We chose this cruise because it departs and arrives from a single location (Savona), where we can park our car safely. This is our third time to cruise with Costa and we always enjoy their friendly service and their on-board entertainment. The itinerary included some of our favorite locations (Malaga and Barcelona), as well as some places we had not been before (Valencia and Cadiz). The length of stops was okay, except for Barcelona, which was only about 4 hours and was therefore pretty frustrating.
Savona is always our starting and stopping place for Costa cruises. This is a lovely little Italian town. Boarding was well organized, with parking and luggage service. We dropped our bags off together with our car, then walked into the terminal and waited for our boarding time. The parking/luggage attendants are really friendly and they took excellent care of our luggage and our car.
After boarding, we had time to have a drink or snack while enjoying a view of the harbor, waiting for the cabins to be ready. When our cabin was available, they advised us, and then our luggage was there waiting for us, without incident.
Disembarkation at Savona is chaotic and not so well organized. Although Costa enforces the disembarkation schedule, there were too many people in the terminal at one time, making it very hard to negotiate with a wheelchair AND baggage cart. However, we were prepared for this and we just took it as it was. We were driving to our next location so we were not stressed about meeting a plane or train, but I can understand others who did have to deal with that stress.
We highly recommend to others to NOT plan to drive a long way on the day you leave the cruise, because you will be really tired. We normally drive a few hours to Firenze (Florence) that day, and that is as far as we would want to drive that day. Prepare to be exhausted at the end of a cruise.
On board, we enjoyed the evening shows with fantastic dancers and great musicians. They truly make it easy to have fun.
This time we were less than impressed with the overall dining experience, where we felt that the variety was limited, and the qualify of food was not as good as on previous Costa cruises.
Unfortunately, Costa does not really cater to travelers in wheelchairs. They have some accessible cabins, but very few accessible suites, and so far we have been unable to get a suite, even though we tried to reserve from the first day the cruise was available online. Maybe we have to have some other connection that we don't know about. More about the cabin below.
Excursions organized by Costa do not offer wheelchair accessible buses, so it is up to us to organize ourselves.
We gave the "Public rooms" category a lower rating because in many places, the music was way too loud, making it impossible to have a conversation. However, we found a piano bar where the music was to our liking and not too loud, and there we enjoyed snuggling with drinks and having time to just be together as a couple.
Overall, we had a great time and are looking forward to another cruise in the next couple of years. One plus of traveling with Costa is that they are registered in Italy and therefore are subject to EU regulations. One of these regulations states that when traveling with a disabled person that needs constant assistance, the companion/carer does not have to pay other than drinks and taxes. Costa respects this regulation and therefore we pay full price only for one of us. However, beware that if you are eligible for this allowance, you must request it from Costa BEFORE departure. We learned about this during our second Costa cruise but too late to request it for that cruise, so this time we were wiser.
We would have gladly booked a Samsara cabin (which we had previously on Costa Neo-Romantica), or a suite, but Favolosa does not offer a wheelchair accessible Samsara cabin, and only one wheelchair accessible suite that was already taken when we tried to book the cruise on the first day it was available online.
The wheelchair accessible cabin we had was quite small. It was a real feat to negotiate with a wheelchair and a patient hoist (which we bring with us) in the small space. Fortunately we were able to move the beds a little to accommodate our hoist, but then we found that it was pretty dirty under the bed, and that never changed. Our cabin steward did very little other than make the bed, empty the trash, and sometimes change the towels. We had two evenings where the "new" towels hanging folded up were quite damp, so we were not sure if they were really fresh and just not properly dried in the laundry, or whether he had simply refolded our towels and hung them to appear as "fresh". The floor was never vacuumed the whole time we were there, and the bathroom floor had the same spots at the end of the trip that were there when we were arrived. I got tired of being in a room that I was afraid to touch with my feet...fortunately I had hotel slippers so I did not have to go barefoot as that would have been disgusting.
We went to Marseille on a previous cruise, and it was a good 45-minute bus ride from the ship to the city, thus cutting 2 hours off our available time. Therefore we chose not to leave the ship this time, as we really enjoy the quiet when most passengers are away and we remain on board.
Because Costa excursions do not allow for wheelchairs, we booked our own private tour with another couple (before the cruise), so that we had a wheelchair van and our own very excellent tour guide. Our guide was very proud of Malaga and happy to show us the city. He took us to a lovely lookout place where we could see over the city and the harbor (and the bullfighting ring). He drove us by a very old church where the bullfighters to go pray before they go to the arena. Also he took us to a church that is one side Catholic and one side Muslim, but of course we were not allowed to go into the Muslim side (didn’t really want to anyway). Ironically, the Muslim visitors with their head scarves were in the Catholic side of the church..
We started our tour at a coffee shop for wonderful coffee and “churros”, which was like funnel cake. Very good but greasy and rich. Then we went to the market where they sold all kinds of fresh fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. We bought strawberries – 500 g for EUR 0.50 - which were the most delicious strawberries EVER! We grazed on them for the rest of the morning. Then he took us for tapas where we had Spanish tortilla and then lovely sweet wine.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Cadiz was okay but not remarkable. If we take another cruise that has Cadiz as a stopping point, we will probably stay on board that day. We enjoyed walking around and seeing lovely flowers and interesting architecture. We also stopped at a nice terrace restaurant for some tapas and a cold drink. The waiters were very friendly and made us feel very welcome there.
The pedestrian areas were very well-adapted for wheelchair driving - no awful cobblestones like in Italy and Portugal. Spain gets full points from us for wheelchair accessibility!
Because Costa excursions do not allow for wheelchairs, we booked our own private tour with another couple (before the cruise), so that we had a wheelchair van and our own tour guide. However, we were pretty disappointed with this tour. It was expensive (EUR 65 per person for 4 hours plus an extra EUR 70 for a French speaker to accommodate our friends who don't speak English). The tour was supposed to be for 4 hours but he only spent 3 hours with us; however, he was so unenthusiastic and boring that we were glad to be done with him after 3 hours. He drove us to the Tower of Belem, where we stayed a lot longer than we expected (we thought he would walk with us to somewhere nearby but it turned out to just be a slow stroll along the water in the very cold wind). He also drove us up to a place where we could look out over the whole city and harbor, but unfortunately that place was not wheelchair accessible (??). Then he drove us to another park area with a nice view, then back through the city and to the harbor. We definitely did not get our money's worth from this tour.
Lisbon is a lovely city, with lots of small picturesque streets and lovely architecture. Unfortunately, the cobblestones are really bumpy and terrible for wheelchair driving. We do not recommend Lisbon as a destination for anyone that uses a wheelchair or is not a confident walker.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Valencia was okay but not remarkable. If we take another cruise that has Valencia as a stopping point, we will probably stay on board that day. We enjoyed walking around and seeing lovely flowers and interesting architecture. We also stopped at an average street pub for a cold drink. The pedestrian areas were very well-adapted for wheelchair driving - no awful cobblestones like in Italy and Portugal. Spain gets full points from us for wheelchair accessibility!
Because Costa excursions do not allow for wheelchairs, we booked our own private tour (before the cruise), so that we had a wheelchair van and our own very excellent tour guide. Our guide was very proud of Barcelona and happy to show us the city. She started the tour by driving us up to a lovely lookout place where we could see over the city and the harbor. She pointed out the main landmarks and told us about some of them, thus priming our interest to see more next time. We were very limited on time (we had only 4 hours), and we told our guide that our main point of interest was the Sagrada Familia, so that's where she took us next. The Sagrada Familia was one of the overall highlights of our trip. Our guide Noemi was very knowledgeable about it and had details on her iPad which she showed us to help explain along the way. This was a lot better than walking around the place with a headset narrative like the other tourists. Because we were traveling with a wheelchair, we did not have to wait in line to go in. The inside of the church is even more impressive than the outside. Anyone who visits only the outside is only enjoying less than half of the experience! Our guide grew up in Barcelona and has had the privilege of watching the Sagrada Familia change and grow over the years, thus giving us a really unique perspective and a lot of interesting explanations. We highly recommend visiting this place, and we will definitely be coming back!
Our tour also included a drive through the city where we saw other Gaudi influences, such as La Casa Mila. Overall Barcelona is a lovely city, very wheelchair friendly, and full of interesting things to see and do. We hope to return to Barcelona to stay for a few days on a future trip.View All undefined undefined Reviews