This was my first cruising experience and was therefore unsure what to expect. I loved every minute of my Costa cruise! I am a university student who travelled with my parents and had a great time onboard. The atmosphere was great, the staff friendly and entertainment quite enjoyable. Though english was the minority language, this only added to our experience. The value was quite amazing as it only cost about $1500 for all three of us to cruise for 7 nights.
We flew into Nice on the morning of our embarkation and took a 2hr shuttle bus booked through Costa to the port in Savona. This worked out very nicely, getting us to the ship with just over an hour to spare before departure - definately worth the additional 49 pounds. The actual embarkation was smooth, our bags already in our room by the time we arrived. My only criticism would be that as non-EU citizens we were made to surrender our passports upon embarkation for the duration of the cruise. It was never made clear to us why this is a policy and were uncomfortable exploring forgein cities without proper identification.
We had an oceanview cabin on deck 2 and had ample room as we did not spend much free time in the cabin. The room was equipped with outlets of varying voltages so an adapter was not necessary (though we did need to use one if more than one person required an outlet at once). If I was to book a cruise later in the season I may look into a stateroom with a balcony, but as it was, the mornings were quite chilly in midmarch and am not sure I would have used it much. Our housekeeper was always around the hall to offer help and was always on top of things, one of the nicest staff we met!
We had the first seating at the My Way restaurant and enjoyed both the food and service. There were seven courses to choose from and I always left full and satisfied. Our package allowed us to choose our sitting time and I am glad that we had the first seating as I would not have been able to wait until 9pm after long days exploring the port. Our waiter was fast and efficient and never got an order wrong. Our drink waiter remembered what we had ordered the night before each night and checked in with us quite often. We did not opt for the all inclusive drink package as we simply did not drink enough to make it worth while. Certain items on the drink menu are also not included in the all inclusive package, which is not mentioned when booking online. If I were to do the same cruise with a group of friends, the drink package would be something I would consider as most fancy mixed drinks are included and would be worth the cost if you were planning on having more than just a few drinks by the pool and with dinner.
We had breakfast in the La Paloma buffet almost every morning and it was quite good, offering lots of options. We arrived early every morning and did not have any trouble getting tables near windows to watch as we pulled into port. If on board for lunch we usually ate by the Lido Ipanema because it gave the option to grab food from the La Paloma buffet or poolside grill.
The pools were well cared for and we were one of only a few people in them and the hot tubs even in the late afternoon! It was great!
The information desk onboard had maps of the port cities available the night before arrival, displaying some of the top sites to see and gave an idea of how or if you could organize to explore on your own.
- MARSEILLE: we opted to take a 9 euro Costa shuttle bus into the old port. It was well worth it for our small group as it was about a 20 minute ride both ways. Larger groups may find more value in a taxi as 9 euros a person could add up quickly. From the old port we did our own walking tour and had ample amounts of time to see everything we wanted.
- BARCELONA: We walked from the port into the city (about a 20 minute walk out of the port) and were happy that we did not spend the money on the costa shuttle here as it only took people to the edge of the port. We bought day tickets on a "hop on, hop off" city tour bus and were able to see all the highlights of the city in a matter of hours.
- PALMA DE MALLORCA: As we were only in this port for a few hours we decided to book an excursion to maximize the use of our time. We did this onboard and had no troubles at all. We did "The Caves of Drach" tour and quite enjoyed it. The caves were something very different after exploring cities for a few days and had the opportunity to purchase Mallorcan pearls at the pearl "factory" (the factory was really just a jewlery shop with a few displays, a little disappointing).
- CAGLIARI: Port authorities here offer a free shuttle of the port as they do not allow civilians to wander the port. We did a self-guided walking tour here and were not too impressed with the city.
- PALERMO: The ship docked in the centre of the city and again we opted to tour on our own. Having read the excursion guide we had an idea of things to see and were able to walk most of the highlights. We were most excited to see the Balero market that was raved about in the guide but were quite disappointed.
- CIVITAVECCHIA: We booked the "On Board the Roma Express to the Eternal City" excursion online and it was quite good. We took a private train to Rome (about 1 hr), spent the morning exploring the vatican and had enough time to see the colleseum and trevi fountain on our own in the afternoon. If I was to do this port over I would choose the excursion that simply included a ticket on the train. The vatican could easily be explored on your own in much less time as our tour was in both German and English and the elder members slowed the group down.
Disembarkation was just as smooth as our arrival and we took the costa shuttle back to the Nice airport without any troubles. I would definately reccomend this cruise line and can't wait for my next vacation with them!
We had three people sharing this cabin and were quite happy with the amount of space and comfort of the room, as we did not spend much time in here. Our cruise was in mid-march and a balcony would not have been used much by us at this time of the year as it was quite chilly in the mornings. If I was to book later in the year, a balcony cabin is something I might look into.
The cabin was euipped with varying voltage outlets so an adapter is not necessary, but is useful if you plan to use more than one outlet at a time.
Housekeeping staff was very hard working and always available for assistance regarding the cabin or suggestions for the ship.