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Costa Smeralda Cruise Review
0.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
22 Reviews

SO MUCH BETTER than expected

Costa Smeralda Cruise Review by Wanderlust244

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2020
  • Destination: the Mediterranean
  • Cabin Type: Classic Balcony Stateroom

This ship deserves MUCH better reviews than it’s getting. The food and entertainment knock it down from a 5 to 4.

Us: 30-60 years of age

Cruise date: February 2020

Decor: This is the most beautiful and trendy ship I’ve been on. Tons of attention to detail. I loved the design. Amazing seating areas - there are hammocks, and little tucked away areas, sunbeds, loungers, plush seating, clamshells, the list goes on and on. The lounge area at the pool has amazing furniture.

Restaurants: You have to figure out the eating times for the restaurants. Basically, there is no free food available from 1030-12, 3-4, and 5-630. Yes - you have to plan your day around those. They do this on purpose - to make money! But come on, do we really absolutely NEED 24 hours a day food? We don’t.

The food: The food in general could be SO MUCH better with some basic seasoning, sauces, and cooking it without overcooking it.

Breakfast: We usually had breakfast in the buffet. It was totally fine. Nothing special was there but you can get your meats, cheeses, omelets made to order, fried eggs to order, and a nice roasted ham. And oh my there were a lot of pastries and people seemed to love that. Breakfast in the dining room is no better (in fact, I think it’s worse) than the buffet. Essentially you get taken to your seat, but then you have to go to a smaller buffet set up at the side of the restaurant. Not worth it - stick to the buffet.

Lunch: Decent. Some things were good. The meat was ok but tended to be overcooked. No sauces. Sauces seemed to be lacking in general here, but maybe that’s just our personal taste. Pasta station was ok - but you have to ask them to add the chili, oils, and garlic which are sitting on the side, if you actually want it to have flavour. Between 4 and 5 most days, they open for afternoon snack, which is pretty terrible, but if you’ve come back from an excursion and just need a bite to eat, you’re desperate, so they take advantage of it by offering poor food. The focaccia is good though.

Dinner: Dining room is lovely to look at. But the experience is extremely lacking. When we are on other cruises - the dinner is an experience. You have time with the menu, they take your drink order, you finish the meal with another drink or coffee/tea. If you love something, you order another, or if you don’t love it, you try a different entree. Not so here. It was quick - here’s the menu - quick - choose. No chance to order drinks - you had to beg to get anything other than water. Food was occasionally decent, but 80% of the time, it was overcooked or lacking in flavour. I can cook better food than that, and I’m no chef. No check in to see if you enjoyed it or wanted something different. After the meal I had the audacity to ask for tea. The assistant waiter literally just looked at me then disappeared. 15 minutes he came back with tea - no cream/sugar. I had to ask for that. He seemed to be surprised that I would even ask for such a thing. This should sort of be standard. I get that they have timing to deal with - but having a small coffee/tea station does not really cost money or much time. We thought - well maybe we’ll go to the buffet - maybe it will be better. But the buffet is only open 8-930pm and there’s really only one section of hot food then mediocre cold salads. So you can’t replace dinner with it unless you’re prepared to eat late (which we Canadians were not). It can supplement though.

Specialty: only tried the Teppanyaki for something different. Totally good. It was entertainment as well. Food was tasty and different. Since we had Brindiamo they kept filling up our wine without us asking, which was nice! Finally really good service at dinner.

Entertainment: Yes, the Colosseo is a JOKE for seeing the shows due to the lack of visibility. Nice idea in concept but not good in practice. They need to move shows elsewhere. There is not a true “show” every night. We pretty much just ignored the entertainment schedule. The acrobats were good when they actually had a show.

Pools: Many pool options. Many had a “shelf” where people could lounge or small children could play. The main pool area had the solarium roof which was perfect - we got the sun streaming in, but without the weather. The pool areas in the winter of course are not packed at all.

Room: Balcony cabin. We had a cabin on the 5th floor. Yes - you should know that on this floor - the balconies are “classic” - meaning - they have a roof and walls - essentially completely enclosed - and smaller than the premium balconies. Fairly small but you can fit 3 people out there. We actually liked this BETTER in the winter as we weren’t looking to suntan anyways and this way, we were protected from the wind and the other elements. They fixed the problem with the shower being open to the room - they’ve put a curtain on. It’s still not perfect as light streams in from the bathroom (so say, if someone needs the light in the middle of the night, the other person in the room gets the light streaming in). That still could be improved. Layout was good. The TV should be put on a swivel so that you can actually see it from the sofa. Bathroom was adorable with good shelves and counter space. No fridge in the rooms (not sure if this is normal for Costa, but on Carnival we are used to a fridge).

Drinks: We’re not big drinkers but there was a promotion on when we booked, where you get the Brindiamo included if you book balcony cabins. That ended up really being nice. I don't really get what people are talking about in terms of the drink package being confusing. There are menus that clearly have different colour dots. We had the lowest package Brindiamo and could only drink the stuff with a teal dot. Essentially lower end spirits and very few cocktails. But once you figure that out, it's fine. Things like wine, beer, rum &coke, gin&tonic, vodka&orange were all included. The amount of alcohol in it was perfectly appropriate - didn’t taste watered down. The cappuccinos were very good and included. The breakfast area only has the automated machines - so if you want a real cappuccino in the morning - head to the Nutella bar at the pool area or the Illy bar on the 6th floor.

Excursions: most are dual language - so you’ll be on a tour with both English and say French speakers. Yes - this means you will have to be patient in listening to the other language. Mostly not a problem. One tour that we went on, though, the woman would speak in Italian for say 10 minutes and in English for like 1, but this was her issue, and not the excursions in general. Excursions were totally adequate. We didn’t expect much. We tried three - Arles/Provence from Marseille, the Palma walking tour, and Civita di Bagnoregio from Civitavecchia (we already had 3 days planned in Rome at the end of our trip, so we didn’t want to go to Rome this day).

Initial embarkation: We embarked in Savona. Came from the train station - took a taxi for the set rate of 15 euros to the cruise terminal. Very confusing about where to go, which forms to fill out, once we got there. We made the mistake of not printing our check in forms and that was the end of the world as we had to re-do everything. Which makes no sense - it should all be in the computer (I had checked in online, just didn’t print it). But all in all, it didn’t take that long. For some reason, they put your card in your room and then leave your door unlocked. One in our party had the wrong card so had to go to reception to get it sorted it out - they should just deal with that when you check in - give you your card then, so if there’s a problem, you deal with it then. Going to reception in general is a bit of a headache.

Daily embarkation/debarkation: AMAZING. I was very impressed. We were on and off within 5 minutes every time. Where a shuttle was necessary to get to town, it was usually right there and very easy to find. They were efficient with lineups even with the metal detector. Especially considering they’re getting about 1000 people every port checked out and checked in, it’s amazing that they can do it that efficiently.

Service: Totally in line with most of the other cruises we’ve been on. (Exception is the dining room, like I said.) There’s always a few surly people on every cruise line, but in general most people were smiling and very helpful, in multiple languages. They had to put up with people asking the same questions EVERY DAY (because, unlike most cruises, this cruise lets people embark any day during the week), so they’re doing a great job. There are some kinks that need to be ironed out, but we already saw an improvement than the way that other people described the processes in the first 10 reviews on this site. So that’s good. They’re listening.

Other: They keep your passport all week if you are non-European. You’ll get it back at about 8am on your debarkation day. If you’ve never been on a non-American cruise line: Yes - there are people of all nationalities on here! A lot of Italians, French, German, etc. Many of the announcements are done in all languages. The game show style shows are all in Italian with a bit of other languages here and there. You just have to get used to it. The general style of everything caters to Europeans. If you want an American-style cruise ship, go on an American cruise ship! Easy solution.

Overall: I wish the food was better - if it was, I would go on this ship over and over again. I can’t believe the 1 star reviews we saw before we embarked. We loved our experience. It was GREAT cruising in winter - I would definitely do that again (although we did have extra good weather). All in all - a very good experience.

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