This cruise came up as part of a very cheap package deal including flights and 2 nights in Barcelona. I had read some reviews and my expectations were not high but for the money I wouldn't have complained if we got 2 hammocks above the engines. As it was we got upgraded to a balcony - a first for us, and very nice too.
Most of the complaints I'd read about Costa focused on food and service. From my experience food was good but Italian. A different region every night but each region was Italian. The MDR was relaxed and mostly competent - a couple of waiters were even funny although a couple only spoke minimal English. The buffet a different story. Initially it was bedlam and the food suffered from sitting under lamps for long periods - it could have been refreshed moire often. It was also badly laid out with people having to double back to find things they had missed (like sugar and milk at the opposite end from the tea/coffee machines). Likewise cutlery was scattered around randomly with forks and knives in one place, spoons in another, and teaspoons elsewhere - with no obvious link to the food around them. Then, after taking on extra passengers in Savona, it deteriorated into utter chaos. There clearly were not enough staff for the number of passengers and tables sat waiting to be cleared for ages - we often wound up doing it ourselves as the only way to get a table. Finally, we took the "40 non-alcoholic drinks deal" only to find it did not include water or tea or coffee - all non-alcoholic in my book! In practice it was 40 cans of fizzy pop, and even in 10 days I can't drink that many so we didn't get good value from that - Costa need to be more explicit about what is included, and what is not.
Service generally was great for the first half of the cruise then after Savona everything took a downturn and the staff themselves showed it in their lack of patience. We had three separate meals where the wrong thing was served and one where the waiter persisted in serving my wife's meals to me and vice versa, despite us telling him twice. On another occasion the couple next to us wanted to leave the MDR before receiving their sweet - the waiter rushed them back to the table telling them that "this was not the buffet but a restaurant!" - I've never seen dessert eaten so quickly!
This was our first balcony experience and although the temperatures were a little cool to gain full benefit it was nice to be able to step outside for some fresh air and test the temperature. The cabin itself was a little larger than we are used to on NCL/RCL and the shower seemed more spacious too. The TV was very good although there were only 2 or 3 channels in English (it varied each day with the ship taking over one of them on embarkation days). Plenty of storage space although a couple more hangers would have been good.
We know Palma well but had never visited Belver castle so walked up to it from the ship. It houses an extremely interesting exhibit of Majorcan history and offers great views over the city.
Barcelona was our favourite port, we used the HOHO tour bus, stopping at several points. In the evening the old quarter was fantastic and we found a couple of nice restaurants(we had 2 nights pre-cruise included in our package). Christmas is huge here and every spare bit of ground had market stalls set up selling Nadal paraphernalia. If you ever want a nativity scene this is the place to come with prices ranging from 2 euros (a cardboard cutout book) to 5000 euros (for a life size setup that would fill our living room!)
A little grubby we thought but some nice buildings. We wound up in the botanic garden which was very large and even in December had plenty to see although the hot-houses were all closed. We'd like to go back in Summer and see more of the island as a whole.
We'd visited Naples before and done all the usual sites (Pompeii, Sorrento etc) so we just wondered around the old town on the first day. On the second visit (we had two on this trip) we visited the "New Fortress" just above the dock and found it interesting enough but not as good as Belver in Palma, Christmas(or Nadal) celebrations were in full flow here and the shopping district was absolutely mobbed.
This was a pleasant surprise because we knew nothing about Savona and it turned out to be a pleasant little town, easily walked around and full of nice buildings. Nothing spectacular but clean, friendly and welcoming.