For perspective, we are an American couple in our 50's. We booked this cruise for the itinerary of almost all places we had never been to before. We are now "empty-nesters" so this was a chance for us to travel off season and enjoy each others company.
We chose to embark on the late side to enjoy some more time in Barcelona. After maybe a 10 minute cab ride from the Duquesa Suites we were at the port where we found embarkation to be quick and efficient. As non-EU resdidents, our passports were held for the cruise and returned to us the morning of disembarkation. Also, Costa's terminal in Barcelona is beautiful, lots of natural light. Coming back, disembarkation was very well organized, but since we were disembarking at the same time as everyone else there were some lines.
Operationally, the cruise was excellent. Always punctual, and the ship is kept very clean. The decor is "loud", but we liked it. Especially liked all the sculptures in the main atrium of the ship.
Food wise, pasta and appetizers were always good, but proteins were not. The only proteins we enjoyed were the extra cost burgers and the duck on gala night. Fish seemed to taste "fishy". We ate in the club restaurant one night, service was outstanding, but the filet had an off taste. It was however cooked a perfect medium rare. Salads on the buffet were always very good. We chose open seating, this worked well for us as we almost always ended up eating early. Later on, there were lines to be seated.
Piu gusto drink package was a great value. Wines were good, as were cocktails. Espresso every bit as good as on land in Italy.
Entertainment staff keeps things fun. The white party was the best I've seen at sea. I was a participant in the "Voice of the Sea" which was also a lot of fun. Shows were below average for a cruise as were lounge entertainers.
The multi-story gym, with a hot tub in the middle, was the nicest I've seen on a cruise ship. All varieties of cardio equipment, weight machines, and dumbells.
One nice touch, they had an English speaking (from England) customer service rep who always asked how things were going and genuinely seemed to care. Overall, service was not great. Many were rude or indifferent in the dining room, bars, and customer service desk. However, shout out to Ryan, the English customer service rep, Rina our outstanding cabin steward, and Michael the wonderful bartender on Deck 9 aft.
Would I take Costa again? For the right itinerary at the right price, sure. All Cruise lines have their pros and cons--Costa's strong points are fun, pasta, and espresso in my opinion.
Rear facing balcony with good storage space. Everything in good working order and cabin was kept immaculately clean.
Took a great wine tasting tour after the cruise, cava, tapas, and red wine at a castle.
While in the city, be sure to see the Sagrada (buy tickets in advance) and walk the Gothic quarter.View All undefined undefined Reviews
In Marseille, we took a taxi to Aix-en-Provence. Pricy at €60, but we didn't want to waste time going into Marseille to catch a bus or train. We spent a lot of time in the Saturday market looking at the food and handicrafts, and my wife bought some clothes. We had wine and appetizers at Vintrepide, which we just stumbled upon and thoroughly enjoyed. Wandered around the rest of the town before catching a taxi back to the port. Great day with great weather!
Sadly, our ship excursion for wine and truffles from Savona was cancelled.
So, we spent the day on our own. Saw the small Sistine chapel and the fortress. There is an exercise group that meets at the fortress on Sunday mornings, so we saw lots of people in red shirts exercising and running around the fort. Walked through the waterfront fair (children oriented) and made our way to a restaurant called Luna. Thoroughly enjoyed it there. The owners liked practicing their English with us, and made a custom pasta dish when we had a "gee wouldn't it be nice if..." request.
So, Savona was nice enough, but I don't think there is more to see there.
Had a private walking tour of Naples. We really liked Naples. Had heard many negatives about it being dirty and lots of petty crimes, but overall we found it very charming with many impressive historical buildings and a nice big shopping street as well as side streets where artisans sold their wares. If you have a sweet tooth, I recommend the pastries at Gambrinus. We also tried pizza margarita at Umberto, but were disappointed that the crust was not crunchy. The mix of cheese, tomato, and basil was very tasty though.View All 96 Private Tour Reviews
The private walking tour we booked was excellent. But, we didn't care for Palermo, found it dirty and not as interesting as Naples. Had amazing Canoli though at Spinnato. Of note, they served Canoli that night on the ship (Sicilian night) and I thought it was 90% as good as at Spinnato. If we're in Sicily again, I think we will try to see the countryside a bit.View All 30 City Tour Reviews
We both loved Malta. We just walked around on our own and found it very scenic and charming--and quite different from other places in the region. We took the Barrakka lift up to the city from the port (5 minute walk, 1 Euro) and loved the view from the canon battery when you first reach the top. We then went on the 1 hour (English only) tour of Casa Rocca Piccolo which was very nice, and good to see the interior of a mansion still in use. St John's co-Cathedral was mobbed with people, it's beautiful, but was too crowded to enjoy. We walked around quite a bit, enjoying every step, and then stopped for some Rabbit Spaghetti (Malta specialty) at Luciano's which was recommended by an English couple we were chatting with.