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100 Costa Rome (Civitavecchia) Cruise Reviews

Actual embarkation was Naples with the following itinerary:Palermo, Tunis, Palma, Barcelona, Marseille, Savona. Getting to Naples is easy from Rome with a 2hr train ride. Here are some brief comments: -Lower levels outside/inside are a ... Read More
Actual embarkation was Naples with the following itinerary:Palermo, Tunis, Palma, Barcelona, Marseille, Savona. Getting to Naples is easy from Rome with a 2hr train ride. Here are some brief comments: -Lower levels outside/inside are a bit nosy as you can sometimes hear the ship ride over the waves. Try to get level 3+ if you stay in your cabin a lot. This won't matter if you are itinerary focused or spend your time at the sun/pool decks. -Try to pick up some Italian/French/Spanish if you plan to go to Europe. We didn't mind hearing 4x languages on the ship since after all you are in another country and shouldn't expect english to be spoken frequently. -Don't expect North American style of service and cuisine. Majority of passengers are Italian. But we didn't mind too much as we came to enjoy the different cultures although it was annoying to wait with everyone each nite as the second seating dinning room was never on time to open. Overall service of dinning, room attendant, buffet staff more like 3 star than 4-5 star as they are all very friendly but don't have the fine tuned training that they should have. -New ship, so facilities and technology is top notch. Ship arrived and departed each port on time and embarkation/debarkation was very efficient. -itinerary was excellent and information about each port of call was very good. Cruise tour was efficient although it would be nice to have it a little longer. Only port you really need to do some research is Savona....take the tour to either Genoa or Portofino. -Overall good value for new ship and excellent itinerary. Excellent way to visit and travel around Europe. This type of cruise is suited for itinerary focused vacations and a touch of language learning. Set your expectations about Europe and you will have a wonderful trip! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
I went on this ship in May with my husband and my 20 year old daughter. We liked the cruise very much especially the itinerary as we thought we saw a lot of ports in 7 days a lot more than on the Caribbean cruises we have been on. The ... Read More
I went on this ship in May with my husband and my 20 year old daughter. We liked the cruise very much especially the itinerary as we thought we saw a lot of ports in 7 days a lot more than on the Caribbean cruises we have been on. The food was ok not great typical I guess for a carnival ship which is what this ship essentially is I would not recommend it if you want a quiet journey there were more and more passengers as we went along. Also this ship is geared more to Europeans in the food area esp pasta pizza and gelato and the entertainment was too though we were some of the few who understood the shows as a lot of them were in English and the Italians and such did not understand them. We were seated with Americans in the dining room otherwise we had a little trouble communicating with some of the Europeans onboard as not all spoke English but they did have an English speaking guide for the Americans. We liked our trip to Carhtage that was very interesting and we saw a lot of history there. I am sure for the US this ship will have to change the food entertainment and also it will have to have English programs on the TV which it did not have plus they should have movies you don't have to pay for. The ship is very pretty the cabins were spacious and very nice the service was good. I would give it about a 75 out of 100 in cruises I have been on personally it was a good value for the money to see Europe. I prefer Princess and Holland America cruise lines myself but this wasn't a bad ship just not up to par with those lines. Best for families not really adult groups. Great gym enjoyed using it every day and the view was great from there of the front of the ship. Shops were pretty good kind of like what's on Carnival's US ships. Casino crowded but otherwise nice. Internet was available but not real fast as other ships. Dining room food better than buffet Italian specialties were best. Wine and water card was a good value. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Much to my disappointment I chose this cruise with Costa because it was the only cruise that fit into our date shortly after our wedding day. I had never sailed with this company before and boy I wished I had known and not have traveled ... Read More
Much to my disappointment I chose this cruise with Costa because it was the only cruise that fit into our date shortly after our wedding day. I had never sailed with this company before and boy I wished I had known and not have traveled sight unseen or rather palate.I think that I am a seasoned traveler with enough travels to Europe that have lead me to explore over 20 different countries. I have been able to see this with a combination of land travel and cruise travel which include being on over 20 different cruises. These ships include Royal Caribbean, Princess, Oceania, Orient, and NCL. For the good: Costa Magica the ship was in very good condition and the staff was very nice and helpful. Our room which was a suite had lovely appointments, a great balcony, and a jet tub! They didn't skimp on any of the details. Embarkation was interesting in a good way. People boarded each day at every port, and the same as for leaving, this I had never experienced. This made the process of boarding wonderful, no lines or hassles! No one complaining that the cruise had to end.Now what you are wanting to read....the food was just terrible! My husband and I tried to make each meal work. We sampled different things, and everything was overcooked! To the point where one couldn't eat it. The soup was watered down. I mean really bland and thin. I was so disappointed and embarrased as this was my husband's first cruise and my 23rd!!! I was always raving about food on the ships. So, what did we do? There wasn't any room service like I was accustomed to on the other ships. I think there was a limited breakfast menu. We ate at the pizza shop each night. I will have to tell you that the pizza and the salads were very very good! But, don't you think that is sad to be on your honeymoon, after paying $6,000.00 to be eating pizza each night? The pizza area was very romantic, and we made the best of it. The ice-cream was in the same area and that wasn't even working right. My husband ate it anyway because we were so hungry!One day we went to Malta. My husband and I ate lunch there. The island's fish, don't recall the name, is heavenly! For that night's dinner, the dining staff said that there was a change in the menu and that they were serving Mahi-Mahi. Hmmm....where did they get that?  Well, it was the same fish that is from Malta. It wasn't cooked well at all, overdone!  Mahi-Mahi and the Maltese fish are entirely different. Interesting........So to sum it up, I would not recommend this ship if you are hungry or if you want pizza each night after trying the dinning room's meal.My saving grace is that we stayed in Rome for 4 nights after the 7 day cruise and we dined with the locals and enjoyed ourselves on the local fare.( can you imagine, we even had pizza for lunch one day!) We weren't asking for much, just some edible food.Great ship for the decor and staff, don't expect any good food.The exception is if I guess you happen to take this ship and it's in a different location. I have read that the food is very good. Our travel agent highly recommended this ship, but she was on a Carribean cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This is a huge ship, accommodating something like 2800 passengers, and it came as a surprise just before we started to find out that this formerly Italian line had been purchased by Carnival. The cruise itself was mostly a big ... Read More
This is a huge ship, accommodating something like 2800 passengers, and it came as a surprise just before we started to find out that this formerly Italian line had been purchased by Carnival. The cruise itself was mostly a big disappointment, and the biggest disappointment -- universally as far as I could tell from other American passengers -- was the food. Drab, tasteless, and certainly not the quality of Italian food that you can find at the simplest Trattoria in Italy or even decent Italian restaurants in the States! The "buffet" offered as an alternative to the formal dining rooms for breakfast, lunch and dinner was mostly "disgusting" -- offering, for example, breakfast of powdered scrambled eggs, dry pancakes and waffles, and lots of cold cuts. "Gross!" as the kids say. The only really good meal we had aboard was at the extra-pay "private" restaurant, where the service and the food reminded me of what cruises used to be. With the $20/each fee, wine and tip, it ran $100. The cruise was clearly aimed at middle class Italian and European families (kids travel free) and offered little that was upscale or sophisticated. The service onboard was good, and the price was probably fair. The diversions onboard, mostly slot machine gambling or sunning, were sort of empty. The entertainment, except for one night, was painfully amateurish. Finally -- and I guess this is widely true of all cruise lines -- the cruise has its hands out for extra money every time you turn around. You pay for excursions, which are mostly poorly organized affairs that "dump" you into hard-sell shopping opportunities in awful places like Tunis. You pay for drinks, of course, even bar prices for every Coke you imbibe. The cruise itself is a constant barrage of shopping opportunities with a great deal of junk jewelry ($10 watches, for example) and other junk. Remember that Europeans smoke like chimneys, everywhere including elevators! Children are unruly and all parents don't pay enough attention to controlling their kids, inflicting them on others! And, finally, as has been widely stated -- Europeans do not know how to stand in line! They push and shove their way in to buffet lines and everywhere else. After being surprised, even shocked, the Americans I saw simply started standing their ground and refusing to allow this kind of line crashing. One irony is that it is an international group of passengers. All announcements are made in 5 languages! But, you don't get the benefit of the internationality, as they seat you with people like you. That does allow easier conversation, but it would be much more fun if there are a greater opportunity to mix as even if the English weren't perfect, most Europeans speak some to quite a bit of English. One thing to be very careful of planning better than we did is ground transportation to and from the ship. You can buy transfers from the cruise line at a reasonable price ($30 each way) if you are going to and from the airport. But, if you go to Rome ahead of time, you will find yourself stuck paying huge fees to limo services -- I figure we spent around $500 just for ground transportation between Rome and the port Civitavecchia! There are cheaper ways to do it, including the train, but you'd better be able to lug your own suitcases from the train platform without any help, elevators or escalators. We did love the stops in Spain, both Barcelona and Majorca, and in Palermo and Malta. Most of these we explored on our own. Many people remarked that they found the excursions were overpriced and not well run. In conclusion, I suppose I am a grouch and the cruise probably was a lot of fun for most of the 2800 passengers onboard this HUGE ship, but it has cured me of the desire to ever again do this kind of cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
On October 29, 2005, my wife and I flew to Rome with two friends for a cruise to the Mediterranean on Costa Cruise Lines. The airline personnel on Alatalia were less than candid regarding seating. At JFK airport we arrived 2-1/2 hours ... Read More
On October 29, 2005, my wife and I flew to Rome with two friends for a cruise to the Mediterranean on Costa Cruise Lines. The airline personnel on Alatalia were less than candid regarding seating. At JFK airport we arrived 2-1/2 hours early and were told bulkhead seats were only available just prior to boarding the aircraft. I am 6'4" and could use the extra leg room. We were also not permitted to upgrade. At the Rome airport, we arrived three hours early and requested bulkhead or exit seats and were informed that they had already been filled and that we should have phoned two hours earlier. The Costa rep never informed us of this situation. Not only did she lose two of us at the airport in her haste but she was no help to us in any way. It seems that if you show up early they will not accommodate your seating request but if you show up later, they won't do anything either. As for Alatalia airlines, we WON'T be showing up again! To date, we have not been credited with our onepass miles with Continental. It seems to be taking forever. The ship, CostaMagica, is something to behold! The color scheme and design of the main dining room must have been dreamt up by Ray Charles subject to the approval of Stevie Wonder. Talk about tacky..........what color combinations. The room was a constant hot house. The men were lucky, as we were able to remove our jackets. Many of the passengers did not have that concern on formal nights. They simply wore clean polo shirts. Undoubtedly, one of the male diners was a "gentleman" who earlier in the afternoon saw fit to blow his nose into the hot tub (YUCK!) What the heck..........babies in diapers were also allowed in the hot tubs! Very sanitary! The chandeliers bordered on being obscene. They would have to be seen to be believed! On a good day some of the elevators worked but not all. After our second day at sea, we were given the life jacket drill. Isn't that usually done before you leave port? Thank God we didn't sink before the second day! On an Italian ship, one would expect to be served good food. Guess again, selections were limited, bread was terrible....a choice between bread sticks and thawed out rolls. No variety. Forget about seconds or changing your order. Beef, chicken and veal were tough enough to sole your shoes with, all of which was in line with the general lack of quality and poor service. Desserts were so bad they could have been upgraded with Twinkies! What ever happened to good old-fashioned Italian pastries? All of the other cruises we've been on (this was our 12th), we've been served Lobster and Filet Mignon at least once during the course of a seven night cruise. We did have some very bad shrimp once. I requested iced tea at dinner and was told it was only in a can and would cost extra. We were provided with one very small bar of soap for the week and it did not lather. If you wanted body lotion or a shower cap, it was by request only. BATHROBES? Forget about it! Chocolates on your pillow? Are you kidding? No way! In all fairness, the coffee was good but on the last day at the last meal, a couple next to us (not Americans) were asked if they'd like espresso or cappuccino. That's the first we knew that this was a choice we could have had all week. Nobody volunteered any information to us. Talk about chintzy!!! ENTERTAINMENT!!! What entertainment? I have been more entertained by watching my daughter-in-law change my grandson's diaper. All of the music was canned and the same recorded introduction was played every night. The introductions for the "Shows?" were done first in Italian (understandable), followed by French, Spanish, German and as an afterthought in English! We sailed on Cunard, Holland America, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean lines and were always astonished at the number of and the talent of the musicians. Usually there are two Broadway-worthy shows! The Captain's "Cocktail Party" was designated to sitting in the theatre and being served a choice of either something that tasted like bad Gatorade and Philadelphia's finest canned champagne, while listening to the Captain introduce the entire crew......once again in Italian, French, Spanish, German and oh yes, English! Cleanliness - Some of the glasses and tables in the Piano Bar appeared to have been washed with floor mops. The shops on the ship were expensive (to be expected) but had no variety. Our travelling companions (friends for over 55 years) are of Italian-American descent, and they too were, to say the least, very disenchanted! We had been on several cruises with them previously and they declared that no way would they ever again take a Costa Cruise or tour. Costa also booked us into a second-class hotel costing $200 per person per night somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Rome. We had to take multiple transportation to get to anything worth seeing. There was nothing within walking distance. We are now looking into a July/August Alaska cruise on Celebrity, Royal Caribbean or Holland America. It's best to stay with a proven winner and not be treated like a fourth class citizen. I wonder.........does anyone ever book a second cruise with Costa? Maybe people who enjoy root canal and are rude, pushy and ignorant. WHAT MORE CAN I SAY? Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Ah yes! The COSTATRAGICA! For starters-Ugly ship. Did I say Ugly ship? I meant VERY UGLY SHIP! It must have been designed by a person with a severe drinking problem. It can't have been planned that way on purpose. Not to mention, ... Read More
Ah yes! The COSTATRAGICA! For starters-Ugly ship. Did I say Ugly ship? I meant VERY UGLY SHIP! It must have been designed by a person with a severe drinking problem. It can't have been planned that way on purpose. Not to mention, it's dirty. Terrible food, really terrible food served in a sweltering dining room and on deck. Your choice of either bread (bread sticks or thawed out rolls) left much to be desired. It did however compliment the boringly bland poor quality entrees. The COSTATRAGICA must have a corner on rude people both passengers and many of the crew personnel. If you are lucky enough to find an elevator that works, good luck trying to get on or off it. The pool was loaded with pushy slobs and children in diapers--in violation of the rules and common sense. God help you if you speak English! You are a 5th class citizen and if you happen to deal with the English speaking representative and he says hello to you, he's most likely lying to you. Talk about useless. Unfortunately,the ship was sooo bad that it overshadowed the excellent ports of call. What the heck, it only cost 6 K altogether. We sail at least once a year and have booked a cruise to Alaska in July on Celebrity which we have used 5 times before as well as Royal Caribbean and Holland America, all great lines. It's a shame we didn't use one of them for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Overall: Thumbs down, our first unsatisfactory cruise in many years. We like Costa because it is the least expensive way to see Europe, Asia, and Africa in a week to ten days. Costa's galaxy of itineraries feature a new country ... Read More
Overall: Thumbs down, our first unsatisfactory cruise in many years. We like Costa because it is the least expensive way to see Europe, Asia, and Africa in a week to ten days. Costa's galaxy of itineraries feature a new country virtually every morning, with exotic destinations like Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. As soon as Israel gets a little safer, we are sure Costa will be the first to regularly schedule port calls. The Magica is Costa's newest ship and one of their largest. With beautiful styling everywhere, from the public rooms to the hallways, the ship is jammed with art without being garish. You'll be playing hide and seek with the Esmerelda main dining room (sometimes even following the signs won't help you find it) and the ship's small public passageways create traffic jams of pushy passengers. We did not want to believe the legions of cruise reviewers who criticized the Magica's food. It just can't be that bad, we thought. Wrong. The Magica's food was the worst we've ever had at sea. Bland, tasteless dishes and truly awful coffee. Because of it, we won't be taking a planned trip on the Magica in the spring. Poor food quality, however, doesn't stop hordes people from mobbing Deck 9's buffets, taking every single seat. It's shoulder to shoulder, so plan on escaping to Deck 10 to find open seating. Service, on the other hand, is quite good -- in five languages. Costa has mastered serving the Euro market. Sure, some of the evening shows are super lame, but then again it's pretty hard to find entertainment to simultaneously satisfy English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish tastes. Strangely, shows featuring opera, mime, and fashion generally knock the socks off of any comedian, singers, or dancers. Small Changes -- While shore excursions have been bookable through cabin TV for some time, now you can book excursions and even entire cruises through special kiosks on Deck 3. -- Room service now costs 2 Euro except for the conventional continental breakfast. There are now a variety of breakfast pay-options, from a few Euro on up to 59 Euro for the true breakfast gourmet. Given other food, though, I'd be skeptical of getting your money's worth. -- The waterslide is an open tube and limited to children. This is good news, because closed tubes can cause injuries to adults (I was hurt on one of Carnival's ships in a closed tube, as have others). Embarkation Civitavecchia is the port for Rome, about an hour outside the city. Its embarkation area consists of a few large tents. Departing from our usual taxi strategy, we used Costa's transfers from the Rome Airport. Transfers are $60 roundtrip per person, A taxi costs $200 roundtrip at a minimum. Be sure to check with Costa as to availability of transfers. At Rome's international Airport, there may be only one scheduled Costa bus a day. Ports Savona in Italy is a typical mid-sized Italian town but unremarkable. A large market at the Piazza del Populo, a few castles, a few large churches. Barcelona is a grand European city with much to see in a mere six hours in port. Palma in Majorca is home to the jetsetting Eurochic (plus Michael Douglas). The Caves of Drach in outlying Porto Christo are lovely but not worth four hours of bus riding to see. Take the Valldemosa tour instead. In Tunis, try the trip to Carthage if you are into history. You will be surprised how modern the country is. In Malta, the jeep trip is long but covers all the fabulous scenery around the island and views of neighboring Gozo. Palermo, much like Savona. Good Deals -- Buy 13 liters of mineral or sparkling water for 23 Euro, much cheaper than sodas and better for you. The 44 Euro soda card is a value too if you just gotta have Cokes or Diet Cokes. This card also gets virgin drinks, shakes, specialty coffee drinks, and fruit drinks. The Magica moves to the Americas the last few days of November, so catching the last Med run gives you cool weather and a lack of tourists in the ports. Sales are 75% off on Med-branded clothing before they relocate to Florida or Brazil for the winter. -- To increase bar revenue, Costa used to take shore bought alcohol and hold it until the end of the voyage. Similarly, they take and hold alcohol purchased onboard. Costa is testing a new and much more common sense policy on the Magica -- buy all you want ashore or on board and bring it directly to your cabin. Costa has realized that old policy annoyed passengers and cost too much for screening, holding, and moving all that booze multiple times. Not So Good Deals -- The spa is expensive and offered very few discounts during the week. No wireless internet anywhere on board, and no free wireless in port. The Internet cafe is still quite high at 30 Euros per hour and runs at barely 56K over satellite. Pay wireless is available only in Malta, but it's high speed and cheap. The casino has no conventional poker tables. I guess the world's Texas Hold'em craze evidently has not reached the Italians. -- There are unusually long lines to get on the ship in port. Costa cut back on security and there is often just one guy to process hundreds of returning passengers. This route is not a good choice for the first time cruiser, who should do Costa's 7-day Venice to Istanbul run or an 11-day trip featuring Athens, Cairo, Turkey, and a few spectacular Greek islands. For the Magica, we suggest that Costa drops the ports of Palermo and Savona in favor of Monaco, Nice, Cadaques, or Sete. Hello to Jan and Bob, and shop 'til you drop Celia and Jimmy! To see all our reviews, see www.georgesmart.com/travel. Happy cruising, George and Eleanor Durham, North Carolina Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
A word about me: I'm British, and have cruised several times before on both Princess and Cunard. I travelled with my extended family (British/South African) in a group of 10. When I first saw the Costa itinerary for this cruise, I ... Read More
A word about me: I'm British, and have cruised several times before on both Princess and Cunard. I travelled with my extended family (British/South African) in a group of 10. When I first saw the Costa itinerary for this cruise, I was very excited because it offered a rare chance to see Libya. I immediately agreed to go. I was a little apprehensive at first because Costa, as an Italian company, are a bit of an unknown quantity on Cruise Critic and there aren't all that many reviews. I will therefore be quite detailed but feel free to skip to the end for my conclusion. We travelled down to Civitavecchia by train from London, via the Eurostar and then Trenitalia's sleeper service to Rome. From there, we took the express service to Civitavecchia, which takes about 45 minutes. You can take a cab from the station to the docks, you can walk, or there is a free shuttle service which goes from the entrance to the docks to the ships. Although it is not a very long walk (just under a mile), it might be difficult with heavy luggage and the layout of the docks is quite confusing. I recommend the shuttle bus or a taxi if you are new to Civitavecchia's port. EMBARKATION We arrived about an hour before embarkation closed, and then had to wait for nearly an hour before we could enter the ship. There was a hall full of people, and only one person doing the embarkation administration. This seemed to consist of waiting in three or four separate queues and having our passports checked, photocopied and checked again and again. To be fair to Costa, some of our party had embarked much earlier, and had found the process very smooth - so it's probably sensible to arrive early. We dodged the inevitable embarkation photograph and boarded. FIRST IMPRESSIONS The ship's decor is elegant and modern, mainly dark blues, whites and silvers with some beautiful marbles on the walls of the casino and stairwells. Our balcony cabin at the rear of Deck 11 was small but well appointed and there was plenty of cupboard space. The bathroom was tiny, but again it had plenty of storage space. The shower wasn't great but it was adequate, and the room was very clean. Costa Victoria is a relatively old ship and its position in Costa's fleet was classified by one of the crew as "middle...well, slightly less than middle" with the newer Costas at the top. There are two main outdoor pools and four hot tubs. These were unheated and so only for the brave. Another indoor pool in the spa has a bizarre rule banning swimming, so one wonders what it's for. The pools are filled with fresh salt water daily, and close at 8pm. The gym is small but adequately appointed for all but the most dedicated weightlifter, and I never found it too overcrowded. The bars and public areas are well kept and pleasantly decorated. We didn't use the spa or casino. FOOD The buffet was much, much smaller than I am used to, but the food was very good, politely served and nicely presented. The buffet, and eating arrangements generally, reflect the Italian attitude towards food. Italians have great respect and love for food, and they eat plenty of it, but they don't see the need to be constantly eating. Therefore, the buffet is closed for several hours during the day: between 5 and 8pm and again after about 11.30pm. However, a limited range of pizzas, salads, sandwiches, fruit and cakes could be had in the pizzeria on Deck 12 up till 1am, and room service runs 24 hours. We never went hungry. I recommend the room service breakfast, which provides a continental style meal of pastries and cereal. It is also the only way to get proper, free cappuccino on the ship as ordering speciality coffee anywhere else results in a charge of about 2 euros. It is also worth noting that the free hot tea and coffee dispensers are out of action between 5 and 8pm, although there is a good afternoon tea from 4 until 5 in the pizzeria. A tip is to avoid the fruit juice dispensers at breakfast and use the bottled juices in the "Healthy Corner" as the juice from the dispensers tasted very watered down. The dining rooms were very nice. We're all used to anytime dining, but didn't find the set dining times too onerous. We had booked a table for 10 for the second sitting, but when we received our dining tickets, we seemed to be down for the first sitting. This was, however, relatively easily sorted and we had the table and time we wanted. The meals were very good: perhaps not as good as the food on Princess or Cunard, but for the money we paid I was not going to complain. The choice was good and there was something for everyone each night. Another thing worth remembering is that menu items containing previously frozen ingredients are highlighted. This is a requirement of Italian law and does not mean that the food is of poor quality, nor that other cruise lines do not do the same. It's obvious that a ship must use quite a lot of frozen ingredients. The waiters were polite, efficient and unobtrusive. We didn't use the bars very much, but they had a good selection, were reasonably priced and also served Amaris, which are odd Italian herbal liqueurs with strange ingredients like artichoke. These are perhaps an acquired taste but worth the effort. SERVICE This is an interesting topic. Being mostly English, our party are used to mentioning issues to the relevant people and then having them sorted out. We soon worked out that Italian culture is quite different. My sister's cabin was incredibly hot, despite cold air coming from her air conditioning vent. She reported this problem every day for three days, and each time an engineer visited her room and vaguely suggested that she might have left the balcony door open. This wasn't the case and she was so hot at one point that she slept on the balcony. Eventually, she reported the problem in a more Mediterranean manner, which is to say forcefully and loudly, and refused to leave the information desk until she had a satisfactory answer. Her air conditioning problem (caused by air bubbles in the vent) was solved almost immediately. There was also a general problem of leaks in the air conditioning system on our deck and in odd places around the ship: at one point it appeared to be raining in one of the toilets. We heard an engineer telling an increasingly frantic room steward that there wasn't anything he could do until she told him where the leak originated from. However, we understand that the Costa Victoria is very shortly due for an overhaul in dry dock so these problems will presumably be fixed. Be prepared for a lackadaisical attitude to any issues unless you make a fuss. I would not say, however, that these issues spoiled our holiday in the slightest. EXCURSIONS Costa's USP is its eclectic itineraries. We were very excited about visiting Tripoli in particular. In Catania, I took the trip up to Mount Etna, which was spectacular even in the misty, drizzly weather. In Tunis, we took a taxi under our own steam and explored the city, which was fascinating. The taxi driver was very pleasant and agreed to pick us up when we'd finished exploring. I would say that the best strategy in Tunis is to avoid the tourist souk, unless you like being hassled to buy a lot of junk. Once out of the tourist trap area, we were left alone. From Tunis we went to Gabes, which would have been quite a shock if we weren't expecting it. Gabes is not a tourist port: it is completely and unapologetically industrial. So industrial, in fact, that several tons of sulfur were sitting around on the dock next to the sulfur extraction works. The famous desert wind, already loaded with fine Sahara sand, whipped up plenty of sulfur dust and deposited it on deck, in our food and in the pools. Stinging eyes soon sent almost everyone scuttling inside. However, we were soon taken out to the desert. In Tripoli, we took the excursion to the beautiful Roman ruins at Leptis Magna, which I would recommend only if you enjoy archaeology (which fortunately I do). The port is walking distance from the town, and some of our party spent the day exploring the city alone. They say the city is beautiful, very clean and completely safe. In Valletta, Malta, I took the horse riding excursion in the morning. I would say that to get the most out of this excursion, one really needs prior experience of horse riding to avoid being led. The views are amazing. We were given the chance to have a half-hour's swim in the sea and then we spent the rest of the day exploring Valletta on our own. It's a lovely town. The organization and quality of the tours is very good: English speaking guides were provided for us, the vehicles were well maintained with seat belts and I have no complaints, apart from the fact that we did feel (in Tripoli and Catania in particular) that it would have been nice to have had some free time to explore the cities independently once the tour had ended. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on the ship was reasonable but not brilliant. The shows were fine, but perhaps a bit amateurish at times: they didn't really float my boat. What the Italians seemed to really enjoy were the late night audience participation shows in the Concorde Lounge. These were, frankly, baffling to non-Italian speakers, but they did look like fun. Italians also really like a conga, and many of these snaked their way around the ship after midnight, which is when things really get going. Since smoking was banned in much of Europe, it seems to have become much less popular. There were a few smokers in the bars and lounges, but certainly far fewer than I would have expected of a European ship. The smokiest place was probably the casino, or the upper balcony of the Concorde Lounge: both easily avoided. There were two formal nights. Italians are stylish folk and I would strongly recommend bringing some nice gear with you: a tuxedo isn't strictly necessary but everyone looked like they had made an effort. Ladies should bring a cocktail dress or two. The other evenings had a range of attire from smart casual to formal. Basically, you can't be overdressed on any night. OTHER If you have the option of choosing a cabin, I would recommend avoiding the fore cabins on decks 11 through 7 as these are next to the Concorde Lounge. There are windows from the lounge looking onto the deck corridors. You can sit quite happily on the floor of the corridor and watch the whole show, and hear it extremely well. I would guess the cabins are quite noisy until the shows finish: this would be 1am at the earliest. The aft cabins on Deck 11 can get noisy when people are on the deck having breakfast: you can hear tables and chairs scraping from 7am onwards so if you're a late riser these are cabins to avoid. There are the usual cruise annoyances: photographers leap out from nowhere and then the unflattering results are put on display for all to see, and there are all sorts of ways to squeeze some extra euros out of you. SUMMARY This is a ship that's showing its age, but this didn't spoil our holiday. Yes, you might have to slum it a little - the only toiletries provided are soap and a shower gel dispenser in the shower and the pool isn't heated - but Costa provides excellent value for money. This isn't the cruise for you if you like to be waited on hand and foot with your every need provided for. If, however, you are quite relaxed, like a bargain, don't mind joining in the odd conga and want to visit unusual ports, this *is* the cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date September 2007
On this itinerary we sailed the new Costa Fortuna that started in Rome and included Barcelona, Palma de Majorca, Tunis, Savona (Portofino), Malta and Palermo. I've read some reviews and it's mentioned that Costa mix ... Read More
On this itinerary we sailed the new Costa Fortuna that started in Rome and included Barcelona, Palma de Majorca, Tunis, Savona (Portofino), Malta and Palermo. I've read some reviews and it's mentioned that Costa mix international guests on their tours. We did not find this at all. In every tour we took we always had English speaking guides. When you disembark the ship you are directed to a motorcoach that will display a sign "ENGLISH". I noticed all the other nationalities had their buses as well. The French had "Francais" on theirs, "Espanol" for the Spanish and so forth. The only tour that had mixed nationalities was a bicycle tour in Palma and that was more of a bike ride than "tour". I highly recommend these bike tours. If you can ride a bike you'll love these tours. We took the one in Barcelona as well and we loved them both. The one port on this itinerary that is a MUST for an excursion is Tunis. The port is in an industrial area and is not walkable nor safe. We elected to take the excursion that included Carthage and a local museum. The guide offered to include a bazaar although it wasn't in the itinerary. Everyone said "sure!" We later learned this was so he could take every one to his buddy who sat us all in a big room and showed us carpet after carpet after carpet.... I eventually decided to leave and take in a little shopping - half the room took my cue an followed! The tour finished up in a delightful seaside village with time to shop there. Incidentally when we disembarked for a tour you meet with your fellow English speaking guests in a designated lounge with the English speaking host or hostess. They then take the group as a whole to the gangway or tender. This assures that all of the guests are on the buses at the same time. Speaking of the English speaking host. This was one of the best parts of the cruise! A welcome aboard talk was announced in Today, the daily program the first day. We met Alex who gave us a very informative talk about suggested shore excursions and learned about what to expect during our cruise. They even included a comical video about some of the crazy European habits - it was a good laugh. I encourage everyone to attend this talk!!! The host or hostess also maintains scheduled times at desks (like a concierge) - these are listed in the daily program. This person also goes on select excursions, will host other events, etc. Their SOLE purpose on board is to be there for their respective language group - in our case the English speaking guests. If you have a problem, he's the person to go to - forget the Purser's desk, they have too many other things to deal with and sometimes can be a little curt. The dining was very good and we enjoyed their speciality restaurant also on several occasions. Try the tasting menu from which you get to try a great selection of dishes. Costa offers several drink packages such as the single glass package (X1) that does have to be purchased in advance. The single glass package allows for you to have sodas, mineral water, draft beer and wine during the meal hours in the restaurant and buffet areas. This can be purchased on line before you sail. There are also wine and water packages. This is what we decided on - we purchased the package(there are 2 types: good and better) that includes 5 bottles of wine, a bottle of spumante and 10 bottles of mineral water. You can redeem the mineral water coupons at any bar (they don't have to be redeemed in the restaurant). I usually redeemed a coupon for a liter of water before I retired for the night and when also when I went on excursions or ashore. It was a much better buy than purchasing the small bottles offered at the gangway. The ship was gorgeous. Anyone loving the "grand ships" of yesteryear will love the theme. I understand she was the first passenger ship to be built in the Genoa yards since the Michelangelo in the '60s. Thus, everything is themed after the great, Italian liners. One restaurant, for example, is the Michelangelo with a 20 ft long model of the ship in front. Each public area is similarly named and there is artwork throughout the ship with the same maritime theme. We loved the "upside-down" fleet of the Costa ships in the atrium area. May was a great time to sail as it was not during the European summer break for the kids. Also, the ports were less crowded. Unless you want a lot of children on board avoid Late July through August. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
Wow..OK here goes. First the positive. I traveled on Costa Pacifica on the July 5th trip in the Western Mediterranean. The ship is beautiful and absolutely spotless. My cabin steward and waiters were incredibly nice and efficient and spoke ... Read More
Wow..OK here goes. First the positive. I traveled on Costa Pacifica on the July 5th trip in the Western Mediterranean. The ship is beautiful and absolutely spotless. My cabin steward and waiters were incredibly nice and efficient and spoke fluent English. All of the staff with the exception of one gal were amazingly nice and helpful. English was not their first language but we got by. I purchased the X1 card and it was the smartest thing we did. This you have to purchase in advance from your travel agent. It can only be used during lunch and dinner BUT meals are always being served. I really enjoyed the casino. The dealers and pit bosses were really nice and pleasant. We had a outside room at the front of the ship and it was adequate in size...we were comfortable.OK now....with a population of 3000 there were only 30 English speaking passengers on board. The person in charge of us was Deborah. She was NOT pleased when there were complaints by the English speaking passengers. The complaints were numerous and Deborah crossed the line of professionalism and actually told the gal I was traveling with that her daughter was very difficult. Now, her daughter was upset as were all of us because Costa cancelled an excursion because they did not want to hire an English speaking guide for a small group. Then we were put on another excursion that zero english was spoken. When we vehemently complained and said we wanted all of our excursion money returned if we were not going to have English speaking guides we then received those guides. Numerous encounters with Deborah were not pleasant and I would have to say that this seriously impacted our vacation. She was extremely offensive and not with just our group. For the position she held she was ineffective.We knew going in that this is an Italian ship but if Costa is not going to cater to all languages than that should be said upfront. The ports of call were lovely. Not quite sure the reason for going into Savona, Italy other than its cheaper than the dock charges in Monaco. I will say that it really bugged me that we picked up passengers in every port and dropped them off. This was like a moving transport system. I am used to cruises when everyone gets on at a certain port and off at a certain port.The first 2 nights the food was horrible. Than, for some reason, it was good. We could not figure out this one. I will tell you it was HORRIBLE...and then we really enjoyed it.The constant music on the ship was annoying. They had the same soundtrack they kept playing over and over. On this soundtrack included Christmas songs. That was driving us CRAZY. For the ship of "MUSIC" it sucked. The shows were sub par except for one evening that was really good. We could not quite figure this out either.The ship could have really used a third pool. The 2 pools are small and were ALWAYS crammed full. Not appealing at all and I did not once put on a suit to sit in a toilet.I dont know if this is just Costa but at beginning of cruise, because we were non Europeans our passports were conviscated and we did not get them back till end of cruise. That bugged me a bit. They did give us a photo copy.We only had one formal night and Costa did not have the traditonal toga night that they usually have. This was fine just letting you know.All in all...we(4 firends) had a decent time because we viewed the ship as our transportation to get us to the ports. This is NOT a ship for English speakers because truthfully.....COSTA does not care. Read Less
Sail Date July 2009
This was our 10th cruise and 5th cruise line. We were really looking forward to our first mediterranean cruise. We really thought it would be more of an upscale cruise line and wonderful food. Much to our disappointment, it was far less ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise and 5th cruise line. We were really looking forward to our first mediterranean cruise. We really thought it would be more of an upscale cruise line and wonderful food. Much to our disappointment, it was far less than that. The ship itself is not as upscale as other lines we have been on. It is very minimal at that actually kind of plain but that really wasn't that big of a deal. The problem was the total disorder that we faced once on board. Now we new it was an Italian cruise line with mostly european guests however, we were not prepared for the total chaos and rudeness of our fellow passengers. We have never experienced anything like it. The Buffet (which we nicknamed the "jungle") was exactly that. Very over crowded, not enough seats to accomodate everyone, people cutting in line or what resembled a line, children running everywhere , and people literally hoarding huge plates of food. There was no regard for any manners whatsoever. The food was adequate at best, the coffee was always cold, and water and ice only worked at intervals. The sit down restaurant was much more organized however the portions were much smaller than normal, the food options not always appealing however again we were kind of prepared for that being it was european. The staff, all though they worked very hard, did not go out of their way to form a relationship with you like other cruises. They didn't offer coffee with dessert you had to ask more than once, and we always felt like we were rushed so they could prepare for the 2nd seating. The elevator and pool situation were similar to the "jungle". No manners, pushing and shoving on and off and no regard for any rules especially no children in "adult only" pool. The parents seemed to allow their children to do whatever they wanted, and the minimal security was only able to control the situations temporarily and then they would resume as soon as they walked away. We witnessed soccer balls being kicked in the lobby, children screaming and lying on the floors of the restaurants, running up and down halls till late night hours, jumping on and over people in the pool, and playing with window shades (which hit me in the head once). We talked with fellow passengers from the U.S.,Canada, Germany, the U.K. and even Italy which were just as disappointed and shocked as we were. The ports and excursions were nice , but not alot of accomodations for english speaking guests. We booked one tour that was all in Italian and no discount or anything even after we told them that it was not communicated to us that noone spoke or understood English. This was true to most of the cruise. Very minimal announcements in English. The disembarkation was also very unorganized and we nearly missed our flight. Needless to say it was a very horrible experience and I don't know if we will give Costa another chance or not. We found out only after returning that apparently Costa offers great deals to the Italians even some offers of kids cruise free.(which may account for our situation) So be prepared and ask before you book. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Costa Romantica 10/26/09 Review Ok I know a lot of you have been looking for a review of this ship, so here we go. I was just on the 10/26/09 cruise that departed from Civitavechia and had an itinerary of Catania-Sicily, Sea Day, ... Read More
Costa Romantica 10/26/09 Review Ok I know a lot of you have been looking for a review of this ship, so here we go. I was just on the 10/26/09 cruise that departed from Civitavechia and had an itinerary of Catania-Sicily, Sea Day, Izmir-Turkey, Santorini-Greece: Mykonos (same day), Athens, Sea Day. I have been on several cruises on NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, as well as a previous Mediterranean cruise in 2005 on the Costa Magica so I will be comparing much of the experience to those sailings. The Ship Yes the ship is small. The ship was much cleaner than I anticipated. They did a great job making sure everything was spotless. It is well designed for its size and age (1993). There is very limited entertainment on board besides the shows which I will highlight later. Besides attending every show I played in the casino a little bit which is about half the size of other ships. There was a foosball table and ping pong table on board. There is one lounge (Italia) where they have silly events and games and this is where most of the Italians gather around dinner and show times. The weather was actually warm enough to lie out on the top deck for 2 days. We had fantastic weather on our cruise, we were quite lucky. The internet cafe is adequate but expensive at 1 Euro every 2 minutes. After dinner the only thing going on was at the Tango Lounge where they would have a live band with various theme nights, this is where we had the most time. The disco was the only other option at night and it was mostly filled with younger people so I would say 16-25 year olds and they played the traditional club techno garbage so we stayed away. The announcements in several languages did not bother me AT ALL. They were very limited and exactly what I expected. The Shows I would have to say that the entertainment in the theatre was one of the biggest disappointments on this cruise. The dancers and singers were all average although almost all of their songs were in English so I give them credit as you can tell this isn't their natural language. The non dancer/singer nights were just horrible. I just kept thinking of the show America's got talent because every single one of the acts would have been stopped within 2 minutes. Either way we had nothing else to do so we watched all of the shows and pretty much just made fun of how awful they were. Also, Italians for some reason insist on showing up after the show starts and most of them decide to walk all around the theatre to find a seat in the dark while talking most of the time. Quite annoying actually, also, about every other seat was comfortable so you had to search around to find good seats. The Passengers and Staff I give the staff a rating of 10/10. They were excellent. I really have no complaints at all, they were extremely friendly and most seemed very happy. Our ship had 1200 passengers on board. Of this 800 were Italians, about 150 were English speaking, 100 French, and the rest a mix of Spanish and German is my guess. No complaints with any of the passengers. The Italians are very pushy and like to use their elbows in the buffet lines. Also, they seem to go by the rule of "whoever pushes to the front first wins". Lines and order seems more like a guideline to them. Once you get used to this mentality it was ok. It was also fun to feel really big. I am only 6'2 but was probably the fifth or sixth tallest person on board. This came in handy when the Italians would try to cut around me in lines as I glared at them with disapproval. The cabin We stayed in an inside cabin in the front of deck 4. It was probably the cheapest room on the ship but our cabin steward went above and beyond. Our cabin was quite lovely and actually was much better than I anticipated for an inside cabin. No complaints here. 10/10. The Food and Drink Because of the itinerary we were able to eat most of our meals in the dining room. Most mornings we had room service delivered for free. They would also give us cappuccinos for free although they charged up on deck. We generally tipped the person who delivered it 1 euro although it wasn't required. The food in the dining room for lunch and dinner was better than I expected. The food wasn't as Italian as I expected but it was good. We had the X1 package and they always had a bottle of wine and mineral water waiting for us. Most nights we shared a bottle but some nights we drank 1 ½ bottles of the house red. The house red was tolerable but obviously cheap wine. It was just hard to drink the same thing every night, compare it to Traders Joes Charles Shaw wine. They were very quick to bring us any drinks we requested. The buffet lines at lunch were sometimes crazy as it seems that every Italian eats at the same time. The buffet food was worse than I expected so we stayed away and ate in the dining room as much as we could. When we did eat we sat outside on the deck. Once we sat down the drink people would constantly be around asking us for drinks. WE COULD USE THE X1 ON DECK DURING THE BUFFET TIMES no problem. I wasn't sure about that going in, but they would bring us coke, beer, wine, the usual. Good perk to have. The itinerary The port was very easy to get to from Rome. From the Termini station we took a train for about 70 minutes (6 euro each way) and walked about 5 minutes from the station to the harbor. From here a shuttle took us to the ship. Check-In went smooth and took about an average amount of time to get through. In Catania Sicily the ship docked. We walked around the city for a couple of hours and didn't really do much. They drive crazy here and the city is quite hectic. Izmir Turkey was much better than I anticipated. This was by far the cleanest city that we visited. The people were friendly and didn't bother you or heckle you in shops and on the streets. Izmir probably had the best looking people and most western looking clothes and culture of any of the ports. The ship docked at the pier and again we just walked around town for a couple of hours. There was a military parade the day we were in town (I think it was their independence day or some city holiday but either way it was fun to watch and security was extremely tight). The next day we went to Santorini and Mykonos (both tenders to shore) and in both cities we just walked around town for a couple of hours. In Athens we did a DIY to the Acropolis which was very easy and probably only took about 3 hours from the time we left the ship until we were back near the ship. I didn't describe the itinerary here very much so just ask if you have more questions. This review was much longer than I anticipated so please just ask if you have any questions and I will make sure to answer them. Overall I was very pleased with the experience and it met my expectations for the price. It was a very cheap cruise and I think it was a GREAT VALUE! I wouldn't hesitate doing it again at all but if you are spending a lot of money on a cruise, I wouldn't pick this ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This is an old(er) ship (1993) - and it looks rather 'tatty'. Although we stayed in the Grand Suite, it was all rather 3 star (not 5 star). When it rained, the water came into our suite in sheets. We had a butler, who was ... Read More
This is an old(er) ship (1993) - and it looks rather 'tatty'. Although we stayed in the Grand Suite, it was all rather 3 star (not 5 star). When it rained, the water came into our suite in sheets. We had a butler, who was ever so obliging, and this is the only 'saving grace' on this rather mediocre experience. The dining room food was very, very hit or miss (more miss, than hit). A rather gruesome canteen with hoards of passengers with lots of loud children throwing food at each other, and not enough places to sit down, was the other 'option'. The entertainment was simply awful, quite often vulgar, and tasteless. The shows were amateur, with very little talent. (Games in which passengers tried to break balloons with their bodies, or where they simulated a sexual act with a large skillet and ladle. The 2 'gala' evenings - were everything except chic - especially since 90% of the passengers didn't bother to dress up (let alone put on a tuxedo). If there is a problem with an excursion, even if it is the fault of the ship, they will hound you for payment. This company is not client centric. If your standards are moderate to high, we urge you to look at another property (and probably not on the Costa line). Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My wife and I sailed on the November 16th Romantica sailing to Cantania, Athens, Izmir, Mykonos, and Santorini. First, the ports of call are the reason we booked the cruise, and they were amazing. Also, we were driven by the price, as this ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the November 16th Romantica sailing to Cantania, Athens, Izmir, Mykonos, and Santorini. First, the ports of call are the reason we booked the cruise, and they were amazing. Also, we were driven by the price, as this was the cheapest cruise we have ever taken. Getting to/from Civitavecchia We took the train from Roma Termini to the port without any issues. Just went to Termini in Rome, bought tickets and a self-service machine, and took the 45 minute ride to Civitavecchia. We took the express train, and used 1st class; the car was mostly empty. From the station in Civitavecchia, take a right out of the station and it's a 10 minute walk to the ship. We used Costa's transfer on the way back to the airport, which was on $20 USD each. About 1 hour drive from port to the airport. Ship Overall the ship was clean and well maintained. It is a small ship (55k tons) and lacked a lot of public spaces; we have been on smaller ships (Carnival Holiday for instance) that actually had more public spaces. The cabins appeared to be recently remodeled, as they were very clean and modern for a cruise ship; we were actually surprised the cabins were in such great shape given the age of the ship. Of course winter in Europe it was cooler, so we did not use the pools (they are not covered as on other ships in cooler climates), but did use the hot tubs; as this was very port intensive the pools were not much of a big deal. Overall, a decent ship with nice cabins for its size and price. Food This is the first cruise I had been on where food was difficult to come by at times. Bear in mind this is an Italian cruise ship, NOT American. Italians apparently do not stuff themselves 24x7. The buffet was awful - very small, food was terrible; overall the worst buffet I've seen on a cruise ship. It is only open for breakfast and lunch. No dinner; no 24x7 buffet as on most ships. The dining room was much better, still not to the quality of American ships but I was able to find something to eat every meal. I think some of my issues with dining room food were more due to the fact that it was Italian style, not American, thus I cannot fault the ship for this as I expected an Italian experience. People Italians are a different bunch - I thought they were rude, loud, and very inconsiderate of others (we spent several weeks in Europe traveling all over and have no complaints other than with Italians). They smoke everywhere.....smoking is very bad on the ship. Apparently breathing oxygen is optional in Italy. This is by a million miles the worst I have seen smoking on a cruise ship. Surprisingly there were large numbers of Americans on the ship - far more than I expected. Our dining table was all American, and it appeared assigned by age, which we found to be great. Despite being a ship dominated by Italians, I think we had the best table group on any of the cruises we have taken. The excursions were organized by language, and we were mostly with Americans. Overall, that piece was well organized by Costa. Ports We choose this cruise for the itinerary above all else, and were not disappointed. We used all Costa excursions (in the Caribbean we always go it alone, but on port intensive cruises such as this, Alaska, and a few others we went with the ships excursions). The excursions were in English, mostly attended by Americans. I have no complaints on any of the excursions we took - they were all worth the money. Catania: Did the 4x4 up Mt. Etna. Actually was off road, did a nice hike around Mt Etna. Supposed to be a 4 hour excursion, was closer to 6. We were happy with this excursion. Izmir: Our favorite port, not at all what we expected. Did the 9 hour Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary, and St Johns excursion. Well worth the money. Ephesus is one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World, and it is well deserved. Santorini: Did the Oia Village, which I think was the only worth while excursion here. Oia is very pretty and we got great photos....it is what I picture when I think of Greece. The village where the ship actually ports (different than if you take an excursion) is just a typical cruise shopping place, nothing special. Mykonos: I think this is really a beach stop, but in November and at 6-11 pm there was nothing to do. No ship excursions, which is the first time I've been to a port with an excursion being offered. We got off, walked around went back in maybe 30 minutes time. Athens: Took the Acropolis and Museum excursion. Museum was boring, nothing special to see. If I had to do it again, I would just take the Acropolis excursion. The Acropolis is very cool, with nice views of Athens. But it pales in comparison to Ephesus. Overall we had a great time on the cruise. Given the price ($299 pp) and itinerary, it was well worth the trip. The key is to remember it is an Italian ship, not an American. Of course, as you are in Italy, this should be expected.....yet many Americans still think it will be like America wherever they go. As long as you book based on itinerary and expect an Italian experience, I think anyone would enjoy this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My husband and I were celebrating our 25yr wedding anniversary. My husband chose the Costa Pacifica ship for its itinerary and price. Shore excursion desk and customer service not at par with other cruise companies such as Celebrity (see ... Read More
My husband and I were celebrating our 25yr wedding anniversary. My husband chose the Costa Pacifica ship for its itinerary and price. Shore excursion desk and customer service not at par with other cruise companies such as Celebrity (see comments on Egypt below). Shore excursion locations are good if you are able to get in english-speaking ones. We talked to British, Americans and other english-speaking cruisers - found this company not amicable to english-speaking people. We liked the food - it is a Mediterranean fare with small portions in the sit down restaurants. A food theme is available almost everyday. Restaurants are very clean. We visited the kitchen - spotless. If you have diet restrictions or concerns, they help you and follow strict guidelines. Drinks are expensive out of happy hour - however they have happy hour two times a day. We found the European cruisers in this ship rude. They reach over your shoulders and cut you in line as if the food was going to be finished or too famished to wait. Do not know if this is normal behavior or not for Europeans. Room was good. We had a handicapped room - bathroom was palatial. However, if you are in a wheelchair and/or have mobility problems this is not the cruise company for you. They have NO handicapped transportation to/from the port or shore excursions. Since ship is new, the surrounding were nice and clean. A bit whimsical but perhaps due the theme of the ship - music. Entertainment was a mediocre compare to other cruise lines we have been. I would have expected a fabulous programming given their ship's theme - music. Beware - the ship keep your passport at all times except in Egypt for which you need to show it personally to Egyptian custom agents. Once you return from the excursion in Egypt, they must get it again. On disembarkation, it was efficient and fast. Luggage was easy to find. Bus drive back to airport was efficient. By the way, on our return we stay one night at a Best Western called Hotel Riviera. Great price for this little hotel. Great service, great transportation to/from airport and Rome city center. Hotel is nearby the old city port with a nice boardwalk you could stroll during the day. Restaurants nearby, on the ocean side, are EXPENSIVE but it was the best risotto I have ever tasted. We went to the Il Pescatore restaurant. Breakfast in the hotel was fantastic! Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
We got to Rome and our luggage was lost both mine and my wife's, also about twelve other people on our KLM flight from Amsterdam. I'm disabled but can walk a little with a lot of pain.After filling missing luggage forms out we ... Read More
We got to Rome and our luggage was lost both mine and my wife's, also about twelve other people on our KLM flight from Amsterdam. I'm disabled but can walk a little with a lot of pain.After filling missing luggage forms out we were rushed by Costa reps to the bus which we thought were outside, but no they were 1/4 mile away up the road as taxis were out the front. All the time we and other disabled passengers had to stop and slow down the rep as we were rushed. On ship we were told they will search for the luggage and they gave us toiletry bags robe and t shirt each. My wife's antidepressants had fallen out in the taxi at home and the others were in the suitcases and she was just crying all the time. The luggage didn't catch up with us until we left Pal ma so for nearly 4 days we wore the same clothes as we were told that the bags were coming but they didn't so that morning in pal ma we bought some but my wife just cried nearly continuously for the first three days and I was getting worked up seeing her like it. Must say though the captain and the staff were brilliant just the luggage was always one step behind and a few of the twelve that luggage was lost didn't get any clothes back on the cruise. Anyway the ship was lovely and so were the staff, I only wish I hadn`t booked the cruise over a year ago as i read reviews just before i went and they were right, if you like pizza great other wise food in the evening was terrible the posh nosh in the New York restaurant looked good but I Had only Jeans and shirt and when we went in the looks we had made us uncomfortable so we left and had the buffet.We could not find a quite spot any where on the ship its just music everywhere.the shows we did go to see were great but at first my wife was to upset to go anywhere. The main theme of this cruise was at any opportunity to take photos and make money you couldn`t even make tea in the cabin. the surprise came at the end as we got off the ship my wife and I and our friend pushing his wife in a wheel chair proceeded to head to the coach for the airport when we were stopped by security.He pointed to the end of the building about 50 yards and don`t forget your luggage How the hell was brian pushing a wheel chair going to pick up 2 cases and push the wheelchair to the coach it seemed as soon as your of they didn't want to know we all had muck in and help.The same at the air port we were just dropped off and had the same problem so disabled people be aware! Would I go again no to many rood Italians not all but most especially in the buffet,shows great staff great Ive had my moan thanks for reading hope it helps Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Booking Alitalia to Rome was a mistake as even our Italian friends tell us. It is Western Europe's version of Aeroflot. We had only allowed six and a half hours until our cruise left. The plane was three late in landing. The first ... Read More
Booking Alitalia to Rome was a mistake as even our Italian friends tell us. It is Western Europe's version of Aeroflot. We had only allowed six and a half hours until our cruise left. The plane was three late in landing. The first bag off the belt appeared 45 minutes later. After an hour and forty five minutes, we received two of our three bags. During the delay, we had tried several times to file a missing luggage report with Alitalia; they had always refused--"just wait five more minutes." Now, we had no alternative but to head for the cruise terminal (the shuttle cost E125, so much for our plan to take the train) without filing a report. Boarding was simple—it always is when you're the last to board. We reported our missing bag to the Costa purser; they contacted Alitalia on our behalf with a full description of the bag; they gave us an overnight kit and slippers, loaned us two bathrobes, and comped out laundry (express service!) for our entire stay aboard. No,Alitalia has yet to return or reimburse us for our luggage; we've tried contacting the phone numbers and email addresses on their website, but all are out of service. Cabin incredibly spacious; one of two diagonal-shaped cabins over fantail. We could and did sit in the window. Bed quite comfortable, firm mattress. Warm comforter. Excellent temperature control. Very helpful cabin stewardess. But woke one morning to the smell of bacon--and, alas, breakfast was not served for another hour. Choice of buffet sit-down breakfast (with possibility of ordering over-cooked eggs) or buffet on upper level with truly wonderful omelets. Breakfast best meal of the day. Dreadful pizza always available. Was it us or the Pizza? I asked an Italian passenger who said, "Pizza was dreadful." (Majority of passengers were European--Italians, French, German, Brits and made for interesting company.) Entrees, appetizers and soups were almost always inedible. The exception were the wonderful Italian cheeses. Serving staff surly and quick to forget requests for water or tea. Music everywhere, afternoon and evening. We danced each night and many joined us on the floor--musicians excellent. (And after the ballroom dancers left, the discos opened). No free in-room movies or lectures. Our itinerary was excellent, but Costa, quick to sell their own tours, provided little aid on getting to town. The exception was free shuttle in Civitavecchia and $6 per person shuttle in Barcelona. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Just returned from 10 day trip and overall it was good for our family of 5. The greatest disappointment was that we missed Alexandria because of high seas but did Palermo instead. Whilst everyone was deeply disappointed, we understood it ... Read More
Just returned from 10 day trip and overall it was good for our family of 5. The greatest disappointment was that we missed Alexandria because of high seas but did Palermo instead. Whilst everyone was deeply disappointed, we understood it was an act of nature. Some good and bad points about Costa and Pacifica. Good Kids under 18 sharing with adults are free. Efficient check in, disembarkation and always arrived early or on time in every port. Crew pleasant and mainly English speaking, particularly the Philipinos. Happy hour 4-6 alcohol two for one. Teen club got the thumbs up. Outside cabin spacious, aisles spacious. Bad Tours overpriced. Fortunately we did most independently. Food nothing to rave about and more limited venues than on other ships. Pacifica's buffet wasn't open at night- only for pizza and salad. Piped music on each floor was hideously monotonous. Our floor played only one song in a continuous loop 24/7. Decor rather garish and overdone. Every square inch was decorated in clashing styles- a bit like Italy meets Vegas. Smoking allowed in most rooms. Kids awake at all hours of the night and morning. Even the teen club didn't kick in till after 11. Sometimes we felt that non italians were discriminated against. If costa is marketing aggressively around the world they should not make non Italians feel like foreigners. However, all announcements were in italian, english, French, German and Spanish and there were always english speakers at help desk. Overall we enjoyed our cruise and thought it great value for money. A word of warning about Civitavecchia- there is no cruise terminal, only a tent and it is a nightmare to find by car. Port directions and facilities need to be dramatically improved. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We just got back from Dec 27th Costa Pacifica Cruise out of Rome RT to the Holy Land. I don't cover everything, so email me if you have questions. Embarkation Luggage handling was very efficient. Embarkation was very organized, but ... Read More
We just got back from Dec 27th Costa Pacifica Cruise out of Rome RT to the Holy Land. I don't cover everything, so email me if you have questions. Embarkation Luggage handling was very efficient. Embarkation was very organized, but it still took us about an hour. But the seating area was comfortable if not posh. We were given a plastic "number" when we walked in, and folks were called in groups. So no long lines. I thought it worked well. The Ship The ship is beautiful; sparkling clean and those of you used to Carnival ship deck plans, will find many similarities, but the dEcor has been toned down from Carnival mode and is fun and lively. Cabin We were in Cabin 8457 (Mini-suite); wraparound aft balcony on Deck 8. The cabin itself was an odd but fun triangle shape, with a door to the balcony and two extra porthole windows. The balcony; well, it took my breath away. It is HUGE, and the wraparound allows you to of course gaze into the wake of the ship and also run around to the side to check out the view further. The bathroom was of the usual balcony-type; in this mini-suite no tub due to the large balcony. We did experience serious vibrations in docking and we could hear noise from the bar 3 decks below on noisy nights. Also, some deck chair scraping from above (the Lido Buffet is overhead.) But the balcony was worth it to us. It's a trade-off, I think. If you're a light sleeper, don't book this cabin. This is a two-person cabin, no sofabed, just a chair. The Staff Amazingly helpful. Our room steward, Lionel was probably the best we've ever had. Our wait staff Angel and Eden worked liked crazy to keep up happy. Waiters and waitresses were pleasant throughout the ship despite the fact we had a prepaid Costa X1 drink card. We did tip a Euro here, a Euro there throughout the trip and found we got consistent excellent service. All staff was smiley and truly gracious. Food I liked it. A lot. It's not American fare; it is NOT a meat and potato 'Merican menu. However, we thought food was very, very good and plentiful. From the reviews I've read of Costa, I thought we were going to starve or something! We are South Beach health conscious, picky organic California types, and we delighted in the food. At breakfast we did the Buffet; amazing pastries and croissants to die for, fresh fruit (no berries), cheeses, yogurts, the usual yucky cruise scrambled eggs, omelet station and of course, we would buy an AMAZING macchiato latte each day. I don't know WHAT people are complaining about n these boards about lack of food on Costa. Anyway, lunch buffets were ample: meats, chicken, pasta, always pizza, and always a Specialty Buffet (Greek, Mexican, Indian, etc.) There is also a grill with burgers and fries and hot dogs. There was a large and varied Tea (4-5pm) which had finger sandwiches and a large variety of pastries and cookies. Dinner again had some unusual choices on the menu, but also you could always order salmon (which was truly excellent) if nothing else appeals. I always asked the waiter what he recommended for the entrEe, and if I wasn't thrilled (which happened once I think) he quickly whisked it away and brought something else. The desserts (especially the sugar free) were excellent and varied, unlike recently on Celebrity where all desserts taste the same just different shapes. So, bottom line, if you are a beef/steak person, don't book this cruise. If you are a fish, chicken, pasta person, book this cruise and sit back and enjoy. We cancelled our reservation at the specialty restaurant because the Main Dining room was fab. Note: Also, if you are someone who wants tons of room service, this is not the ship. Very limited. Shows Musicians were good; production shows were, well, cruise production shows. Casino Quite smokey and not an infinite selection of slots. It didn't stop me from playing though. Spa The spa is the biggest and best I have seen (comparing now to the Celebrity ships, Carnival Splendor and Princess.) We bought the pass for the duration (11 days); it was 199 Euro per person, and we went every day; sometimes twice. Just a lovely facility. New Years Eve They did a great job of ensuring all had a good time. Free champagne and wine with dinner; all the rooms decorated; handed out streamers and hats. And the tasteful Christmas decorations were still up around the ship, lots of white lights. Ports We took this cruise for the ports: Jerusalem, Cairo, Rhodes, Athens, Cypress. Wouldn't you? We did private guides, except for Cypress, where we did a Costa tour. The tour was half English and half Spanish and worked out just fine. Disembarkation Was quick and easy; we walked off with our luggage, jumped a cab and headed to the airport. There was no traffic and we got there in under an hour. Fellow Passengers This is an Italian ship full of Italians. There were only 90 English speaking guests out of the 3,500 aboard. Our tablemates were all from the states and we had a fabulous dinner every night. I speak Italian and hubby speaks some French, so we felt very much at home. However, if you like the comfort of American ways, you might want to look elsewhere for a more familiar environment. But if you're like me and love the sound of 5 different languages around you, book now. Bottom line, we had a blast, and would book Costa again in a blink of an eye. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
January 29 Costa Pacifica 11 Night Eastern Med The purpose of this review is to hopefully provide helpful information to others sailing on the Pacifica. My husband and I are not new to cruising. In fact, this was our 35th one. But it was ... Read More
January 29 Costa Pacifica 11 Night Eastern Med The purpose of this review is to hopefully provide helpful information to others sailing on the Pacifica. My husband and I are not new to cruising. In fact, this was our 35th one. But it was our first on Costa Cruise Line. Our trip began on Jan. 25, for three nights pre-cruise in Rome. We did not do a package through the cruise line but made our own travel and hotel arrangements. Our flight departed Houston to Rome via London arriving on Jan. 26. I selected a Rome hotel (Teti) from TripAdvisor recommendations that was located 2 - 3 blocks from Termini (train) station. Upon arrival, our original plan was to take the train from FCO airport into Rome. However, as we were on our way outside the departure terminal, we were approached by a man who ran a shuttle service (Minivan Service Roma). His charge was 15 Euro per person (train was 11 Euro pp). Since it was raining and we were tired, we took the shuttle with delivery to the door of our hotel. The hotel was small (probably 8 rooms), very reasonably priced, friendly staff, and included breakfast. On our first day in Rome, we visited the collosseum, forum, Parthenon, Trevi fountain, and Spanish steps. All this was done by walking - with maps from the internet and one obtained at the hotel. Second day in Rome was another self-guided walking tour to Vatican City. Although I didn't think the crowds would be enormous in January, I purchased tickets online in advance for the 10:00 AM time slot. We arrived at approximately 9:15 AM (it opens at 9:00) and we walked right in. There were no lines, so reservation wasn't necessary. But our first time there in 17 years, so didn't know what to expect. We immediately went to the Sistine Chapel and there were only about 15 people in the room. From there, we went back through the galleries and an outside walk. Somehow we managed to wander back into the chapel again. By the time of the second visit, there were probably 90- 100 people in the room. From the Vatican, we walked to St. Peter's Square (nativity was still up, as was Christmas tree). We went inside St. Peter's Basilica - what an amazing church! And the most incredible nativity was still set up inside it. On our third morning in Rome, we checked out of our hotel and walked to Termini Station. We bought tickets (11 Euro pp) at the counter for the trip back to FCO airport. We had shuttle reservations to Civitavecchia. The shuttle arrangements were made at time of cruise booking as we hadn't made plans (at that time) for visiting Rome. However, we could have taken the train from Termini to Civitavecchia for 4 Euro. A taxi from the Civitavecchia train station to the cruise terminal was 20 Euro according to a fellow passenger. The shuttle bus ride took approximately 1 hour from FCO to the cruise terminal. Upon entering the terminal, we were given a number designating the order we would be called. We had number 7 and waited 40 - 45 minutes to be called. The process was very orderly, no mad scramble to get in line. We walked to a roped off area and had our boarding passes (received from travel agent) and passports checked. From there, we proceeded to a desk where we turned in the health information forms that we were given upon entrance to the terminal. After that, we entered an area where the usual photo (standing behind a ship's wheel) was taken. And finally, we reached the back entrance to the terminal where we were allowed out in groups of 5 - 6 to walk to the ship's gangway. At the gangway entrance, our passports and cruise documents were once again checked and then we boarded the Pacifica. At the entrance, a ship's employee used a handheld scanner to scan our boarding pass codes. On the reverse of the scanner was a camera used to take our official photo. No key cards were issued to us. Our last stop upon entering the ship was to relinquish our passports which were placed in manila envelopes and receipts issued (passports were returned on 4th day). We quickly found our unlocked cabin and our key cards were lying on the bed along with other printed information. In addition, our checked luggage was already in the cabin. We still haven't figured out how they did that so quickly. Immediately after unloading our hand luggage, we went to find one of the several onboard machines used to program/activate information for credit card use. Either a credit card or cash deposit had to be made within 48 hours of boarding. All in all, the boarding process went very smoothly and efficiently. Much easier and faster than other cruise lines we have been on. Our key card indicated that we had second seating (9:00 PM). So our first stop after getting the credit card registered was to visit the maitre d'. We asked to be switched to early dining (6:30 PM). He was very accommodating but said our first night's dinner seating would be temporary and by second night we'd have a permanent assignment. At 5:30 PM, an English speaking information talk was given in one of the lounges. At that time, we were told there were 380 English speakers (3000 total passengers) on that sailing. Our first dinner was at a four person table with a couple from Canada. And on second night, we were at a 10 person table. There were 8 of us (all English speakers) with two empty seats - one couple from Canada, one couple from Scotland, one of the ship's dancers and her boyfriend (he was taking the cruise as a paid passenger and she was given permission to eat dinner with him) who were from England. After two nights of just the eight of us, the additional chairs were removed. Although we didn't attend the first evening's entertainment in the theater, it was the usual welcome aboard variety show with singers and dancers. We attended the remainder of the shows and all were good and in English. There was a magician, a cirque du soleil type show, a singer from S. Africa, a mime/juggler, Pacifica crew show, classical concert, several musical shows, and a passenger talent show. What attracted us to this cruise was the itinerary, especially Israel. The following is a breakdown of the ports and what we did. Port # 1: Savona Instead of an excursion, we decided to spend some time walking the streets and enjoying the shops and Saturday farmer's market. Port # 2: Katakolon Since our ship didn't arrive till 1:00 PM, we knew we'd be unable to take the train into Olympia. We shared a rental car with two other passengers for the drive to Olympia. Cost of car rental - 45 Euro (total) plus 10 Euro for gasoline. The entrance to the Olympia museum and archeological site was 9 Euro per person. Port # 3: Piraeus for Athens Since we had been to Athens two years ago, we decided to forego an excursion and take the train into Athens to visit the National Archaeological Museum, Agora, and plaka. Upon our arrival in Piraeus, it was raining and cold so we decided not to make the trip. When the rain stopped, we walked into Piraeus but there wasn't much to see. Port # 4: Rhodes A beautiful, ancient walled city - one of our favorites. We followed directions from the internet entering through the Liberty Gate and along the Avenue of Knights making our first stop the Palace of the Grand Masters. Since we arrived at the palace early, we missed the excursion crowds. From the palace, we continued along the medieval streets enjoying the history of such an amazing place! Port # 5 Limassol We took a ship's excursion to the village of Omodos, Temple of Apollo, and ancient ruins of Kourian (49 Euro pp). Port # 6 Ashdod for Jerusalem/Bethlehem In Israel, we took an excursion (Guided Tours - $115 USD pp) via mini-van with 8 other fellow passengers to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The Jerusalem part of that tour was wonderful but we were extremely disappointed in the Bethlehem portion. Our Israeli guide was not allowed into Bethlehem. So we transferred to another van with a Palestinian guide who later informed us that he wasn't actually a guide. He had to get permission to take our group into the Church of the Nativity and provided no history. He said we would not be able to see the Grotto of the Nativity because it would probably be a three hour wait. Not sure how he estimated that since the line wasn't very long. So instead, we were taken to a shop to see what was supposedly an urn that contained Dead Sea scrolls and then we were kept there for another 45 minutes to shop. I would much rather have spent that time waiting to see the Grotto. Others on our tour agreed. Port # 7 & 8 Pt. Said for Cairo and Alexandria In Egypt, we took a private excursion (Ramses - $120 USD pp) that included only the two of us. We had a guide and driver, both of whom were very accommodating. We'd visited Egypt once before and we chose to see the pyramids and sphinx again. Our guide arranged for us to take a camel ride at the pyramids. However, instead of doing the Cairo Museum of Egyptian Antiquities (again), we opted for a sail on one of the traditional felucca boats. Afterwards, we were taken to an area for souvenir shopping before beginning the drive to Alexandria (where the ship had moved during the day) to re-board our ship. Following our last port, we had two sea days before returning to Civitavecchia. On our final morning, we had to be out of our cabin at 8:30 AM. At that time, we were directed to the New York, New York restaurant to wait. By 9:45 AM, we began the disembarkation process. Our return was via shuttle to the FCO airport in Rome. Prior to this cruise, I read on many of the Costa threads that the food was 'different'. But there was no explanation as to what 'different' meant. I would characterize the food as appealing more to Europeans than Americans. However, we enjoyed the food very much. My husband loves pasta and pizza so he was very satisfied. We never had breakfast or lunch in a dining room and instead ate those meals in the buffet restaurant. Neither meal-time buffet was as elaborate or large as we've seen on other cruise lines. But there was always an adequate variety. Breakfast included hot and cold cereals, eggs (scrambled, boiled, omelets), bacon, sausage, potatoes, a large selection of breads and pastries, cheeses, cold cuts, and fresh fruits (cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple). Buffet lunches provided pizza and fresh made pasta daily plus a variety of hot dishes. There was always some type of meat, poultry, fish, cooked vegetables, salad bar, breads, cheeses, desserts, and self serve ice cream machine. On several days the lunch buffet, also, included foods that were 'different' to me but part of a Mediterranean diet; such as calamari, octopus, and mussels. Our evening meals were taken in the My Way Restaurant. Beef entrees were very limited. However, there was one night when flank steak was offered and another night prime rib. No lobster or crab legs on the menu. But there was always a meat (lamb, pork, veal), poultry, fish, and vegetarian entree. Each night's menu had three appetizers, one soup and one salad, two pastas, and four entrees. Dessert included four items to choose from. The food was always served hot and service was prompt. The ship's interior was very nice and clean. There were a number of rooms/lounges in which to sit and the library provided a quiet place for reading. The gym was very large with a variety of machines and we never had to wait to use any. Although we didn't take swim suits, there were a large number of people who made use of the hot tubs and pools. The staff was friendly and helpful and the difference in languages was never a problem. Our evening wait staff was polite and efficient. And our cabin steward always did an amazing job in a short amount of time. All in all, we thought our Costa cruise was a great value for the money. We thoroughly enjoyed the ports, the food, shows, and service. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
First time cruisers enj: On February 20th we embarked on an eastern Med cruise aboard the Costa Pacifica which first sailed in the summer of 2009. We were two of approximately 400 English speaking guests with French and Italian guests ... Read More
First time cruisers enj: On February 20th we embarked on an eastern Med cruise aboard the Costa Pacifica which first sailed in the summer of 2009. We were two of approximately 400 English speaking guests with French and Italian guests being the most numerous. Announcements came in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. The staff was courteous and very helpful. Our interior room was very efficient and roomy. We toured a oceanview and saw a balcony but we were very happy with our interior. The two main dining rooms were dazzling. We enjoyed each and every evening meal. The buffet areas were large and always filled with something to eat. We tried out a few shows but Vegas styled shows are not our thing. The ship offered many activities, especially on non-port days so the time flew by. We did most of our own excursions (DIY) but the two ship excursions we took were typical large bus types with a lot of time wasted waiting for people. Also, we had to endure the "sales pitch" that so often is included with a ship excursion (on the Ephesus excursion they took us to a carpet store and everyone was very bored). A storm on the seas caused us to be late docking back at Civie and I was amazed at the level of support and help given to travelers by Costa. They tried their best to help out the passengers. The only warning I can give to American tourists is simply this...it's an European cruise so don't expect steaks and potatoes on the menu. The food in both the main dining rooms and the buffet area is typical European with a lot of seafood and lamb. Plus, don't get put off as an American when the announcements are hard to sometimes understand. If you miss an announcement, just ask a crew member and they will help you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We booked a balcony cabin on the Pacifica from Civitavecchia to Savona, Italy; Katakalon,Athens, and Rhodes, Greece; Limmasol, Cyprus; and a morning drop off in Port Said with evening pick up in Alexandria, Egypt. Our cabin was mid ship ... Read More
We booked a balcony cabin on the Pacifica from Civitavecchia to Savona, Italy; Katakalon,Athens, and Rhodes, Greece; Limmasol, Cyprus; and a morning drop off in Port Said with evening pick up in Alexandria, Egypt. Our cabin was mid ship and we found it spacious enough and comfortable -- we had a sofa, so I would imagine it would sleep a third person. The inside cabins seemed to be smaller. It was too cold most days to use the balcony -- we sailed March 3rd to March 14th -- but we did get some use of it. The stateroom amenities included a refrigerator and safe. The bathroom had a bar of soap and a dispenser for shower gel/shampoo. Our cabin steward was attentive and very pleasant. If you like a particular soap or shampoo or a washcloth, I would suggest bringing your own. We went for the ports. In Savona, we took the ship excursion to Monaco. We really enjoyed it and left the casino with both of us having won a small amount of euros. The famous casino did not open until later in the afternoon, so we did not get in there. We saw many sights and visited the church where Princess Grace and Prince Rainier were married and later buried. While we were in front of the palace, a limousine with Prince Albert in the back seat, passed us. We hooked up with another couple on CruiseCritic and planned some excursions on our own -- which saved us quite a bit of money. In Katakolon, we rented a car and drove to Olympus, then spent a little bit of time wandering the port. In Athens, we shared a cab and went to the Acropolis and the new museum, then wandered around Plaka on our own. Due to rough seas, Rhodes was canceled and replaced with Marmaris, Turkey, but we were unable to pull into port because of rough seas there, as well. Later in the day, the ship was hit with a 110 mph wind and tipped at an angle that caused plates and glasses to fly. The captain was quick to correct it, but a lot of damage had been done. Crew who had cruised for over fifteen years said they had never seen anything like it. In Cyprus, we took the ship's shuttle bus (six euros round trip per person), an option that was offered in some other ports, as well. We wandered Cyprus on our own (with our new best friends) and visited a historical museum, shopped, and visited a bakery where we bought olive bread and baklava to eat at the beach. In Israel, the other couple did another tour and we went to the Fort at Masada and had a good lunch at Hotel Hod -- where we also were able to float in the Dead Sea. This tour was half English and half French, so everything was in two languages. In Egypt, our friends cruised the Nile and I went on the pyramids, camel, and jeep tour on my own with a couple we had met on the previous day's excursion. This bus was half English and half German speakers. My husband got sick and made use of the ship's medical facility. He needed a doctor's note to get a refund for his excursion. His initial visit was 35 euros, but he had to go back three more times for shots and was also given medication. The total bill was slightly over 68 euros (including the 35 euro office visit). Our next two days were at sea. Even with the two languages, the excursions were very good. Lunch at Hotel Hod in Israel and at Sakkara Country Club in Egypt were both very tasty. Ship food, however, was rather bland. There were only a couple of meals that I enjoyed. I wished I had my jars of spices so I could add some zing to the food. Pastas were al dente -- as they should be -- but most lacked sufficient sauce and were rather dry. I did not enjoy the buffet, although they do have a made to order omelet station in the morning. Ship coffee in the buffet is not potable. We ate breakfast in the restaurant where we could get cappuccino or espresso and we also ordered more from room service. A light breakfast in your room is included, but there is a service charge for other meals. Other than breakfast, cappuccino and espresso cost money. The only drinks available throughout the day are tea and water. (That buffet coffee might also be available, but after that first cup, I never looked for it again.) There were not a lot of activities on the ship other than the traditional exercise program, bingo, trivia, etc. The shows were rather lame unless you enjoy jugglers, acrobats, and singers. One show was a crew show and another was ship talent. We went to the first 3 of the shows and skipped the rest. There were no happy hours -- as others had led me to believe. The best bar special was a five euro tropical drink at happy hour or a specific drink for each bar each day -- also five euros plus 15% service charge (almost eight US dollars). I ordered a cosmopolitan and it ended up costing about eleven US dollars. I did not notice a lot of children on the ship. I would imagine that most children would be in school early March. We rented a car at the airport in Rome and were able to drop it off in Civitavecchia. We had thought we had rented a car from Civitavecchia back to Rome, but the rental car company was closed on Sunday -- despite their having sent us a reservation reminder a couple of days before. The train station is a short walk from port. It cost us about 12 euros each to get to Siena, but it was a hassle and we lost most of one of our days in Tuscany. The disembarkation seemed quite organized. We were late arriving and I heard that embarkation included a lot of pushing and shoving. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
I had read all the reviews and boards to know what to expect on Costa. It had a good itinerary and fit our schedule perfectly so we booked it anyway. Here is my list of positives and negatives of our cruise the week before Easter. ... Read More
I had read all the reviews and boards to know what to expect on Costa. It had a good itinerary and fit our schedule perfectly so we booked it anyway. Here is my list of positives and negatives of our cruise the week before Easter. Embarkation: We took the train from Rome which is easy until you get off in Civitivecchia where there are two staircases to negotiate (no elevator) so be ready to haul luggage down and then up some stairs. Once at the castle by the port, hopped on the shuttle to the ship. We arrived with no luggage tags (never arrived) so we had them printed when we arrived. Staff was very helpful with this and sent us to the boarding area. Folks were sitting around but we just jumped in the boarding line. When asked where our boarding number was, we answered we didn't have one (apparently you were supposed to get one when you turned your luggage in) so they just let us through. Easy. They don't give you your cards or do the credit card thing until you board. The sea pass cards were waiting on the bed and we immediately found a kiosk to connect our credit card to the sea pass cards for purchases on board. By the way, passengers embarked and disembarked at almost every port. Cabin: Positives: Lots of storage and tame decor. The cabin was kept clean and fresh towels always provided even if you hang them up to use again. Lots of shelves in the bathroom. Negatives: There is no bed sheet, just a light comforter (which was too warm for me). There is only one outlet (one european and one western). There are no toiletries except for a bar of soap and the dispenser in the shower so bring your own. The doors to the corridor and balcony slam themselves shut, so guess what you hear from your neighbors, yes, slamming doors. The TV system is fair, not many channels (only one in English) and no free movies. No music channels unless you are watching the ship cam or the location channel. Ship: Positives: Lots of elevators (especially the most forward stack) so not much waiting for elevators. But be ready for folks NOT to wait for you to get off the elevator, apparently Italians wait for the elevator to arrive and barge right in. The Samsara spa is an oasis of quiet (mostly) so pay the extra money to get away from the crowds. With new passengers everyday, they are always trooping through new passengers on a tour to see the amenities. If you like to dance, this line is for you. There were huge dance floors in many of the bars. Negatives: The circulation is poor, the only way to get from the front to the back is either on deck 9 or deck 5. It gets crowded around the atrium around dinner time with the shops shoving tables into the walkways (which are skinny to begin with). To get to the restaurants, you have to go up and over them to find your way around. The promenade decks only have entrance and exits at the center of the ship, so if you walk to the front or back, they are dead ends. Not a good design. Costa does the lifeboat drill outside next to the boats. The gym has no elliptical machines but everything else. Oh, and the mandatory sanitary hand gels you see on RCCL or Celebrity: yes, they are there but not enforced at all so not many folks use them at all. The two main pool areas are covered and the one with the jumbotron TV is LOUD. Very loud. Remember that kids are free on Costa and we were there on their Spring break. Kids were running up and down the corridors but were mostly well behaved. There is more smoking than U.S. cruisers are used to, but just stay on the starboard side in most common areas to avoid it. No smoking in the main restaurant. There is a huge lack of public restrooms (must be the common Carnival design?) on this ship. I saw only two. Food: Negatives: Don't expect Lobster and steak. This is an Italian line. That said, the meats were not that good. Brewed coffee in the buffet was not good. Positives: The pasta was good along with the vegetarian choices. The Blue Moon restaurant is another oasis of quiet and worth the extra money. The signature ice cream prepared tableside was amazing. All the bars have espresso machines which were good. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Costa Pacifica. A Novel. We are a couple in our 40's who have cruised 12 times (HAL, X, Oceania, Carnival, RCCL, Regal Empress, NCL, MSC). We booked this cruise because of the itinerary, price and, in part, international clientele. We ... Read More
Costa Pacifica. A Novel. We are a couple in our 40's who have cruised 12 times (HAL, X, Oceania, Carnival, RCCL, Regal Empress, NCL, MSC). We booked this cruise because of the itinerary, price and, in part, international clientele. We are independent travelers--have only taken 2 excursions on all these trips--who like to explore new cultures via interesting itineraries, and relax on board when we cruise. With the exception of the gym and library--which we hope will be well equipped and stocked- -we are not interested in ship amenities such as entertainment, activities, casinos and so on. The ship appeared well designed for persons with a disability. We also booked before the Pacifica was launched so it was a bit of a gamble. When the reviews started rolling in, we started to sweat—needlessly it turns out! I know this cruise is not for everyone, but we had a terrific time. If you want things to be exactly like other cruises you have been on and will sulk if they are not, you may not have a good time. Open your mind and heart when you go. Additionally our concerns were because we had sailed MSC in the Mediterranean and most people were saying the two lines were similar. I can say that in my experience the worst food and service was on MSC, and we probably had our best trip ever on the Pacifica (due to many factors besides the ship such as the great ports and flawless weather--yes sometimes the planets line up). Thankfully the two experiences were like night and day. Was "corporate" on board our sailing? How does one explain this? Heading overseas: We flew Alitalia, and the experience was excellent. After I booked, I read the reviews and they were horrible. However, the plane was clean, on time, crew excellent, the complimentary wine pleasant and always available AND no lost luggage. On the return trip we had personal TV's with probably 50 movie selections. Pre-cruise: we spent 2 nights in Rome at the Crosti. It was a clean, nice hotel with a great breakfast. It is near Termini which it is nice for those who transfer independently. The only issue for me was that we had a first floor room, so there was street noise, and also shoe noise on the marble floors in the lobby which was just a few feet away. Last time we were in Rome we used the Leonardo Express from the airport to Termini, but ended up booking a shuttle this time because I found a good deal. We regretted it. We had to wait 45 minutes for other passengers to come in, and we ended up being the last dropped off. It was a 2.5 hour ordeal, when the train would have been about 45 minutes, total. We used the same company to shuttle us from port to the airport (not enough time to use trains), and they were excellent--I think around 100 euro and only took 45 from Civitavecchia to FCO. It is called "Airportshuttle". We purchased daily subway cards and found our way around the city with ease. We took in some sights we had not seen on our last visit: Tivoli Fountain, Spanish Steps, Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, Circus Maximus, and revisited the Coliseum. Because we heard Saturday was the busiest day at the Vatican, we used a ticket buying agency before we left to smooth the way inside. It was a good call since the lines were hours long to just buy tickets. It was crowded but at least we got right in. Not sure if I can post a link, but it was called Rome-Museum— http://www.rome-museum.com/. The local food specialties we tried were great: tripe Roman style, oxtail, fresh anchovies, sautEed greens, caprese salad, whole artichokes dressed with the ubiquitous but delicious olive oil and lemon, and of course cured meats and cheeses. On Sunday morning we headed to port. We purchased tickets to the Civitavecchia port the night before at Termini station. This is not necessary, but we went ahead and did it because we had no idea if there would be lines the next day. The ticket was 4.5 Euro each and the ride took an hour and 15 minutes. It was not an express train- you can get an Express ticket for about twice as much and shave off 30 minutes or so. We chose the slow train because the schedule worked better. Be advised that Termini is a high theft area (not robbery, but theft), so don't let you bags out of your sight for a second. From the train station in Civitavecchia, you walk through the little town for 10 minutes or so to the port entrance, where there is a free shuttle. We arrived to a makeshift embarkation hall and were given a number to board, and were told it would be about 1:50pm -we had arrived at 1pm. There were uncomfortable chairs to sit in and the bathrooms became dirty quickly. We had prepared ourselves to expect the worst so we tried not to get too worried. The check in staff was excellent and we were quickly on the ship once our number was called. We went to our unlocked room to retrieve our key cards and then went to a self serve Kiosk to register the credit card for on board expenses. The ship was beautiful! Maybe a little flashy for my typical tastes, but spotless and lovely. I liked that many of the lounges radiated out from the atrium. It became like a village square at night, albeit on several levels, with everyone out and about in the same general area. This ship was kept cleaner than other ships I have sailed. Fewer dirty dishes lying around, and bathrooms were cleaner. Or maybe in Europe they just know how to flush the toilet and not pee all over the seat. The fellow passengers were European, mostly Italian. We were told there were about 500 persons speaking English on board -about 15% of the passengers. I suspect this included many people that spoke English as a second language but did not speak Italian, French, German or Spanish--the other main languages served on board. For instance, there were many Japanese, and persons from other parts of Europe on board. Sure there were different ideas about space, including the infamous sidling into line a bit, entering the elevator before anyone could vacate, but it was hardly a big deal for us. I could not see going all the way to Europe and insisting on being on a ship full of Americans with American food and customs. It just made no sense unless of course the Italian product does not measure up (but oh, does it). Also being blissfully ignorant of all the chatting around us was liberating. Honestly understanding what people drone on and on about can get old. The announcements in other languages were no big deal, I just tuned out the other languages. In fact I felt that announcements occurred with less frequency than all other ships I have been on except Oceania. They also did not seem to blare into the cabin at a high volume. Besides, how could you not love cheery greetings from fellow passengers in the elevator in so many languages? Cabin: Our inside cabin purchased at a very low rate seemed much larger than many outside cabins we had in the past. There was no couch which made it seem bigger. The fact that there were two vanity mirror areas was a huge plus. The hair dryer was fine. The bathroom was also larger than prior rooms with tubs had been. The bedding was wonderful--nice quality cotton sheets and comforter. The first couple days the bathroom has a faintly bad smell that thankfully disappeared. We both love to sleep in very cold temps and opined the A/C could have been better. The first deck cabin was actually very quiet and we only once detected motion. The only English speaking station was the BBC. There was a mini bar which we did not have the steward bother to unlock. Food: I really expected the worst, and we ended up being happily surprised. My tastes are a little different from average. I love ethnic and local type foods from gourmet to street food. I welcome an octopus on my plate! I am not really a meat and potato person, unless it is on occasion. For health reasons, I also no longer eat sugar, or flour, starches, so wondered how this would work on an Italian cruise line. Dinner: We were assigned to the My Way restaurant. There is no evening buffet, but there is an alternative restaurant on board which we did not have the need to try since the dining room food was so good. We requested a 2 top table. We were dreading a group table. I know some people love this, but it is not something we prefer. We were happy to see a perfect 2 top in the corner. We were thrilled our request was granted as MSC had refused it on our cruise with them. We were assigned first seating with dinner start ranging from 6:45 pm to 7:00pm. It is worth noting that because there is no evening buffet, EVERYONE is in the dining room, including babies, toddlers etc. So yes, at first seating you are going to hear more squalling than you ever would on a traditional US cruise line. Parents also did not seem to feel compelled to take a walk out of the dining room with the screaming child--they just let it run its course. We dined in My Way 6 of 7 nights—too full from tapas in Barcelona, so we missed a night. I bet it was the night they had lamb, because I was really surprised I never saw it on the menu any of the other nights (drats!) After the first night or so our waitress was able to detect the pace we liked and each dinner had excellent service. She was easily waiting on 25 people, and the assistant seemed to be assigned to not only her but possibly another waiter, so she was bussing the table a lot as well as taking wine orders and delivering wine. Crazy talent! Also with the exception of possibly Tunisia, people are embarking/disembarking at every port so that surely had to make things interesting for her. Other than an occasional issue with language at both dinner and lunch in the dining room when asking specific questions about the menu which were incorrectly answered (e.g., Is this coated with bread crumbs or flour?) everything was perfect. Because I do not eat the pasta, bread, or desserts (except for a few sugar free I tried), I filled in the gaps by ordering 2 or sometimes even 3 appetizers, an entrEe, and cheese course. Once I even had 2 entrees, with nary an eyebrow raised. There were typically 3 appetizer available -one would have seafood, the other meat and/or cheese, and the third, vegetarian. I will go into details later, but I usually chose the fish, and hands down will say that in the dining room, this is better fish than on ANY other line I have sailed. Take it for what it is worth because I have really found cruise ship fish to be terrible. Was it as good as the seafood I was eating in fish market restaurants in port? Well, no, but dressed with lemon (requested from waitress) and olive oil (on the table), was satisfying. There would be 1 soup, 2 pastas, 4 entrees: one seafood, one poultry such as quail, duck, or chicken, one other type of meat such as pork or beef, and a vegetarian. I tried 2 different soups--a cream of cauliflower and a bean soup with pancetta. Both were probably better or as good as any cruise ship soup I had tasted in the past. Salad would come either with or after the entrEe and was always the same: greens lightly dressed with oil. The veggie sides were weak. Where were all the tasty sautEed greens I was getting on shore everywhere? The cheese course, usually my last, was really nice. The cheeses were generally nice quality and varied--a sharp aged cheese, a soft brie or blue, and a medium sharp cheese. The house wine (8.50 euro a half liter) was to our liking in white, but not red. I imagine these can change at anytime though. We tried some of the sugar free custard style desserts, and they were all rich and excellent. I seriously questioned if they were sugar fee. Truthfully the cakes did not look that great. I am guessing desserts may not be the forte on Costa. Overall the appetizers and entrees exceeded expectations and in many cases were better than other cruise lines we have sailed. I have eclectic tastes (but obviously adjust my palette for cruising) and my spouse is a bit more traditional. On past cruises we had to put hot sauce on almost everything to make up for the lack of flavor and/or quality. While the flavors are mostly subtle on Costa, something was better--be it the preparation or quality or type of ingredients. I really don't know. At these prices, they can't have a big food budget. I think we only used hot sauce once in the dining room and couple times on the buffet. I did dress things up with fresh lemon and olive oil. I was also happy things were less salty and portions more manageable than a lot of cruise meals I have had. Both of us enjoyed the dining room food (will discuss less loved buffet later). The oddest things were that on the 2 formal nights, the food was only average. The rest of the nights were excellent or above average. We had a pitcher of ice water on the table every night. Even people drinking mineral water had the same. Again this contrasts with MSC where it took two nights of bitter negotiations with the head waiter to get non bottled water. Favorite dinner examples: wild boar chops, quail, duck (1 preparation not the one the other another night), excellent fish almost every night (asked for fresh lemon). We tried steak one night and it was fine, not better or worse than other ships. Favorite appetizer examples: rabbit terrine, tuna carpaccio (my favorite), cured meats, smoked salmon, octopus, grilled whole prawns. . Dining room attire. Best described as what I saw on Oceania: country club casual, even on formal night most people did not dress up. Jeans were not uncommon, however no sloppy or "Mom" style jeans, ball caps, white socks, shorts, Senor Frog's logo tee-shirts. What I am saying is people did not look like slobs. They may have worn (tidy) jeans, but paired it with a smart shirt, blazer or sweater—and not tennis shoes. A couple nights , "Italian Night" and the Captain's dinner, resulted in people breaking into Italian song and dance. I usually don't get into this kind of thing, but watching the Italians get weepy when patriotic Italian songs were playing made me smile that I was "not in Kansas anymore" (so to speak). Lunch in the dining room was very good, however service a bit confused due to open seating and language challenges. At dinner you are seated with staff who speaks your language; at lunch, this is maybe not as likely. Lunch at the buffet was hit or miss. Some items were fine (e.g., burgers), others excellent--don't miss the "seaman" buffet if you like authentic Mediterranean-style seafood. The octopus with green sauce was as good as any I have had in Spain. Fish was sometimes good sometimes below average. Sliced meats not great. Green beans served too often. Pizza available nearly all the time (maybe even all night?). Tried the toppings and they were good. Spouse had a slice and said it was great. Buffet quality was similar to other cruise lines, however selection was MUCH less than most. Breakfast at the buffet--only did this one time. Poor selections compared to competing cruise lines, although this is from an American perspective which the cruise line does not cater too (which is fine). Kind of low quality unless they brought out the "good" meats such as prosciutto and cheeses at the Lido area. Breakfast in the dining room: We ate breakfast in the dining room all other days. They had a buffet portion with good meats and cheese, great looking pastries and breads as well as hot items ordered off the menu. Every day, I had poached eggs that were served over toast with hollandaise. Also had smoked fish (salmon) most days which was better than most cruise ship-smoked fish I had tried in past. Cappuccinos and espressos are free in the dining room only and at breakfast only. The coffee at the buffet (and probably dining room) is an abomination! Avoid! The service was a bit tired and cranky in the dining room for breakfast, but given some folks are probably starting an 18-hour day, my heart goes out to them. Big show entertainment : we stuck our heads in to see a few shows and they were just as lame, maybe more so, as any other cruise ship entertainment. I just don't get it, I guess. But I don't care either, so no harm done. Music: live and recorded throughout the ship was generally pretty cool. Wien Wien Lounge: classical music lounge. Loved it, the group was very talented. We had a wedding vow renewal. Unexpected! I am wondering if I indicated we were celebrating a big anniversary (albeit in NOV) when we booked or it was just a mistake -but we got an invitation to a reception for honeymooners and anniversary folks. Free champagne, canapEs, and Captain "remarried" everyone in 5 languages. I am a bit jaded sometimes, but this was very charming and heart -warming. Smoke in public areas: lingering smoke smell from time to time in non smoking areas. Most places were non- smoking. I am second hand smoke intolerant and was not too offended. Granted I was not in the casino or out and about late night. I have experienced far worse on RCCL, MSC. Library: small selection of English language books -bring your own. The travel books were excellent, and we took lots of notes. They were reference only so you could not check them out. No American newspapers, so took a welcome break from the rat race. Gym: Excellent. Lots of great machines, cardio and free weights. The first day we went was in Savona and no one was there so it was heaven. The next day we went we were at sea before port and it was awful --packed with people who had never worked out but gosh darn it they weren't going to start that very day, slamming weights, camping on equipment for several minutes while fiddling with an ipod, sitting on machines backwards and people watching, not wiping sweat. My spouse made it a few more times, but after that I could not tolerate it. It was always packed when we wanted to go. We took the stretch class once in the atrium pool area and liked it. The ladies sauna is not to be missed. It has a picture window and the view was great. The spa was beautiful, but I did not partake in any of the services. Service: Next to Oceania (an upscale cruise line) Costa had the best customer service desk of any ship. If they did know the answer to the question you asked, they got it. I hate to say I was shocked. Given English was a second, third or fourth language they were great. Even officer level staff would sometimes greet you around the ship. We all know outside of functions, this is not the norm. Ports of call: we tend to do things on our own. With the exception of Tunis, we toured independently. Sunny and temps in the mid 50's to upper 60's F everyday did not hurt matters. Best tip: hit any old style, traditional market halls you can find--we researched them beforehand. Great sights, smells, and food to try. We made copies of "walking tours" from Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, etc. so we knew our way around in different ports. I also have a few phrases and food translations on crib notes in various languages so we can have good manners when we visit places. "Hello, good bye, please and thank you" go a long way. 1) Savona: ship tours went to Monte Carlo and Genoa-= both of which we had already visited. Since we really run ourselves ragged in Rome, we took this as a day to relax. We worked out and enjoyed the ship in the morning and headed into town after lunch on board for some strolling around. We ended up in the harbor soaking in the early spring (late winter actually) sun, drinking prosecco, and people watching. 2) Barcelona: I would truly die if I went on a tour here, this city speaks to the free spirit. We took the shuttle to town for 6 euro (includes return). We did a little research before leaving and made some good copies of maps. La Rambla is the Old Town area. It is where tourists go but locals, too. Walked over there enjoying the architecture. Had some wine in the sun. Further up La Rambla there is the Boqueria Market on the main promenade. Razor clams and grilled sausages were had at a counter cafe in the market. Delectable. Picked up some local wine at a wine store which we brought on board with no issues. This area has some GREAT shopping for affordable, trendy clothes. More tapas: wandered into a place down an alley and had local wine and what translates to "face of pig": bite sized pieces of ears, cheek, snout, deep fried and salted. Tasty. Don't knock it until you try it. If you eat hot dogs, you have eaten worse, plus chemicals. Next stop, more local wine (Galician for me), grilled octopus, chorizo. All fabulous. It was impossible the hours were swallowed up like minutes. We headed back to port. Not surprisingly we skipped dinner. 3) Palma De Mallorca: Arrived at 7:30 am. There is a public bus right out front for 1.25 euro (bring change), it goes into town. There are a lot of nice walking places, again it is nice to have a map. Found another great market, I am sorry I do not have the name. The fish and meat displays were works of art. Lots more walking along the water front, walked up into the older part of town and enjoyed expresso with milk. Took the bus back to ship. This was a beautiful island, however I think it was more of a resort/second home area, than old city like some of the other ports of calls. 4) Tunis: took the Sidi Boud Said/Carthage Tour. Carthage is beautiful, we went to 3 different sites, and I was glad to have a guide to help negotiate our way around as we had traveled into Tunis on our own last time we visited, and I do not recommend it. I did not like that our tour guide made us stop at "preferred" stores (kick back) throughout the tour. I hate organized tours but I guess this is not uncommon. Otherwise the guide was good, very knowledgeable and passionate about Tunisia. Sidi Boud Said was lovely also, but it was hard to see the beauty through all the crap/trinkets lining the whole main street. It was a total tourist trap. It was a pity, all the same stuff at every store. I am sure mass produced somewhere, not in Tunisia. We ditched the group and agreed to meet them in an hour. The Costa English host Michael, an awesome Australian, did not seem thrilled. We are just not tour people! Got ripped off at a cafe (happened last time we were in Tunisia), thought it not best practice to quibble--just get me out of here. I guess they depend on that. Got back only 10 minutes before dinner and long after all aboard call. Not real happy about going to dinner with time only to wash my hands and change clothing. 5) Malta/Valletta: this was our second time. The entry and exit into the harbor should not be missed. Jaw dropping! Walked into town. There is a bus just outside of port that runs every hour on the half hour and takes you to the old city gate. Last time we rode the bus around the city of Valetta and felt it was a really fun experience. I think it was the #198. The busses are at city gate, and worth checking out just to see all the great colors and styles. The city has a wonderful history and it was great to take in all the architecture and views. Had some local wine, and walked ALL over. It is nice if you can read a bit of history before going. If I went in the summer I would hit a beach or snorkel. 6) Catania, Sicily: Next to Barcelona, this was our favorite port. I am not sure if I can explain, but it just spoke to me. We walked off ship and dropped jaws at the site of Mt. Etna. It was a nice walk through port, and into the city (walk to the left) found many nice squares and cafe, and GREAT shopping. Got several pieces of trendy made-in-Italy clothing on sale for under 20 Euro a piece. There were plenty of expensive things too, but the sales were good when we were there. The famous fish market is not to be missed. I really mean it. Best market I have ever seen, and I understand one of the largest in Italy. All the shouting Sicilian fisherman, huge swordfish, Old Italian grandmas, families, couples hand in hand--priceless. We then sat on a piazza in the sun and drank Sicilian wine. Husband had to drag me kicking and screaming back to ship. BIGGEST COSTA Criticism: not enough time in ports. Compared to other ships, you lose several hours in many ports. This is a problem. After leaving Catania, it is fun to be out on deck when you go through the Straits of Messina between Sicily and the tip of the "boot". It is about 2 hours after leaving. Further along, the MOST IMPORTANT sight to see while at sea is the island of Stromboli. It is an active volcano that we passed at sunset. As we sipped our wine, pondering if this might be the best cruise yet, the mountain gave her prod to help us decide...she spewed lava! It would be a pity to be somewhere on the ship that you could not see Mt. Stromboli. Disembarkation day: Flawless. Breakfast in the dining room, out of room by 8:30, cappuccinos while lounging on padded solarium lounge chair until 9:40, went to disembarkation area we were assigned to at 9:45 and walked off ship. We were assigned to 10am, but we had requested a shuttle for 10 AM and did not want to keep it waiting. No problem walking off with the 9:45 A.M herd. Bags were ready and waiting, no lines, we were onto shuttle and headed to airport 10:00 am. I noticed many regional transfers had meeting times as late as 2 or 3 pm. They may want you out of your room, but they don't throw you off this ship which is nice if you have a later flight. Had I known this I would have requested the shuttle later since our flight was not until 2pm. Conclusion: We would not hesitate to sail Costa again in Europe. I really have nothing serious to complain about EXCEPT, as mentioned, I do wish their times in port were not so short. While Palma, Malta and Tunis visit duration were fine, my heart was breaking having to leave Barcelona and Sicily. We probably won't sail Costa in the Caribbean because of this. Given the feeling some people have had about Costa and the Pacifica I know this cruise is not for everyone, but we had a terrific time and we travel a lot (cruises and on our own). If you want things to be exactly like other cruises you have been on and will sulk if they are not, you may not have a good time. Open your mind and heart when you go, and you may just have a great time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We intentionally arrived at the port after 1:00pm hoping that many would have already embarked. Unfortunately, embarkation did not even begin until after we had arrived so we had to wait for one hour and 45 minutes before getting on the ... Read More
We intentionally arrived at the port after 1:00pm hoping that many would have already embarked. Unfortunately, embarkation did not even begin until after we had arrived so we had to wait for one hour and 45 minutes before getting on the ship. The embarkation area was clean, as were the restrooms and they offered water to the passengers. Italians don't understand the meaning of a line, so when they call your number, just elbow your way in or you'll keep getting pushed to the back of the crowd. The ship's decor is very gaudy and there is definitely a party atmosphere. If you are looking for a sophisticated, easy going cruise, this is not the place for you. Like I mentioned above, I have never experienced how the Italians don't understand the concept of waiting their turn. Many times at the buffet, guest services desk, shore excursion desk, and boutique they would just get right in front of you. You really have to elbow your way in and stand wide to keep them from going around you. It was really unbelievable and so rude. In the cabin: They never could got the air conditioning right. We had them come 3 times and they never got the temperature below 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This was really unbearable for my husband. There is only one TV channel for English speaking passengers - BBC news. If you are anywhere near the back of the ship be advised that the Teen Zone starts every night between 11:00pm and 12:00am. For at least 2 hours there will be loud music, chairs scooting and a loud DJ. This was not stated anywhere on Costa's website. We had to ask the people in the cabins on both sides of us to please stop letting their balcony doors slam. Another Italian thing I guess. There is no dinner buffet on this ship; only pizza in the evening. The service in the dining room was just okay. Not on par with Celebrity, Princess, Oceania. The food was okay, but not as good as many other ships I've been on. The food is Italian for the most part; don't expect a lot of steak and baked potatoes. Be advised that few shore excursions make for English speaking passengers. I was very displeased about this and let them know it. The main reason I booked this itinerary was for the ports along with the excursions I could choose. If I had know that half of the excursions I had purchased would not make, I would have chosen a different cruise line altogether. Each day all of the Italian speaking excursions would make, but only 3 to 4 in English and ever then, there would be another language spoken on your tour. I did not have a problem with that. There is no craps table in the casino even though they teach how to play it on one of the TV channels in the cabin. I thought that was strange. Why show it on TV if you aren't going to offer it. The pit boss said Italians don't like craps as it's too hard to understand. Compared to Princess, RCCL, NCL, etc. the photo area is very disorganized. You just have to wade through picture after picture until your find yours, as they only put a few up on the walls. There is a daily hotel service charge of $14.00 added to your bill. We questioned guest services about this twice asking if it was for tips for our room steward, waiter, etc. They were very vague, but did end up saying no. We verified this by asking multiple bartenders, a person in the salon, and our room steward. They do not see any of this money, nor do they receive the surcharge that is on every bar tab. If you want any of them to receive a tip, you need to write it in on your bill and give it separately to your room steward, waiter, etc. We got them to remove the daily service charge from our bill. Also, I know it cannot be helped, but be advised that they take your passport twice while you are on this cruise. All in all, the ports were nice and the excursions we ended up going on were good, but I will never book another Costa cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
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