We were really looking forward to this cruise, especially since we took Costa for our honeymoon in 2012. Some things have changed, sadly not for the better. While overall it was a good trip, Costa is slipping. Some highlights: even though we paid for the Piu' Gusto drinks package, we found upon arrival that it wasn't on our Costa cards (which were conveniently placed on our bed). So after a phone call and a trip down to Guest Services, we got new cards and headed to the bar.
Second foul-up-we arrived at our room to discover that our excursion for Marseille (a trip to Avignon and the Palais des Papes) was canceled. They'd given us until 3 pm to contact them about it and fortunately 3 pm is when we got to our room. Turns out they didn't have enough English-speaking passengers (not uncommon given that 98% of them are Europeans), so we were offered the tour in Italian or German. Since we both speak Italian, we took that one. But I'd ordered 3 excursions as a package deal and saved 10% by doing so online. Since Costa canceled the excursion and offered a substitute, they charged us the extra 10%. Come on! So again we headed downstairs to sort that out and after initially rebuffing us, the lady at the excursions desk said "we'll take care of it." So 2 problems in one day and it’s only 3:30 pm.
That night we arrived at the Filomena restaurant to discover that we were given a table for 2 instead of the 8-top we’d requested. Long story short: they thought we wanted English-speaking dinner companions and didn’t have any (which they did on our honeymoon, too) and after explaining this to the maître d’, they put us with Italians for the rest of the trip. The overall level of service isn’t what I remember from 2012. Wait staff at dinnertime seemed rushed, requests for ice in drinks and butter for bread often had to be made multiple times, sometimes after a hasty “just a moment” from a waiter rushing by.
The drinks package didn’t seem as generous as the last time. Example: several tropical drinks priced at €7.45 on the menu were indeed included, while others on the same page and the same price were starred with an asterisk that indicated they weren’t included. Furthermore, contrary to what a Costa rep told me on the phone, the Piu’ Gusto package doesn’t cover drinks in ANY of the specialty bars. Needless to say, we avoided them altogether. Previously we had been told that if a premium drink cost X amount, we’d pay the difference (starting at €7 or so, so if the premium drink cost €9, you’d pay only an additional 2 Euros). Not anymore. If your drink isn’t included, you pay full freight. That’s just being stingy. Which reminds me: on our first trip, we got bottles of wine and mineral water. Now it’s by the glass only (and only 1 choice for the red or white wines, not a selection as before)
We loved the gelateria and visited it often, even though there was an extra charge. Same with the pizza, which was PHENOMENAL-wish we’d gone there more often. But again, they make you pay €6.50, although it does include a dessert and non-alcoholic beverage. Many of the dinner items were previously frozen, and to be fair, it didn’t seem to have affected the quality too much. But it just seemed like they are going more for frozen and reheated foods than they did before.
Can’t comment on the shows too much, we only went to the acrobatic one which was terrific, the duo were from France and did a spectacular job. Music in the bars was decent, we liked the Country Rock bar a lot. Drinks were generally good, but as before, it seemed to take a very long time to get served. It looked like the staff to passenger ratio was worse than before. Our cabin steward, Alexander, was cheerful, friendly and efficient. The room itself was fine except for a really annoying creaking sound coming from the balcony door that I think eventually got resolved-some nights I might have been too sleepy to notice. The TV remote control was iffy-sometimes it froze the screen and I had to turn the TV all the way off and back on again for it to respond. Tons of channels to choose from, most Italian or German. I am multilingual and I don’t go on cruises to watch TV, so wasn’t too disappointed in the English language offerings. We did use the spa once for a couple’s massage and it was really good, if exorbitant in price like most cruise massages tend to be.
But overall I’d say the standard has slipped. The excursions we booked with Costa were great, especially our guides in Avignon and Florence. The guide in Savona (the tour actually went to Genoa) didn’t seem to take care to ensure all were together-at one point my wife and I stopped to make a quick purchase and the group went off without us. Luckily we knew where the bus was meeting us and found them again-the guide acted like she didn’t realize we were gone for 1 ½ hours! The ship was impeccably clean, the staff mostly friendly. I won a “guess the national anthem” contest and the presenter was fun, really hilarious actually and got everybody in a festive mood. Food at breakfast was good, not spectacular but above average. We had room service a couple of times and it was great. I think next time we cruise Europe we’ll look beyond Costa. They need to get their act together.
Most things worked fine and the cabin was comfortable. Balcony not used as much as we would have liked due to chilly weather. Bed comfortable, but annoying creaking noise from balcony door really bothered us.
We walked around Genoa and saw a great museum (converted palazzo), walked around city center a bit. Tour guide was okay but didn't seem to notice when she and the group went off without us. Fortunately it gave us time for an excellent lunch.
Guide was wonderful, although French her Italian was near flawless. Visited the Palace of the Popes which is simply unforgettable.
Our trip was by car mostly, and Christian was terrific-told us many interesting things, and we saw a ton. From Parc Montjuic to Park Guell to the Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, and much more.
We have friends in Rome and spent the day with them. Wonderful to see them again.
Had a fantastic trip to Florence, which we'd booked through Costa. Anna Maria was our guide, and she was funny, spirited, and informative. We saw Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio, the Piazza della Signoria with its many statues, and the Piazzale Michelangelo just outside of town, which offers an incredible view of Florence.
Great way to see Palma in a day, the bus drives you all around. The best part was taking the little train to Soller (not included on the HOHO tour, though). The scenery is charming and often downright breathtaking. Many homes have orange and lemon trees growing right next to the tracks.