Costa Favolosa Cruise Review by ray26
- Sail Date: June 2012
- Destination: Eastern Mediterranean
Our photographs were taken as we stepped aboard and we were soon in our cabin ( a balcony room on deck 9)to be met by our cabin steward Mervin (nice helpful guy). He showed us around the room which had a double bed, a flat screen TV (which also doubles as an information source, messages are displayed on it from Costa and you can also check your onboard spend from it), a decent size bathroom with a great shower and plenty of shelves for toiletries. 3 single wardrobes (one has a safe in it, no extra charge for this), a long dressing table with several drawers, a fridge (minibar, be warned this isn't part of the all inclusive even though it contained the same drinks we could have for free at the bar!) (one of the drawers contained a built in hairdryer) and the room has a sofa and coffee table. The balcony wasn't that big but enough room for two chairs and a small table.
There was no tea/coffee facilities in the room which was a big minus for me, I like a cup of tea in the morning when I wake up and a hot drink before bed in my room. The self service machines are available at night in the Pizzeria but are switched off at 1am (the bars shut at 1:30am) so if you stay for last orders you've blown it, they are switched on again at 6am for the early risers but it still meant getting dressed and taking a longish walk to the restaurant for your first cuppa of the day. Either the water wasn't hot enough for a decent cup of tea or the tea bags are rubbish but I kept with the coffee. The machine coffee was of the filter variety and I like instant, for some reason only one of the drinks stations stocked sachets of Nescafe which meant having to find the right machine everyday.
Everything purchased on board is charged to a Costa card, the only time you can use cash is to feed the slot machines but you can also use your Costa card for that too. Our cards were waiting for us in the room as were instructions to attend the compulsory lifeboat drill that day on deck 4. Our Costa cards were swiped as we arrived for the drill and I know that those who didn't attend would be chased to ensure that they joined the next one the following day when the ship stopped to take on more passengers in Bari, Italy. Our cases arrived in our room about 2-3 hours after we got on board.
We'd purchased the all inclusive drinks package, prior to boarding Â£117 each for the week (this could be purchased on board too for 19.5 euros a day each) and we were free to start using it as soon as we wanted to. The only other thing to do was to either register a debit/credit card for additional spends or to pay a cash deposit. Registering the card took about a minute on one of the many card machines located throughout the ship. The all inclusive option is a no brainer as far as I'm concerned, we reckon that we spent on average at least 70 euros a day between us on bottled water, hot drinks,soft drinks and alcohol and we didn't go mad! Very few drinks were excluded from the all inclusive (a couple of premium brandy's, champagne and speciality coffees which you could make up yourself by purchasing the coffee and spirit separately if you really wanted to. I'd recommend the all inclusive to anyone, the draft lager is Carlsberg (bit gassy but ok), the mixer coke is real coca cola in cans (other soft drinks the same) and all the spirits were recognisable uk brands.
The food, ummmmm, we opted for the early dining option 6:45pm and we were seated with 3 couples who were members of our coach party which was nice because there weren't that many other English speakers on the ship and although we did pass the time of day with other non English speaking cruisers conversation was difficult as we were reliant on their command of our language, our French, German and Italian extends to hello, please and thank you. Our table was in the restaurant on deck 4 right at the back of the ship and whilst we had a great view of the sea from our table it was subject to vibration from the engines which I didn't initially like but got used to it.
The reviews of food on this cruise line are pretty poor and I'm afraid that on the whole I have to agree. The evening meal consists of about 7 smallish courses with each course having 3 choices. I never went hungry but I often missed some of the courses out altogether as there was nothing that I fancied and none of them were outstanding, some were a bit yuk ! The pasta course always seemed disproportionately huge compared to the meat course which often consisted of 2 extremely small portions of meat with a table spoon size portion of potato and two beans and carrots or something. There was an always available menu too if you didn't want anything on the set menu but that was limited to salmon or spag bol/lasagne. I found out from another couple on the penultimate day that you could order steak (their daughter had it every night as she didn't like the other stuff). I did order steak and chips on the last night as I really didn't want anything else, in fact all our table followed suit, it was a thinnish piece and cooked well done even though I asked for it medium but it was the largest piece of meat I got the whole cruise and I enjoyed it. I discovered that other people on our party asked for it too (also being aware of it only on the last few days) but they were denied it and weren't very happy as some of them had complained of leaving the dining room still hungry on occasion. They were on the late sitting 9:15pm and often didn't get out of the dining room until 11pm ! Several were experienced cruisers and according to them the food at the evening meal was sub standard compared with what they'd had on other cruise lines.
The lunches were much better, self service option with plenty of choice and two separate areas for panini's and burgers & chips etc. Breakfast could be taken in either the restaurant or self service, I preferred the self service. Late night snacks were available in the Pizzeria although I didn't try it myself. By the time we'd finished dinner, had a look at the show and sat down for a few drinks it was usually 1am by which time the food was finished.
The shows, I admit we only watched two of them, Fire and Ice, which was very entertaining and the show put on by the animation team (the group that did the poolside entertainment) it was midly amusing. The first time we went was on our second night, it was a classical singer, the theatre was rammed full and it wasn't our thing anyway so we didn't stay. As other reviewers have said some of the columns downstairs and railings on the upper floors obstruct your view so choose your seats carefully. They do serve drinks in there but it's quite dark and not easy to attract the waiters attention, it was a bit hot and stuffy sometimes too.
Most bars have some sort of entertainment, a singer or musician and several were quite good. The Palatino bar was generally for ballroom dancing which was very popular with a lot of cruisers, usually a game of bingo 20 euros for a single game (3 tickets,American style 25 numbers, play for a line and a house) but prize money is good ranging from 300 to 800 euros for the house. I won a game played in the afternoon, 300 euros, happy days!
The smoking issue, I read a lot about this prior to getting on the ship with complaints about people being in a constant haze of smoke, rubbish ! As you might guess, I am a smoker and not being banished to the top deck was actually a plus for me but I appreciate equally that non smokers don't want to share my filthy habit and for all you non smokers fear not. Smoking is not allowed everywhere on the ship on the contrary. Quite rightly there is no smoking in any of the dining rooms. Some people did chose to take food out onto the open decks which does allow smoking but even non smokers would be able to find somewhere away from anyone smoking to eat al fresco in comfort. All of the bars restricted smoking to one area and some of the bars had no smoking at all. Of those that shared smoking and non smoking the extraction fans worked more than adequately so that the smoke didn't drift into the non smoking parts.
The shopping area is located around the central atrium and wasn't that big really, some of goods offered were on the expensive side but there were also bargains to be had, I found some Clinique perfume at a very good price. The cigarettes were also cheaper than in some of the ports but no English brands so didn't bother.
You cannot avoid the photographers that are set up everywhere that you have to walk past between bars and the dining rooms in the evening and after refusing for several days we finally succumbed (with no real intention to buy) so that we felt justified refusing them the rest of the week. We did out of curiosity have a look at them the next night and actually they were very professional and even made us look good so we bought them even though they were a bit pricey, 20 euros for one (8x10")and 70 euros for a set of 6, we did a deal at 6 for 50 euros. If you fancy a set of nice photo's don your best bib and tucker, they do souvenir ones with the ship superimposed on the background on some nights.
We never struggled to find a sunbed although some spots were more prized than others particularly when cruising as the more open decks could be windy. The small pool at the back of the ship was reserved for adults only in the afternoon and this was monitored by the security staff and I never saw any kids in the jacuzzi's as stated on other reviews. Beach towels are available all over the ship. The staff were all polite and attentive and we only got jostled out of place once in a lift(by other cruisers not the staff)despite the warnings that this was the norm. Getting on and off at the ports went very smoothly. Some of the stop offs were a bit on the short side but not a real issue. There is a relaxed and informal atmosphere on this ship and apart from the food it was okay as a starter cruise. It's a bit difficult to compare the price with other cruises as ours was 7 days out of a 14 day holiday but I understand that Costa Cruises can be considerably cheaper than some of the others so it seems that you get what you pay for. Even those who have been on 'better' cruises couldn't fault the actual ship, it was quite luxurious.
We didn't buy any of the optional tours of the ports due to the expense and despite being novice cruisers we chose to make our own way around the ports of call either on foot or using public transport. We didn't get lost or miss the ship and the exercise did us good.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BariOnly in port for about 4 and half hours, took approximately 10 minutes to walk into the town. Not that much to see, looked at few shops, stopped for a quick drink.Back on the ship.View All 149 Bari Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's Bari Cruise Port Review
DubrovnikWe had to get a tender (supplied cost free by the cruise ship) to Dubrovnik and found ourselves in a square that led onto lots of small streets filled with restaurants and small shops. You're not allowed to walk around the streets with your shirt off (can be fined, hubby not me!) as there are a lot of religious monuments in the area. Apparently a walk around the walls of the city is recommended but after buying a few small souvenirs we decided to spend our time on one of the cities many beaches. After walking for a while we came upon Banje Beach, a small pebble beach and paid Â£14 for two sun loungers, bit more than I expected especially as we could only stay for 2 hours max but it was in front of a hotel and a waiter came round to take orders for a welcome couple of cold beers.View All 1,013 Dubrovnik Cruise Port Reviews
The water was lovely,nicely cooling but not cold. It dropped away quite steeply within a few feet of the shore.Would have liked longer at this port.
View Cruise Critic's Dubrovnik Cruise Port Review
IstanbulI did a bit of research prior to the cruise to find out if it was possible to get into the center of Istanbul without having to take the as usual expensive ship tour(started at 59 Euros each for the most basic tour ) and found that you could walk from the port to a tram stop. I typed "one day in Istanbul" into a search engine and got detailed instructions about what to see and how to get out of the port to the tram stop (http://www.letsgoistanbul.com/1day.htm.) You basically walk out of the port turn left and walk a short distance to the tram stop. You have to purchase a ticket prior to boarding by putting money into a machine (takes Turkish notes and coins), 1.5 TL each (you want the tram going in the same direction as you walked to the stop and from memory I think it's 4 stops). We managed to check that we were in the right place and heading in the right direction by asking 2 helpful guys who were sweeping the road, they helped us get the tickets. The trams are modern and although busy and we couldn't get a seat the tram ride was a pleasure.View All 403 Istanbul Cruise Port Reviews
Istanbul is very clean and you didn't go too far without coming across someone planting or tidying the gardens or picking up litter, we had a full day there and decided to try to visit the recommended tourist spots. No sooner did we head towards the Blue Mosque we encountered the first tormentors, trying to sell tourist guides. I thought a guide was probably a good idea anyway and after bartering down from the ridiculous to a reasonable price I bought one and it turned out to be worth it's weight in gold. Not to direct us to the various locations but we only had to wave the already purchased booklet to the other touts to stop them giving the hard sell and we walked around the city virtually pester free! We were followed by one guy who owned a ceramic shop but he eventually gave up. The entrance to the Mosque was to my surprise free, we bypassed the Hagia Sophia had a massive queue and the Royal Palace was also busy with an entrance fee.
We decided to have lunch before hitting the Grand Bazaar and have lunch, hubby wanted a kebab but again had to dodge the waiters who pounced as soon as we even glanced in the direction of the menu. The prices on the front seemed a bit steep so we took a side street and came across what we thought was a restaurant and was given time to look at the menu without too much hassle. I noticed that the kebab was 38 TL approx Â£13 , a bit steep and more expensive than those on the front.I tried to dissuade my hubby from eating there,thinking this wasn't your typical donner kebab but he wouldn't be swayed and seduced by the more laid back attitude of the staff we sat down. I don't like kebabs anyway and chose the steak again 38 TL but I was looking forward to a lovely juicy steak (I've had steak in Turkey before it was scrumptious, cooked on a grill).
His kebab came and was as I expected a selection of meat kebabs with salad, no nan bread or donner meat with chilli sauce as he thought ( he should have listened to me). My steak came it was served with a bit of rice and salad, was about quarter of an inch think and dry as a bone ! Had it cost a fiver I'd have eaten it and said nothing but at that price I wasn't happy and sent it back after refusing the offer of having it lathered in butter to moisten it up ? Hubby eat his kebab and as I sat there twiddling my thumbs I realised we were sat in a restaurant attached to what looked like quite an upmarket hotel(explains the prices).
We headed off to the Grand Bazaar which is a maze of shops and we did get a few bargains but with one eye on the time to make sure we got back to the ship we didn't get to look all the way round. We managed to get off the return tram a stop too early but it was a happy accident and led us onto the waterfront for a pleasant stroll back to the ship.
View Cruise Critic's Istanbul Cruise Port Review
IzmirThe optional tour was for Ephesus which we've seen before on a previous holiday to Turkey and it was very interesting but we didn't really need to visit again. Usual experience for Turkey,pester, pester, pester. Had to run the gauntlet of taxi drivers at the port exit who despite hearing you tell the guy 3 feet away that you didn't need a taxi or a guide, they persisted in trying to get your custom and followed you for a good while until they realised that you wouldn't give in. This doesn't bother me so much but absolutely infuriates my hubby so if you're like him stay on the ship.View All 184 Izmir Cruise Port Reviews
We decided to bypass the market (to my disappointment) which was over a half hour walk away and settled on a coffee instead.
Both a bit miffed at our experience we didn't take all the allocated time and went back to the ship early hoping to catch the sun on deck to be caught in a heavy shower. It obviously wasn't our day. Fellow cruisers enjoyed their time in the port though so our experience is necessarily typical.
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Katakolon (Olympia)Optional tour to Olympia, was tempted but due to amount of coach travel we'd already done to get to Venice to board the ship just didn't fancy it and again the stop was relatively short so opted to walk around the town ourselves. Did intend going to the nearest beach but by the time we'd looked in a few shops, found our bearings and sat in a taverner for a coffee it was time to get back to the ship.View All 474 Katakolon (Olympia) Cruise Port Reviews
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VeniceOur tour of Venice happened after disembarking from the ship and before going to Lake Garda for 4 days at the end of our two week Coach and Cruise holiday. We had about 5 hours to spend in Venice and took a water taxi into the center. We walked through a busy St Marks square first before seeing the first of many gondolas. I was content to just look at them and not too keen to get in one especially after hearing the excited screams of girls wobbling about as they tried to sit down in one. I didn't see anyone in the canals though so I'm sure they're perfectly safe.View All 1,233 Venice Cruise Port Reviews
We walked what seemed like endless streets (didn't notice many places where you could sit down for free in Venice and many of the restaurants charged a service charge on top of the cost of what you'd eaten/drunk although not all charged this extra. We found a nice cafe on a side street and had a very nice toasted sandwich.
The shops sold lovely soft leather bags/purses etc but they weren't cheap, many were designer shops stocking quality but very expensive goods. Murano glass was everywhere, beautiful but expensive and then there were the trinket shops selling the much more affordable tourist souvenirs. An enjoyable day, tired feet though.
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