We were due to sail on the new flagship Costa Smeralda but as it's launch was delayed our booking was cancelled. Costa offered a deal on alternative itineraries and we chose a 15 night trip to the Far East on Fortuna. On reading the reviews after booking we wondered whether we had made a huge mistake. Happily for us we found the ship to be much better than we had expected from the reviews.
Decor is Art Deco in style and easily as elegant as other cruise lines we've sailed with. Interiors were generally very clean as were the sun deck exteriors. We had noticed that the exterior of the ship was overdue for a repaint but by the time we disembarked one side had been completely repainted. Windows were in need of a clean though. Some of the public ladies toilets were dirty at times but this said more about those using the facilities than those looking after them!!!
We had an inside premium cabin on deck 9 and were very pleased with it. The bed was extremely comfortable and there was ample storage space for clothes and toiletries. Our cabin steward was a joy and really helpful. This is the first time we've had an inside cabin and don't feel that it was a disadvantage at all, in some ways it was an advantage as sleeping was so comfy with no early morning light to disturb sleep.
Buffet food was generally hotter than we've had on other ships and they follow a Mediterranean diet theme, although the addition of doughnuts and pancakes for breakfast is decidedly not Mediterranean. Our table in Rafaello restaurant was well served by the waiters and we enjoyed the meals there too. In addition the Maitre d was very entertaining and some of the waiters did a dance routine on a couple of the nights which added to the enjoyment.
The entertainment was okay, as with other ships and shows some appeal more than others. House bands were good, however when the pianist sings we generally wondered why he didn't just stick to playing the piano.
There were lots of different areas to sunbathe and we always found somewhere to sit, despite many of the sun beds being unoccupied except for the obligatory towel noting the bed had been reserved. Around the main pool it was generally noisier as activities were taking place throughout the day but the second pool was much more of a relaxing space and higher decks offered lots of quiet areas too.
Service was good and staff members that we encountered seemed to genuinely enjoy their work, rather than the imposed enjoyment we've encountered on other cruise lines. Our only issue was with the Customer Service staff who were unhelpful when we reported our experience in disembarking at Koh Samoui. Many passengers were upset, some on the verge of fighting at the poor way the process was handled. Hundreds of passengers all trying to get onto one coach that was at the port to do the shuttle service. After some time and plenty of abuse and aggression other coaches turned up but it was a very unpleasant experience, especially the feeling of being crushed as the crowd were surging forward to get onto the second coach while the Costa representative was refusing to open the door until people got into a line....as if that was going to happen with the level of aggression going on.
Despite the adverse experience it wouldn't stop us cruising with Costa again. Quite the opposite, we look forward to our next holiday with them.
Fantastic location of our cabin, handy for the sun/buffet deck too.