Costa's cruise is everything better than the last previous cruise that I had board on. I wasn't keen on the trip due to work reasons, but I am happy that I had been there to experience it all.
After left our cabin, we head immediately to the information counter. Its good to have 'Today' newsletter with you. The Today newsletter tells you a lot of things like what to do on that day, when will the ship reaches a certain port and what do you need for the this and that, what kind of programs are there, when and where are you meals and more. The information counter can be overcrowded because there are the most, 3 staff (usually 2) and there are many passengers to attend to. We headed to the tour office after getting information on where to book our trips. Its advisable to book your trip fast before its out of slots. However, if you have not book any trips. You don't have to worry. Many private tour guides will be near the ports to ask if you would like to have a tour. All you need if the Costa card to check in and out of the ship, money, the courage to get of the ship, the courage to go around with someone you think you could trust and whatever you need to bring.
There is a drill to attend at about 4pm on the first day, please bring along your drill card which will be issue to you when you receive your Costa card. Also, go to your cabin and get your life jackets. Get it all done on the first day, and you will never be asked to attend on the second day or attend any presentation after that. Be cooperative, thats all they asked for, its for your safety.
Sometimes you could feel the ship moves and it might cause migraines. I get used to it after day 1, but I still feel rocky after disembarkation.
It is best to keep an empty water bottle with you, because they don't provide water. They would charge USD$2.75 for 1 litre of water. Of course, you could get water when you are at the buffet area. There are some people who stood there for a long time to refill their hard to refill bottles. (My suggestion is that you could get glasses of water and refill them at your table, do not use long or tall bottles, because the water dispenser is only suitable for glasses and short bottles) If you have not or decided not to bring bottles, you could make use the buffet area during breakfast, lunch, tea breaks and dinners to get water, tea, coffee, milk and in the morning you could get pineapple, grapefruit and sometimes orange juices. Soft drinks are at USD$2.70 per can.
Whats good about the ship is that it gives you the chance to make friends with people, you will be asked to share table with people from other cabins in the restaurant. You might think that its not very nice, or you could be too shy to talk or doesn't want any interaction. When everyone is happy, people tend to not mind what you say and you could even share which trip you had been to and whats worth it and whats not. Due to limited seats and tables in the buffet area, (the buffet area is split into two, one on the right and one on the left) you have to find tables to share with someone sometimes. Don't worry about 'do you want to interact' or not, if you choose to keep quiet, no one would talk to you. I say, don't bother about having breakfast in the cabin, they charge you and you don't get to see the beautiful sunrise and you feel that you are missing out on all the action in the buffet area. When the ship drives into a storm, the external buffet area could be in chaos for while and I could still see a family of four munching down while everyone is hiding from the rain. Omelette stations are available in the morning and pasta stations are available during lunch. If you don't like the food served in the restaurant (they will issue you a card, which is found in your cabin for the time of your dinner (either 5.45pm or 8.00pm), where is it and your table number. Please remember and attend dinner at the same time and place everyday.) you could always go for a later dinner at 8pm-9pm. If you go to the wrong restaurant, they will ask you to go to the restaurant that you had been assign to. If you had missed it, don't worry, go to pizzaria and they will serve you pizza according to daily special menu (four pizzas to choose from everyday) and noodles (look like instant noodles, and you could choose to go with beef, pork, chicken, seafood and vegetables), pizzaria serves pizzas (you eat whatever they serve at the counter) only during the day. I love the curries in the Halal section. The breakfast are more or less the same everyday and the bread at sandwich bar at night can be quite hard to digest.
The buffet areas are nicer since you could enjoy the sea and sky view. I saw dolphins on my last afternoon on board. The second last dinner on board was served with lobster and the last lunch has crab claws on the buffet menu. Yes!!
Even if you do not wish to go offshore, there are things to do on the ship. I must say that even if the ship is on high sea, its not as boring as another cruise ship that I had been. They have cooking demonstrations, live music, performance after dinner (two performances for two shifts of dinner), art and craft sessions, dance lessons, ice craving and many more. If you are so bored, you can always watch tv, take a nap or look at the sea. This is the only chance I could enjoy live music without having to be force to have alcohol or breathe in cigarette smoke. (Of course, you could order drinks (alcoholic or non alcoholic) when you are watching any performance.) I watch live music almost everyday after my father asked if I want to watch people dancing. You can suntan, they have clean towels and many beach chairs for your to lie on. You could swim or enjoy Jacuzzi.
This trip is special because children boards on free. There is a children club, known as Squok Club, which takes care of your kids while you were away on excursions. What I heard is that some kids thinks that its like schooling, some kids thinks that its fun when they make lots of friends. The staff there will play with kids and take care of their meals. We didn't use that, but we had seen how they do it and the children are in good hands.
Internet registration is USD$3, every hour you use the internet is USD$10 and every 3 hours you spend online is charged at USD$24. If you have a Costa card, they will link it to your credit card and charge accordingly. If you don't have a credit card, please make payment using USD by the second day. Laundry services are affordable. Say, you want to wash a T-shirt, its about USD$3. They will deliver the clothes to your cabin by the next day. Remember to check your payment by the last day, they might have to return you your change or you have to pay up.
There are many halls and places to perform and many places to eat on board, but there is only one place to shop. The shops were selling international brands of watches, perfumes and bags. Some expensive liquor or snacks are available too. You could buy Costa design clothes. Sometimes, they have promotions to clear stocks, so look out for that. Shops would only open certain times of the day, they usually will open after you had finished your meals. Nearby those shops, you could find Spas and Salons. Good thing is, no one pesters you to buy anything. Phew! There is a disco room, a shop to buy your photos (taken when you board the ship, captain's night and second last night with an acting captain) and cameras. Many bars available.
Since there are so many places to eat and find entertainment, its good to take your time to walk around and explore the ship. Otherwise, you will be caught not knowing where to go when you wanted to attend certain events. You could get extra copies of Today at the information counter, they are presented in English, French, Italian, Japanese, Greek, Chinese and etc. Stay alert on those things, you wouldn't want to miss anything you like to attend or are important.
There are plenty of lifts, not plenty on toilets. Since this is a family based cruise ship, the Casinos are design in a way that its not so much on winning big. Some people feel that the Casinos there are no fun on board, but I feel thats very healthy. Parents are warned not to bring those under 18 to the Casinos. I had seen some parents staring at the gambling tables with babies in arms or holding their children hands were asked to leave the venue.
Please attend the presentation on the disembarkation. It is important to know what to do to disembark smoothly. They will present their staff to thank you and tell you a little about their work. Its interesting.
You don't have to tag your hand baggage when to prepare yourselves for disembarkation. You only have to know which color group you belong to and wait for your color to be called out by the PA system. You can wait any common areas while waiting for disembarkation. Taxi will be difficult to get, so try to board on a bus and go somewhere else to get a taxi if you like. We took a bus and train home. We enjoy our trip very much! Thank you! We will board on the ship again and we will recommend to those who know!
Staff are friendly and polite.
When we check in, we have to look for our cabins ourselves and we feel that its easy to find if you know how to read the map, which shows a picture of a ship, telling you where is the rear and the front of it. We had already realized that TV programs were new and some of them were live. There are channels in languages of English, Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian and etc. (We even watched a live telecast of the golden horse awards by our first night.) There are movies like Johnny English which are repeated throughout the day if the ship is out in the sea. The cabin that we got is special because its corridors are wide and we were not blocking the way (thats not the case for every cabin, but I don't see any problems till the last day when they have to put their baggage outside the cabin before 1am for collection). Beware that sometimes the fridge is not working, its open and not closed(it doesn't bother us since we don't want to have anything in the fridge, they cost you extra money) we didn't report it but they didn't blame us for it either. The drawers of the mini cabinet next the bed are crooked, however, we could still use them. The bathroom is not suitable for us to bath one after another. Somehow there was leakage somewhere and we could hear water drip even none of us are using the bathroom. The carpet closest to the bathroom was wet after we had taken our bath. Sometimes, the bathroom smells like sewage, but I am used to it after day 1. Bring along air fresher, if you want fresh air all day long. Air con in cabin can be adjusted. Ask for a kettle, if you don't have one. As mentioned, they don't provide water, if you have a kettle, you could prepare water for yourself. Cabin is very sound proof. We stay in the classic cabin (the cheapest, no balcony, no windows). Room service is twice per day.