paninis are made to order right there in front of you, here it is self-service from pre-made items. We didn't try them. There is no omelet station at breakfast. First ship without one for us. All omelets and eggs are pre-made and self-serve. No toast and no toaster. The scrambled eggs are pretty close to awful. There is a huge potential upside here if Costa could get it together in their buffets. There is also the Bagdad Caffe Coffee & Chocolate Bar on deck 5 near the casino. I guess this concept sounded attractive during the planning of the ship. Here there is a glass case with chocolate desserts and chocolate candies. They cost. Otherwise it's just a plain old bar. I never saw anyone eating anything, and rarely drinking anything for that matter. It was always nearly empty. Back to the drawing board for Costa. Customer Service. The front desk personnel were a delight. They could not have been more helpful or more polite. Somehow the knuckleheads at Travelocity, through whom I booked this cruise, screwed up my OBC and it did not appear at all on my account. Instead of blowing me off and telling me it was a travel agent issue, which they had every right to do, the Fascinosa front desk folks instead invited me use the ship's phone to call Travelocity. And despite promises to look into the problem and fix it and send me an email, Travelocity instead did nothing. So later in the week the Costa front desk was more than happy to let me call again. Have you read reviews of Costa where the reviewer goes ballistic about poor service at the front desk? I have. Have you read reviews of Costa where the reviewer claims the whole cruise was ruined by uncaring people at the front desk who didn't resolve something to the cruiser's satisfaction? I have. Perhaps those reviews were written by someone just like the woman who stood next to me at the front desk. She was going nuts because 1) Costa was charging her a daily service charge and 2) she expected the WIFI on board to be free. This woman was in full rant mode threatening to write the CEO about how she was being cheated and how unhelpful the front desk person she was yelling at was being. I was thinking to myself how could she NOT know there is a service charge? Has she never cruised before? Did she not do any research? Did she not read her travel documents? And where on earth did she get the idea that the WIFI would be free? The Costa website, the Fascinosa daily program, and the signage on board all say "WIFI available". In her mind "available" meant "use all you want for free". How laughable. Yet there she was giving it to the Costa front desk person who remained calm and reasonable. The woman left beet-faced and in a huff, no doubt promising to write a scathing review of the miserable customer service on board Costa and promising to tell everyone she could how she would never sail Costa again. I can only sympathize with the customer service people who have to endure this nonsense. Drink Package. We bought the drink package ahead of time. Money well spent! Loved it. Paid 273 euro for the two of us. You have only a choice of red or white when ordering a bottle of wine with dinner. The red was a Chianti and the white was a Pinot Grigio, both were very nice. But, in addition, through the week, we had loads of cappuccinos, espressos, specialty coffee drinks, mixed drinks, beers, bottled water to bring on our excursions: all included. Best part? Seeing 0.00 on your bill for each and every consumed beverage! Gym. We always use the gym on our cruises. Except this time, a first. No time. So I can't comment on it. Shows. We usually go to shows about board but on this daily did not go to any. The port-intensive itinerary and 9:30 dinner time made it too hard to work those in. Instead, we spent time in the casino and dancing. Casino. The table games area in the casino was usually quite deserted, sometimes shockingly so. There would be times, like before dinner, when we (DW and I) were the only two passengers actually playing at any of the tables. Fellow passengers seemingly enjoyed watching people gamble, but never would sit down. We might be the only two playing and yet there could be a dozen spectators or more gathered behind us. Really weird. The casino crew was really nice. There is a regular BJ table, a Fun 21 BJ table, a 3 card poker table, an electronic Hold'em table, a roulette table, an electronic roulette table (that no one ever, ever played). And of course a slot machine area separate from the tables. Table minimum was 5 euro, although occasionally they would lower the minimums to 1 euro or 3 euro for 60 minutes or so during a "Happy Hour". The electronic Hold 'em table would open at 10PM and attracted a handful of players; I never saw it completely full. There were two poker tournaments on our one and only sea day. There were no blackjack tournaments nor any slot tournaments which are usually staples of ship casinos. Bar Service. Spotty. In the Cheri Lounge I never once had a waitperson come to the table to take an order. I always had to order at the bar. Service was good at the Grand Bar and in the casino. Since I had the drink package there was no automatic gratuity so I always give the server something in cash. In no time some were addressing me by name when I first sat down. Funny how that works. Smoking. We are not smokers. On the Fascinosa smoking and the smell of smoke were not an issue for us at all for the entire week. There are non-smoking areas everywhere. We sat in them and never were once bothered by smoke. For example, in the Topkapi Grand Bar where we spent a lot of time, there is a smoking side and a non-smoking side. Ditto for the outdoor pool area. We made every attempt to avoid the smoking sides. No complaints from us on this (often hotly debated) Costa issue. Dancing. Costa being Costa, they continue to set the bar in offering the best dancing at sea. The Topkapi Grand Bar, with its large wooden floor, was a delight. The floor is the same dimensions as the one on the Fortuna. Traveling dances work perfectly. The Blue Velvet piano bar could have been a super hangout for dancers but Costa blew the execution. It had great danceable music from a talented piano player, but the floor is made of marble, or some marble-like substance. Whatever it is, it was virtually impossible to turn on. Very, very unfortunate. The Angelo Azzurro Lounge has a small stage and small wooden dance floor, two or three couples max. We enjoyed dancing here. We also liked the Cheri Lounge with its wooden floor somewhere in size between the Topkapi floor and the Angelo Azzurro floor. Terrific, danceable music by talented musicians in all three venues. We dared not venture into the disco. Just opening the door at the top of the stairs leading to the disco brought forth an unbelievably excruciating audio assault. But gazing down through the glass walls in the casino that surrounded the disco (one deck below) showed that it was crowded at night. In contrast, we enjoyed having a drink and listening to and dancing to the music in the discos of the Grand Princess and HAL's Westerdam, an activity unthinkable on the Fascinosa. Of possible interest to fellow American ballroom aficionados, a scorecard for the week: we heard zero east coast swings, zero west coast swings, zero merengues, one foxtrot, one tango, one samba, a couple of hustles, a handful of cha-chas and salsas. There is a heavy emphasis on polkas and oom-pah-pah music (not our thing). Many rumbas, boleros, nightclub 2-steps. Lots of the romantic stuff along with some what-the-heck-is-that stuff. Dress code. This is Costa. The dress code is not a "code"; it's more like a vague suggestion. On the two formal nights I saw zero, yes, zero, tuxedos. Generously speaking, perhaps one third of the men had jackets on, and of these maybe half of them bothered with a tie. For the two thirds of the men who did not wear jackets, many seem to opt for donning their "nicer" pair of jeans. For the rest the difference in attire between formal nights and informal nights was indiscernible. One the first formal night, I saw a teenager in shorts and flip-flops walk by our table at dinner in the main dining room. On Costa the operative word is "whatever". Many women wore cocktail dresses on formal nights; other women wore their "nicer" jeans. On other ships the matre de might normally be found at the entrance greeting the diners as they arrive. On the Fascinosa on several nights no one at all from the dining room staff was at the entrance; you just strolled in and went to your table. Passengers. The ship sailed full, 3800 passengers on board. Of these, 700 were children. By my estimate, this is, give or take, about 700 more than optimal. The same parents who were sitting with their broods at late seating and were content to let them roam freely around the table when they got antsy late in the meal were the same ones who found it adorable when their two year olds ran wild at midnight on the dance floor (mom and dad giddy with delight while filming it with their cameras). It was heartwarming to see the family bonding taking place while mom and dad let their infant sleep in the stroller next to where they were playing the slot machine at 1AM. My favorite memory though was looking down through the glass at the disco at 2AM to see a father, toddler on his shoulders, bouncing to the music. We mistimed this cruise, one week later and most of the 700 sea apes would have been back to school. We only met four other Americans on board. Part of the appeal of this cruise is being constantly reminded this was not a Caribbean sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. Itinerary. Bari -- no planned excursion. We simply headed off into town on our own. It is within walking distance. We loved just strolling around and enjoying the city. At lunchtime we looked for a place where locals seemed to be partaking. We found Binacofarina where we had the best pizza I have ever had in my life. Later we window-shopped and had due gelati before heading back to the ship. Katakalon. This is the port in Greece where you dock to see Olympia, site of the original ancient Olympics. We booked the only ship excursion (#0845) of our cruise. The description of all the tours at this port were so similar that is was impossible to distinguish one from another. Virtually the same price and same duration. We just randomly picked. We loved this tour. We had a great guide and so few passengers who signed up for it required an English-speaking guide that our entire group consisted of just 9 people. Contrast this to the German groups that seem to number about 60. Rhodes. We booked a private excursion via the internet prior to the cruise. We used Rhodes Private Tours. Just the two of us and a taxi driver, Domenic. The taxi is a Mercedes. Loved this tour. Intimate and personal and so interesting to hear about Rhodes from the personal perspective of someone who has lived there for his whole life. Unlike a tour bus guide we could simply ask him to pull over if we wanted to take a picture of something. Curious about the lawn maintenance for a yard on Rhodes? Or the difference in dating habits for young people in Rhodes today vs. thirty years ago? Or a perspective on the current Greek economy from someone who has spent his whole life in Rhodes? We learned all this and much more. A thoroughly enjoyable time. Santorini. We booked a catamaran sailing on the internet. Got picked up in town and dropped off there in Fira by the catamaran company. Sailed around the island, went swimming from the boat, and were served a delicious Greek lunch that was prepared on board. One Italian woman and 8 Canadians (none from the ship, just vacationers in Santorini) and us plus a crew of three. A beautiful day and beautiful sight-seeing from the water. Note that the wait for the cable car when returning to the ship in the afternoon is long. We stood in line for an hour. Since the cable car serves 1200 people per hour you can see how many people were in line when we joined. If you take cable car, note the time of the last tender and plan accordingly. Optionally, be prepared to navigate the donkey poop minefield and walk down the steps. Dubrovnik. Pre-arranged a tour with a well-known and beloved Cruise Critic contributor who happens to expert on Dubrovnik. She shall remain nameless. Thank you, Carol, for a wonderful time. Weather. Six gorgeous days and one day of rain. Which day? The one and only sea day. Nothing like rainy weather on a sea day to remind you that there are 3,800 passengers on board. Clogged hallways and not a seat to be had in the Tulipano Nero for lunch. We instead headed for the Gattopardo dining room and had a pleasant lunch there, so that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Disembarkation. The ship was due back in Venice at 9AM. Our flight was 12:55PM. I took a chance that four hours from docking to take-off would be sufficient. Our plan had been to take the People Mover back to Piazzale Roma and from there the ATVO bus back to Marco Polo Airport. There is no self-disembarkation offered on the Fascinosa. This meant the usual putting out of the suitcases on the last night and retrieving them after leaving the ship. We asked for and got the earliest disembarkation time, 9:30, thirty minutes after scheduled docking. On the last afternoon of the cruise the ship announced that a passenger had a medical emergency (turned out to be that an elderly woman at the pool had slipped and dislocated her shoulder) and that the ship would be making arrangements to evacuate her on the way back to Venice. As such, scheduled docking would be pushed back from 9AM to 9:30AM. We had been asked to leave our cabins by 8AM on disembarkation day. Breakfast was available in the Tulipano Nero buffet or in the dining room. At the disembarkation lecture we were strongly discouranged from trying Tulipano Nero as it would probably be mobbed. So we opted for breakfast in the Gattopardo dining room where we quickly were escorted to a table and where the ship had self-service buffet stations set up. This went smoothly. We then reported as instructed to the Topkapi Grand Bar to wait for our color to be called. Docking was indeed complete by approximately 9:30 and I anticipated being able to leave the ship slightly after 10AM, thirty minutes after our revised docking time. Our color was not called until closer to 10:30. Our huge color group from Deck 5 needed to proceed down a staircase where we ended up merging with another huge group that was filing out from somewhere on Deck 4. Since the entire red group should have been in the Grand Bar I have can't imagine who these other people were. But there were a lot of them. Traffic bottlenecked at the bottom of the stairs. This was not smart by Costa. At this point I became slightly concerned about making our flight. Once we got off the ship, finding our luggage was easy, but by now it was about 10:45. I anticipated there would be a line for the People Mover, which itself does not hold that many people. In addition the ATVO bus to the airport only runs every 20 minutes so it was conceivable that we could also end up waiting 19 minutes at P. Roma for the bus to leave. However, there are taxis waiting right outside the cruise terminal. We took one of these. Best 45 euro I spent on the whole trip: no muss, no fuss, and it dropped us off at the airport 20 minutes after getting in the cab. I felt even better about it on the way out of the terminal area when we drove past the enormous line of people waiting at the People Mover stop. There are many stories on the internet about what a zoo the Venice airport can be. This was not the case for us. Just a tiny line and a short wait at the Lufthansa ticket counter and soon after we soon breezed through security. Marco Polo is a modern and attractive airport. Summary. We had a super time. There is so much negativity on Cruise Critic regarding Costa that a natural reaction would be, "there must be something to this bad Costa vibe". But based on this cruise my counter reaction is: no, there's not. If you are booked on the Fascinosa, may you have as enjoyable a time as we did. Buon viaggio. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
Costa Fascinosa Ratings
Category Editor Member

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