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1 Savona to Europe - All Cruise Reviews

We are regular Costa cruisers in our mid 50's. The itinerary appealed to us. We started in Savona and disembarked in Hamburg. 8/5/16(Sunday) Stansted to Milan. Transfer to Savona and embark. 9/5/16: (Monday) Marseille. ... Read More
We are regular Costa cruisers in our mid 50's. The itinerary appealed to us. We started in Savona and disembarked in Hamburg. 8/5/16(Sunday) Stansted to Milan. Transfer to Savona and embark. 9/5/16: (Monday) Marseille. 08h00-13h00. 10/5/16(Tuesday) Cruising 11/5/16: (Wednesday) Cadiz. 09h00-18h00. 12/5/16: (Thursday) Lisbon.08h00-17h00. 13/5/16(Friday) Vigo.09h00-19h00 14/5/16: (Saturday) Cruising 15/5/16: (Sunday) Le Havre. 09h00-20h00. 16/5/16: (Monday) Dover08h00-20h00 17/5/16 :( Tuesday) Cruising 18/5/16: (Wednesday) Hamburg. 08h00-disembark Preparation started the Wednesday before the cruise. The 3 fur balls needed their flea/dewormer drops prior to going to the Cat Hotel. Immediate suspicion! It did not help that our elderly lady had to go to the vet for blood tests as well. Mum in the dog box or is that litter tray? On the Saturday before departure the cats were boxed up and taken to the cat hotel. Only then could the suitcases come out and packing commenced. I had to pack for 12 days and flying Ryan air made that quite an art. We were flying from Stansted to Milan from where we had a Costa transfer to Savona. I was in a total panic about this because our flight was supposed to land in Milan at 11h30 and the transfer was supposed to leave at 12h00. Costa told us that they won’t wait for longer than 15 minutes and if we were late we would have to make our own way to Savona. Our trusty Taxi man Mark collected us at 05h40 and we were at Stansted about 35 minutes later. Apparently he does not get many speeding fines. It was the usual scrum at Stansted and I did not know that the Kindle needed to be in the tray for security so I had my case searched. Lesson learnt. We had a coffee at our usual watering hole and were once again surprised to see people drinking alcohol before breakfast. “Vodka and coke please”. Yuck. Don’t get me wrong as I like a drink as much as the next person. But that early in the morning? Trusty old Ryan air landed 15 minutes early in Milan. We were outside the airport in next to no time and after asking the MSC lady whether she knew where the Costa rep was (what’s new Costa) and finding her, we started waiting. Not even a Coach in sight! We eventually got on the coach at about 12h30 and went to another terminal before we set off. Panic over. When we arrived at Savona the terminal was still full of people waiting to board. This was around 16h00 and we were supposed to leave at 17h00. Thankfully we have priority boarding and after filling in the usual forms we were on board. We nipped off to our cabin and got our cards and headed for the atrium bar to have a drink before the emergency drill. I am not going to comment about the drill. I know it is annoying but it has to be done. The Pacifica is a lovely ship. She is similar in layout to the Magica, Serena and Fortuna with the 3 bars at the back on deck 5, the Grand bar in the middle on deck 5 and the atrium bar on deck 3. We did get the pronunciation of the name wrong. PahCheePheekah. Considering she is a few years old, the only thing that I felt needed upgrading, was the carpeting. The decor is the usual Costa idea. Quite bright, but certainly not as vile as some would let you believe. Are cruise ships not about a bit of bling? We had a classic balcony cabin on deck 6 towards the aft area of the ship just above the piano bar. The only night I was woken by noise was the last one when the suit case collection happened. The cabin was clean and well-kept by the lovely Gilda. We do not take part in the activities but there were lots of people who take dancing very seriously and dressed the part down to the proper dancing shoes. I wondered how many suit cases they had because one lady had a different pair to match every outfit. We only went to the theatre twice and neither performances were brilliant. Sury Boltman performed and we previously saw him on the NeoRomantica. I think the show was identical to that one. There was also a tenor who had an OK voice but he had a break after every song and was just mopping himself and having a drink of water. He did not even have a bit of music playing whilst he was mopping. We skipped most of the others because the illusionist sounded as if it was the same woman who performed on the Diadema when we were on her in February and she was pretty poor. If there was any decent dancing we missed it. The performers in the bars were so- so. We were disappointment again. The last time we had excellent performers on board was the Serena. The service varied. As usual the excursion desk and hospitality desks were poor. The bar and restaurant staff was different on this ship being mostly from Brazil and Peru. They were mostly friendly but we did not really connect with anyone in particular and I thought their English was not as good as the usual crew from the Philippines and India. We had a little disaster with the evening meals. We asked for early sitting but then upgraded to a balcony and did not mention this again. I think it was usual to get second sitting for classic cabins but Gold Pearl (hubby) used to get an option to change. I think this has actually changed with the new Costa club and would advise people to read the fine print. We ended up with second sitting which is too late for us. The result was eating in the Pizza pay restaurant nearly every evening. We were well looked after by Maryane and Marcella but it was not easy to have a conversation due to the language issue previously mentioned. The place was mostly deserted except for Costa officers and us. We ate lunch in the MDR a few times and the food was OK. It has become a little samey over the recent years and like the entertainers I recognised some of the dishes. There is an evening buffet between 7 and 9. It started later on the days we left port late (Le Havre and Dover). The food was not great. Breakfast was also a little different. The last few times hot food was only available in the MDR. On the Pacifica they had self-service hot food (scrambled egg, boiled eggs, bacon, sausages and rosti). This was also available in the grill area on the pool deck. The also made omelettes and fried eggs at this station. We only had lunch at the buffet once. We went to the grill and had hamburgers. The chips were very good but I though the hamburger buns were too dry. Usually the passengers on Costa are pre-dominantly Italian and French which a fair amount of Germans. This time they were pre-dominantly German. I have never seen so many glasses of beer been drunk on a Costa ship before. This brings me to the drinks package. The Piu Gusto is very good value for money because it includes most of the listed cocktails, wine by the glass etc. Premium brands of spirits are excluded but if you want a decent G+T you can ask for Gordons and tonic for example. There are packages available on ship that is not available to look at on line. The ports: Savona-did not explore as this was embarkation day and we have been there many times before. Marseille: The weather was a bit dismal and we only had the morning. We spent it looking for a shop to buy deodorant as we both forgot to pack! Day at sea. It was blustery and rough when we left Marseille but improved the next day. I spent my day reading and hubby was watching BBC documentaries he recorded on the iPlayer. Cadiz: Another slightly bleak and windy day. We were planning to go to Gibraltar but the excursion was cancelled due to lack of English speakers. It saved our bacon because it would have been miserable on that rock. We were walking about looking for a restaurant and it looked as if the heavens were about to open. We went into a little neighbourhood bar and had a small glass of beer each, 80 cents! We had our meal at the restaurant next door and it was mainly full of tourists though we were the first in. I had a few Tapas and hubby had an enormous T-bone steak. The food was fine but not exceptional. What was exceptional was that it was raining so hard that that the restaurant had its own waterfall coming through one of the light fittings. We decided to go back to the ship and got absolutely drenched. About Cadiz: They now have a tourist kiosk just outside the port gate and can supply you with a map. The streets have coloured markings on and you can follow various routes. We have done this in the past and did not repeat the same. Lisbon: It’s a lovely city but very hilly. Once again we got off the ship in pouring rain and had to take shelter. The ship docks close to the Alfama area so it is a bit of a walk to the centre. There were HoHo buses, Taxis and Tuktuks. The station was just across the road from the ship. We walked to the Praca do Comercio where we asked about the Tram 28. You buy a ticket on the tram but as mentioned on TripAdvisor it is jam packed all year round. The HoHo ones look the same and they were empty. We decided to just walk about. Did I mention hills? We planned lunch at the Café Lisboa at the Opera House. It is one of Jose Avillez's restaurants. So off we went to find it. Stairs at steep angles! We found it and booked a table and wandered off to explore the area. I noticed there were free walking tours on one of the squares. By now I have already exceeded my daily steps (step counter on phone, I have now upgraded to a wrist band), and opted to sit and people watch and have a beer instead. We went on to have the best meal of our trip. We decided on small plates instead of a starter and mains. He takes traditional Portuguese dishes and presents them in a more modern way. We had spider crab, croquettes, 2 different pies and prawns. I had a pastei natia for desert. Everything divine. We also had a bottle of “green wine”. Gorgeous. What goes up must come down. Down all those steps back to the Praca. It was now bathed in glorious sunshine and we decided to have a drink at the Beer Museum. Not beer though, the lovely light “Green wine” that they make locally. Then there was a sudden down pour. Seems to be a theme to our holiday. As I have exceeded my steps by far we got a TukTuk back to the ship. It was starting to rain again. Vigo: The town with amazing sculptures and……hills. My plan was to go to the tourist office to get some brochures because it was very difficult to see properly on the maps on the Vigo tourism app. We got a map as we left the ship but it was not what I wanted. WARNING: the tourism office does not open till 10am. So off we went and it was not raining. Just overcast and a little bleak looking. It’s a pretty town to stroll around. The castle was a bridge too far. I know from TripAdvisor and CC lots of people go up for the amazing view but I could not face the trek. I had a misinterpretation about lots of seafood restaurants close to the fish market. They turned out to be Oyster Street which is very touristy. Here we had our most bizarre meal ever. The restaurant was pretty deserted when we arrived. The Spanish eat later than us. I had calamari to start and Hubby and 6 oysters. We then shared a seafood platter. The owner’s wife took it on herself to see that we ate the food in the correct order and this left the spider crab for last. She then prepared this for us by adding white meat, prawns and muscles as well as something like a tomato salsa. This was then ladled onto pieces of toast and we were told to “eat”. She was very sweet but for 2 reserved Brits this was a bridge too far. Another day at sea: Did the same thing as previously. This evening we ate in the Samsara restaurant because we get a complimentary meal in one of the pay for restaurants. We were not in the main section of the restaurant which was good. The menu follows the same format as the MDR but the courses are a little more adventurous. Hubby had a pasta dish with fresh tuna and said some did not taste quite right. I was not keen to check which was a good thing because he spent the night with food poisoning symptoms and was very ill the next day. He spent the whole day sleeping. We did not make a complaint. Le Havre: The sun shone! Hubby was ill in bed and I spent the day on the balcony frying my white legs and reading my book. We did not have much planned for the day so it was not a great loss. Dover: Now this was a surprise! We often do driving holidays to France. We never use the ferries so we leave the motorway to get the train to cross. I cannot recall whether Costa had a transfer to town. There was a bus which ran into town and up to Dover Castle and stopped a few other places. It is not the usual HoHo. I have unfortunately forgotten the name and fee but we thought it was very reasonable at the time. They accepted Euros and Pounds and I think US dollars as well. There were some issues getting a bus back to the ship around lunch time and they really did not plan for this. The distance from the town centre to the port was a lot further than I anticipated and it was really not scenic with massive road works. I would avoid walking this due to the high volumes of traffic and fuel fumes you’re likely to breathe in if you did. We went up to Dover castle and actually found it a really pleasant visit. Do I sound surprised? We live in England and often find visiting attractions here an absolute rip off. We walked around, visited the medieval tunnels (waste of time), the underground hospital (it would be better if they did not have the silly special effects as it did nothing for either of us), and the castle. I thought this was good despite two volunteers telling me two totally different stories. The best part of the visit ? 2 pots of proper English tea! Another day at sea: Same as before. There were some quizzes and dance lessons but we don’t partake in these. Hubby calls it Butlin’s at sea. Never been to Butlin’s so I don’t know if he is right about that. Hamburg: The route towards the city is really pretty on the river. It is worth getting up a little earlier to sit and watch. I think the captain was a bit over confident getting the ship into the bit of the river where the new cruise terminal is and we were stuck until a tug came to our rescue. The terminal is very new and we managed to get our cases quickly. The plan was to get the shuttle to the central station and then a taxi to our hotel as we booked for a post cruise stay. We found the waiting area after asking many people and waited, and waited. The crowds were building by this time and I was getting irritated. We walked to the taxi area and got a very expensive taxi to our hotel. Our lady driver in her Mercedes was very speedy and we were at the hotel in next to no time. Sofitel Alterwal Hamburg: We chose this hotel because of its location and because hubby is an Accor member. The room was an upgrade and had a lovely seating area with a large television, coffee machine, fridge full of expensive drinks and a gorgeous bathroom with bath and shower. The bed had two single duvets and was a little soft for my liking. It was like sleeping on a giant marshmallow. We were very close to the Rathouse and restaurants. There was a large shopping centre close by and we manage to get a few bottles of wine to put in the fridge rather than use the expensive bar in the hotel. We did however have our freebie glass of wine which came with lovely snacks at 10 Euros each. We did not eat breakfast in the hotel because it was really expensive. There is a little restaurant/take away very close to the hotel where we had fresh orange juice, coffee, a roll and a pastry for 15 Euros. Hamburg is a lovely clean city and the area around the hotel was easy to explore. We wanted to see more of the city and rather than use public transport the hotel staff suggest using HoHo which stopped outside the hotel. BIG mistake! Though they are called HoHo they do not stop at every stop and we found the first guide on the bus extremely rude. He was on the top deck and we were unable to hear what he said. Hubby asked him whether he spoke English only to be told very curtly: “Yes, I went to school and you should have listened to what I said earlier”. So we were none the wiser and as we whizzed past places we wanted to get off, decided that it was indeed a bad choice. It stopped at the harbour area and we had to wait for a long while before we managed to get another one. We eventually ended at the Central station where it stopped for over half an hour before it set off again. We wanted to go to the botanical gardens but it was getting late for lunch at this stage so we decided to give it a miss and got off close to Alex on the inner lake and did not use the bus again. Lesson learnt. We left early the next morning. There was a Metro close to the hotel with a train that went directly to the airport. It was a bit of a performance using the ticket machine but the tickets were very reasonable and the train was clean and quick. The only problem was getting the suitcases down the stairs which hubby obligingly did. We flew back to Heathrow on BA and our trusty Taxi man, Mark, collected us. We have now booked a spur of the moment Baltic cruise leaving Stockholm on 9 July. Costa slashed the price of some of the departures and old beady eyes himself saw this and we are booked and excited. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016

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