The wife and I took the cruise in the Costs Marina basically because it was a small ship and I wanted to try a different cruise line having cruised mostly on Hollandamerica.
I had originally tried to get this cruise in November but was ... Read More
The wife and I took the cruise in the Costs Marina basically because it was a small ship and I wanted to try a different cruise line having cruised mostly on Hollandamerica.
I had originally tried to get this cruise in November but was told the Marina was going in for a referb, once on board and walking around I could see why. The layout of the room was a bit odd, the beds were in an L shape. one under the porthole and one along the wall with the TV stand in the corner, which made for quite a bit of extra space. There was a nasty cold draft and on locating it it was coming from a space on the wall over the port hole where a piece of molding was missing. I informed the front desk but it was never found, so I rolled up 2 bath towels and stuffed them in the space.
The first night when we left Barcelona for Monte Carlo the sea was a bit rough, it sounded like a garbage can or something was rolling around the deck above my cabin. Investigating the next day there was nothing there and I discovered my cabin was one deck lower. The next night the loud noise returned, I went to the front desk to complain and a nice lady from the front desk accompanied me back to my cabin. Standing in the cabin she said, "sir that is the engine". I told her to wait a few seconds and sure enough the clanging returned. She said she would look into it. About 10 min. later the noise stopped. Apparently the dishwasher for the main dinning room was right above my cabin. I asked to be moved to another room but with 700+ passengers the ship was booked full.
We left Tunis for the island of Menorca, I could see the island from the cabin porthole when the engines stopped and we just bobbed around on the Mediterranean for over 2 hours with no electricity no shower and no hot breakfast. They finally got the engine going again, previously we cruised at 17 to 19 knots, now we made 6 to 7 knots. We bypassed our last stop to get to Barcelona on time. Costa offered 100 euros a cabin for the inconvenience. The Italian and Spanish passengers were not happy so in a meeting in the showroom with the captain, with a lot of shouting and fist waving and something that sounded in Italian like, "if we don't get 100 euros each we will take over the ship", we got 100 euros each.
Overall it was an interesting cruise the food was better than NCL but nowhere near Hollandamerica, the shore excursions were good, the staff helpful and except that I could not get to sleep till 1:30 - 2 am I was fairly happy. BUT I will never again cruise on the Costa Marina.
We traveled on the Costa Marina on July 5-July 11 from Barcelona to Monaco, Livorno, Sardinia, Capri, Tunisia and Menorca. We were an American family of six. My husband and I are in our 40s, my parents are in their 70s and our children are ... Read More
We traveled on the Costa Marina on July 5-July 11 from Barcelona to Monaco, Livorno, Sardinia, Capri, Tunisia and Menorca. We were an American family of six. My husband and I are in our 40s, my parents are in their 70s and our children are 10 and 9. This trip appealed to all of us and we all enjoyed the ship and fantastic itinerary. My parents have been cruising for 40 years and have probably been on almost every cruise line (including Costa several times). My husband, kids, and I have sailed on Royal Caribbean, Princess, Oceania, Regent, and Star Clippers. We love to cruise and think that it is a great value...especially in Europe where accommodation, meals and transport are so expensive. Given the price of this cruise (very cheap...we bought it from a large online agency) we all thought it was a fantastic value! Sure, we have been on more luxurious ships with better food but this cruise was probably one of the better values we have received.
This was my first time on Costa and I thought it was a great European experience. According to my parents, the Costa experience in Europe is a bit more authentic than the one in the Caribbean (where they are trying to appeal to more Americans).
It was hard to find information on this particular ship because it is not marketed directly in the US. According to the official cruise critic review it is marketed almost solely to the German market. Yet, when we got on the cruise the staff told us that they do not get many German visitors. Instead, as our cruise confirmed, it is a split between mostly Spanish, Italian and French passengers. On our cruise there were 36 English speaking passengers (one other American family...the rest were British or Scandinavians) out of 800. Note: our kids kept referring to this cruise as a hop on, hop off cruise b/c passengers would get on/off at different ports. It turns out you could start/end your cruise in any of the ports. Good to know for future reference. If we had known, we might have gotten on in Monaco instead of Barcelona b/c we were in France at the start of our vacation.
The kids were the only English speakers in the Kids Club (Squok Club) and the staff (who speak five languages fluently) really were terrific with all the kids. Our son and daughter had so much fun playing all the games and singing in Italian. We have done summer cruises in Europe with the kids every year and we will never again go on an American cruise ship. This was a much better educational and fun experience for them because they met so many children/people from different countries. Also, it was much cheaper (Costa is great value). Do not be intimidated by the language issue. All the announcements and papers were in English (and the four other languages).
The cabin stewards and wait staff are mostly Indonesian or Filipino so they almost all spoke very good English (better they said than their Italian, Spanish & French). Also, we are not huge fans of the standard cheesy production shows on cruise ships, but if you like them, most of the shows featured songs in English. We liked that the singers in the lounges sang in Italian, Spanish and French.
The ship itself is fairly old and small by today's standards but it was kept clean by the very friendly staff and we liked the layout with a lot more outdoor space than today's big ships. We loved that you could sit outside (under shade) in the buffet for breakfast and lunch and we thought it was fantastic that it was rarely hard to find a seat in the buffet (on some ships you have to spend a lot of time trying to find a table...esp. for six).
Our cabin (we got two a small inside cabins..each a triple) was fine. It was small and minimal, but very clean. Our cabin steward was friendly and emptied the mini bar for us so that we could store our bottles of water in the fridge.
The demographic on this ship was very young. Mostly families with children and some grandparents. I am sure this was because it was in the summer during school holidays and also this is a lower priced cruise (b.c the ship is older and not as big).
We enjoyed the Italian food and great inexpensive wines on Costa (well they seemed inexpensive compared to other cruise lines even though the price was in euros). The buffet was adequate (we have had better) and we always found something to eat. The dinners were pretty good (remember this is a low cost line) and we liked the variety. We also enjoyed the two nights we sang in Italian and the waiters danced. A lot of fun.
Ports (the reason we picked this cruise)
Monte Carlo: beautiful to sail into and sit on the ship and have breakfast/lunch viewing the gorgeous marina. A very easy port to do on your own. We walked to the palace (short uphill walk from the dock) and took the 1 euro bus around the city. There is an information desk right in the cruise terminal...they will give you a map and tell you how to get the bus.
Livorno: We had been here on previous cruises and done Florence, Pisa, and Lucca (great town to visit). So we arranged for a driver in advance (I googled companies that do shore excursions out of Livorno and went with the cheapest...we used Santi, he was great...the email is email@example.com) to meet us at the ship and take us to Cinque Terre. We walked, took the boat and train to visit all five towns. We loved this day.
Olbia, Sardinia: Again easy port to do on our own. We took the free shuttle into the town and then the #4 bus to Pittolongu beach (just go the information office in town to get directions to the bus stop). It only cost us 80 cents per person to do this because the driver had no tickets on the way back so he said we did not have to pay for the return journey. It only took 20 minutes to get to this beautiful beach and the bus runs every half an hour. We all enjoyed our day at the beach. Lots of taxis available if you did not want to do the local bus.
Capri: Tendered into this beautiful island. The funicular was on strike so we left my parents and kids at the rocky little public beach (the kids enjoy swimming a lot) and my husband and I hiked to the top (beautiful walk) and then did a little shopping. The best part of the day was after we sailed (at 2pm) the ship sailed around the whole island very slowly so you had spectacular views.
Tunis, Tunisia Our favorite port. A big surprise. Clean and very easy to do an excursion on your own. The new port terminal in La Goulette is clean with great shops (reasonably priced and they don't hassle you). Also, the taxi tours are all priced out so that you know what you will pay in advance. An English speaking dispatcher walks you to your taxi and then you have to give a form back at the end saying how you liked your tour. We paid sixty euros for a taxi to take six people to Carthage and Sidi Bou Said (beautiful village on the Med with gorgeous white washed houses and blue doors...really worth seeing). We thought Tunisia was clean and more prosperous than we had expected. Our taxi driver spoke excellent English and was very friendly. Our kids also enjoyed taking a camel ride at the dock (fun for ten euros for the two of them). We would love to go back to Tunisia. Don't book a ships tour here...you don't need to!!
Beautiful Baleric island. Get on deck to watch the sail in and you will see beautiful homes. Again, don't buy a ships tour (we never do because they are so expensive and we hate being on a tour bus) because the taxis are reasonably priced and on a meter. We visited on a Sunday so most of the shops in town were closed so we took a taxi (about 11 euros each way) to a gorgeous beach called Es Grau where my husband and kids rented a kayak for 6 euros. It was beautiful driving to the beach b/c Menorca is not over developed like the other parts of Spain. We would love to go back.
Barcelona We had spent a day here before getting on the cruise and then one more day before we flew home. After the other places we visited, this was a bit of a let down (we had been in Paris before the cruise and Barcelona is not as clean or pretty). We took the HOHO bus to see all the Gaudi sights and went to the beach near the marina to cool off because it was very hot. Enjoyed an excellent tapas dinner in the Bari Gothic at Taller de Tapas. We stayed at Hotel Oasis (very basic hotel but cheap and in a great location) which we would recommend.
We would definitely sail on Costa again if we liked the itinerary. Great value!
We joined the Marina in Barcelona on 7th June 2010, our 5th Costa cruise out of about 30 in total. We have enjoyed all of them and Marina was no exception but it is, of course, one of their small, older ships, almost identical to the ... Read More
We joined the Marina in Barcelona on 7th June 2010, our 5th Costa cruise out of about 30 in total. We have enjoyed all of them and Marina was no exception but it is, of course, one of their small, older ships, almost identical to the Allegra. There were only about 30 English speakers on board, the majority Italian and French, with a few German & Spanish. Rather than having a 'beginning' and an 'end' there were people boarding and disembarking nearly every day.
We picked this cruise because it had no sea days and we had a 600 euro voucher each from when the Europa sadly broke down in the Indian Ocean last year which covered the cost (except for about 50 euros each in tax and our Easyjet flights.
We flew into Barcelona a day early and stayed at thed Hotel Coronado which was fine, if not luxurious, and was conveniently situated a short walk from the port. In fact we took the longer route, walkng through to Las Ramblas, up to Placa Catalunya then back down to the port, all quite doable with my husband's mobility scooter and me pulling our one small suitcase.
Marina was docked at one of the big cruise terminals, not the World Trade Centre, so that necessitated the use of the 2 euro shuttle bus. Boarding was quick and easy. Our allocated inside cabin (V209) was a fixed twin bed cabin, and two very narrow single beds at that, and having requested a double we immediately asked to be moved. We had to sleep on our 'shelves' for the first night but the next day they offered us a larger outside cabin right in the middle of the ship. We were delighted with this, although the cabin was still somewhat dated and lacked the convenient layout and amenities of modern ships. It was nice to have a window for a change but (for us) is not something we would consider paying extra for.
The food was as good as ever. Excellent pasta especially. The only complaint was that the buffet closes at 3.30pm (although there is tea and cakes until 4.30pm) so anyone arrriving back on ship after that has to wait until dinner, which is quite a wait if you are 9pm sitting. My husband did not need to use his scooter on the ship which was just as well as the Marina is not really wheelchair accessible, there are 'up and over' steps at several entrances to the main deck and the corridors are very narrow.
Now a little about the ports:
Monte Carlo, Monaco We had been here a couple of times before so decided not to go the the Monaco-Ville (old town around the palace) this time but to spend some time exploring the newer MOnte Carlo area. Walking out of the port we found an elevator and crossed the street towards La Condamine market, then walked down the pedestrianised 'Rue Princess Caroline' back towards the harbour. Following the harbour brought us to a pretty little church and statue dedicated to Sainte Devote. From there we walked up the hill to the Casino. The main Casino does not open until 2pm but the Casino de Paris (in the arcade next to the Cafe de Paris) was open, so we could rest for a while and waste a few euros on the slot machines. After wandering around the Casino district we headed off down the hill towards Larvotto beach, which was rather too far to walk but on the seafront we came across a beautiful Japanese Garden, a really lovely and peaceful oasis to sit for a while. We decided then to head back towards the ship, walking through the seafront tunnel that features in the Monaco Grand Prix, just missed a 'bateau bus' (little boat across the harbour) so decided to keep walking and admiring all the lovely yachts. It was a lovely day but we must have walked some miles, as my feet were killing me and for the first time ever the scooter ran out of power just before we got back to the ship !
Livorno, Italy This was about our 5th or 6th visit to Livorno so we had no intention of visiting Florence or Pisa again. It's a shame that Livorno is only seen as the gateway to these beautiful places as it is not too bad a place to spend a day in its own right. For the first time we did not dock at the horrible industrial port but at one of the berths at the bottom of the main street (Via Grande). It was still about half a mile into town, there were buses, but we saw a sign to the 'New American Market' just outside the port - on investigation nothing special - then crossed the main street and walked parallel to the seafront. our guess was right and we shortly came out behind the Piazza Grande (where the shuttle buses from the other cruise terminals drop off). One block up the Via Grande (going away from the port) is a nice market (fruit & veg, meat, shoes, lots of clothes,& just about everything else) that we had discovered on a previous visit. We spent the rest of the morning wandering around that. When the shops shut for siesta (about 1pm) we took bus no.1 from Piazza Grande (after buying tickets for 1 euro each from the tobacco kiosk) to the beaches of Antignano. This is the same bus as goes to the station but in the opposite directions (across the road from the cathedral). We passesd some nice looking 'bagni' - beach club establishments - but did not have too long to spend there so got off at 'Tre Ponti' stop to use the public beach. It is not a spectacular beach but was quite busy with local families and the water was warm (unlike Marina's pool which was like an ice bath all week). After a drink and 'gelato' at a nearby cafe we caught the bus back getting off at the bottom of 'Via Grande' and walking back along the seafront to the ship.
Olbia, Sardinia The Marina docks at the ferry port 'Isolda Bianca' and there was a free shuttle bus every 10 minutes to the port end of the main street 'Corso Umberto 1'. This is a nice stret lined with shops and cafes and small piazzas off the street. We lingered at bit too long in the town, having intended to take a bus to the beach of Pittulongu, by the time we found the bus stop (turn left before the railway lines at the far end of the main street) it appeared that we had just missed the midday bus, and my timetable (2 years out of date but the best I could find either on the internet or in Olbia) indicated that they only run once an hour. The last shuttle leaves the town at 4pm so we decided it was not worth the effort to have probably less than an hour at the beach. We followed the street for a while, finding a few shops but nothing of particular interest, then took a left turning ('Via Roma') which led back towards the main street via a series of squares. It's quite a nice town but next time we will be a bit more lively and make sure we see some of Sardinia's beaches.
Capri, Italy Local boats tendered into the harbour of 'Marina Grande' right opposite the funicular to Capri Town. It was only a short stay, last tender 12.30 for 1pm departure, so we opted out of visiting the town. There were quite a few shops and cafes at harbour level which kept us amused for an hour or so and a nice pebble beach. The water was lovely and warm and clear but a little inevitable surface polutioon from all the boats continuously in and out of the harbour, mainly ferries to Naples & Sorrento and tourist boats leaving for round island tours and the Blue Grotto - both of these looked easy to book on arrival. The water at the far end of the beach was much nicer and I enjoyed a nice swim. Tendering back was efficient with hardly any queue even though nearly everyone must have been returning to the ship about midday, and we left on time. Glad we did not take a round island boat tour as we had a lovely view from the ship as we sailed away, quite close to the island, past the famous rock arch and the 'Marina Picola' at the other side of the island.
La Goulette (for Tunis), Tunisia It was our honour to be one of the first ships to call at the new cruise terminal and what an improvement ! On our last visit 2 years ago it had been absolute choas with almost unbearable hassle from hundreds of taxi drivers. We have holidayed in Tunisia and like the country but fully understand why this port of call has been reported as such a bad experience for many cruisers. However, the new terminal will make a huge difference. As this was another short visit, sailing at 2pm, we had no intention of going into Tunis this time, so spent the morning exploring La Goulette. Sadly we found little of interest. There is a lovely wide beach of beautiful soft golden sand about a mile from the cruise terminal but it was almost deserted, just a handful of local youths sitting around and nobody using the beach cafes. Perhaps it was empty because the weather was overcast (although still warm) - I don't know, as we have seen this beach packed with people on other visits. Walking back along what seemed to be the main street, one bloack back from the beach, we found a small indoor market selling fruit vand veg, meat, fish etc, lots of cafes and a few shop, some open and some closed on Saturday morning. There are some old town walls, a couple of gateways and a statue of a man on a horse in the middle of the street near the port, but little else. Wandering back to the port we deviated to check out the location of the station for trains to Tunis in the hope that we will return one day soon. In fact it is very easy, simply walk out of the port, across the street by the garage and follow the railway lines to the station. On returning we spent some time looking at the shops in the cruise terminal itself. It has been built to resemble an old medina with some attractive fountains and waterfalls and complete with camels, Roman soldiers & a snake charmer. There will be about 50 shops when it is all open but only about half seem to be occupied so far. We got chatting to a cashier in the duty free shop (sells cigarettes about 40 euros for 400 and a good variety of perfume but no alcohol) and asked about changing money. He proudly took us to see the new ATM - which as of last week (12th June 2010) stands on a pallet wrapped in packaging ! When it is installed and working ('very soon' I was told) it will be in a little alcove just to the left of the immigration area.It will then be dead easy to visit Tunis independently. Simply get some local currency out of the ATM, walk to the station and take the train into Tunis from there. I believe it is still a good walk to the medina (we did it some years ago when staying at a Tunisian beach resort) but much cheaper than a taxi. We will definitely do it next time. Walking out of the port now seems to be easy thanks to the advertised taxi fares and organised taxi rank, whereas before it was nearly impossible. Several drivers still called out as we walked by, and a few others were waiting at the port gate, but a form 'no thank you' sufficed and we walked by with no trouble. I hope they enforce the fixed fares and keep the hassle factor low and that Tunis becomes a deservedly popular port of call. My only criticism was that in building a new terminal you would expect it to be wheelchair friendly. In fact there were sevaral points when my husband had to get off his scotter and lift it up and down small steps into different areas of the building and into shops etc.
Port Mahon, Menorca There is one advantage of travelling on a smaller ship and that is that it can get into hidden jewels like Mahon ! We sailed in at lunchtime down a long fjord-like bay (a bit like Malta's Grand Harbour) and docked right by a little market from where pretty little shops lined the quayside. Being Sunday we had wondered what to expect but most of these were open, selling typical tourist wares, local produce and especially the locally made leather sandals. The main town can be reached by 150 steps but we took the longer sloping route to the top and found a really charming old Spanish town. Most of the shops in the town were closed as, sadly, were all the churches and museums, but in a way it was better for us as had things been open it would no doubt have been busy and probabaly impassable with the scooter. We had a lovely couple of hours wandering around enjoying the scenery and would love to return here one day.
Conclusion The Marina is not my favourite ship, it is just unfair to compare it to the big modern liners, and (knowing what the Allegra does in rough seas) it definitely needed to be a port-intensive itinerary for me. But the food is good and the crew bend over backward to be helpful - and the fact that they have to do everyting in 5 languages as well as their mother tongues never ceases to amaze me - so if the itinerary and price were right I would have no hestitation in booking it again.
Itinerary: Savona-Barcelona-Casablanca-Agadir-Lanzarote-Gran Canaria-La Palma-Tenerife-Madeira-Malaga-Marseille-Savona (28 Feb.-15 Mar. 2010)
The Ship: The Marina is the oldest and smallest of the 15 cruise ships in the Costa fleet. ... Read More
Itinerary: Savona-Barcelona-Casablanca-Agadir-Lanzarote-Gran Canaria-La Palma-Tenerife-Madeira-Malaga-Marseille-Savona (28 Feb.-15 Mar. 2010)
The Ship: The Marina is the oldest and smallest of the 15 cruise ships in the Costa fleet. It's only 175 meters long and 26 wide with nine decks. It carries a maximum of around 800 passengers and a crew of about 350 with 383 cabins including 8 suites, the only cabins with balconies. One main dining room, a self-service restaurant, and four bars, plus the usual theatre, casino, disco, shops, etc. The lay-out was fairly simple. The passenger cabins were located on decks 2, 3, 4, and 5. Deck 4 had the main entry ports, the Reception, Excursion Office, Beauty Shop, Photographers, and Chapel. Deck 6 was where the bars were, casino, shops, and MDR entry. The swimming pools and sports facilities were on deck 7 and 8 while the Infirmary was on Deck 2 and the working part of the ship, crew quarters, etc, were on Decks 1 and 2. The captain of the Marina was Marco Derin and the cruise director, Federica Giammarioli.
Embarkation: The night before embarking on the Marina I stayed at the NH Savona Darsena Hotel which is right next to the Costa Cruise Terminal at the Savona port. Arriving at the terminal I gave my suitcase to the luggage check-in people and proceeded into the building and the Guest Services desk where I picked up my boarding pass - number 3 as a Costa Club Pearl member. Boarding was scheduled to begin at 13.30 and it did. Numbers 1 and 2 passed through quickly and by 13.50 I was aboard and proceeded directly to my cabin which was easy to find since it was on the same deck as the entry-port (4th deck).
The Cabin: The cabin I selected was an outside midship on Deck 4 Aurora, number 458. Being an older ship, the Marina's cabins are not the greatest in design, beauty or comfort, but for me travelling solo it was adequate. It was smallish, maybe about 15 meters square, with two round windows on the starboard side, and with a small bathroom containing the sink, toilet and a glass enclosed shower stall. The walls and furnishings were 1950's era clear varnished press-board. The furnishings consisted of a French/American size double bed with night stands on either side and fixed reading lamps. One stand had the telephone. Facing the bed on the other wall was a long shelf under which on the left were two drawers making it a desk, and the minibar under on the right with a small 1970's era TV above. The only seat was a round overstuffed stool by the desk. No chair for reading or relaxing. The bed was comfortable enough but had a sheet of plywood under the mattress to give it rigidity - real class! Storage space was available pretty much everywhere in the cabin with built-in shelves. The wardrobe had three doors, two for the hang-up area and one with shelves for folded things. More than adequate for one person but if my wife was with me I'd have been out of luck. There was a steel room safe (with a key) right out of the dark ages. Mirrors and lighting in the cabin was adequate. Noise from the outside was noticeable when people stopped to chat in the corridor or late at night I could hear my neighbours in the cabin next door. Towels were changed as needed twice a day and bed linens every three days. In the bathroom there a kleenex dispenser, bath gel in the shower and a bar of soap on the sink. No problem with hot water or water pressure. Everything in the cabin was kept very clean by the efficient cabin stewards. There was no vibration movement or noise in the cabin, but when the sea was rough a rolling motion was felt which just made for good sleeping. As Costa Club Pearl I had the standard fruit bowl and bottle of sparkling wine (Prosecco) brought in along with the daily restaurant menu. My cabin stewardess was named Mariliz and was extremely capable.
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 and after a couple days many addressed me by name. The Reception (Guest Services) manager was Lizeth Moran, a true professional who along with her staff handled every little matter with a big smile. The excursion staff, whose names I wish I had written down (Francesco and Katia were particularly helpful) worked around several problems trying to organize tours with dedicated language guides even when there weren't sufficient participants signed up. The restaurant, bar, and cabin services personnel were great.
Passenger Mix: On this cruise there were about 780 passengers aboard, mostly in the 55-75 age category. There were roughly 360 Germans, 150 French, 70 Italians, 40 English speakers including 10 Americans, 30 Spanish, and 20 Slovanians, a couple Japanese, etc. The multi-language announcements were few. Not being during the school holidays, children aboard were no more than ten, thus we had very little chaos.
Cleanliness: Excellent. One nice thing were the hand sanitizer machines located outside the restaurants. On returning to the ship after an excursion there was always a man handing out sanitizing wipes.
Smoking: Not noticed. Smoking was prohibited in the corridors and of course the restaurants and theatre. The casino was the only area where it was freely permitted besides the outside decks. The two main bars had a smoking area on one side and smoke-free tables on the other. I did not notice any tobacco smell in the non-smoking areas.
Restaurants and Bars: The Marina has one main dining room (MDR) located aft on deck 5, one self-service restaurant on deck 7, also aft, two bars both on deck 6, Harry's Bar in the center of the ship and the Marina Lounge aft. There was also the Lido Bar up on the swimming pool deck which was open only during the day and the Laguna Club Bar which was open at lunchtime and during the nightly discothèque. The MDR - Cristallo Restaurant. Even though the MDR was on Deck 5, entry was from Deck 6 via a real moving stairway, an escalator (plus two normal sets of steps). It is divided into four sections, right, left, center and the semi-circular rear section with full length windows looking over the stern of the ship. The captain's table was in the rear of the center section. Tables were set for two, four, six and eight persons with a waiter and his assistant looking over two or three tables. Managing the MDR was the head Maitre d', Antonio, and three assistant maitres. The MDR was open for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner but I used it only for the evening meal. I had chosen to eat with the second seating which started at 20.45 (21.00 for gala nights). For the first two nights I was seated by myself until Antonio finally moved me to a table with three Italian couples, two aged in their 60's-70's and one cute couple in their early 20's. Notwithstanding the age differences we got to know one another and enjoyed each other's company throughout the cruise. Our excellent waiter was named Juan from Colombia while his equally excellent assistant was from India. The food served each evening was generally always good. Each day's menu usually had a choice of three appetizers, a soup dish, two or three pasta/rice dishes, three entrees, a salad, cheese selection, and assorted deserts or fruit. Only once or twice I did not find something to my taste - one was a particular fish that is delicious when fresh but of course on a cruise ship fish (and meats) are kept frozen until prepared so one cannot expect gourmet quality. The wine list was adequate and had good wines in the 18 to 25 euro range. Water could be ordered either bottled or tap water in a pitcher. We had one incident in the MDR which was of note. The evening we passed through the straits of Gibraltar and entered the Atlantic we had just sat down to dinner when the ship started tossing with the waves. People jumped to their feet, chairs fell over (including the chairs with two of my table companions in them), plates and glasses fell to the deck, wine and water spilled, in short, mass chaos. Thankfully no one was hurt besides a lady who bumped her head on a serving stand, but within a couple minutes the ship settled down and we regained our places. Luckily they had not yet started serving the appetizers otherwise there would have been substantial more mess to clean up. Since our table was one of the worst hit, the maitre moved us to another for the evening. Quite a few passengers forsook the dinner and headed for their cabins, but this was the only time we had any problems with dining during a rough sea. It was something we all laughed about afterward but many of the people were really frightened. The Self-Service: Deck 7 had the self-service buffet called the Yacht Club which was open for breakfast (generally 07.00 to 10.00) and for lunch (generally 12.00 to 14.00). It was closed during the evening other than on gala evenings when it was open only for our ten or so children so their parents could dine in the MDR. There were two serving lines to chose from, both with identical food. There were also two side stations making eggs and omelets to order in the morning, and pasta dishes at lunch. In the aft of the ship was the panoramic Laguna Club with additional seating and bar service. Between the Yacht Club and Laguna Club was a third serving line open at lunch usually serving some ethnic specialties frequently attuned to the area the ship was visiting (Arab, Spanish, French, etc.) Most days I was ashore on excursions but when I was aboard at lunch time I usually ate something light from the buffet, trying not to gain weight. Bars: I generally took my espresso coffee in Harry's bar and it was quite good. I used my Costa coffee coupon book that I had purchased on a previous cruise (and I still have a few left-over coupons which will wait for the next!). Some evenings I enjoyed an after dinner drink in the bar and listened to the music. Both bars had live music in the evening and many people took to the dance floors. Harry's Bar was more for serious conversation among friends while the Marina Lounge was much more lively with members of the animation team joining in the fun. Drink prices were generally in the four to six euro range. At midnight the Laguna Club was turned into a lively discotheque and the two lounges on deck 6 served a buffet. Room Service: I ordered the free room service breakfast each morning I was scheduled to leave for an early shore excursion. Juice, a couple pastries, and two espressos hit the spot without having to waste time going up to the self-service or MDR. I saved my desire for bacon and eggs for those sea days when time was not a factor. I did not use room service for anything other than breakfast.
Library and Internet: Both were in the same room on the 5th deck. The library was open for an hour or two in the morning and again in the afternoon. Books were labelled and separated by language. The selection of English language books was reasonable. There were five or six computers available for internet users. I did not use them so I cannot comment.
Laundry: I used the ship's laundry services three times and was very satisfied. The end of cruise "magic bag" (up to 25 pieces for only €19.99) was especially helpful in not having to carry home dirty laundry for my wife to wash.
Gym and Spa: The gym was not huge. Located toward the front of the ship on the 8th deck, it had two treadmills, two exercise cycles, and assorted exercise machines, benches, weights, etc. I used the gym almost every day and rarely had to wait for a particular machine. The spa located above the gym, contained a sauna, showers, and two massage rooms. Spa activities were managed by the beauty shop on deck 4. As I do during every cruise, I signed up for full-body massages and was lucky to have a girl named Venus who did wonders with my feet, legs, and back muscles. The top deck 8 had a good oval 200 meter running track which I used after dinner for a few fast-walk laps (five to make a kilometer), and in the early morning on at-sea days. On a few occasions wind or rain made me opt just for a lap or two.
Entertainment: I usually did not go to the after-dinner shows, preferring to stroll around the outside upper deck several times (good for the digestion Once I did attend to listen to an excellent pianist from Budapest play music of the 18th century, and another evening there was a very talented vocalist which I enjoyed. ). My table companions usually went every evening and found the entertainment quite good.
Weather and Climatic Conditions: Aside from the two nights with rough seas between Gibraltar, Casablanca, and Agadir, we did not experience any really bad weather. Daytime temperatures in the Mediterranean ranged from the low teens to over 20 degrees Celsius, depending where we were. Along the Moroccan coast and in and around the Canaries, the temps were all in the low to mid 20's. Rain and wind were experienced occasionally but did not hamper the cruise or shore excursions.
Port Calls and Shore Excursions:
Day 1 - Savona. I boarded the Splendida here. Weather mostly overcast, chilly with some light rain. We set sail at 16.00 and left the Italian coast behind. Sea conditions good.
Day 2 - Barcelona. Day mostly sunny. Sea good. After a good night's sleep I spent the morning doing pleasant things and had a light lunch in the Laguna Club. We arrived Barcelona around 13.30 and by 14.00 I was off with the shore excursion "Tour of Barcelona." Our English-Italian group went by bus throughout the city and to Parc Guell where we much of Gaudi's work. An outside visit and explanation of the still unfinished Sagrada Familia cathedral which is expected to be finally consecrated by the Pope in November of this year. At the end we were taken on an interesting walk though the old Gothic quarter of the city.
Day 3 - At sea. Weather turned ugly today and it rained in the afternoon. Sea good. They announced rough seas this evening and for the passengers to take precautions moving about. First gala dinner this evening. Luckily the sea conditions remained good during the dinner.
Day 4 - Casablanca. Sea very rough all night but I slept through it. Arrived Casablanca at 09.00. Sea partially cloudy. I remained aboard today since I had already been to this city and seen everything. Spent time in Gym, ran laps, had a massage, read, and took a nap after lunch. This evening we pulled out of the port just in time for dinner which turned into the disaster I mentioned above. The sea remained rough all night. The Atlantic wave conditions along the Moroccan coast are frequently violent this time of year we were told.
Day 5 - Agadir. We arrived at 14.00 after a morning with sea conditions still rough but improving. Sky sunny and temperature 20 degrees. Beautiful day for the Agadir City Tour. Our group was again a mix of English and Italian speakers. First stop was the old Kasbah up on a hill overlooking the city with its extensive beaches. Back down in the city the group went through a perfume "factory" spiel but I, as an old Morocco hand, stayed outside and chatted with the guide. Our last stop was for a very lively and interesting "Fantasia" which was good but not as good as the one they do at Chez Ali in Marrakech. A cold wind was blowing when we returned to the ship at 18.30.
Day 6 - Arrecife, Lanzarote. Arrived at our first Canary island at 08.00. Sea good all night. Weather partly cloudy and morning temp at 19 degrees. Took the "Gran Tour of Lanzarote" excursion with the same English-Italian group. We went first to the fantastic Timanfaya National Park which was a desolate lunar landscape of extinct volcanos and lava fields. Did the touristy camel ride and saw the geothermal "experiments" at the visitors' centre. After the standard buffet lunch in a big hotel, we went to the north part of the island to Jameos del Agua, an underground cavern created by lava and designed by Cesar Manrique whose works are scattered everywhere on this island. Weather sunny and warm in the afternoon.
Day 7 - Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. This was the largest of the Canaries. At 08.30 our English-Italian group got on a bus and went first to Maspalomas in the south. While most all the guides we had on this cruise were good, this one (name Juan Samoza Almador) never ceased talking and prefaced every sentence with "Ladies and Gentlemen," "Signore e Signori," literally driving everyone crazy. Anyway, Maspalomas represents the worse in over-construction with every square kilometer crammed with megahotels and other tourist related establishments. The famous sand dunes could only be seen at a distance and the beach had been mostly washed away by winter storms. A narrow twisting road took us up to the lovely center of the island where we stopped for lunch (at bit miserable) at the Parador at Tejeda. This part of the island had lovely green valleys and forests. Gala dinner this evening.
Day 8 - La Palma. Weather and sea good. Temp at 08.00 was 22 degrees. Did the "La Palma Island Tour" which was enjoyable. Usual English-Italian group again with a good guide. Lovely small island with extensive banana plantations, laurel forest, canyons, green, green, green. Lunch in the Parador La Palma in the center of the island. In afternoon we went to the volcanos of Teneguia and San Antonio - the latter having erupted less then 30 years ago. Impressive views from the volcano rims. The temperature reached 27 degrees today.
Day 9 - Tenerife. Usual good weather also today. No English or Italians on tour today so had to sign up with the Germans. Luckily one of the ship's photographers and his mother went as well because while my German is sufficient to understand the basics, it was nice to have someone to talk with at lunch. We went first to Mount Teide, over 3700 meters high. We walked around the lava fields down below, at only 2300 meters. The narrow, winding roads were tiring but after two hours we finally reached Puerto La Cruz where we visited the interesting botanical gardens. Lunch in a big hotel on a VERY developed waterfront. Very hot today. Back on ship at 15.30. The huge MSC Fantasia was also in port today.
Day 10 - Funchal, Madeira. We, as well as the locals, were pleased that we made this port call, the island having been inundated with torrential rains and mud slides with 42 deaths only two weeks previous. A massive clean-up was still underway and we saw evidence in many places of the disaster which hit this lovely island. Today our group was made up of French and Germans plus myself and one Italian lady and our Costa excursion office escort, Katia. Our guide was a very pretty young lady named Annaluiz. This all-day excursion ("Faial, the Wonder of Madeira") was made up just for this cruise because the standard one to Sao Vicente was dropped due to some inaccessible roads in that part of the island. First we did the famous "cestinho" ride down through the streets of upper Funchal - fun but there were only two really steep places where the toboggan picked up speed. Our bus met us below and we headed across the island, stopping at an overlook at Terreiero la Luta, then further on at a really neat place in the mountains called Ribeira Frio where we stopped for refreshments. Prior to arriving at Sao Roque de Faial, we stopped for lunch at a very nice restaurant called "Cassa de Chà do Faial" and after went down to Porto la Cruz, Agua de Pena and Portela. Last stop was back at Funchal where we visited a wine shop and had some free time to walk around the city centre. Back aboard at 16.15 for a massage and dinner.
Day 11 - At sea. Homeward bound, heading across the Atlantic back toward Gibraltar. Weather and sea fine. German spread today by the pool at noon with wurstel and krout - much enjoyed by our German friends. Gym and jogging before the Costa Club cocktail party with the captain.
Day 12 - Malaga. Sea smooth all night and we passed through the Gibraltar straits at 07.00 in the morning. Nice day. Pulled into Malaga at 11.30 and went into town with the port shuttle bus. No excursion today as I just wanted to walk around on my own, having been to Malaga once before. Went though the magnificent cathedral, and then on a whim, boarded a City Sightseeing double-decker and went all around the city. Started getting chilly by 15.00 so I grabbed a burger at McDonalds and headed back to the ship. Dinner this evening was Italian Night with lots of dancing and singing, napkin waving, waiters and cooks parading around, to which all the guests eventually joined in. Fun evening.
Day 13 - At sea. Chilly today but at least the sea condition is good. Easy day, did some laps around the top deck in a misty rain. Temp in afternoon only 5 degrees (after what we had become used to in the Canaries!). Arriverderci gala dinner this evening.
Day 14 - Marsielle. Sea fair all night but cold in the morning. At 09.30 I went ashore with the tour to Aix en Provence with the Germans and a few Italians. Aix is a lovely university city only 30 minutes north of Marsielle. We did a walking tour starting with the cathedral and ending at Place Charles de Gaule, passing by Place Les Quatre Dauphins and the beautiful Cours Mirabeau. Sunshine today with a high temp about 14 degrees. Back aboard, I started packing my suitcase (sob, sob). Dinner with my table companions was lively because aside from our young couple, we were all accomplished cruisers with other cruises on the horizon, thus no last-night melancholy table. Suitcase outside the cabin door and to bed.
Day 15 - Disembarkation at Savona. I awoke at 06.30 and finished packing my carry-on bag. Left it in the cabin and went to breakfast in the buffet. At 08.00 I vacated cabin 458 for the last time and went to Harry's Bar for coffee and to wait for my color-code disembarkation group to be called. At 09.30 I passed by all the crew of the Reception and Excursion offices lined up at the exit to see us off. A very nice gesture on their part I'd say. I easily found my suitcase and walked out to where the shuttle buses were waiting to take me to the airport at Genoa. We departed Savona on time at 10.00 and got to the airport about 45 minutes later where I had to wait until 17.30 for my flight to Naples. Luckily I was able to talk my way into the VIP lounge with my frequent flyer card.
Conclusion: This was a most enjoyable cruise. On today's megaships rarely is it possible to get to know so many fellow passengers and crew members well enough to even know their names. Being a small ship, one could walk the Marina from bow to stern in just a minute or so and you had the feeling that everything was within a easy stroll from your cabin. True, it's not glitzy like the newer ships and it could use a good rehab in several areas (corridor carpeting for one) but at the end, I really liked it, little old Costa Marina! The ports of call were interesting and whether I had been there before or not, it was always good to walk around on dry land for awhile. Faults were few and I found it a very positive experience. Costa is a very good cruise line offering a lifestyle that I'm used to and enjoy. I'll do it again - soon.
My husband and I have just returned from a 14-day cruise aboard the Costa Marina, starting at Savona, Italy, on 14th February, and visiting Spain, North Africa, the Atlantic Islands, and France. Before booking, we fully appreciated that ... Read More
My husband and I have just returned from a 14-day cruise aboard the Costa Marina, starting at Savona, Italy, on 14th February, and visiting Spain, North Africa, the Atlantic Islands, and France. Before booking, we fully appreciated that the Costa Marina was a very small ship, with only around 800 passengers, but having read a couple of favourable reviews, and with the incentive of the reasonable price offered, we thought this would be a good choice for our first cruise, to celebrate our recent retirement - & of course Valentine's Day!
Things went wrong from the start!
The travel (arranged by Costa), comprised a KLM flight from Aberdeen, via Amsterdam, to Milan, followed by a 2.5 hour bus journey to Savona. It was hectic at every stage, involving delays, frantic dashes from one runway to another, and then a long queue at Milan to fill in paperwork when our suitcase was lost! There were about a dozen British couples in the same situation, all trying to get to the Costa Marina on time, minus all their suitcases! We arrived late, after the scheduled sailing time, although they held the ship up for us. We were very tired and hungry, having eaten practically nothing but an ice-cold, KLM sandwich all day. Having missed afternoon tea, we were not offered any refreshment, and we barely had time for a drink of bottled water (found in our tiny cabin & for which we were later charged 2.88 euros!) before being rushed into a mandatory safety drill. We had booked an early sitting for dinner, but this was changed by Costa to a late sitting, at 8.45 pm, due to demand from higher priority Costa Club passengers and we were unable to alter it.
The food, when it eventually came, was very welcome, and certainly adequate in quantity, but rather disappointing in choice and quality. I would rate it very similar to a Spanish 3-star hotel, although the al dente pasta was consistently very good.
Our suitcase turned up in Barcelona, although some others had to survive 12 days without their cases! We rallied round to lend them clothes! The weather was cold and miserable in Savona & Barcelona, warming a bit in Casablanca, but then the fun really began: We sailed from Casablanca on Wed 17 February, with a warning of bad weather, although we were not fully informed of this. The daily newspaper merely noted 'mare agitato' and this 'agitated sea' turned out to be a force-10 gale!
For all the next day and another full night, we tossed like a cork in the ocean, wishing we were on a bigger ship, rather than a converted container ship that felt more like a ferry, and hoping our Captain would have the good sense to head for the nearest port for shelter. We were unable to get into Agadir, since that port was 'closed by the authorities'! We were very sick, as were many others. We occasionally tried to eat, but cutlery, dishes and glasses were flying off the dining room tables with every massive wave. Even the chairs slid around with people sitting on them. Bright blue sick-bags were placed in bundles throughout the ship, on all the staircases. Pills were issued, on request, from the reception desk
Throughout that awful night, we were constantly elevated from our beds to a state of sheer weightlessness, before being thundered back into our bunks or bounced against a wall. Wardrobe doors flew open and we had to pack towels under them. The bathroom mirror hit me in the back of the neck whenever I tried to use the toilet. Regular announcements in 5 languages promised that 'the ship was still safe', but these were of little comfort! To avoid dehydration, we drank copious quantities of bottled water, and were charged 2.88 euros for each one! In the morning, our toilet floor had several pints of water swilling around in it and the corridor had a bad stench of sewage that lingered for days. Between bouts of nausea, I was regularly muttering to my husband 'first cruise, last cruise!'
We eventually arrived in Lanzarote on 19th February, and heard of the devastation and loss of life caused by the same storm hitting the island of Madeira. We felt privileged to be alive, and on dry land! We almost abandoned ship in Lanzarote. At least one British couple did exactly that, paying for their own flights home! However, my husband persuaded me to give the Canary Islands a chance since the worst must be over. Although a visit to Funchal was to be one of the highlights of our cruise, it was quite understandable that we were unable to visit Madeira, because of the mud, landslides and wreckage left by the storm.
Now, I don't want to be entirely negative about the Costa Marina, since much of our 'extreme cruising' experience was due to 'extreme weather' and that is classed as an 'Act of God'. I am pleased to report that the second week of the cruise was much better. We made many good friends, because when you have lost your luggage together, shared the same clothes, weathered a dreadful storm and even puked together, the bonds inevitably grow strong! Meeting such wonderful people was the best part of the extreme cruising experience for us and we will certainly keep in touch.
The excursions were very expensive so we mostly did our own sightseeing. In most cases we were able to walk from the port into town, avoiding the need to spend 6 euros each on a Costa shuttle-bus over a very short distance. However, beware of trying to do this in Marseille: there are 8 kilometres of docks and it is really essential to use the shuttle-bus service. The drinks on board were also very expensive (15.50 euros for 2 brandy/sodas and around 20 euros for a bottle of wine.) We had purchased an 'all-inclusive 'wine/beer/soft drinks package' for £280, but it was only valid 'in the restaurant during mealtimes' so it proved to be uneconomical, since we couldn't eat at all during the storm and were frequently off the ship at lunchtimes. It did not cover any drinks in the evening or even the bottles of water!
To end on a positive note, and with the extreme-weather aside, the Costa Marina is a certainly a friendly little ship, with attentive, hard working staff, who can't do enough to help you. The tiny swimming pool was unheated, so only used by a few hardy souls, but there were 3 warm Jacuzzis. We liked the mixture of nationalities aboard ship, French, German, Italian and Spanish, with British being in a minority. The entertainment was varied and quite good, and there was some lovely music for dancing. We were particularly impressed with Joan, the wee Scottish singer in Trio Moods, and Kati, the wonderful soprano singer from the Kati and Peter Duo. Although I have stopped muttering 'first cruise, last cruise', I am not sure that I would go on another cruise, although I may be tempted by a bigger ship in more sheltered waters!
We returned home with another KLM flight yesterday, and to add insult to injury, they have lost BOTH our cases this time!
Ship - If anyone enjoys the very large ships then they should think carefully before booking on the Costa Marina as it doesn't take very long to walk from one end to the other, but it is a ... Read More
Costa Marina 17th January - Canaries etc.
Ship - If anyone enjoys the very large ships then they should think carefully before booking on the Costa Marina as it doesn't take very long to walk from one end to the other, but it is a very nice ship and much friendlier than the large ones because if you get chatting to someone, then you are sure to meet up with them again. We got to know various couples and chatted quite a lot to an American man who was on his own. There is only a small plunge pool but there are three Jacuzzis.
Journey to Savona - If you are flying from England, especially Northern England, then look carefully into the flights that Costa might arrange. We live in Preston and caught the 6 am flight with KLM from Manchester to Amsterdam, then to Milan, then over two and a half hours by coach to Savona. I did get a bit agitated because we only had an hour to catch the flight at Amsterdam and 45 minutes to catch the transfer coach in Milan and as we were sitting on the plaen at Manchester ready for take off the Captain announced there would be a delay because of conditions at Amsterdam Airport. I had read the day before that fog was forecast. Fortunately there was a half hour delay and a much shorter flight time so the flight was still boarding when we got to the gate. It was a relief when we finally got to the ship at 2.45 pm. We left on the coach for home at about 10 am and put the key in our door at 11.30 pm which was actually 12.30 going by Italian time. We arrived at Milan airport at 12.45 pm and our flight wasn't until 5.25 pm and then we had over two hours to wait at Amsterdam and an hours drive home from Manchester. Who would have thought it would take over 14 hours for a journey from Italy. It was a bit ironic because we decided not to go on a Caribbean cruise because I said I didn't fancy a long journey! People were joining the cruise at different ports and you just stayed on the next cruise until it reached the port you got on at. It would have been better to book cruise only and catch a cheap Easyjet flight to Barcelona and stay for a night or two but we didn't know you could do this.
Embarkation/Disembarkation - We just went straight on the ship when we arrived and waited in different lounges until the ship docked so we could disembark.
Cabin - We booked an inside cabin category 11 and for some reason were upgraded to category 14 on Venezia Deck. It served its purpose well, not particularly large, especially the shower room, but comfortable with plenty of wardrobe space.
Passengers - French were in a majority on this cruise but on the previous cruise Germans were in the majority. There were over 300 French, over 100 Italians, 90 British Passport holders and I don't know how the rest were made up. I didn't notice any rude, noisy Italians which a lot of people seem to complain about in reviews.
Cleanliness - Everywhere on the ship was kept very clean.
Smoking - Smoking was allowed in certain areas on the ship and I didn't notice anyone not complying with this.
Food - I had read a lot of very negative reports about the food on Costa Cruises but we really enjoyed the meals in the restaurant. Maybe it is because we are used to our cooking so anything else must taste better!! However we were on a table with two other couples and two singles and they all enjoyed the meals as well. We all got on well and had a good laugh. You could have water served from a jug at no charge and they have their own purifying system so it was OK to drink and were also served coffee afterwards. We only ate in the buffet three times when we were back too late in the afternoon for the restaurant and couldn't understand why the majority of people did so as the food was lukewarm and it was a much pleasanter experience in the restaurant for breakfast and lunch and the food was served hot. They did some really delicious soups. The buffet only opened for breakfast and lunch and closed either at 2 pm or 2.30 pm depending on the port, so if you were late back you would have to wait until afternoon tea at 4 pm to get something to eat. First Sitting 6.30 pm, Second Sitting 8.45 pm. As we are used to eating between 5 and 5.30 pm we would have hated waiting until the Second Sitting.
Drinks - Pricey! Mixers like Gin and Tonic 7.30 Euros, 25 cl beer 3.50, 40 cl 4.50, soft drink 2.60, wine £18-£20 a bottle, glass of wine 4.20, cocktails 6.25 or cocktail of the day 5 Euros - plus 15%. A lot of people sat in the bars without a drink in front of them and the bar staff wandered around looking for custom.
Shows - If you go on a Costa Cruise then you have to accept that the shows have to cater for a variety of different languages and make your mind up to enjoy them anyway. They were normally only for about three quarters of an hour or less but always worth going to. They had resident dancers and singers and also visiting ones. We had Latin American dancers, flamenco dancers, classical pianist, violins, ventriloquist etc. and if you come across Dannys Mime Show (think he was called Danny) then please don't decide you don't fancy a mime show as you will miss a real treat.
Evening Entertainment - Show at 7.30 pm and 9.15 pm. A nice duo or pianist in Harry's Bar plus Bingo and a trio and a male singer in the Marina Lounge where they had a lot of dancing, broken up during the evening with silly competitions with the Entertainment Team. Then there was a late night disco in the Laguna Club. On a larger ship you would have a lot more choice of bars.
Entertainment Team - They worked very hard organising a variety of different activities during the day and evening like dances, games, competitions quizzes. Certainly different doing a quiz when the questions and answers are in five languages.
Tours - Didn't do any as they are rather expensive and we enjoyed exploring ourselves.
TV - Only World News in English.
Dress Code - Gala/Elegant on first sea day, the evening we were at Gran Canaria and the third sea day. Only a small percentage of people in tuxedos or long dresses, but we wore ours anyway each time. Some people dressed very casually which was disappointing as I love to see everyone in their lovely outfits which makes it so different than being in a hotel.
Barcelona - Drizzle all day. Shuttle bus 6 Euros. The English Guide said it was 15 minutes walk but it took us 30 minutes to La Ramblas at a brisk pace. You can catch an open top bus which we did last time we were in Barcelona. Not the same atmosphere walking around in drizzle. We visited the Cathedral just off La Ramblas and could recommend going there - it costs 5 Euros.
Sea Day - Cloudy-Cool. Saw lots of Dolphins.
Casablanca - Sunny, Warm. There is no Shuttle Bus - long walk. It is 10 Euros for a taxi to the town. We shared a taxi with someone and had a tour round for two and a half hours with a commentary of the places we were passing and stopping at different places at a cost of 60 Euros between us. The ship tour was 55 Euros each.
Agadir - Sunny, Warm. No Shuttle Bus - taxis 8 Euros to town or long walk. We shared a taxi with a young Latvian Woman and an American man. It cost 45 Euros between us for four hours drive and stop. He took us to a shop which we managed to get out of quickly and to a Berber town which was really interesting and we felt we had seen Morocco rather than just a tourist town if we had walked around Agadir and we stopped at various places.
Lanzarote - Sunny, Very Warm. Shuttle 6 Euros, long walk. Taxis waiting - don't know the cost. We caught the shuttle bus and had a long walk around the resort which was very pleasant.
Gran Canaria - Rain, cloud, sun. It was quick stroll into town but it was a very long walk if you wanted to go to the cathedral area. You could catch an open top hop on and off bus for 15 Euros. You could turn right from the port and walk along a nice promenade alongside a beach or turn left and arrive at another promenade and beach and a harbour or ahead for shops. As it started raining in the morning not long after we had started walking we decided to go back and visit the Science Museum which was opposite the large shopping centre near the port gates. It was 3.50 Euros and most of the details by the side of exhibits were in English and if you asked at the ticket office you could get a mouse and have unlimited use of the internet at no extra charge. We went onboard for lunch and then for a walk in the afternoon.
La Palma - Cloudy, cool wind. 10 minutes walk or free shuttle bus. Taxis - 100 Euros for four hour trip to various viewpoints, 90 Euros for 3 hours or 60 Euros for 2 hours. We decided to catch the No 1 bus to Los Llanos on the other side of the island to have an opportunity of seeing some of the island. It cost 2 Euros each way for nearly an hours ride and the bus ran every hour on a Sunday on the hour. The Tourist Information is just near the port gates. There were lovely views on the journey over. Unfortunately with being Sunday most of the shops were closed but we enjoyed a walk around and arrived at Museum Street where there were large paintings on the side of some of the houses (turn left at main road from bus station, then right at large statue and left at tourist information). We caught the 10 am bus there and the 12.30 bus back and went on board to have our lunch and then off again to have a look round the town. There are some lovely buildings, especially round the O'Daly Street area. One thing that was really strange though was that we left Los Llanos in brilliant sunshine and when we came out of a long tunnel there was thick cloud and it was like that all day on that side of the island.
Tenerife - Cloud/Sun. Free shuttle or quarter of an hour walk to shops. Large City, no promenade along a beach like the other islands, but a very nice shoipping area. Taxis did trips to Puerto de la Cruz or you could catch a bus and takes about 40 minutes and runs every half hour. We decided to catch a bus to San Christobel de la Laguna which cost 1.30 Euros and took about 15 minutes. This used to be the capital of Tenerife and I am sure you would enjoy a visit. We caught the no 2 bus there and no 15 back. If you want to go then get a map of La Laguna from the tourist information so you know where to head for. Stay on the bus until you get to the bus station then head for the old church and look around the streets leading from the old church down to the cathedral which unfortunately was closed when we were there for renovation. It is worth having a look in the nice courtyard at the tourist information. It is about half an hours walk from the bus station to the ship but a couple we spoke to caught the tram which cost 2.45 return and runs frequently so that would be a better option. I don't know just which stop you would get off at though to be near the old part of the town.
Madeira - Sun/cloud/very warm. Didn't notice a shuttle bus. 10 minute walk to port gates, another 10 minutes to the start of the main promenade. Open top tour buses at a cost of 12 Euros. We have stayed in Funchal and enjoyed a walk along the promenade and round the shops and up the hill near the small park to where most of the hotels are.
Sea Day - Cloudy/Cool. Sea very rough overnight and most of the day. Not very pleasant, a lot of people sick.
Malaga - Sunny/Very Warm. Shuttle bus 6 Euros. Open top bus - don't know how much. 12 minutes walk to nice promenade alongside a beach, a few minutes longer to shops. Another very choppy night - quite frightening as there were lots of bangs and as our cabin was at the front of the ship we were very much aware of it rolling around but it settled during the morning. We just enjoyed a walk round Malaga.
Sea Day - Sunny/Quite Warm. What a relief to waken and realise it was morning and we hadn't had to go through what we had the previous two nights.
Marseille - Sunny, very cold wind. Shuttle 7 Euros. Very very long walk. Open top bus 20 Euros. Little train 7 Euros. We caught the shuttle and had a long walk round the coast road and then up to the Notre Dame Cathedral - fantastic - don't miss. It was so windy we could hardly stand up. We passed a fort on the way round which you can visit at no charge and there are nice views of Marseille.
Would we go with Costa again? - If it was a good itinerary, the dates fit in and the price was right, we would consider cruising with them again, but we didn't really like having to listen to five languages and it would have been nice at the open sittings for breakfast and lunch if we could have always been able to converse with the people on the table, and would have liked a comedian at the shows for a change, so maybe we would be better sticking to an English speaking ship. We did hear British people moaning and someone else could give a different review of the cruise, but I really don't know what there was to complain about, especially taking into account the extremely reasonable price we paid.
All was well until we arrived in Milan. Despite the instruction, to look out for a Rep from GlOCO VIAGGI there was no such person. We wandered around the concourse and the outside coach area in vain in extremely ... Read More
The Outward Journey.
All was well until we arrived in Milan. Despite the instruction, to look out for a Rep from GlOCO VIAGGI there was no such person. We wandered around the concourse and the outside coach area in vain in extremely cold temperatures. Convinced we had somehow missed the transfer, we nearly gave in to the many offers of special price to Savona from the many cab drivers touting for business We eventually met up with a Costa rep who appeared from a mini bus, that had been parked for some time, although not displaying a Costa logo until he deemed to make his appearance. Not Acceptable
Somewhat smaller than anticipated. Also I question it's suitability for use in the Atlantic, this early in the year (17-31st January). The passage through the Straights of Gibralter was especially nerve racking for my wife . The ship pitched and rolled alarmingly. We were frequently "airbourne" in bed as the ship behaved in a violent fashion. I suspect that passenger comfort came second to "keeping to the schedule" We were then stopped at sea for quite some time , with no explanation given. We later gathered that repairs had to be made to an area of the hull near the bow, and that in fact cabins on the deck below us had to be evacuated!!!
Also worthy of note was the habit of the cabin staff leaving their trolleys etc partially blocking the corridors. This alone could prove disastrous in an emergency.
The restaurant staff together with the bar staff gave superb service. Not so for the cabin staff who were less than up to speed, needing several requests to reception for such basics as toilet roll, newsletters and even towels!! The English speaking rep (Helen) comes in for particular comment. Perhaps she is good at something, but customer relations is not one of them!
The Additional Costs
Why do we have to pay the crews bonus? Surely this is no more than a hidden charge. This put an extra Euro 168 on our bill. This may or may not be distributed amongst the crew. We were told by crew members that it depended on their getting an Excellent rating. You would do far better to let the individuals be rewarded directly for the service they render us. Again what is this additional 15% on the already hugely overpriced drinks? During our cruise passengers were voting with their feet, by not drinking in the bars. In fact they were nearly empty most of the time.
What are you thinking of? Take the La PalmaTour as an example Euro 160 for a couple!!! This is just a total rip off!!
We have been on several cruises with other operators and are very aware of just how un-competitive these prices are.
Also you seem to berth much farther away from the dock gates than other lines, leaving us to pay an average of 6 Euro each just to get to the gates!! This may save you money on the berth, but we the customer have to pay again
The Return Journey/ The Final Insult
Despite noting an anomaly with our departure time from the ship, and our connecting flight (It would be impossible to make the connection), your rep Helen, assured me (3 times!) that all would be well, and that no passenger had ever missed a connection. Well guess what? We were too late by miles for the connection, and had to pay an additional 100 Euro to get home on a later flight.
Are you a good sailor? If not look elsewhere as the Costa Marina is a rough ride. At least it is in the Atlantic. We spent many a "happy hour" clinging to the bed to avoid being thrown off!! (No exageration).
Are you a good sailor? If not look elsewhere as the Costa Marina is a rough ride. At least it is in the Atlantic. We spent many a "happy hour" clinging to the bed to avoid being thrown off!! (No exageration).
Do you enjoy a drink? Then learn to go tetotal as drinks on board are at crazy prices (ie 400ml beer Eu 4.50 plus 15% service charge. Whilst we are on the subject of service charge, don't forget you will also pay a compulsory Eu 6 per day each for staff service. Doesn't sound much? Add it up.Over the fortnight it comes to an extra Eu 160!! Oh, and dont think you will bring drink back on board, as eveything is scanned each time you board ship. The staff will return any such contraband on your last day(Not much good then)
The ship also seems to berth further away from the port gates than others. However, fear not, as Costa will relieve you of Eu 6 each for their shuttle bus to the gate (Hmm) Get used to bargaining with foreign Taxi Drivers as Costa's Excursion packages will threaten bankrupcy on your return (Around Eu 100 for the pair of you for each trip)
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