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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We booked this cruise primarily to escape the usual Christmas hype and also to experience the brand new Costa Diadema ship. We spent two nights in Barcelona prior to joining the ship on 22nd December 2014 and must admit to feeling some ... Read More
We booked this cruise primarily to escape the usual Christmas hype and also to experience the brand new Costa Diadema ship. We spent two nights in Barcelona prior to joining the ship on 22nd December 2014 and must admit to feeling some trepidation as we had never before cruised on a ship with so many passengers, however, we went with an open mind and were determined to enjoy the holiday. The embarkation process: We arrived at Barcelona cruise port early as we were in company with two other passengers we had met on route from Belfast. There were few passengers around at that time so the actual check-in process was quick and efficient. We were given a numbered card to be used for the boarding process later so we decided to sit back and relax with a coffee/ beer. Boarding commenced around 2pm and was done in numerical order according to the cards issued during check-in and, considering the number of passengers involved, it was also a fairly quick process. Once onboard, the sheer volume of passengers passing through the lobby area made it a bit chaotic , however, we quickly made our way to the lifts and found our cabin where we made contact with our Steward and were able to put valuables in the safe and unpack our hand luggage. We were impressed that our suitcases arrived very soon afterwards and we were soon unpacked and ready to explore the ship and have lunch. The ship: As a brand new ship, naturally everything was very new and fresh and it soon became clear just how big it was. We did a tour of the ship to get our bearings and also to ‘sus out’ the places where we might spend our evenings. The overall décor is undoubtedly ‘bling’ in style; however, we expected this and sometimes just marvelled at how much the interior designers had managed to cram in. All the public areas were large with plenty of seating so there was never any real problem; however, the Diana Lido pool area always seemed to be crowded although we only ever passed through it on our way to other parts of the ship. The pool seemed to be used mainly by children and I imagine that it might be unbearably busy in the summer when the retractable roof is back. There were plenty of elevators around; however, my vertigo prevented me from trying the scary glass lifts which seemed to go up forever from the main lobby area. The signage around the ship was generally good, however, for the first few days it was difficult to find the public toilets as they were not signposted and hard to miss unless you knew where to look. For instance we found no toilets near the lobby area on Deck 3 and the nearest ones were on Deck 4 hidden beside the entrance into the Emerald Theatre. Also, the automatic door opening mechanism in the toilets was a bit alarming at first as you were at risk of being seen by passing fellow passengers. We felt that the Concierge Desk seemed very small for the size of the ship and the number of passengers who would be likely to use it. It was only after standing in the queue for quite a time that we realised there was a ticket machine for issuing ‘next in line’ tickets, similar to those in large supermarket counters. This machine was strangely located in a corner away from the queue so most people did not even know it was there until they had reached the front of the line – it would have been better sited near the start of the queue where passengers could see it from the outset. This would dispel any possible arguments about who was next in line. The Concierge staff were very helpful and efficient and spoke many languages. Restaurants: We had been allocated open dining in the ‘Corona Blu’ restaurant for dinner each evening and the experience on our first night was not too encouraging. We expected to have to wait to get a table and this was not a problem , however, once seated the service was very slow and the family seated adjacent to us complained to the waiter who explained that there was a problem in the kitchen. Personally we were not unduly worried as we were not in any real rush to go anywhere; however, we could appreciate that it might be a problem for families with young children. To be fair, the service did improve on subsequent nights and we never had too long a wait. We did not particularly like the ‘Corona Blu’ restaurant itself and found the layout and décor very uninviting and dull when compared with the other restaurants onboard and it did not have a great ambience. ‘Corona Blu’ has very dark décor, furniture and carpets and on a few occasions we were seated in the side arms of the room which made us feel very cut off from the rest of the passengers – it felt like being relegated to an overflow part of the room and did not enhance our dining experience. On subsequent nights we specifically asked to be seated in the main body of the restaurant and this did not make us feel so isolated and it improved our experience. Given the large number of passengers onboard we felt that the standard of food was fairly good in the restaurant, if perhaps a bit ‘hit and miss’ at times, but we never had anything we could not eat and never went hungry. It was interesting that one of the Maître D’s told us he felt that the optimum number of passengers would be around 4,000 in order to be able to give the best level of service. To us, the ‘Corona Blu’ restaurant was simply a place to go and eat and then leave – it was not a place to linger too long afterwards. We had lunch a few times in the Diana Lido buffet and the food was excellent, especially the pasta dishes, even though it was just a bit chaotic at times due to the sheer number of people around. We always managed to get a seat and have a chat with our fellow passengers. Although we usually prefer a buffet style lunch, we also had lunch a few times in the ‘Fiorentino’ restaurant as it was easier to get a seat, and less frantic, if you went early enough. On one occasion only the ‘Adularia’ restaurant opened for a self-service buffet lunch which we really enjoyed and it was a pity this had not been an option every day. The light décor and layout of both the ‘Adularia’ and ‘Fiorentino’ restaurants was so much better and more welcoming than ‘Corona Blu’ and they both felt more like proper adult restaurants. We also heard from fellow passengers who had been assigned to the ‘Adularia’ restaurant each evening that there was a great atmosphere there with ad-hoc entertainment provided by the waiters and a much better rapport with passengers. Speciality restaurants: We went to the ‘Club Diadema’ restaurant on one occasion and thoroughly enjoyed both the food and the relaxed atmosphere. On a second night we went to the ‘Teppanyaki’ Asian restaurant with two fellow passengers who had now become friends and we all had a really fabulous evening of food and entertainment provided by the chefs. We finished the night off with a few glasses of champagne in the Bar Bollicine. Both speciality restaurants were well worth the additional cost and we would certainly recommend them to anyone. Bars: We had purchased the ‘all inclusive drinks’ package at the time of booking and this proved to be a very good deal. We both drank mostly wine or beer and the system worked very efficiently in all parts of the ship. We quickly found that our favourite watering holes were the bar in the main lobby area on Deck 3 and the Piano Bar on Deck 5. The bar and waiting staff in both locations were excellent and we soon became friends and looked forward to seeing them each evening. It is perhaps unfair to single out individual staff; however, we particularly enjoyed the craic with Barry and Jaydnash (Piano Bar) and all the staff in the Lobby Bar. Two waitresses named Xian and Joy in the Piano Bar also made us feel very welcome. The evening entertainment in both the Piano Bar and the Lobby Bar area was first class and was a real draw for passengers of all ages. From what we could see, the entertainment throughout the rest of the ship was equally good with something to suit all ages and tastes. On Christmas Eve there was even snow falling down into the lobby area which was a lovely touch and the children loved it – along with many adults. Kudos to Costa! Our only criticism would be the lack of an ‘adults only’ bar as the constant presence of young children running around a crowded bar, or being wheeled around in prams, was a bit off putting and perhaps not the best environment for them late at night. The crew: We have only the highest praise and respect for the crew throughout the ship for their efficiency and friendliness, despite the huge number of passengers they have to deal with on a daily basis. They all worked very hard and we often felt sorry for them and wondered how they coped, particularly with embarkation day which seemed to be every day! Other facilities: It would have been nice to have access to a guest laundry/ironing room in order to freshen up creased clothes; however, we appreciate that this may not be possible given the passenger numbers on the ship. On a longer voyage this would be even more desirable. Unfortunately our upgrade to the Samsara Deck did not automatically entitle us to access to the Samsara Spa, however, on the first day we decided to pay for the voyage spa package as we knew it would provide us with a means of escaping the crowds and somewhere to relax. It was money well spent (€105.00 per person for 07-days) and we looked forward to going there every afternoon and enjoying one of the many therapy rooms or just reading quietly in the large, and usually empty, relaxation area with a pot of herbal tea ~ heaven! The Spa staff were also friendly and courteous, especially Tereza and the Spa Manager, Pavel. On the penultimate day of our cruise (28th December) we were unfortunately bombarded with constant tannoy messages over a number of hours which were obviously lifeboat drill instructions for new passengers who had just embarked in Marseille. Not only were these messages’ intrusive but they were repeated in at least three or four languages every time and we struggled to understand why they were being constantly transmitted into the cabins of passengers who had joined days earlier and who had already undergone the necessary lifeboat drill. These new passengers were presumably being put through the lifeboat drill at their allocated locations (as we had done when we embarked in Barcelona) so what was the point of all other passengers having to hear it all again, and again, and again? We fully appreciate the need for safety drills; however, this was perhaps a bit OTT. It really spoiled our last day onboard. The interactive portals provided on some decks were very useful for making speciality restaurant reservations; port transfers …etc. and avoided unnecessary queuing at the concierge desk. Ports of call: Unfortunately we visited most of the ports during the Christmas period and in most cases the shops were usually closed, however, we did get off in them all (except in Marseille) if only to stretch our legs and get a coffee. Palma de Mallorca was our first stop and we spent a pleasant couple of hours just meandering around the impressive Cathedral and the seafront. Naples was the port we had most looked forward to visiting; however, it proved to be a real disappointment. We felt it was very down at heel, neglected and dirty and everywhere was ruined by graffiti. Prices in the cafes were exorbitant compared to the rest of the ports we visited. Not somewhere we would wish to visit again. La Spezia was a fairly small town and we had a quick walkabout and a coffee before heading back to the ship for an early lunch. It has a nice walkway along the seafront leading into the town itself. Savona was a much larger town and had more of interest and a nice atmosphere. We had previously visited Marseille on another cruise and not been too impressed with the place so we decided not to visit on this occasion and to relax on the ship while it was a little quieter. Overall opinion: We actually did enjoy the cruise, due mainly to the friendliness of the crew. We quickly found those venues where we felt most comfortable and which suited our choice of entertainment. There was certainly something every night to suit all tastes and ages. Having cruised previously on ships with much smaller passenger numbers it took a while to get used to the sheer volume of people onboard - especially the large number of small children, however, we soon adjusted and learned to ‘go with the flow’. We would recommend the ship to others, provided they were prepared to wait in queues at meal times, and we could certainly give them some tips on where and when to go in order to avoid them. Overall very good Costa Diadema.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
Just returned from fjord cruise , this was our first cruise and as such was really ok, we chose the all inclusive option and seemed to work fine although there were no premium brand spirited the brands they used were unknown to us. We had ... Read More
Just returned from fjord cruise , this was our first cruise and as such was really ok, we chose the all inclusive option and seemed to work fine although there were no premium brand spirited the brands they used were unknown to us. We had an outside cabin with balcony which was large enough and kept clean and tidy by our steward, on down side only English tv was news channel, mainly Italian and German channels. The food was ok small portions in evening but 5 courses and generally enough choice, for an Italian ship pasta dishwasher poor though. Breakfast and lunch was a bit of a free for all with greedy Germans taking up most of tables but selection of food was good. Late night food was only cheese and tomatoe pizza with salad.. Ship is well fitted out and has plenty to do on board, don't bother to pre book excursions as these are not very good and you can get better deals once you get of ship. Crew on board are helpful and in general good fun, ship is kept spotless, we would use again for sure. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We have decided to go on a cruise for our first time. We checked the internet and found this very interesting deal. We embarked in Savona and observed that the ship was half empty, which was great for us. Generally the check in process was ... Read More
We have decided to go on a cruise for our first time. We checked the internet and found this very interesting deal. We embarked in Savona and observed that the ship was half empty, which was great for us. Generally the check in process was very smooth, the luggage was delivered promptly to our cabin which was quite comfortable, or at least better than what we expected. Or route had its first destination in Malaga, which is a nice town. We have decided not to waste the money on Marbella and our neighbors confirmed how right we were... We had only a few hours so we just relaxed in the old town, had a glass of wine and some delicious tapas. As a general rule I would say to be cautious in selecting the tours offered on board. They are quite expensive and some are really not worth the while. The second destination was Funchal, Madeira. Lovely! Then Teneriffa; we missed La Laguna and Teide but got ourselves at least some good deals on clothes as the VAT is very low in Teneriffa. Casablanca, is a nightmare, Marrakesh, as well... got a new carpet now :-) Then Barcelona, Wonderful; Marseille, very good as well but spending a day in Marseille on a Sunday is not quite smart as all shops are closed. Now to the Ship again: We are swiss and hence speak a lot of languages, English, french, german and italian are no problem. So we understood what the others were saying and the information the others got. It was quite upsetting that the information in the various languages is quite selective, to put it diplomatically. The majority was italian, which has its charm, given the fact that the German were like bees all over the place. The food in the restaurant was quite good given the vast amount of food that needs to be prepared every day. Our wait staff and room attendants were mainly, indonesian, philippinos, indian or peruvian and they were excellent! That needs to be said and they are a real credit to costa. Without them, I would never travel with them again. The reason is the management. I have never seen such arrogant staff in my life. I am a hotelier and I am very sensitive with these things. I have complained on the spot, asked to see the hotel Manager (which I haven't seen during the entire cruise except on a picture), the executive chef was smoking on the guest floors with his buddy the main Maitre D' etc. the list goes on and on. They would not greet, not smile, not leave the floor when guests are passing. They were generally walking with their chin above their nose. I have written a long list of "recommendations" as I am not a complainer per se. I just try to give feed back. Unfortunately, I have never received a feedback. I have even tracked down the corporate Quality improvement man who hasn't replied either. Anyway, I would recommend the tour and the company again but with keeping in mind that the management is very, very poor. I just consider ourselves very lucky as we have always good staff around us, fantastic table-mates at dinner, whom have become friends and interesting destinations discovered while returning back to work very relaxed :-) Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
We flew from Manchester to Savona via Amsterdam then had a 2+ hour drive by coach to join the Costa Serena and although the journey was tiring, the flights were good and luggage was booked straight through so no hassles. As soon as we ... Read More
We flew from Manchester to Savona via Amsterdam then had a 2+ hour drive by coach to join the Costa Serena and although the journey was tiring, the flights were good and luggage was booked straight through so no hassles. As soon as we stepped on board we thought it was all worthwhile. The ship is about four years old and very smart. We found our cabin quickly and our luggage arrived not many minutes later. No tea/coffee making facilities but free room service for breakfast. Cabin kept immaculate and very comfortable and equipped with safe/hairdryer. Bathroom as you would expect. Only one bar of soap and shampoo in dispenser on the wall but not a problem. We had expected to be in the minority as English speakers on an Italian ship and that was certainly the case but we had no problems with the French, Italians, Germans and Spanish on board. Staff all spoke fluently in loads of languages - felt rather ashamed of my lack of language skills. Ate in the Vesta restaurant and serving staff were all pleasant and helpful. Food was on the whole excellent - yes it was Italian but what do you expect on an Italian ship. The buffet for breakfast and lunch had fresh pasta, pizza, a grill with chicken, burgers, fish etc plus the general buffet with salads, cold meats, casseroles, more fish etc etc. The problem was knowing which to choose and when to stop! We had purchased the drinks package before sailing that gave us free glasses of beer, wine or soft drinks in the buffet at lunch or main dining room at night and cost about £160 but we had no problem getting as many drinks as we wanted and without the additional 15% tax on everything so felt this worked out well for us. There are loads of decks on which to catch the sun as well as by the main pool or the quiet pool (not always as quiet as I would have liked!) Other comments have been made about children being allowed in the jacuzzis and this was the case for us also. However, we usually just hid away on one of the upper decks with our books and enjoyed the November sunshine. We will certainly look out for Costa cruises in the future as we enjoyed the mix of nationalities rather than being totally British. I would recommend that you look for one of the newer ships as we saw the Costa Allegra in one port and it looked a bit old and weary but don't be put off Costa by the adverse reviews - go with an open mind and enjoy meeting new friends of all nationalities! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was ... Read More
After a two hour transfer from Nice to Savona we finally saw the ship - so far so good. There was a short wait before we could get on the ship but the embarkation building was comfortable. In here we brought our drinks package which was rather pricey (we don't drink so we had the kids mocktail and soft drinks) 49 euros for only 20 drinks. We have sailed with Princess before and the same package is for unlimited drinks. The next to hit us was the fact that we couldn't deduct the tips even though it said on our paper work that we could ( we pay tips but only to those that we feel have given us service). We found our cabin quickly and our luggage was already waiting for us. Our cabin steward was friendly and always said hello (Joevan). This is not the ship to be on if you are a none smoker like us.The main pool area is covered and not once during our cruise was it opened to let any air in so smoke just filled the whole area. The bar areas were the same one side of the room for smokers the other for none, but what happens the whole room becomes filled with smoke. Beware of Costa's hidden charges 15% on top of any drinks purchased, charges on the shuttle bus to get you from the port to the towns Anything from 6 to 7 euros each. If you like a drink of iced water with your evening meal, ask for a jug of water otherwise you get bottled water that you have to pay for. The meals on the buffet deck were very poor, especially at tea time, fine if you want pizza every day. We went to see several of the ships shows, the best ones were done by the ships own company. If you are wanting an English cruise this is not for you, out of 3700 guests only 120 were English speaking.But don't let this put you off, all the staff that we had dealings with spoke English. Don't bother taking anything too posh for the formal nights like we did,it just doesn't happen, which is a great shame - getting dressed up is what cruising is all about. Me and my hubby enjoy up to date music and so were looking forward to hitting the night club,this didn't happen because the music around the ship was rubbish and the club (disco Pan) was always full of young teenagers. There was no cut off point for teenagers to leave and let adults only in. Lots of children seemed to get into places where they shouldn't have - the gym under 16's are not allowed in - not the case, young children were not supposed to be in the Jacuzzis - not the case,Don't get me wrong we have 2 children and we know the importance of family holidays but we always kept an eye on our children not so on this ship with many parents. Disembarkation went smoothly, the only let down was the 2 hour transfer back to Nice, then just being dumped at the airport - wrong terminal and no rep to help,once we found the right terminal we had a 5 hour wait for our flight. All in all we had a good holiday, a holiday is what you make of it. But I don't think we shall use Costa again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
We joined the cruise at Amsterdam, having made our own way there and spending a couple of days sight seeing before we embarked. Embarkation was slow and a bit haphazard, but we eventually boarded around 2.30, having arrived at 1.30. Lunch ... Read More
We joined the cruise at Amsterdam, having made our own way there and spending a couple of days sight seeing before we embarked. Embarkation was slow and a bit haphazard, but we eventually boarded around 2.30, having arrived at 1.30. Lunch was provided on arrival and our cabin was ready immediately, our bags arrived quickly too. All good news to start with. The first impression of the ship is that is gaudy and glizzy - one might say full of bling. The colours used throughout are really bright, with loads of lights, which almost hurt the eyes to look at. Cabins, however, were light, bright and much less colourful! The standard of accommodation in the cabin was very good, it was always kept beautifully clean and everything worked, as you might expect on an almost new ship. We picked this holiday for the itinery - Tallin, St. Petersberg, Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen and back to Amsterdam so the programme was quite hectic with lots of time in port. We only did excursions in St. Petersberg and did our own thing in the other ports which worked out well. Most times the ship was 'parked up' quite a way outside the town and Costa put on shuttle buses for passengers, which worked well but were quite expensive. There were times when staff at the tour desk were rather misleading of their description of how long it might take to walk into town, which meant that one bought a shuttle bus ticket when it was not necessary. The standard of the excursions we did was very good but because of the lateness of one arriving back to the ship we were unable to take another trip which we had booked, which was very annoying. Days at sea were full of opportunities to do something but most of it was not to our taste. There were approximately 300 English speaking passengers out of 2200 (ship not full), the majority of the rest were Italian. This resulted in multi-language announcements which could get intrusive. For example, the 'card room' is actually an open space on the side of the biggest lounge area. Whenever cards were being played (e.g. Bridge), there would be a fashion show, quiz or someting else noisy going on right nearby which was irritating. Because of the open plan nature of the lounges as well, smokers were placed quite close to non smokers, so there was often a smell of cigarette smoke wherever you sat. The evening meals were extremely good, although some of our table-mates were critical of the level of choice. Each dinner was at least five courses and some of them were 'themed'. We were on second sitting, which was not until 9 p.m. This meant that often we did not finish eating until 11, after which one could go to the disco or a show if one wanted. The self-service cafeteria was always a bit of a scrum and we ended up trying to avoid it for breakfast, going to the restaurant instead. Lunch was available at both locations too. My biggest grip with Costa is that they try to get more money out of you whenever they can. From the minute you board the ship, they take photographs of you at every opportunity, for which they charge 9.99 euros each. Of course, you don't have to buy them, but it does become irritating. We also had a bottle of water in our cabin with a note saying that if we opened it, the price would be charged to our bill - about 1.30 euros, I think. This is petty when, had we paid full price, the cabin would have been 4000 euros between the two of us. There is also a fee-paying restaurant that one can use as an alternative (20 euros)and cappucino and espresso coffees are also charged as extras. One lovely event is the 'elegant tea' which happened twice within our cruise, beautiful variety of teas, exquisite sandwiches and cakes with strawberries dipped in chocolate. Everyday afternoon tea was supplied in the self-service restaurant, but the elegant one was far superior. Disembarkation was well organised and our luggage easy to find when we got off. I wouldn't go with Costa again because I didn't really enjoy the daytime activities and wouldn't want to pay full price but I suspect that it would suit some people very well. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
Here's a few of comments on our experience on the Costa Magica: We had a balcony cabin in the middle of the ship right off the elevator. Amazingly enough it wasn't noisy despite the high traffic area. The cabin was larger and ... Read More
Here's a few of comments on our experience on the Costa Magica: We had a balcony cabin in the middle of the ship right off the elevator. Amazingly enough it wasn't noisy despite the high traffic area. The cabin was larger and more spacious than we had on both NCL and Princess. As stated by others who have been on the Magica, it took the whole cruise to figure out how to navigate the ship. I highly recommend that you get yourself one of the larger maps of the ship that the information desk and learn how to find your way around. One of the cruise critic members posted a very good explanation on how the cabins were numbered and the decks broken up. The most important lesson he gave was to look at the picture of the ship located at each elevator. It will indicate where you are and what direction the ship is pointed. When you get off the elevator look to see which direction you need to go so you won't get too frustrated trying to find your way to dinner. The Magica had two seatings for dinner. We chose the first seating and found our table mates extremely pleasant. We were all English speaking and enjoyed each other's company. In fact, the evening meal was the best part of the day with these folks. The other valuable thing I learned on cruise critic was about the 1X package for beer, wine, and water. We called our agent who called Costa and got the package for us. It saved us lots of money on drinks. This package allows you beer or wine by the glass and bottled water at lunch and dinner only. We tipped our waiter at the beginning and during the cruise and he kept our glasses filled. He also poured some for our dinner partners at our request. So each night at dinner we went through one or two bottles of wine and several of water. Big savings there. The breakfast buffet was not as expansive as is on NCL or Princess but it was adequate. We did not take advantage of the buffet for lunch so I am unable to comment. Dinner most nights was good but not outstanding. We did have one evening when they served lamb chops that everyone asked for seconds. We liked the pasta and the bread was great. If you wanted something in between meals you had to find the grill which was located at the very back of the ship where the indoor pool is. It was not like NCL where you could find food at all hours. One of the reasons that you don't see many obese Europeans, the portions were normal sized instead of supersized. I was happy about that. The coffee was only fair however you could buy cappuncino's and lattes that were pretty good. We got our "coffee fix" at the various ports where the espressos were great. The staff worked seven days a week, and usually stayed on the ship for several months. They all spoke excellent English. In addition there was an English speaking "host" by the name of Sean who was available at certain hours if you had questions. He wasn't very helpful with finding out about doing the ports on your own. He said that his job was to support the excursion so he was unwilling to give info on how to get around on public transportation.I surprized and disappointed since I found that the cruise director on NCL to be more than happy to tell you about what cheaper options available once on shore. Embarking and disembarking was the easiest of all. They had everything ready when you got there so all you had to do was go through screening and show you E tickets. Once you got to your room you found your room keys and info on setting up your credit card as well as the daily itinerary in English. They also provided a daily synopsis of the world news in the form of a little newspaper that was created on board. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We are a family who went on a family vacation. We have been 4 other cruises with four other cruise lines. We are in our 40's with teenagers who are looking to find other teenagers to hang out with on the ship (to get away from their ... Read More
We are a family who went on a family vacation. We have been 4 other cruises with four other cruise lines. We are in our 40's with teenagers who are looking to find other teenagers to hang out with on the ship (to get away from their lame parents). Us, adults, are causal drinkers and are looking for some fun shows to watch, dance a little, get involved in some on board organized games/fun and maybe play a hand or two of blackjack and call it good. Our kids want to mesh with other teenagers and walk the ship looking bored (it's the thing!), dance with their teenage friends, play ping pong, play video games, swim and sit in the hot tub and talk about whom is "cute" on the ship AND at all cost avoid THEIR PARENTS! The Good: Beautiful Ship! The water slide was fun. Fun Activities (Toga night and talent show was FUN!!!!) Great deals on pictures - got all the digital negatives and ALL THE PRINTS for $150 at the end of the cruise. We probably had over 30+ pictures we took over 2 formal nights and New Years Eve Night. Great Drink Packages! I prepaid for the X1 packages for adults (includes alcohol) and kids (non-alcohol) for a little over $300 ... and we all drank enough carbonated drinks and, we adults, drank enough wine and beer to surpass the price we prepaid. Dining room service was IMPECCABLE and probably the best I have ever had on any of my cruises. The food presentation and wait staff presentation was extraordinary. On Italian night, in the main dining room, the wait staff danced down the steps and sang in Italian while everyone clapped. During NYE the wait staff danced around and lit off sparklers as they came down the steps. On the last night, Toga Night, they danced down the steps in Roman Get Up and said "All Hail Caesar!" ... it was FUN, very well planned and really entertaining. The shows on board were family appropriate without being so clean it was boring. The shows were everything from curse free comedians, Elton John impersonation show, and Broadway tunes show to a musical review of decades of music. We never encountered rude staff ANYWHERE on board this ship. Everyone was courtesy and very helpful. NYE was the best party we have ever been too ... will defiantly do NYC on a cruise ship again. The Bad: The ships pools were TOO SMALL. I wrote this in my comment card. We have been on 4 other cruise lines and ships. The pools on this mid range ship pale in comparison to ships of equal size we have been on. Additionally their pools were SMALLER then ships we have been on that don't even equal their gross tonnage. This is just bad design and they need more people to give this feedback so they can consider expanding their pool sizes in future ship designs. It's not fun when the pool so small that you aren't swimming but bumping elbows. The food was tasteless and just plain weird (tacos without cheese, lettuce or tomato ...What? ...that is their TexMex). It makes me feel guilty to say their food sucked because the food presentation and fun in the dining room almost made up for the lack of tasteless food. But hey I came back with absolutely no weight gain (I was HAPPY!!! ... so much I had to weight twice because I didn't believe it) and how many people can say that after a 2 week vacation? Anyway I had fun with everything else so in the end they DID me a favor with their bad food ... it's like I went to fat camp and had fun. Lowdown: I went to be with my family and have fun. Costa accomplished both of this for me. I had little to no problems with the cruise line. I wasn't at the customer service desk day and night with issues so this, of course, made for stress free time that I spent with the family. I didn't go to excessively eat or get drunk every day. I seen some great shows and found enough edible food to stay alive and enjoyed all the amenities and planned activities on board. We enjoyed our ports of call. Getting off and on the ship was easy and hassle free. I would go on anther Costa Cruise again ... you beat ... it's a good price for a newer ship and it was fun. Word to the Wise: PREPLAN! Seriously you need to preplan if you are going on this cruise. You can NOT buy X1 packages on board the ship. They will not sell them to you on board. You have to call Costa customer service and organized this BEFORE your cruise. A great tip here is to load up on the unlimited beverages and put them in your refrigerator. We came home with soda. We got our money back. READ your "Today" on board every day. By reading the "Today" we found out that you can buy your digital negatives for $75 on CD and print them yourself at home or send out for prints and enlarges (not copyrighted ... they will give you the digital negatives for $75). You do have to go down every now and then and pick up your pictures and have them place it in a folder for you. We did this every time we walked through the main atrium area (grand piano bar) which was every day. I will pick my own pictures if they give me the negatives ... then I can make my own prints through Clark photo's of formal photos and give to family ... all good. By having this information up front we took MORE pictures because we figured there was opportunity here to get some great photos for a really good price. We found out on the last day of the cruise when we went to pick up our CD of negatives we could buy all the photos we took too for an additional $75 ... which made it a $150.00. We took over 30+ photos so we bought it. When is the last time you got formal pictures AND the negatives (for future prints) for $150. It was a good deal. Shore excursions are always expensive on any cruise ship line. The cruise ship line MAKE $ off you taking their "provided" excursions because they are offering a service. If you do research on ports you go to you can take your own shore excursions for more than half the price. Remember all these ports of call have taxi's lined up and ready. Most beaches in the Caribbean are usually free. Walking around in Atlantis in the Bahamas is free and the taxi ride is a set rate $4 per person as set by the Bahamian government and posted at the pier. Puerto Rico is an American Territory along with St. Thomas VI. They all speak English and use American money. You can RENT a car on American soil (and it is) and go to the rain forest yourself for half the price with car rental, gas and entrance fee included. We don't do many shore excursions through cruise lines because of two factors ... TOO EXPENSIVE and TOO LITTLE TIME ... 20 minutes to stop and look and get back on the bus is not enough time at $65 a person. You can also use external shore excursion sites found through Google. Remember it's YOUR MONEY and with a little time and research you can do your own shore excursions for less money. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
First of all Costa does not recognize Cruise Critic Roll Calls and Meets, so my attempts along with others on later Dubai cruises to establish a Roll Call met with a dismal response. So I was not able to arrange any private tours as I did ... Read More
First of all Costa does not recognize Cruise Critic Roll Calls and Meets, so my attempts along with others on later Dubai cruises to establish a Roll Call met with a dismal response. So I was not able to arrange any private tours as I did on my last NCL Cruise. This is mainly due to the fact that there were not many passengers from the USA on board due to the long flights involved. Costa did inform me however, that there would be an English speaking briefing early in the cruise. Fly/Cruise or Independent? The first decision is whether to take the full fly/cruise or go independent from the UK. Costa will not give you the competitively priced flight details until the holiday is booked. We told our agent that the booking was provisional depending on the flights, as I did not want to be changing aircraft in the middle of Europe in winter. (Airports were closed all over Europe the day after we left!) After 10 days Costa still did not provide suitable flights, as they involved either changes in Germany or leaving early on the Saturday in Dubai. That would have lost a whole day in Dubai, so we booked our own non-stop flights which arrived at 2130 on the first Saturday and left at 0210 on the Sunday. The current packages now available in the UK (early 2010) include 2-3 nights in a hotel before the cruise. This is a great way to start the holiday as it means you beat the jet lag and the chance of winter weather delays. Dubai Airport On arrival at the airport you have a very long walk in Terminal 1 to passports and customs. You don't have to stop at the Visa desk if you are from the EU or N. America as you automatically get a 30 day visa. After passport control you have the opportunity to shop at the excellent Duty Free shop prior to going through a final security check and leaving the airport. The shop is a great way of getting some 10Dhr notes for tips, taxi change and stocking up on soft drinks! On leaving the airport you will be met by your Costa Rep if you can find them or get a taxi to the ship. No need to pay £30/$48 for a pre-booked taxi as there are lots of city taxis waiting in line. There are 3 types of taxi in Dubai: Ladies only taxis, normal taxis and family taxis which seat 7, or 3-4 with luggage. The cost to the ship was less than 60DHr which is £10/$16. The journey takes about 15 minutes in the evening. All Dubai taxis are metered and very clean. They are an excellent way for a small group to see the City. Embarkation On arrival at the Cruise Terminal we handed in our completed online tickets and signed a health declaration. We were told all our documents and cards were in our cabin. Next we handed in our passports which we would not see again until disembarkation, so keep the receipts! We now proceeded to the ship having given our luggage to a porter. We expected to be sprayed with antiseptic gel as we boarded the ship, but although there was a gel dispenser there nobody insisted on its use. This routine continued during the cruise. The gel was there outside the restaurants but its use was not enforced at all. Our late arrival time proved to be a bonus as you are not allowed to board the ship until 1500 on the first Saturday, but can leave your luggage at the terminal. Your cabin is available from 2000 on Saturday so we went to our cabin first and found our Costa cards which serve as the door key and onboard account. It had taken 90 minutes from walking off the aircraft to getting onto the ship including shopping - Fantastic! Within an hour our luggage appeared so our cruise had really begun. The Costa Luminosa The Luminosa is a beautiful ship, elegantly decorated and well laid out. A lot of thought has gone into the design from the spacious cabins to the layout of the theatre and bars. There are lots of lifts/elevators so getting around is very fast. The use of hi-tech information and booking "totems" reduced the lines at the enquiry desks and made booking of the facilities very easy. Even the registering of your credit card was done using an ATM style machine. Note, only Visa and Mastercard debit cards are acceptable, not Maestro and Cirrus only. The machines are in 10 languages and so are all the announcements and entertainment! The ship is efficiently run and everything appeared to work except the air-conditioning. We had a balcony cabin on deck 8 for 3 people. This was very convenient for getting refreshment from the cafeteria on deck 9! Normally it's a bit of a squeeze, but the cabin was much longer and wider than normal so we had no problems. The balcony was fairly large but had a large overhang from the restaurant deck above, this did not affect lower decks. I was informed that the cabins with the smallest overhang and largest balconies were on deck 4. There was a mini-bar in the room and a hair dryer, but no iron. The beds were very large and comfortable. Large cases fitted easily under the beds. However, we did not sleep very well as the room was always hot and humid, so we complained about the air-conditioning. Someone came to fix it but it wasn't just our cabin, the whole ship seemed humid compared to our other cruises. Other faults we had were quickly dealt with. The sockets are 110v US type and 230v Continental. You cannot use 2 UK adaptors together as the sockets are too close, so bring a lead with a US plug for charging your electronics as they are multi-voltage. There is a second dual outlet in the bathroom which only works with the light on. The cabin service was excellent. The room was made up twice a day and ice was re-plenished at the same time. We had breakfast in the room most days at no extra charge, but the timings were a bit erratic and the drinks were often cold. There is a €2 charge for room service at other times. There is one main dining room, the Taurus with two sittings. The Taurus was a lovely place to eat, the serving stations were all separated from the tables, but some tables were very close to each other. We had asked for a table of 6-10 and were paired up with a very friendly family threesome, also from England with a teenage daughter. This infinitely improved our cruise experience as there were few opportunities to meet other English-speaking guests other than on a tour, accidental encounters or if you were lucky enough to be sat with them at the open seating breakfasts and lunches. The food and service in the Taurus was quite good. The service at dinner was very slick as there was a time constraint, but there was still time for coffee. The food was good rather than sensational. The worst dinner was at the Christmas Eve Gala. We had dry turkey with no cranberry sauce, no Christmas pudding and not a mince pie in sight. I think it was the Italian style that affected the menu! The ice cream was lovely compared to the fare at the cafeteria. The lunch service was not as hurried and was not recommended if you wanted to leave the ship for a day out. There were two Gala formal dinners and one Arabian Theme night. However, there were still a lot of men who think that formal is a clean pair of jeans! The Samara guests had their own restaurant, but I'm sure it was the same menu as the Taurus. There was a fine dining restaurant called the Luminosa Club which we did not use. The main cafeteria was the Andromeda on deck 9 which served food and drinks most of the day. You could get tea, coffee, water and pizza all the time. The water dispensers were handy for refilling your own bottles prior to a day out as the ship's water was fine. There were ice cream machines available at meal times, but the ice cream was horrible. It was water based rather than milk. The Andromeda included a Grill Bar for burgers, etc and several pasta stations. This reduced the lines as there were several serving stations. The only time it got crowded was when the tour buses returned as it was the only place to eat. The food was again good, but not memorable. There were several bars which also sold coffee and cake. The main entertainment bar was the Elettra on deck 2 and then the Piano Bar Antares on deck 3, which was always less crowded. There was also a noise insulated disco frequented by the younger set. There did not appear to be a proper band on board, so things never really hotted up, as the music mainly consisted of aged Duos with music machines! The main problem with all the bars was the smoke. One half of each bar allowed smoking which eventually dispersed everywhere - ugh! The main evening show was held twice nightly in the fabulous Phoenix Theatre. As there was a show for each sitting there were always enough seats, but after watching all the shows I can see why! Costa tries to be all things to all men, so the constant 10 language announcements meant there was no room for a compere or comedian in the shows. Even the Bingo was in 8 languages! The theatre itself is very hi-tech with laser lights and turntables, etc and had an excellent layout. The shows consisted of a talented 14 strong Russian Dance Troupe, who did a 45 minute show, but did not sing. The next show was all singing from an Italian female singer who cleared most of the Italians away by singing in English for the first 20 minutes! The following show was 45 minutes of acrobatics and juggling from a very athletic Chinese Troupe. The shows would have been much better with some variety as they were all one thing or another. The usual Crew talent show was a bit of a fix as most of the acts were from the entertainment staff who sang in the Bars! On the final Saturday the theme was Arabian Dancing and again we had 15 minutes of one man twirling around in a traditional LED Illuminated Costume! This was followed by a Belly Dancer who insisted on pulling children from the front row to accompany her on stage - had she been checked by "the Child Protection Agency?" Life on Board The first day started with a Ship's brief in English at 0930. As most people had arrived between 2300 and 0200 the night before, it was a bit early and the information was repeated on the TV and also in the Daily "Today" ship's paper. The English host had a daily hour for any problems, but did not organise any "meet and greet" sessions for the 500 English speakers. If you asked any questions at her briefs you were told to see her afterwards and she would not discuss any problems even if they applied to the majority! The "Today" paper was delivered every evening and contained the relevant information for the following day. It was an essential read, especially when the clocks changed! The TV had the usual programs of excursions and the cruise events to date. The only English channel was BBC World and sometimes there was a free film in English, but as there was no TV schedule it was a bit hit and miss! You could pay €9 to see more recent films in English. As the ship's currency was the Euro, this made everything expensive for £ and $ guests. The cocktail of the day was €5, plus the 15% service for drinks. This was the bargain of the day, so we had a few of those during the week. There were drinks packages at extra cost, but the arrangements and rules varied, so Costa needs to be contacted directly to get the best deal for you as the internet wasn't very clear on what was available. The extra features of the Luminosa were the Golf and Racing car simulators. The car was €20-25 for 5-7 minutes and was quite exciting if you could drive well, as the car was very easy to crash. A lot of people spent most of their time impaled in a straw bale. A reset "on track" button would have been handy for novices. The golf looked good, but at over €100 for a round it should be. The 4D cinema at €8 for a 12 minute Disney style ride was good fun. Playstations were also available for rent and there was a Video Arcade. The big pool had a retractable roof and was mainly frequented by children. As the ship was docked during the day except the first and last days, there were plenty of sun-loungers available in quieter parts of the ship. There was also an adult pool at the aft end of deck 9. As the ship was in port most days there was not a lot happening on board during the day. There was an excellent gym and a spa which offered a wide range of treatments. There was a dance lesson most days around late afternoon which was well attended and good fun. I wish we'd attended that second Tango lesson! There was also a large Children's club and Teen club, the former being the more popular. The smaller children appeared very happy and were taught to perform a routine for the Arabian Night. The Arabian Night consisted of Folk dancing on the stage in the large pool area that also had a huge TV screen which showed all the action on stage plus the ship's TV channel during the day. The evening also had belly dancing by the Dance Troupe and a Conga dance of all those who had dressed in costume. It was an enjoyable evening that was followed by a Midnight Buffet around the pool. The Casino was quite popular. There were lessons for beginners for the table games and plenty of one arm bandits for those keen on losing their money. The casino was only open when at sea. Deck 3 had a small mall of shops selling the usual cruise memorabilia and jewellery. There were the usual watch and gold offers during the week. The duty free did not compare at all with the airport. The photo shop displayed most of the ad hoc pictures taken on arrival and in the dining room, but some pictures were left in your room with an order form. If you did not want to order they were collected the next day. There were plenty of opportunities for Formal photos on Gala nights. A DVD was available at the end of the cruise for €40 which highlighted your cruise. Christmas on Board The cruise was from 19th December to the 26th, so Christmas featured everywhere on board with illuminated trees and nativity sets on show throughout the ship. Door decorations were placed on every cabin door and the crew wore Santa hats. Christmas music was continuously played over the PA, but it wasn't intrusive. There was a Mass on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the Theatre. There was also a Christmas theme to some of the entertainment during the week. However, for British guests the lack of our usual Christmas fare and cranberry sauce was a bit of a downer. Christmas was also actively displayed ashore in the local Malls! Ports of Call and Tours At all the ports of call the ship advised that you could not walk out of the port. Most ports were out of town except Muscat. A free bus was provided to get you to the port gates. At every port except Muscat there is absolutely nothing to see within walking distance of the gates! Taxis are available from the gates but may not be metered, so you could get scammed! The souk and cafes are walkable from the gate only at Muscat. At Fujairah and Abu Dhabi there were shuttle buses to the shopping mall for €6. This was well worth the trip at Abu Dhabi as it was on the opposite side of the city from the port along the beautiful tree-lined Corniche. As there was not a lot to see in Fujairah it was an excuse to leave the ship and stock up at "no haggle" prices at Lulu's which is the UAE equivalent of Wal-Mart. At Dubai the shuttle bus to the Dubai Mall was free and again was well worth the trip if you didn't have anything else planned. The Mall is right by the Burj Tower, the world's tallest building by miles! Taxis were available in and out of Dubai right by the ship. There is a port charge of Dhr20-25 included in the fare. Taxis could only bring you back to the ship at other ports due to security. There was a hop on hop off bus tour available at the ship in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Full details of these tours including the maps are available on Google. As usual you could view the expensive Costa tours and book them online before you go. As previously described the tours were either of the city highlights or safaris into the desert with various lengths of transit time. Hotel tours included overpriced tea or lunch stops at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi or the Burj Al Arab in Dubai. The only alternatives were taxis, hop on/off buses or finding a reputable local tour guide. Just wandering off on your own is not recommended. The ship provides you with a useless map at each port but an up to date guide book is essential as everything is changing very quickly. The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi in my 2007 book had moved 10 miles! We ended up using the Hop on/off tours in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai after being quoted a ridiculous taxi fare at the gate at Abu Dhabi. The tour has only been running since December in AD. The bus picked you up at the ship then dropped you at the port gate in Abu Dhabi where another bus met you. The tour was very informative and had a 20 minute frequency if you got off. We bought a 2 city ticket which was discounted; it also included a Marina Mall Tower visit in Abu Dhabi and a Dhow cruise in Dubai. At Dubai the bus took you into town to pick up the Red City Tour. After a few minutes you arrived at the Wafi Mall, which is worth a visit. From there you could change to the Blue Beach Tour which goes out to the Atlantis on the Palm and back via the Emirates and Dubai Malls. Hint - if you are on the Beach tour and it's getting late, you can get off at the Dubai Mall and go downstairs to the shuttle bus area and get the free shuttle back to the ship which runs until 2100. This saves going back into town and changing buses twice to catch the last bus back to the ship which leaves at 1845! If you miss it the taxi fare to the ship is only about £5/$8. Compared to Europe there is not much culture to see apart from the Mosques and Palaces. The museums contain little more than weaponry and costumes until the Guggenheim opens in Abu Dhabi. The most amazing things to see are on a Las Vegas theme, i.e. Glitzy hotels and shopping malls, especially in Dubai. The Wafi Mall had an Egyptian theme and the Dubai Mall had a spectacular aquarium and waterfall. We booked the Mystical Muscat Tour as this should have included a visit to the Grand Mosque and Palace. In the end we just had a fleeting glimpse of the Mosque from 500 yards and a quick drive by of the Palace Entrance so you couldn't even get a photo! This was caused by the Sultan visiting the Mosque so everything shut down including the traffic. There were no real alternative sites to see apart from a distant view of the luxury Al Bustan Hotel. After the small Museum the final shopping trip to the souk was across the road from the ship! Even going with the Costa tour has its drawbacks. We are still negotiating a refund! Our tour above highlights the main problems of tourism in its infancy in this area. The local dignitaries can bring havoc to a city at short notice by closing everything down almost on a whim. Our mosque visit in Abu Dhabi was also denied by arriving during an unscheduled closure, but at least there was no traffic jam. We did not take part in any other Costa tours as we found the ability to see what we wanted much easier with the Hop on/off bus. This had the advantage of a direct connection to the ship and an excellent commentary in 8 languages on a known itinerary. However, Spanish was not available. We did not get off the ship in Bahrain as there was nothing there to get too excited about unless you want to visit the old Grand Prix track. Disembarkation You can leave the ship anytime from when it docks on the Friday until the early hours of Sunday morning and still use all the facilities. You can use your cabin until 1630 on the last Saturday. There are facilities to keep your hand luggage safe while your main bags are off-loaded depending on your departure time. We had a brief in English on Friday morning about the arrangements as well as comprehensive notes in the "Today." Final accounts were delivered to cabins early Saturday morning and if there were no problems they were automatically settled on your card. Queries had to be sorted before collecting passports from 0400 to 0930 on the Saturday in the Piano Bar. If you had lost your passport receipts your entire group had to collect in person, otherwise only one had to go. It was amazing that the line was only a couple of minutes long as everything was arranged efficiently. Most queries were about the compulsory service charge. As it was mentioned in the booking conditions I can't see why people have to complain about it at the end of their trip. It was mainly passengers who had eaten only in the cafeteria objecting to tipping a waiter they never saw in the Taurus. There were still staff in the cafeteria, folks. On the Wednesday you were asked what time you would be leaving the ship so you got the correct colour coded labels. Luggage had to be left outside your cabin with the coded labels at least 8 hours before you departed the ship. If you were leaving the ship and returning on the last Saturday you could leave your hand luggage under supervision in the Antares Disco on deck 2 until 2300. Anything purchased on board on the last day was payable in Euros or US dollars. For those travelling with Costa there were display boards around the bars and theatre with your flight and departure times from the ship shown complete with any flight delays. On finally leaving the ship you collected your luggage in the terminal and went through security and customs to your bus or taxi. There were no big lines and plenty of taxis. Twenty minutes after leaving the ship we were at the airport ready for the 8 hour flight back to London and not the 12 hour trip via Frankfurt Costa wanted us to use! Summary We all had a lovely cruise on the Costa Luminosa it's a fine ship efficiently run. We met new friends and saw some amazing sites, though not all complete, especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We were disappointed not to have seen inside a Grand Mosque due to the unforeseen closures. As Costa tries to appeal to all nationalities this does restrict the entertainment program. For English speaking guests there will soon be US cruise ships on this itinerary which should have greater appeal. Nevertheless, Costa had a competitively priced cruise especially if you had children. This advantage was reduced on board by the Euro prices. This itinerary will be great in 5 years when the area is completed and the building work stops completely instead of temporarily. Would we cruise Costa again? It depends on the itinerary and competition! Read Less
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