Transfers – If you are interested in getting a transfer from Costa it is worth it if the time table and price is right for you. But make sure before you book you have more than a ½ hour to get off the plane, through customs, get your luggage, and find the Costa rep. When our transfer was booked for us I questioned only the ½ hour we had to get to the shuttle, I was told everything will be fine. But once I received our cruise documents I called Costa to ask to be put on a later shuttle I was told there wasn’t another shuttle and they would not wait for us. I asked for the transfer to the ship to be cancelled but to keep the return and for the 1st half to be refunded. They need to ask the Costa executives if it is possible to be refunded, we are still waiting... But lucky for us we meet a nice family that we hitched a ride with. We were at the port in one hour. Transfer on the return was fine, it took awhile for everyone to get on the shuttle but after that was no problem and well worth the money.
Embarkment - We received a number as soon as we got there, number 4. They started boarding at 1:30; we were on the ship by 2. It was great. I read about all of the horror stories, bring a book you will be there forever. Not true, at least for us.
Disembarkment – The night before you get a color tag along with details in the Today. We had red which was 1st to disembarkment. Every 15 to 30 minutes another color disembarks until 12, but you could stay on the ship until 2. You meet in the Theater (Deck 3) starting at 8:30 and then sent to Deck 0 for your luggage at the port. No problem, no rushing.
Ports of call embarkment and disembarkment – If you are not doing an excursion you can usually get off the ship a ½ hour after we get into port. And you need to be on the ship a ½ hour before departure.
Passports – All non EU passengers have to hand in their passports to Costa and carry around a photocopy. Costa will provide this to you. You do get your passport back if you get of the ship in Tunis and have to return it once back on. At the end of the cruise the Excursion desk opens at 8 on Deck 3, you will have to go for your passports then. It was a hassle with an 8:30 disembarkment. My suggestion to Costa, but them in our cabin with our luggage tags the night before disembarkment. It would have been so much easier...
We read some very helpful tips, some that made us nervous, and Costa was no help prior to the cruise. We were terrified by some comments...
Passengers - We heard Costa cruisers were for seniors. Our cruise had a nice mix, a ton of passengers were in our age group late 20’s early 30’s, families, children, couples both young and young at heart.
DRINKS – Wine Package – We read about all of the smuggling of alcohol in shampoo bottles. We couldn’t believe it, so we purchased the wine package. We would exchange a ticket every night at dinner. Along with the wine package was 10 bottles of water, we ended up not drinking all of them and took 5 with us, since we were continuing our vacation after the cruise.
Water – There was plenty of free water. In the Bellagio Buffet Deck 9 and taps around the pool area. We didn’t even have to ask for the free water at dinner, they just filled our glass unless we used a water ticket.
Alcohol – Costa and the boards said you can’t bring alcohol on board, if you did it would be locked up for you until the end of the cruise. We had no problem. We purchased two bottles one in Barcelona and the other in Palma de Mallorca. We also had two bottles given to us in Palermo. Nothing was ever said to us or any other of the passengers. We were also very nervous about the drinks being very expensive. We didn’t think they were. The daily drink special was 4.50 euros and most others were 6 or more euros, which is comparable to living in a bigger city.
Juice – Juice was free for breakfast you could choice of orange and grapefruit.
Coffee – Coffee was free, hot and American for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You could also ask for espresso or a cappuccino as well.
Soft drinks – Soft drinks were not expensive either. I paid 1.50 euros for a sprite.
Beer – A few days they even had beer specials for 4 or 4.50 euros.
Food – Breakfast – You could go to the buffet or your designated restaurant.
Lunch – Buffet, designated restaurant, or grill.
Dinner – Designated restaurant, buffet, specialty restaurant for 23 euro pp.
Room Service – Always available, coffee is only free until 10.
The food was good, but we expected more traditional Italian dishes for an Italian Cruise ship. The risotto was very good, as well as the soups and pasta. We really enjoyed the meals offered on the formal nights both for us were Palma de Mallorca and Palermo (dress code everyone was dressed to the 9). We also felt they should have had something typical from the port of call for the day. All in all it was good and we didn’t starve.
Service – Everyone was very nice, most staff spoke about 8 different languages. Everyone spoke English. Not one problem on the cruise. Our waiter Randy was great. But we never saw out cabin steward, except for one time. I had to find him and ask to open our refrigerator. After that we didn’t see him again. All he really did was make and turned down the bed and brought fresh towels. We had a few glasses in our cabin from the night before, and the next afternoon we had to take them to the bar. It was not a problem, but I guess we just expected them to be removed.
Smoke – We didn’t seem to notice the smoke. I have asthma and I definitely would have noticed. No one smoked in the dinning room, theater, or elevators. I didn’t even notice people smoking by the pool, casino, bars/lounges.
Lounge chairs – We read that lounge chairs were in demand. We left things on our chairs sometimes even just a towel and no one would bother them. We didn’t do it often, usually one of us would stay with our stuff or we would have a clear view.
Elevators – We didn’t have a problem with to many people using the elevators, but we also used the stairs as well. It seemed that more people used the stairs than elevators.
Pushy people – We didn’t come across this at all during the cruise, except for the Tunis excursion. And we just had to tell the person to please step back and excuse us. I do like my own personal space...
Excursions – We only did one excursion and it was in Tunis. We did the Historical and Cultural Tour. We went to the Bard Museum, Sid Bou Said, and Carthage. I was disappointed with Carthage; from the video seen on the ship I expected to see more. We only saw the Amphitheater and Aqueducts. A good way to view the excursion is either before the show starts in the Theater, they show what you could do and see the next day. Or at the post card desk in the casino, they have picture of all of the excursions and videos that you could purchase of your cruise.
Ports of call - Every night a Today and New Letter is put in your room along with a map of the town. The today is very helpful with providing different activities and specials. There was always something to do and the shows were good as well.
Rome – Cruise began and ended in Rome, no excursions were offered.
Savona – The ship docked right in town, which was good for us. We decide to stay in Savona, found a market with good deals on clothes, food, flowers in Piazza del Popolo, just one block left of the Monumento al Caduti (War Memorial), also don’t miss the Fortezza del Priamar, great view of the town and water. After our walk we went back to the ship around 2 for lunch and relaxation. The passenger that took the Portofino excursion were not happy, only one hr. in Portofino.
Barcelona – The ship docked 30 minutes from town. Costa offered a shuttle to and from town for 5 euros and outside the terminal was the Public Bus which offered it for 4 euros. The Public bus dropped you off at Las Ramblas. We did the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour, but not enough time in 4 hrs. We did drive through the Olympic Village, and past Placa de Catalunya and Gaudi’s Buildings. We got off the bus at La Sagrada Familia, if was amazing only 5 euros pp to get in and 2 to go to the top, great views. Took a cab back to Las Ramblas. Needed more time, to much to see.
Palma de Mallorca – The ship docks about 1 hr from town, nice walk or you could take a cab. A lot to see around the Cathedral, then took the Hop on Hop off Bus Tour. We had a chance to see different areas that we couldn’t walk to and got off at a stop a few block from port. Needed more time, also only about 4 hours.
Malta-Thanks for the tip of the beautiful picturesque view coming into port, well worth it. We found a private tour on the internet and highly recommend them. Maltatravelnet.com, you could e-mail Chris at [email protected]. Our guide was Joan and she was great. We loved Malta and she provided us a true Maltese experience. Best day of the cruise. We saw more then all excursions offered by Costa combined.
Palermo – So much to see and do, you could see the sites just by taking a nice walk. We heard the Selinunte and Palermo excursion was very good. We spent time with family.
We had a good cruise for our first experience. Hope this is helpfully to others. Happy Cruising.