My friend and I had often looked at cruises but were both very wary about seasickness. Whenever shopping we would always pick out outfits that would be 'good for our cruise'. In comment this June, I said 'We have loads of cruise outfits but no cruise", so we decided to bite the bullet.
As I was travelling from the Canary Islands and my friend from the UK, we decided to choose Barcelona as our start and finish port and after a lot of investigation, booked with Costa and the Costa Diadema.
We wanted a balcony cabin and with this we also booked the Piu Gusto drink package (well worth the money) and also took the opportunity of the Special offer of 99€ for 5 excursions (the price on board at the Welcome meeting was 149€).
So with, cruise outfits packed, off we set. We travelled to Barcelona the day before and stayed at the Avenida Palace hotel which was ideally situated for a quick day tour of the sites in Barcelona.
The following morning, we caught a taxi to the airport which was about 10 mins away and were dropped off outside the terminal.
There was a queue to drop off cases, which moved very quickly. We were then directed upstairs where our photos were taken for our Costa Cards - and then proceeded to board. The whole operation was 'super slick' and far easier than passing through Passport control at Stansted airport!!!!
Our luggage and Costa Cards had been delivered to our rooms - so we grabbed the courtesy beach towells provided and went straight out to relax and take the sun on deck.
We wanted to stay on deck as we set sail from Barcelona at 1900 but there was a delay so we decided to go back to the cabin and unpack and prepare for dinner.
We had brought with us packets of seasick tablets, every ginger product going and pressure bracelets. We unpacked, showered, got ready for the evening and only then did we realise we were actually at sea. So for any 'nervous first timers' like us, it is true!! You really do not feel the ship move!!!
There was a Welcome meeting during the afternoon along with the safety drill. The Costa Cards can be activated at the totems throughout the ship by either depositing cash or linking them to your credit card. All purchases made on board, photos/extras/excursions etc are all added to your card. (On the last day, any remaining cash is returned to you in cash by the same machines - very well organised).
See separate cabin review.
We had requested second sitting in the Adularia Restaurant (21.15) - which is the smaller restaurant and seemed to have more tables for 2 passengers. The other restaurant is the Fiorentino (used for Breakfast too) and is on two floors.
The food and service here were excellent - our waiter Sachin was very attentive and pleasant. The dinner service consists of 4 courses, anti pasta, soup/pasta, main dish of fish/chicken/meat etc and dessert. As well as the main menu, there is also always an added menu which includes, soup, salad, pasta, chicken & fish dishes. The menu is predominantly italian.
The restaurant was busy but you didn't feel that it was crowded. One evening consisted of quite a few of the staff doing a dance and singing routine which was fun!
There didn't seem to be a strict dress code - most people were dressed smart casual - the gala night did see some long evening dresses and suits for the men, but not everybody did this.
When Sachin found out we drank white wine, there was always a bottle ready on our table before we had even sat down and more available, should we have wished.
One evening we ate in the Teppenaki restaurant which incurred a surcharge of 30€ but was well worth it. Fantastic evening with excellent food and showcase cooking! I would have done this a second evening too if we had had time!
A waiter service lunch was available in the Fiorentino restaurant -(regardless of where your evening restaurant was) or you could eat at the buffet Corono Blu. The buffet was on par with a good 4/5* hotel, salads, soups, grilled meats/fish, pasta, ice-cream, fresh fruit & pastries.
Breakfast was also offered in the Corono Blu restaurant, continental style buffet - no hot food. The Fiorentino restaurant had bacon, scrambled eggs, beans, hash browns, boiled eggs, sausages as well as the normal continental menu. There was also another separate menu offering Breakfast specialities such as 'The Full Monty' - typical full english, USA breakfast of Pancakes, bacon and maple syrup, - Eggs Benedict, Mexican breakfast, omelettes which were all cooked to order and served at your table. Upon arriving at the restaurant you are allocated a restaurant - usually with other diners as there do not seem to be many tables for 2 available.
We also used the room service and had Breakfast in our room from the Room Service menu, this had an additional charge of 5.00€ per person but was delivered on time and hot - worth it if you are rushing out for an early morning excursion!
The evening entertainment in the bars on board was superb and catered for all ages and all tastes in music. It was really nice to watch people dancing to tangos, salsa, waltzes and never waited longer than a minute for a drink!
There were lots of things going on during the day, wine tasting, dance lessons etc, etc which we did not take part in as we were out and about - but it all looked great fun!
The Piu Gusto drink package was well worth it and covered the majority of cocktails, gin, vodka, whiskey, barcardi etc. There was a supplement for the more expensive makes of whisky/brandy & Champagnes. However, if you do not chose the drink package, they were still reasonable priced. A mojito was around 6.50€ which is actually less than I have paid in a 5* hotel in Gran Canaria.
There is also a soft drink and water package - so apart from having a bottle of water on the table at dinner/lunch etc, water in the bars will be charged for.
At lunch in the Corono Blu restaurant there is a water station where you can fill up a water bottle to take out on the deck with you or back to your cabin.
Our day at sea between Mallorca and Sardinia we spent sunbathing. There are plenty of sunbeds around - it seemed to get busy mid-morning so few spare but then at lunch time lots became available again.
We booked the 99€ excursion package (offered at 149€ at the Welcome Party). This offered a good range of excursions, but if there was another one you wanted to do, you could pay a supplement.
IF YOU ARE ENGLISH - BOOK EARLY!!
This was our only disappointment of the whole holiday and our fault entirely. We were unable to join the english speaking coach for our Rome excursion as it was full, so had to join the spanish speaking bus. This was fine for me as I speak spanish, but my friend does not - so I had to translate for her.
We took the coach tour to the beach in Peguera and spent the day on the beach. I think the bus return about 1400 - 1500 hours - so it wasnt really a full day! Two Sunbeds and an umbrella cost approx 12€ and there are bars and restaurants where you can get drinks and lunch. As the ship does not leave until 0100 the following morning, we stayed at the beach and a taxi back to the Port was approx. 20€
Again we opted for the Poetto beach tour. Two sunbeds and an umbrella cost 13.50€. There was a small bar/cafe at the back of the beach where you could get a drink and a snack - wasn't all that! Beach was nice.
Early start!! I think we had to be on the bus by 0815! We chose the tour 'Ancient & Modern Rome', which gave you a good all round trip seeing the most famous sites. Rome is HOT in July, so make sure you have a hat and water. We started off at St. Peter's Square and the Vatican and had free time to wander around - there was no time to go inside as the queues are too long. We then joined the coach again and had a drive around passing the Coleseum and many other famous sites. We then stopped near to the Trevi Fountain (which was our meeting point) and had time to explore. It is a good idea to wander off up to the Spanish Steps (about a 10 Minute walk) and then back to the Trevi Fountain and then look for somewhere for lunch. (The picnics supplied by the ship are not that appetising - tuna and tomato sandwich, water, crisps, forcacia, juice, an orange and a chocolate wafer - apart from that there is nowhere to sit and eat - so we decided to eat in the restaurant recommended by the guide - La Taberna, just a minute from the Trevi fountain. The pizzas looked quite good but we chose a Caesar Salad which was the strangest one I have ever eaten. Lettuce, some kind of meat fried in breadcrumbs (it didnt look like chicken), slices of some type of processed cheese - definitely not parmesan and dressing!! Wasn't very good -but it was lovely and cool in there!!
In all we really enjoyed the trip to Rome - it was very interesting and somewhere to return to explore more.
The transfer journey is about 1.30 hours but all motorway and coaches are air conditioned.
We chose to to the Monaco trip which we had to pay a supplement for (about 50€). We had a fantastic guide (this time in English) Monique who was very interesting and entertaining. Again Monaco is HOT, you first visit the old part where the palace and gardens are and you can see the changing of the guard at 11.55. You are then taken to Monte Carlo and the Casino area - there should have been more free time here, but we had got slightly held up, so it was a quick brief visit -but it was good to see.
We chose the Easy Tour which was a short ride into Marseille and then a walking tour of about 1 hour. The guide as very informative and it was very interesting - although out of everywhere we had been - probably the dirtiest! Lots of graffiti and rubbish in the old part. It was a great way to get a quick taste of Marseille and as soon as the tour had finished, we decided to return to the ship to relax on our last day, however there was free time until 15.45 which was the last shuttle.
We thoroughly enjoyed all of the trips and they were good value for money with the special pack for 99€. Remember to book early if you want an english speaking guide - it seemed to me that once the coach was full - they would not put on more.
IMPORTANT: We specifically asked at the Costa Tour desk if we needed to take our passports ashore and were told rather rudely - 'Are you from Argentina? You are European, you do not need passports'. HOWEVER, remember all other European Nationalities have ID cards, UK Nationals do not. Luckily, the guide to Monaco asked if everybody had their passports with them... and there were quite a few who did not!! Apparently, the coach can be stopped at any time by the police and ID asked for -so remember to take it with you.
During the afternoon on our last day, we had a Goodbye meeting, where the disembarkation was explained. Basically, you settle your bill at the totems where any outstanding money will be returned to you - or if you linked your credit card to the Costa Card your will will be Zero and will have been settled.
Unfortunately, we were about to hit Barcelona in the middle of the taxi strike, but Costa had arranged for coach transport to the Airport (22€) and station (15€) which was money well spent when we saw people wandering around Barcelona with all their luggage. Well done Costa!!
Cases have to be left out side your cabin by 0100 hours - luggage labels are left in your cabin for you to attach, the cases are then taken and left in the terminal for your collection upon disembarkation.
You have to leave your cabin by 0800 - so we were up early, went to breakfast and were then really ready to go.
Depending on the colour of your label - dictates the time you should disembark - but it didnt seem to really make much difference - we went off at 0900 instead of 0930 and were told we may have to wait for our luggage, but it was there, easily found by the colur coding.
All in all, we had a fabulous first cruise! We have lots of unopened packets of seasick tablets and ginger products - you really cannot feel the ship move!!
We would definitely cruise again and definitely with COSTA - the whole operation was so well organised and problem free. The atmosphere on board was friendly and fun and there really is something for all age groups, families, young couples, friends, and older couples.
As first timers, we did not know what to expect but the cabin was a very good size - I have had hotel rooms that have been worse! There was plenty of room to move around, wardrobe space/drawers, hangers etc. It's a good idea to take a small adapter plug if two of you need to charge up mobiles/ipads etc as there is only one plug.
All cabins have a mini bar and also have a hairdryer which was quite powerful.
Remember that travel irons and hair straighteners will be confiscated upon boarding and returned to you when you disembark.
See main review - but could have done with a bit longer.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Nice relaxing day - not very good bars/restaurants nearbyView All undefined undefined Reviews
Book early as we could only get on the Spanish coach - luckily I speak Spanish but my friend didnt!View All undefined undefined Reviews
Excellent guide - very entertaining and interesting!View All undefined undefined Reviews
Good taster of Marseille - walking tour around the old part -View All undefined undefined Reviews