Last year we cruised the Mediterranean on the MSC Opera- this time we chose the Costa neoRiviera. The ships are similar, although the MSC Opera was lengthened a few years ago. The Costa neoRiviera is leaving the fleet in November and will be transferred to their German division, AIDA Cruises, so this review won’t be relevant for much longer.
The good points: it was a very affordable cruise in peak season for 11 nights. One of our party was travelling as a single passenger and Costa’s policy (in certain markets) is to only levy a 30% surcharge- this is another reason we chose this trip.
Costa neoRiviera is a smaller intimate ship and is easy to navigate- the only trick to remember was the middle elevators didn’t go past deck 9.
The crew were fine and we encountered no constant upselling like on MSC. The only disappointments were a confusing 30 minute life boat drill and crew not always enforcing the pool age restrictions, although considering this voyage was mid August this was often an impossible task.
Most of the passengers were Italian, the remainder French, German or Spanish. There were perhaps 20 native English speakers on board so if you were looking to expand your Anglo social circle, this wasn’t the ship for you- English speaking guests are targeted by sister company HAL. Since Costa and MSC are mass market cruise lines, the demographics of your fellow passengers come from a wide social spectrum; therefore, standard Anglo behavioural norms/etiquette are often lacking. Being in the minority, the only solution is to modify your own behaviour: “when in Rome…”
Hurray! After last year’s MSC disgusting culinary experience (straight from the microwave to your plate) and rude Maitre D’ attitude, it was great being on a ship where you could actually eat well and alter dining arrangements without any fuss. Except for one night featuring a brand new celebrity chef menu (resulting in many half consumed meals) which the dining staff observed, the quality and portions were very good in the main dining room and buffets.
The ship was clean (not MSC obsessive compulsive clean) and satisfactory although some open deck areas on level 12 required attention. As the ship is being refurbished soon, perhaps it was decided to wait until then to perform the necessary work. Having said that, there were sufficient deck chairs on board (an MSC Opera problem) and the ship never felt crowded.
This is the only area that needs improvement compared to MSC which was exceptional. While the special guest acts were quite entertaining, if the night involved the neoRiviera singers the performances were too repetitive- I think we saw the same prancing/dancing moves a number of times- just in different costumes. There is also a design flaw in the Ravello theatre- rows are tiered, but there are two rows in every tier so the second row can’t see over the first so you need to arrive early to get a seat with a view.
Overall verdict: yes we would cruise with Costa again. Our expectations were met and the overall experience far surpassed MSC.