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100 Costa Rome (Civitavecchia) Cruise Reviews

My wife and I chose this particular cruise because of the whole package being offered, the flight, start location, ports of call, and generally inquisitive as to what we would get for the unbelievable price. With regards to the ship we ... Read More
My wife and I chose this particular cruise because of the whole package being offered, the flight, start location, ports of call, and generally inquisitive as to what we would get for the unbelievable price. With regards to the ship we could not find any fault at all with everything in general, the cabin superb, service to be believed, everything in our opinion 5 star. We had the drinks package and it more than covered all that we required, the bar staff were so attentive and nothing was too much bother, and Kumar the head barman at the bar on deck three could work at any 5 star bar/restaurant. The food presented at dinner in the Fiorentino restaurant, beatifully presented, service second to none, wine glasses filled without asking and good quality wines on offer in the drinks package. All in all a wonderful experience. We will be looking to cruise with Costa again perhaps next year when the new ship Emeralda comes into service. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I am a fun loving over 50 Australian female travelling solo. I chose this cruise as I had a limited time in Europe (3 1/2 weeks) and wanted to experience as many places as possible... but specifically chose this line as a wanted to be ... Read More
I am a fun loving over 50 Australian female travelling solo. I chose this cruise as I had a limited time in Europe (3 1/2 weeks) and wanted to experience as many places as possible... but specifically chose this line as a wanted to be surrounded by Europeans and feel like I was in Europe. This I got and LOVED. Very European experience- 10% passengers spoke English, shops opened from 4pm to midnight with passengers roaming arcades ( as per Europe), European influence food with Italian options available every night, Waltzing to oompah music. Partying gets going at 11pm and boy can they party. Families go everywhere together including the partying till 2am. Different Music genres going in multiple bars at night. Costa gets it very right. 5000 passengers and next to no queuing like other lines. Loved every aspect of this cruise. Itinerary great - a different city every day to wander around. Food good quality and plentiful. Drinks package well priced and generous - recommended for the included coffee water alcohol. Service great. With drinks package really no need to spend a cent once on board. Do this cruise only if you like to immerse yourself in the culture of Europe including families with children (have to say though I did not see one crying baby/child or any unruly behaviour, just kids having fun). If you want a cruise that is American culture or black tie nightly and that just visits Europe ports this is not the cruise for you, but if you want to experience true Europe whilst on a ship.and have fun... you will love it. Note: passengers mostly a mix of Italians Spanish French and Russians. People hop on and off at every port so no true start and finish. Very very little English speaking so you need to feel comfortable in your own company. But it was a blast. I will be back.. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
First time cruisers from Canada, celebrating a milestone birthday with family. Our boarding was in Rome so we could potentially see this great city both before and after the cruise. We loved the itinerary, didn't know much about Costa ... Read More
First time cruisers from Canada, celebrating a milestone birthday with family. Our boarding was in Rome so we could potentially see this great city both before and after the cruise. We loved the itinerary, didn't know much about Costa so I read lots of reviews. Don't believe half of them, any cruise is only as good as your preparation and expectations. Yes, this is a very European cruise line, so expect children everywhere, lots of hustle and bustle. However the staff were great, the food was amazing, the shows very enjoyable. Boarding was smooth - we told the very first person we met that it was our first cruise and we didn't know anything. The desk staff were so friendly and helpful, and it was a smooth process. They even told us to try and hurry and we might still be able to get lunch, as we were just boarding right at 4pm. We made our way to Corona Blu (buffet) and the food was amazing! What's more, as they started to clear the staff told us we could go to the other side if we still wanted more food, as the Tea time was starting - sandwiches, desserts, tea and coffee. I had read the reviews complaining about lack of coffee and water, I can only assume they didn't buy a package. Coffee and tea were available at breakfast, tea time and dinner; however, we had the Intenditore included in our package at booking and we enjoyed espresso/cappuccino anytime. As others have said, we expected to know when we were departing but we didn't feel a time - after that first time, I made sure to head to the proper deck and enjoy "Con te Partiro" with each departure (as well as a new drink each time). We lost track of time after enjoying a great show, and the maître d' was gracious in allowing us into the second seating, which we set as our default after that! Wine selections provided by the friendly staff were amazing; food was plentiful with excellent choices, quality comparable to a Michelin restaurant. We were fortunate to dine at the Club Diadema, again was part of our booking, and we felt no interest in dining anywhere else. The staff got to know us and our preferences, and we had a constant supply of anything we'd want. One evening our mother was not feeling well and asked for a simple rice dish - staff went to another restaurant just to accommodate her request. As for excursions, we had quite a mix. In Savona, we simply milled around port and town, did some shopping and enjoyed the lovely town. Marseilles we took the Easy Bus Tour, loved it! Did same in Barcelona, Mallorca, and Sardinia - nice to have a half day tour, not have to get up too early, saw many sights while not stressing too much. I'd read a review that said (especially for first timers) to not try to do too much and end up stressed out by the end of your 'vacation'. Took it to heart. We have raved about this cruise to many people and hope they will enjoy as much as we did. We've caught the bug and will try another cruise sometime, maybe a different cruise line, and then we'll have something to compare. But don't let a few negative reviews impact your choice - find the points that are consistent across reviews and go with a positive expectation! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We were looking for a Mediterranean cruise to take the middle week of a three week vacation. After reading a lot of reviews, we booked this cruise on the Costa Diadema with a little bit of trepidation as it seemed a majority of the ... Read More
We were looking for a Mediterranean cruise to take the middle week of a three week vacation. After reading a lot of reviews, we booked this cruise on the Costa Diadema with a little bit of trepidation as it seemed a majority of the reviews were either four star or one star. From the very beginning, we knew we were going to love this cruise.....checkin at Civitavecchia was seamless -- we showed our tickets and passports and were boarded without a wait....have never had that happen on any cruise ship, yet alone one that had close to 5,000 passengers on it! The cabin was nice sized with very comfortable bed and ample room to move around. Our cabin steward was outstanding the entire week. Since we had been on vacation for a week already, we had laundry needs, and Costa was the best, with a laundry special of 25 pieces for a flat rate of $20 euros, washed and folded. The cabin was made up each morning and evening. Dining was a great experience every evening in the Fiorentino Ristorante. Our waiter, Ajid, was the best we've ever had on a cruise. The menu was fantastic, with three or four special choices in each category, plus a standard Italian fare always available. My wife and I both cook gourmet recipes, and this food was five star in every respect; choice, presentation, flavor and service. Being from USA we had bottled water at our table each evening free of charge. Sparkling for me, still for my wife, with full bottles sitting on the table when we sat down. We were never rushed, nor did we ever wait too long. We ate at the Teppanyaki Grill one evening and it was a fun show and marvelous Japanese food, right down to the Miso soup and Asian ginger salad. We had lunch one day at the Lido buffet, and like most cruises, found it to be a feeding frenzy, although the food was better than we've had on other cruises. Most mornings we opted for breakfast in our cabin at no charge, as we had paid a little extra for premium services. The excursions were well planned and reasonable, as cruise ships go. We appreciated the fact that Costa forewarns customers which excursions might be difficult for mobility impaired passengers. We took three 'easy' tours, which were perfect and still let us enjoy the major sights of each port.... Disembarking was just as easy and flawless as getting on the ship! No long waiting for our time slot, we were out of the cabin at the required 8:00 a.m. time, went to breakfast, retrieved our passports and left the ship to find our luggage waiting. Would we take Costa again? In a heartbeat! We have decided that all the negative reviews come from people who do not understand European service. While many of the passengers seemed rude and would brush by you, that is just the way they are. Announcements were always made in several languages and easy to understand. The 10 euro daily service fee is below that of most other cruise lines, and in fact we tipped both our room steward and waiter additional before we left the ship. Ship crew was not indifferent as many people have said, but were attentive to and responsive to all of our needs. Well done, Costa Diadema, and thank you for a wonderful experience! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We were going to Italy with some friends for a couple of weeks. We thought that it would be fun to include a cruise midway in our vacation. This cruise left from Civitavecchia (Rome) and was quite reasonable. It included ports of ... Read More
We were going to Italy with some friends for a couple of weeks. We thought that it would be fun to include a cruise midway in our vacation. This cruise left from Civitavecchia (Rome) and was quite reasonable. It included ports of Marseille, France, Barcelona, Spain, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Palermo, Sicily, Italy & Savona, Italy. At every port, there were people boarding and departing, which wasn't a problem and actually worked out quite well as boarding went quite fast. Our boarding time started at 12:30. We are arrived at 1:30. There was no one in line ahead of us and we walked right on. This is the first time that we have not waited for an hour or two in lines! So the trip started very positive! We had read that there is only a cold breakfast buffet unless you ate in the dining room, so that was not a surprise, but there buffet was large & certainly was very, very good. And we also ate in the dining room once and were very happy with it also. The entertainment was fun and no problems with language. The dinners were excellent & the waiters could have not been better. We wondered how the mandatory life drill would be, with 6 ports, would we have to attend 6? Would we wait though 2 or 3 or 4 languages? No problem! They have that figured out as well. English language - went to a show room where we sat and watched a video, They have this all figured out for everyone and we only went to 1 life boat drill, incidentally. After reading some reviews, we were apprehensive, but we could have not been happier. By the way, our cabin was the largest cabin that we have ever had! Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
I have traveled to many places all across the world, but this vacation was my absolute best yet! The Costa Diadema is a huge(really, really Huge) ship with things to do for people in every age. From going to the Daily show att 9.30 PM to ... Read More
I have traveled to many places all across the world, but this vacation was my absolute best yet! The Costa Diadema is a huge(really, really Huge) ship with things to do for people in every age. From going to the Daily show att 9.30 PM to playing bingo, there's something for everybody on this ship! The staff on the costa Diadema is well trained and always put you first. The service is outstanding. We ate dinner in the Fiorentino Restaurant and the food there was amazing! There is a new menu every day where you can choose four different courses. You have the same table and server every night which gives you a "luxurious" feeling. At all the ports you could chose from going on an excursion(which comes with an extra cost) or just take the shuttle bus to the city you where in. We went on several excursions and att all of them there was a professional tour Guide who told us about our different destinations. The cabin was spacious and very clean. You could choose from getting your room cleaned once or twice a day, and during the morning or the evening. Great experience and would love to go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I choose it because I travel with my 81-year old mother and was an excellent opportunity to know different cities by using the cruise as a hotel. I had the chance to stay on a suite with balcony and it was amazing. Wonderful staff and ... Read More
I choose it because I travel with my 81-year old mother and was an excellent opportunity to know different cities by using the cruise as a hotel. I had the chance to stay on a suite with balcony and it was amazing. Wonderful staff and service. Restaurants were great and food was incredible. Since we were on a suite, the menu was different from the other cabins, but, nevertheless we went to the buffet restaurant to have lunch several times and the experience was positive. The only negative thing is related to tours. Sometimes it was difficult to get spanish speaking tours and when we finally managed to have a tour in spanish, some guides did not speak the language fluently (they sometimes read from a folder and they have a very poorly translation of the information they have to give) I love the cruise experience and I will probably repeat it again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
It was our fifth cruise with costa and what can i say fantastic ,we just come back from a cruise with costa diadema in the med ,we departed from civitavecchia we took the costa shuttle bus from fuimicino airport to civitavecchia all was ... Read More
It was our fifth cruise with costa and what can i say fantastic ,we just come back from a cruise with costa diadema in the med ,we departed from civitavecchia we took the costa shuttle bus from fuimicino airport to civitavecchia all was very organized. the ship is beautifull with very nice cabins and beatifull decor staff very helpfull and friendly.the lunchtime buffet was wonderfull with plenty of choice you definetly wont stay hungry with all the choices that was offered.in the evening we still opted for the buffet as restaurants tended to get very busy and you could wait for a while and we didnt want to wait as we would miss all the activities they had to offer.entertainment was of high class especially with the latin dancers from hungary and also the shows in the teatre.embarkation was very smooth so was when we wanted to go on land .We booked the all inclusive as we always do and it was well worth the money.I just dont understand people complaining about the ship and the staff as there is nothing to complain about ,myself i am a complainer but really there was nothing to complain about i very much recomend costa to anyone especially costa diadema and dont get put off about people complaining it is just not true ,i just dont know why they do that thank you costa you are the best Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
It was the first time I went on a cruise but I am thrilled and want to go back or to a similar tour. I went ashore everywhere and enjoyed the excursions very much thanks to good guides. The atmosphere on board was very friendly and the ... Read More
It was the first time I went on a cruise but I am thrilled and want to go back or to a similar tour. I went ashore everywhere and enjoyed the excursions very much thanks to good guides. The atmosphere on board was very friendly and the staff did everything to make us feel at home. Lovely arrangements around Christmas with excellent dishes. Good discipline and everything went very smoothly. On embarcation everybody had to go through emergency drill, which was mandatory in every port with new passengers coming on board. After the accident with the Costa Concordia this felt very necessary, but I know this is in accordance with the regulations of all cruise ships. It is good to know where to go and where to find the rescue boats in case of emergency. Being a vegetarian I was very happy to find that the meny in the dining room Aludaria had vegetarian food every evening. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
This cruise was a part of our honeymoon, so I spent extensive amounts of time researching and planning. I am writing this review because I found it difficult to find a straight-forward review. We loved it & would have booked sooner ... Read More
This cruise was a part of our honeymoon, so I spent extensive amounts of time researching and planning. I am writing this review because I found it difficult to find a straight-forward review. We loved it & would have booked sooner with more confidence if it wasn't for the cruise snobs complaining about the smallest trivial things! This is what we wanted in our cruise: 1. Clean and comfortable 2. A way to see a lot of Europe without having to re-pack our bags every day 3. Good food 4. Stopping at good ports 5. Fun activities on the cruise (although we spent most of our time on shore) And we got all of it! Here's what I was confused about even after reading all the reviews: 1. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BUY WATER. I drink a lot of water, so it sounded like you have to buy every cup. That's only if you're in one of the fancy restaurants that you have to pay extra for. There's Buffets for every meal that is included in the cruise without extra charge and all the free water you want. People seems to complain for the extra cost of water at the fancy restaurants but that's typical if you ask for bottled water at any restaurant. You can also buy bottles of water on the ship, we prepaid for 12 large 2 liter bottles for like $3 a piece. Really reasonable and we were never thirsty. 2. There's open breakfast buffet upstairs, but you can eat a nice sit down breakfast downstairs at no extra charge. You can order eggs, burritos, and any of their pre-set hot meals. I guess europeans are used to eating small breakfast (like cheese and croissants) so it wasn't crowded downstairs. Lunch buffet has pasta, pizza, salads, etc. So no extra charge to eat, only at the fancy restaurants that you need to make reservations for. Also, the ship does have a lot of Europeans, I think we only ran into a few Americans, but there was no problem communicating in English. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
After reading many negative reviews was a bit hesitant to book and wasn't expecting anything exceptional, well We were surprised we travelled as a group of eight and found the cruise to be very enjoyable. have cruised with ... Read More
After reading many negative reviews was a bit hesitant to book and wasn't expecting anything exceptional, well We were surprised we travelled as a group of eight and found the cruise to be very enjoyable. have cruised with four other lines and found costa to be the most memorable. boarding was quick as was disembarkation . the entertainment and activities were well planned, Décor at first was overwhelming to many patterns on the walls couldn't tell a door from a wall but we got used to it. after the third day. we were in minority as only minimal English speaking passengers on board but staff were courteous and tried very hard to communicate with us. We had a balcony cabin on deck 6 our room was always clean even though we never saw our cabin steward. we only took a few organized tours and did other ports of call independently. The ship offered shuttle buses to town at ports where transport was needed, in our opinion it was not expensive and worth the cost as it was convenient due to being easy not having any hassles trying to find your own way as you are only in port a minimal amount of time. Time is whats valuable. only negative we had was the drinks package while it was good value if you are a heavy drinker everyone in the cabin was expected to buy it. was not catered for individuals. we were three in a cabin and two drank little alcohol so there would of been no value for everyone to buy the package . also the food was ok but the same thing every day with no variety at the buffet . restaurant food was just ok nothing flash .but same food just a different name each night with a different dressing . if you wanted anything special on the menu you had to pay extra for it . all in all the cruise had a European vibe and that's why we took it . it was a fun ship to be on . We would cruise costa again ports visited Savona, Marseilles, Palama Majorca, Cadiz, Malaga, Lisbon, La Coruna, Le Havre, Dover , Amsterdam. only regret we had was we opted to take a shore tour in Lisbon . advertised 5 hrs 4WD to see all the country sites around Portugal. It was useless spent most of the time sitting in traffic and driving through bush stop for a quick photo stop at a lookout then only had 30 minutes at the final destination which was beautiful needed at least two hours there better to have spent the day in Lisbon town independently. Traffic Not Costas fault but this tour was overrated not worth the money spent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
A little background. Experienced cruisers, have cruises with most of the main lines, and this was our fourth cruise with Costa in the past 2 years. We have cruises twice on the NeoRomantica, and once on the Magica. This was a bit of a ... Read More
A little background. Experienced cruisers, have cruises with most of the main lines, and this was our fourth cruise with Costa in the past 2 years. We have cruises twice on the NeoRomantica, and once on the Magica. This was a bit of a "bonus" cruise (as we have a lot of travel plans this year) so we did this on a budget which for us, meant no suite, but instead a premium balcony. Being Costa Pearl members - we had no problem - We were very pleasantly surprised to have our table for two, late dining, aft Ceres Restaurant - ALL fulfilled! Great 5* start! Embarkation was the easiest ever. No big port - No queue - no lines, just sign here, photo and "on". We had a premium balcony which is just a regular "Carnival" style balcony. The cabin is showing its age - few cigarette burns on the carpet, and it really is obviously in need of an overhaul. The balcony - sorry to say, was filthy - the gutter in the balcony had long strands of black human hair - I didnt mention it first day, but after the next clean, when it was still there, I did call. The cabin steward was prob the biggest disappointment. he finally did clean the balcony - but it was "an effort". I requested face flannels a few times - he always told me "yes" - but they never ever did appear. He also missed the blue pool towels a few times - just little things which we had to call about - which when one happens after another - starts to grate on you - as I said, not the best steward we have had. It is the first time ever we have not given extra tips(above the standard gratuity) to our cabin steward. I am afraid to say he did nothing to warrant it. The toilet OMG - blocked daily - that did become a pain in the butt (literally) - to a point where one morning we were given a key to a spare cabin three decks below us - not nice - These cabins honestly are in need of dry dock... time for a full overhaul. The ship itself - actually, although gawdy, loud and totally OTT - I liked it! Its all Bling and has aged better than the cabins. It is a bit "1990s" - BUT - it does somehow have a much nicer feel to it than say the Magica. The staff - excellent - For a big ship - one can tell from embarkation that the staff are happy. Thats coming from the top down. Every area has its team, and each team seems to gel well and in general - lots of happy staff. THAT makes the Serena special - and to us, warrants its high rating. We met many staff on board whom we knew from previous cruises, one in particular, Peter, is lke our lucky mascot at Sea, For some weird reason, on every single of our last four cruises, different ships, embarkation day, Peter has always been the first waiter we have seen - bizarre - and wonderful!! FOOD: Buffett - dont even go there - its madness - just a battle of hands and feet and rude rude rude guests - seriously - I am appalled at the manners of these people - animals have more decorum. We settled for continental breakfast in our cabin (Gluten free pastries provided) - Lunch we chose to have in the Ceres Restaurant - I am Gluten Free and anyone with special diets will find the Ceres restaurant IS open daily for lunch - there is a section specifically for special diets. Gluten free choices are a HUGE plus for Costa - I just adore all the choices available for Gluten Free - 11/10 Costa! Dinner at night could run just a tad too late - even for we, who are late diners. However, first class service, table for two aft, what more could we ask for We chose to dine in the Club Bacco Restaurant twice this cruise and loved every moment. For a truly civilised dining experience away from the maddening crowd - at only 25 euro per person - this is well spent. The Club on Serena is magnificent - awesome views over the sea, and a live pianist entertaining throughout The Lobster Caesar was fantastic - The shrimps - just amazing - so fresh - succulent - and what is a simple meal is made into a feast. Favourite mains - the Veal and the Lamb - the lamb especially - perfection on the plate. Special thanks to Chef Lara - what a wonderful young lady who is passionate about her food. She is happy to stop by your table if you wish, and happy to have a gourmet chat. As food producers ourselves - we appreciated this gesture. Shows we dont do. Musicians - as ever Costa excel. I think our only regret on this cruise was the timing. It was already into Italian vacation time, and honestly - the only fault in the ship lay in the guests, some seriously rude and appallingly bad mannered guests. Oh and we were a bit pd off at the Ecig rule. We both stopped smoking two years ago, and use a zero nicotine shisha pen - It is the rule that these are used only in smoking areas - how awful to be made to be back in "lepers corne" once more - We did use our ecig - very discretely - and low key. We did however see smokers smoking in the NON SMOKING areas, and also some idiots throwing a LIT cigarette butt over the side in port waaaargghhhhhhhhhh Other appalling guests included babies in the jacuzzis in nappies (diapers) - We stayed out of the pools - lot of suspect cloudy "water" going on if you get my drift. We would sail the Serena again - but woulc choose a quieter off peak season - Surprisingly great though - BIG ship with staff with BIG HEARTS! Well done Costa! - You treated our loyalty beautifully, granted our wishes, and threw in some nice perks -incuding a lovely gift at the end of our cruise See you soon!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We were very pleased with our cruise with Costa. Our only complaint was that we never seemed to have enough time at the port. The ship was built in 1993, not a huge ship (which was fine with us), but it was still very nice. The food in ... Read More
We were very pleased with our cruise with Costa. Our only complaint was that we never seemed to have enough time at the port. The ship was built in 1993, not a huge ship (which was fine with us), but it was still very nice. The food in the dining room was excellent and the wait staff were all excellent. The faster service buffet in the rear of the ship didn't have quite the quality of food but if you wanted to grab a meal in a short amount of time it was fine. Our cabin steward was always on top of everything. The staterooms were surprisingly roomy--including the bathroom! We went to all the evening shows--they were all quite entertaining and a fun thing to do in the evening. The pool deck was very nice. They had a quiet area at the front of the ship that was shaded by the circular glass lounge above which was great if you didn't want to be in the sun. One of the members in our family needed medical attention and we found the medical staff and facility exceptional. I would certainly recommend the ship to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We sailed on the Costa Romantica in June of 2011. The ship holds about 1500 passengers and 700 crew. On our trip we were 300 shy of being full. Of the 1200 passengers, 100 spoke English but all of the crew did. This was not an issue at ... Read More
We sailed on the Costa Romantica in June of 2011. The ship holds about 1500 passengers and 700 crew. On our trip we were 300 shy of being full. Of the 1200 passengers, 100 spoke English but all of the crew did. This was not an issue at all. We had a great time because of the English speaking staff from Philippines,China and Malaysia. The staff are great people trying to make a living for their families back home. Take a moment and get to know them. We met the Executive Chef, Massimo, who did an excellent job. Seek him out, a young man who has been on the cruise ships for 17 years. The food was great, the entertainment entertaining and an overall great experience. We have been on the big ships-Royal Caribbean , Carnival, etc.but this is much better. Last year we took a similar cruise with Louis Cruises and this too was small and great. People complain about the announcements in different languages,so what, if all you wish to hear is English, stay home. There are lots of passengers speaking different languages and they too deserve to hear the messages. All in all a great cruise and we will use Costa again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
As first-time cruisers, we were a little apprehensive after reading all the reviews on this site, particularly about the food. But we had nothing to worry about.We chose Costa because we wanted a Latin/European experience to cruise the ... Read More
As first-time cruisers, we were a little apprehensive after reading all the reviews on this site, particularly about the food. But we had nothing to worry about.We chose Costa because we wanted a Latin/European experience to cruise the Med. We didn't want to be on a ship full of Brits, Americans and Australasians. This cruise appeared to be good value for money, and WAS. Balcony cabins appear much more expensive on most other cruise-lines, and choosing the balcony cabin was the best thing we ever did.A couple of bits of advice from this website, prior to the cruise, are just so true.1. Just go with the flow. The organisation for all the bits and pieces always gets there.2. If you want 5 star food (as so many seem to expect) then you are on the wrong ship. 5 star food can be found on a five star ship. (and for that, your cruise will be twice the price)3. If you want lavish American style breakfast/lunch and dinner buffets, with huge steaks and rich sauces - then again, you are on the wrong ship. Book an American cruise.4. But if you want a true Latin/Euro experience on a large, newish and clean ship, fantastic crew who help you at every turn, excellent activities, heaps to do, lots of space to get away from the crowds, roomy cabins cleaned at least 3 times a day - then this IS the cruise for you.5. "If it's your first cruise - then make sure you get a balcony cabin" - thanks to whoever advised this. The inside cabins looked great, but for a first-time cruiser, it just was so good to be able to sit outside and watch what's going on.With Israel and Eygpt dropping off the itinerary, the stopovers became superfluous really. We just ended up having a great time on the boat. Izmir was the best stopover. Limassol in Cyprus was the worst. A really poor alternative to the deleted ports. Our balcony cabin was just so good. Special thanks to our cabin steward, Kristian who made such a difference. We spent a lot of time just chilling, reading etc. Most importantly, we slept really well. Better than most hotel rooms.Enjoyed level 5 - the entertainment floor. Something for everyone to do. It's a great ship if you've got teenage kids. Tended to spend a few evening hours in the Latin dancing floor area. Entertainment in the Stardust Theatre was very good most nights. Good talent with excellent production values. Good value for the cruise price.Used the gym quite a bit. Is spacious and well run. Suggested at end of cruise, that a small movie cinema would be more than useful. I see some cruiselines are introducing 3D cinemas etc. We sometimes felt like taking in a movie, and didn't use the cabin movie videos available, because the screen was too small. Lots of chatter online about the cost of add-ons - but it wasn't a problem for us. There was no hard-selling going on. If you intend to drink a bit, then the drinks packages are good value. Re water. Many people just re-filled water bottles in the buffet areas, rather than pay for bottled water all the time.We upgraded to the Blue Moon restaurant one night only, and it was fantastic. Worth the 20E each to have dinner alone for one night, with a sea-view table.Food - Breakfast was the same every day, but that was fine. There's an eggs station, which we utilised most mornings, had nice fruit, cereals, hams and cheeses, pastries.Lunch had varied themes, and enjoyed some nice meals.Lots of chat about the absence of an evening buffet, but we always made our 6.30pm sitting in the MDR after excursions, without a rush.Have to say the evening a la carte evening dinner routine just made the trip for us. We had a great table with 2 Polish and Australian families, and enjoyed their company a lot. Great Italian style atmosphere at dinner, which we loved. Wouldn't have been the same, just sitting on our own at a buffet table. Was a classy dinner environment, and I can now see why the cruiseline prefer this system. Got caught out a bit with the formal nights, especially the Captain's formal night. It was really dressy. Next time, I will be packing a nice suit.Now - the a la carte routine - and some advice for non-Euros/Italians to work it to your advantage.1. For some reason, or maybe we just chose the wrong thing, the food for the first couple of nights was nowhere near as good as it became. Serving sizes also increased as the cruise progressed.2. If you're a fan of seafood, then you can't go wrong anywhere on the menu. When in doubt about any dish, have the seafood. There are 4 standard menu dishes at the front of the menu for every night - and the salmon is great.3. Dishes don't have added salt and pepper, so utilise you're salt and pepper shakers.4. Any meat dish that has "wild" in front of its English translation is a must. The wild duck, pork, beef and lamb were the best meals of the trip.5. Ask for your beef to be medium rare. Your waiter will arrange this. Otherwise you may find it too tough. 6. If there's a dish you don't like, just ask something else. They are very obliging.7. If you really need some fries - then just ask them if you can also have some fries. They will provide them.Two unusual, and well documented aspects to the ship's food on offer. The pizza available at the 9pm buffet is really average, and not authentic. I see MSC Cruises have just put a press release out about how they are going to start offering authentic pizza, so I guess Costa will follow. They need to.Also - the pasta in the MDR was average early on, then became great later in the trip. Not sure how that works. However - will always remember our MDR experiences. Just be careful with your selections, and don't hesitate to send something back, and get it replaced. Can't wait for our next Costa cruise. Was really critical of Costa HQ for the poor communication for the itinerary changes. However it's not fair on the great crew, to take this into account for our actual cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We booked this cruise because it fit the kids spring break, good price, good ports. I liked that it left from Rome because you need more than one day to see Rome. But getting from Rome center to port was long and expensive. We took the ... Read More
We booked this cruise because it fit the kids spring break, good price, good ports. I liked that it left from Rome because you need more than one day to see Rome. But getting from Rome center to port was long and expensive. We took the train to port, not expensive but train station had no elevator, had to carry luggage up and down stairs, signs at station were horrible, no one to help, no announcements for stops. Cruise port to airport we sucked it up and took a taxi for $200.00.Only 10% of passengers are native English speakers so it was interesting hearing all the different languages, crew does speak English. Cleanest ship I've ever been on-never saw a dirty glass or dish even early morning! My 14 year old LOVED hanging out with European teens in the disco and made lots of new friends! 9 year old only went to kids camp once- intimidated by kids speaking italian and Spanish. Really nothing for the 12 year old she was between age groups. We loved the smerelda lounge after the show, they played bingo every night then had a game with audience participation. Kids were allowed which you don't see on American ships! Music was from all countries and everyone danced-it was great fun!! Their version of the midnight buffet is great-every night at midnight waiters walked through the whole ship with trays of appetizers and sweets, much nicer than one night gluttony. We did not care much for the food but did not go hungry. Shows were great-many different kinds not just same dancers every night. Ports were great! Very different experience for kids with all the languages, they saw that the United States is not the center of the universe!!! Europeans are lots of fun and more free spirited than Americans-they must not need much sleep because all ages were in lounge dancing after midnight and up by 7 in the morning!! This is a circle cruise meaning passengers are getting on and off at all ports-this was great because there was not 2000 people trying to disembark at the same time! Cruise was a great cultural experience for all of us!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This was our first cruise and we couldn't have been happier. We love visiting Europe and this cruise definitely had a European flair. Getting on the ship was very quick and easy and our luggage was delivered to our room later that ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we couldn't have been happier. We love visiting Europe and this cruise definitely had a European flair. Getting on the ship was very quick and easy and our luggage was delivered to our room later that evening. We had a interior cabin and it was bigger than I thought it would be. There were 3 closets with plenty of room for our clothes as well as night stands and a desk. Our empty luggage easily stored under the bed. The room had a 220 and a 110 outlet in it. I brought a power strip that made charging our cameras and electronics at night easy. Our cabin steward was very attentive. She made up the room each morning and turned down the bed each evening. Our cabin was on deck one and was very quiet. The TV had 2 English speaking channels (BBC and NBC Action) as well as channels with information about the next port of call and the web-cam of the front and back of the ship. There are also channels in French, Italian, German and Spanish. Since I speak French and am learning Italian I enjoyed watching some of those stations too.We had the first dinner seating at 6:30pm each night. Second seating was at 9pm. Every dinner had a lot of food to choose from. Appetizers, salad, soup, pasta course, main course, cheese course, and dessert. If you didn't find a main course on the menu you wanted, you had the option of ordering standard items that were always available for the main course (Salmon, Spaghetti, Chicken, etc). There were vegetarian options marked. You could order as many items from the menu as you wanted. Two appetizers - no problem; three desserts - no problem. The often had "no sugar added" desserts that were an option - all very good. They also often offered fresh fruit in the dessert section. I always enjoyed my meals and the variety of options that were offered. One night the grilled tuna was dry but with so many other courses I didn't let that spoil my meal. If someone at the table didn't like what they got - a quick mention to the waiter and he would bring something else. The waiter always had a smile and the highest level of service I've seen anywhere. He was from Bali and spoke perfect English.For breakfast we always ate at the buffet. There were omelet stations where omelets or fried eggs could be made to order. In the buffet line there was cheese, meats, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, cereal, scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, french toast, pancakes, waffles, fruit, rolls, toast and more. To drink there was coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, juice and water. Breakfast could also be taken in the dining room.Lunch could be taken in the dining room or at the buffet. The buffet offered grilled chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, pizza, fruit, pasta stations, breads and more. They often had a midnight surprise dessert or a special activity with a buffet. The fruit included bananas, pears, watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, mango, apples, oranges, pineapple. One night they had peaches flambeE with ice cream.Each evening there was a show in the theater. This included a magician, ventriloquist, juggler, acrobatics, singers and dancers. Some shows were better than others but all were entertaining. Pietro has a marvelous voice and since we missed his show in the theater we made it a point to hear him sing in the Piano Bar where he performed each night. We also enjoyed the violin player and the trio in the Wein Wein bar. There was music for dancing in other areas too.There were activities during the day that kept us entertained. My wife attended a culinary demonstration. I attended 4 - 30 minute beginning Italian classes held during the cruise. They had dance lessons, bingo, Jacuzzis, pools, receptions for Rotarians/Lions/Kiwanis, and more. We used the jacuzzi that was on the top of the ship - even though the weather was a bit chilly. We also used one of the four jacuzzis on deck nine near the pools. Since this was early spring they kept the glass ceilings over the pool areas closed.I worked out in the gym on a stationary bike most mornings. The bike had an individual TV that could be listened to with your own headphones. Most of the equipment looked out at the sea. Relaxing site early in the morning. They also had treadmills and weight machines available. The gym was generally open from 7am to 8pm - sometimes 10pm. Some days we had to meet for our excursion by 7:45 so I only had time for a quick workout in the morning before showering and going to the excursion. My wife walked in the early morning on the top of the ship. There is a short "track" where you can walk an oval path around the smoke stack.The crew was always very polite and always greeted you with a hello, how are you today? Getting on and off the ship was efficient. You always passed through metal detectors and bags through x-ray machines but this went quickly.There were people on the ship from many countries. I met people from France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Ireland, Australia and the USA. I even made friends with two Italian couples and we plan to stay in touch. The crew are recruited and trained in different areas of the world. There was a session where they gave an overview of the ship. They explained that cabin stewards are often recruited and trained in the Philippines. Many of the culinary staff were from Indonesia and India. The security crew were generally from India. The officers school was in Italy. I was constantly amazed at how well they did working with so many different languages. The entertainment, announcements, signs, etc were done in many languages. There was an English host who had regular hours if we ever needed to talk to a native English speaker from Costa. Our menu was always in English and our daily bulletin was in English. Of course the passengers who spoke other languages received their bulletins and menus in their own languages. Most of the entertainment/bars were on deck 5. There were members of our group with cabins on deck 6 who heard the music quite loudly through the floor / walls until early in the morning. You might want to avoid deck 6 if you want a quieter cabin.Overall we loved the itinerary. Savona, Olympia, Jerusalem, Galilee, Izmir/Ephesus, Athens and Rome were all wonderful. This was a great experience for our first cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
(I am a former tour mgr/director with 40 yrs-on and off-under my belt and a restauranteur who has done it all from PEARL DIVER to owner)....my wife and I normally travel by land....train/car or just rent and apt so we can immerse ourselves ... Read More
(I am a former tour mgr/director with 40 yrs-on and off-under my belt and a restauranteur who has done it all from PEARL DIVER to owner)....my wife and I normally travel by land....train/car or just rent and apt so we can immerse ourselves in the local culture....most of my cruising was done for work...bringing 100-200 clients aboard(lived 4mos on NCL's Starr Odyssey)so this was our first Costa cruise and only our fourth cruise together....we choose the pacifica because of the itinerary and the timing met our schedule....we were concerned about missing out on Egypt and reading some negative reviews on the ship/food/service/entertainment and the mix of passengers(noisy/pushy/and smoking)and added to our concerns were the problems with Costa's web site and personnel who were at the end of our phone calls....but off we went and very glad we did....the ship was spotless/all the staff was very helpful/the food was great and plentiful/the smoking was confined to certain areas on the ship/the mix of passengers added to our enjoyment/and no one was pushy rude or whatever the negative comments suggested and the shows were more than adequate (actually some very good)....we spent 3 nights in Rome prior to our cruise and took the train to civitavecchia where we exited the train(no climbing stairs etc like I had read)and took a taxi right to the ship ($20)....check-in was very organized....places to sit/juice and toilets available...(we were given a number after they took our luggage)by 1:30 we were in our room with bags and info on our beds....we went up to the matre'd(Simone) to reschedule our seating from late to early with no problem and actually as the dinning rooms were quite full and we wanted a table for 2 we were put into one of the Samara's DRs with only 10-20 other guests with the same menu as the main DRs but very quiet and relaxed....we did eat 2 nights in the main DR and both venues had excellent service our cabin was on deck 2 at the rear of the ship and I picked it because of price and the fact that it was bigger then the normal cabin with 2 large windows(it was very QUIET)....at each port the debark and embark was handled very smoothly whether you were on tour or going off on your own....x-ray/pasport check etc....never a problem....Savona on our own where met friends and went to lunch....at sea then to Katakolon for a trip to mt olympus by rent-a-car(no problems locals helpful as they were everywhere)....at sea then Israel(Ashrod) for Bethlehem and Jerusalem(very long day on ship's tour but you have to do it)then on to Haifa for a ships tour of Galilee and Nazareth(well worth the time and money)....at sea then to Turkey(Izmir)and on to Ephesus(the highlight of the tour for us and our biggest adventure as we rent a car for the day)it has to be seen....vast and beautiful(pictures do not do it justice)a stop in Kusadarsi for lunch by the sea and again very friendly/helpful locals....at sea and finally Athens and the Acropolis(we take the metro-about 20 min walk along the pier-easy metro info and a nice walk at the end to the Acropolis and a walk through old Agora and a visit to the Plaka with lunch at a local rest then metro back to the ship....what a perfect ending to our trip.... Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
This was our 9th cruise overall but 1st on Costa, with previous on Princess, Celebrity, and Carnival to the Caribbean, Alaska, Panama Canal, and Western Mediterranean. The cruise probably has the best itinerary with ports of call covering ... Read More
This was our 9th cruise overall but 1st on Costa, with previous on Princess, Celebrity, and Carnival to the Caribbean, Alaska, Panama Canal, and Western Mediterranean. The cruise probably has the best itinerary with ports of call covering 3 continents, 6 countries, and thousands of years of culture and history following the footsteps of Caesar, Antony, Alexander, Aristotle, and Cleopatra. Even a little bit wary after reading the user reviews before the cruise for going on an Italian ship with passengers of various background, the experience turned out to be highly positive and exceeded our overall expectations. We were also lucky in having good weather, dinner table mates, and a close call for visiting and getting out of Egypt at the last minute before the political riot really broke out. So the decision to take the off-season winter cruise to avoid the summer crowd, heat and humidity, and higher fares turns out to be an excellent choice! Highly recommended. Since we boarded a Western Mediterranean cruise from Civitavecchia in 2006, the same routine of staying in Rome for one night to adjust to the jet lag before and two nights after the cruise for visiting the attractions was followed. The port to city transfers were arranged through and seamlessly taken care of by Italian Airport Limousine. It may not have the lowest price but it was responsive, courteous, and speedy. The embarkation process was different from our past experience but very effective. We arrived early around noon, were given a number for 1:30pm boarding with our luggage taken, and then quickly hopped on the shuttle bus to Civitavecchia city center. After a walking and shopping tour of the port city with its community theater, open Farmer's Market (we bought 5 oranges from Sicily for less than $1), and tourist shops (we bought leather bag and wallet with good price), we went back by shuttle and were promptly directed for boarding. The only wait in line was to get though the security checkpoint for belongings for about 5 minutes. After that, it was a straight walk up the ship after submitting our check-in form without being asked for anything else including the passport. Once in our cabin, our cruise cards, ship and shore tour information sheets, and our luggage were already waiting for us! I feel that there is more trust and respect from Costa toward its clients. On the others, we were not allowed to board until we show them the money by registering with a valid credit card or cash deposit. May be it is the European way. We had the 1st seating for dinner at mostly 6:15pm. The waiting staff was wonderful - attentive yet non-intrusive. Our head waiter, Sherwin (Joseph) Toral from Philippines, was always calm, courteous, helpful in selections, accommodating, prompt in delivery under the obvious rush, and always wore a smile. I have the nasty habit of ordering multiple appetizers, entrees, or desserts while skipping some other courses, and Joseph handled the serving beautifully in synchronization with the dishes of other guests so I did not feel out of place. With the 2nd seating at 8:45pm, our table often had so much fun in our conversations and sharing of the onboard and shore tour experiences that we still sat there after 8:30pm. Not once did we feel being rushed. But obviously we felt a little guilty after realizing the time, or lack of it for the staff to prepare for the next seating, and left. Information on the dining venue choices the next day was always conveyed and a handshake extended by Joseph at the end of dinner. He even performed an excellent card trick at the end of the cruise! We've had excellent cruise waiting staff in the past who remembered all our preferences, but I have to say that Joseph is the best! We bought the Easy Selection beverage package that comes with 4 bottles of wine and 7 bottles of mineral water for €69 including the service charge. There are choices of 2 red and 2 white wines and the left-over bottle was always stored and brought back the next evening. The package seems to me a good value. The Classic Selection is €99 with 2 more bottles of wine. We read about the disappointments on the quality and selections of food onboard and we reluctantly echoed the sentiments. There are seven courses to choose, from appetizer, soup, pasta, salad, cheese, entrEe, to dessert. There are regularly choices of fish, meat, chicken, and vegetarian for the entrees. It was not bad food, and it was served warm, but rarely was it a delicacy. The taste may be bland sometimes for American palates. Please also do not expect lobster or escargot. Overall it is acceptable for us since we do not expect a feast. I also went to the midnight buffet for the 1st time in many cruises after dancing late right after the theater show. As expected, it was more of the visual than the gastronomical treat. We also learned that there is normally no dinner buffet available so the pizzeria was the only choice if the normal dining time is missed. The shows and entertainment onboard were good with varieties if not spectacular. Unlike the other cruise lines which share and ferry the entertainers onboard, the performers on Costa seemed to be resident and they were stationed in the various lounges and bars when not performing on the big stage in the theater. As the result, the level and quality of performance seemed to be higher in general. As classical music lovers, we enjoyed the daily performance by the Trio Rhapsodia in the Wien Wien lounge but only wished that they did not play the same old tiring Strauss waltz over and over again. Come on, you are a classical music trio and how about some real trios by Dvorak, Schumann, Beethoven, or Brahms. Of course we realized the general crowd may not appreciate what we like. Some classical music was better than none. On our Panama Canal cruise on Celebrity Mercury we really enjoyed the classical trios while being served the afternoon tea. One bonus on the sea days for me was the five free beginning Italian lessons offered, each lasted just over an hour with handouts. The instructor, Emanuela, is young, energetic, bubbly, helpful, encouraging, and persistent. We learned the basic greetings, numbers, time of day, 7 weekdays, 12 months, colors, basic grammar, and asking for and replying with names and directions. I really enjoyed the lessons with quite a few others. A final written test was given before a certificate was signed. It was interesting to hear the Italian spoken with the distinct accents from German, French, British, American, and yes, even Spaniard. There are quite a few treadmills, stationary bikes, and exercise stations in the gym in the front of the ship on the 11th floor. They are of good modern quality and I used them on the sea days with ocean but not horizon view. With the off-season crowd generally older in age, the gym was not crowded. There were volleyball events mentioned on the Daily program sheet but nobody showed up on this winter cruise so my bump, set, and spike had to wait for another day! As this was our first cruise on Costa, I was expecting some looseness in its logistic operation associated with the deserved-or-not Italian reputation. But my fear was proved unnecessary over and over again. For example, the evening show on the big stage started on-time every day. The dining venue opened before the specified time. The Daily program guide covered everything in detail with nice touches. Imagine it had to be published in at least five languages every day. The mandatory fire-safety drill with life vests was carried out like a military exercise with passengers actually lined up evenly and counted. The instruction and demo was done five times under five languages. So you can tell that I was impressed with the operational efficiency and effectiveness of Costa. As a retired IT worker who used to manage the corporate logistics, I know it is not easy to keep all the ducks in a row especially when they are of feathers of different colors and tongues. Both Costa and its parent Carnival ought to be applauded for running a tight ship under the soft economy. After learning that Costa sails around the world with destinations in South America, Asia, Northern Europe, and so on, we would not hesitate to book another Costa cruise in the future. All the greats and not-so-greats from the above do not distract from the focus of the cruise which for us is the unbeatable shore destinations without too much crowd, heat, and humidity. We booked all our shore tours in advance on the Costa website after a little difficulty with the web page was attributed to the hyphen in my registered name and was consequently resolved after a phone call. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
The Ship: The Mediterranea is a well-reviewed ship so I won't repeat many details other than to say it's big, considered one of the medium size cruise ships of recent construction : 12 decks, 292 meters long and 32 meters wide. ... Read More
The Ship: The Mediterranea is a well-reviewed ship so I won't repeat many details other than to say it's big, considered one of the medium size cruise ships of recent construction : 12 decks, 292 meters long and 32 meters wide. Max passengers 2,500. 1 main restaurant on two levels, 1 specialty restaurant, and a self-service buffet. 1,057 cabins, most outside with balconies. It was the itinerary that made this cruise unique because the stop at Tripoli was the first for Costa in over three years. Embarkation: Basically a piece of cake. After leaving our car in the port parking (€90 for the duration of the cruise), a shuttle bus brought us directly to the ship where, being Costa Club Pearl members, we were immediately checked in and went on board. There were relatively few passengers boarding at the same time, approximately 16.00 in the afternoon. The Cabin: We had a "panoramic suite," cabin number 6176, cat. PS, on the 6th deck, in the mid-section. The cabin was reasonably large (about 30 square meters) with a main sleeping/living area, dressing room, bath, and a large balcony. The bed was comfortable but we asked the cabin steward to bring us two extra pillows and to remove the hot synthetic duvet leaving only the cotton cover There was a three-person couch, easy chair, desk and chair, minibar, safe, and an oval table. There was a four-drawer dresser, two-door wardrobe next to the bed and another in the dressing room, besides several cabinets for additional storage. The carpet was clean and free of stains. There were large mirrors in the dressing room and over the desk. The hair dryer was in one of the drawers of the dressing room. Our suitcases fit under the bed. The TV had satellite channels in Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Russian. In addition there were shipboard channels advertising excursions and the onboard shops, spa, etc. The interactive TV had a webcam showing the view from the bridge and a channel with a so-called "scan display" which showed the ship's current position, wind direction and speed, outside temps, weather and sea conditions. The bathroom was good-sized with two side-by-side sinks and storage space above and under them, a toilet, and a jacuzzi bathtub/shower. We always had fluffy white towels (four bath and four hand), four facecloths, and two bathmats, as well as two nice robes and slippers. A sliding glass door led out onto the balcony which was equipped with a sun lounger and a chair and table. The cabin steward changed the towels twice a day as necessary and the sheets/pillow cases every third day. Being a Costa Club member, we always had fresh fruit in the room which was replenished frequently. We did not use the minibar. We did not feel any discomfort even when the seas were rough a couple times. Vibration was non-existent and I felt only the slightest movement on the worst days. Service and Staff: I found the staff members in the Reception and Excursion Offices to be professional, friendly, and very helpful. They were of several different nationalities and spoke two or three languages each. At no time was any of the crew or staff rude or discourteous in any way. To the contrary, almost everyone I had occasion to meet had a smile and/or greeting for me. In the cabin area, our butler Furlan from Costa Rica was professional and very helpful, always available for whatever we needed. Our cabin steward was Cho from Myanmar whom we found to be the best we have ever had in many years of cruising on a dozen or more ships. Passenger Mix: On this cruise there were 2280 passengers aboard. Most were Germans - some 820 of them; there were also 780 Italians, 290 French, 92 Spanish speakers, about 50 English-speakers (including 3 Americans), and a mixture of Russians, Polish, Japanese, etc. The multi-language announcements were few. Not being during the school holidays, children aboard this cruise were relatively few, thus we had very little chaos. Cleanliness: Costa is a line that prides itself on keeping everything clean. There were squads of men constantly going about rubbing and shining the brass, polishing mirrors and glass doors, vacuuming the carpeting, cleaning and sanitizing tables and surfaces. One nice thing were the numerous hand sanitizer machines found at the boarding points and prior to entering the restaurants. Smoking: This was one the few cruises we have taken recently that tobacco smoke was an issue for us. One morning early in the cruise we had a strong smell of tobacco in the cabin, probably from the air conditioning. We complained and something was fixed because we didn't have the problem any longer. In the bars and lounges however, it seemed the smoking areas were much larger than the non-smoking. On most ships we have been on, the lounges were divided, smoking on one side, non-smoking on the other. The Mediterranea's lounges were smaller, with the two areas right next to one another so it was hard to avoid the smell. One lounge (the Roero/Orientale) that had an excellent piano-violin duo that we enjoyed listening to had the smoking area directly in front of the stage so if you wanted to listen to the music you had to sit with the smokers. To go to the restaurant on deck 2 you had to pass through the Talia Lounge which was a smokers' haven. Not good. Naturally smoking was prohibited in the restaurants, theatre, etc. Restaurants and Bars: The Mediterranea's main restaurant (MDR) was on two levels aft, on decks 2 and 3. The self-service buffet was also aft on the 9th deck, while the Medusa Club specialty restaurant was on the 10th. I didn't count all the bars but they were many and scattered all over the ship. MDR: We elected the second seating (usually at 20:30; first seating was too early at 18:00) and were assigned to table 19 with two other Italian couples. Our table companions were great and we enjoyed their company throughout the cruise. We judged the food served nightly to be very good, not exceptional, and certainly not bad. International but for the most part Italian cuisine which we naturally enjoyed. To save on costs and wastage, Costa has recently reduced portions and cut out many of the more expensive items previously found on cruise menus. This was no problem to us because we don't cruise to eat, and if there was something that we really liked we could always ask for seconds. No big thing. My wife eats mainly vegetarian and she was very satisfied with what they served her. Aside from MDR food, the wine list was extensive and during the course of the cruise I selected different wines in the €23 to €25 range. The waiter corked and saved the half-full bottles for the following evening Some people had bought wine packets but I noticed that most these wines were unknown or nothing special. We always had a huge jug of ice water on our table and only used bottled water in the cabin. Other than for the three gala evenings, we dressed casually for dinner. Self-Service: The self-service buffet was on the 9th deck and was open for breakfast and lunch only. There was a pizzeria open in the evenings I believe. Available for breakfast was an assortment of Italian pastries, muffins, Danishes, cornettos, etc. plus four styles of eggs, scrambled, omelettes, and hard-boiled; sausages, bacon, potatoes, cold meats and cheeses, fruit, yogurts, industrial fruit juices and American style coffee. Lunch saw a carvery with roasts or meatloaf, pasta and rice dishes, hamburgers and wurstel, fries, oven potatoes, salads and desserts. We generally used the self-service for both breakfast and lunch because we did not want full meals, usually only taking pastries for the first and either a salad, pasta dish, or hamburger for the second. Two or three times we took lunch in the MDR Bars: We generally had espresso coffee mornings and afternoons in one of the bars. The coffee was surprisingly good and cost €1.10, little more than at a bar on mainland Italy. Some evenings I enjoyed an after-dinner drink in bars where live music was being played. Very recently Costa has changed their prepaid water and coffee packet system which in the past was made up of individual vouchers or coupons that you simply gave the waiter when you wanted a coffee or a bottle of water. Now you buy the water or coffee packages (13 bottles of water and 25 cups of coffee respectively) and your on-board account is automatically debited each time you order one or the other until the number of coffees or bottles are used up. The advantage of the old system was you just gave the waiter a coupon and didn't have to sign anything. Plus, any unused coupons could be used on your next Costa cruise. Now you have to sign a zero-cost ticket each time and if you have unused credit, it's lost at the end of the cruise. We used all our water credits but probably gave up at least ten coffees. Library and Internet: Both were on the 3rd deck The selection of English language books in the library was good. There were many computers available for internet users in the. The cost was €10 for 30 minutes (minus 20% for Costa Club members). The Mediterrenea had Wifi throughout for personal computers and we used ours in the cabin. Here again you had to pay for a password - €24 for three hours (€19.20 for Costa Club). Laundry: We used the ship's laundry service twice, including having my suit dry-cleaned the first day. The service was excellent with everything being returned within 24 hours. Gym and Spa: The gym was a large open space at the front of the ship on the 9th and 10th decks with huge windows looking out over the sea. There were plenty of exercise machines available. I used the gym every day and rarely had to wait for a particular machine. The spa area was extensive and staffed primarily by girls from the Philippines who gave great massages. I bought the four massage packet for €327 and had Ada who was wonderful. The 11th had a good but short oval running track which I used after dinner for a few fast-walk laps, and in the early morning on at-sea days. Entertainment: We went to several shows in the evening after dinner as well as either listening the piano-violin duo mentioned above, or even dancing in the large Casanova lounge or disco. We had a great time. Weather and Climatic Conditions: We had grey rainy weather sailing down the Italian coast on day two and then again when we were returning through Italian waters. The rest of the time the weather was good with temperatures in the low 30's at both sunny Alexandria and Limassol. Malta was cooler, maybe 25 degrees or so, but no rain, while Tripoli was warmer in the morning but by late afternoon it was quite cool and windy. The sea was a little rough south of Italy and Greece but not felt too bad aboard the ship. For the rest of the time we had fairly calm seas. Port Calls and Shore Excursions: After boarding at Civitavecchia we had two at sea days before reaching our first port, Alexandria. Day 1-3 - At Sea Day 4 - Alexandria. Warm and sunny with that particular smell we always find at the Alexandria port. The majority of the passengers all boarded buses for the long haul to Cairo but since we've done that and have been in Alex several times, we elected to remain on the ship and go ashore only for lunch. We took a taxi from the dock to the "Fish Market," one of Alex's best seafood restaurants. After a great lunch of red mullet, jumbo shrimps, squid and vegetables, we took a long walk along the Alexandria waterfront and eventually caught a taxi back to the port. Day 5 - Limassol. Warm and sunny. We've both been to Limassol before on other cruises but my wife wanted to see Curium. She took the excursion to Curium and Omodos (€49) and I opted for the jeep safari (€79) up into the mountains. We both had a good time but were glad to get back to the ship. Day 6 - Rhodes. Warm but overcast. We've also been to Rhodes before but my wife wanted to return to Lindos to visit the acropolis. I wasn't feeling up to it so she took a taxi to Lindos (€57 one way) and I contented myself to a short walk into the old town. The visit to Lindos must have been great because she still talks about it. Day 7 - At Sea. Day 8 - La Valletta, Malta. Here my wife and I decided on two different excursions. I took the all-day best of Malta tour (€78) while she went to see the megalithic temples at Tarxien (€42). My tour consisted of a walking tour through Valletta followed by a bus tour to Mdina, plus the ever present shopping experience at an old air base turned into a shopping center. We were supposed to see the megalithic temples as well but this somehow got dropped from the agenda. In any case, the lunch in a local restaurant was very good. Day 9 - Tripoli, Libya. All passengers whether they were planning on disembarking or not were debited a mandatory €14.00 a head Libyan visa charge - apparently required by Libyan authorities for any ship entering their territorial waters. Four disembarking possibilities were offered: ship excursions to Leptis Magna, Sabratha, or a tour of Tripoli, as well as being able to disembark and walk around Tripoli on your own. The two excursions out of Tripoli were by bus and passengers were required to remain as a group on the individual buses leaving the port and returning. On return you had to reembark on the ship. Those opting for the Tripoli tour or walk around could not leave the city limits but were free to stay ashore all day. It was clear that the Tripoli tourism people were not geared for masses of excursionists and we literally swamped them - buses of varying age and condition had been sequestered for our visit from all over the country it seemed. There was ample confusion and delays as they tried to accommodate more than 2000 passengers. My wife and I opted for Leptis Magna for which we paid €107 each (which included the visa and lunch). Our group of about 45 people went on one of the buses (not the newest) with a very good archaeologist guide and enjoyed the six hour tour of the site along with about an hour for lunch under a huge Khaddafi-type tent (chicken and couscous preceded by an interesting spicy soup and followed by sweets and fruit). On return our bus took us back along the Tripoli waterfront (with huge photos of the Colonel on every corner) directly to our ship. Needless to say, Leptis was magnificent. The few Libyans we had occasion to meet were courteous and friendly. Day 10 - At Sea. Rain and overcast. Day 11 - Savona. Nice day. Later in the morning we went ashore to walk around the town and do some shopping. Day 12 - Civitavecchia. Disembarkation. Disembarkation: Being suite occupants we were given red luggage tags so when we leisurely disembarked at Civitavecchia port out bags were waiting for us and we left immediately on the shuttle bus to retrieve our car. Conclusions: The Mediterranea is a nice ship and the itinerary for this cruise was particularly interesting. The only real criticism we had was the smoke in the lounges which was annoying to us and probably intolerable for many others. Costa should see if a separate enclosed smokers-only lounge could be established and leave at least some of the others smoke free. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
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
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
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
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
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