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This was our first cruise. We needed a cruise that fit in with pre-allocated holidays at work and also to discover somewhere new. The Western Mediterranean ports have mostly been visited on other, non cruising holidays, so we wanted the Eastern Mediterranean and chose a cruise from Venice on Costa Luminosa. Some of the points highlighted in this review may seem trivial to seasoned cruisers but we had 101 questions before our cruise so hopefully this review may help others who are/were in the same situation as ourselves. To anyone like ourselves I would say "don't worry. A lot of things become self explanatory once on board" There are lots of variables when booking a cruise and I did some hefty research on sites like Cruise Critic. Some of the items we booked were merely a "fluke" like getting a drinks package included. We booked around 7 months in advance on the Costa website and chose a Premium Balcony cabin. This allowed us to choose the cabin we wanted and we opted for cabin 7260 which was mid-ship on the left hand side and had cabins above and below us to minimize the noise from bars, disco's, engines, theatre and the sundeck. As mentioned this also included the Brindiamo drinks package - more later. Also, by choosing this type of cabin we could specify preferences about meal times and we chose the first sitting (18:45) and specified a table for two in the upstairs dining room. My wife is on a Gluten Free diet so, a few days after booking, I telephoned Costa in Genoa and told them about the special request. We were advised that they could only guarantee gluten free food if we ate in the main dining room. They advised us not to eat in the buffet for this reason. We paid our deposit and I made a note to myself and paid the balance about 8 weeks in advance. Whilst the initial booking could be done online we could only pay the balance by telephone. Approximately 3 weeks before travel we received an email from Costa with boarding forms and luggage labels which we had to print out ourselves. We traveled from the UK to Venice by train and stayed the night before the cruise in a hotel in Mestre which is a few miles from Venice on the mainland. Our documentation from Costa said that boarding began at 14:00 so we headed from Mestre to Venice late morning and had a bite to eat. From Santa Lucia railway station in Venice it's a steady 25 minute walk to the cruise terminal. There's also a people mover which costs 1.50 Euro's and would reduce this transit time to about 12 minutes. Once at the port (at about 14:05) we handed our suitcases over and were given embarkation number 15. We proceeded to a waiting room and discovered that they were processing group number 12. We sat and waited for a short time before they called number 15. There were long queues but we seemed to move quickly. After checking in we had the obligatory pose for the camer-man and headed to the ship. It took exactly 1 hour from arriving at the terminal to getting to our cabin. The cabin was excellent. Plenty of room. A decent sized en-suite. Balcony with two chairs and a small table. Mini-Bar and a comfy bed. There was a selection of fruit and biscuits for us and a sign saying that they were gluten free (as we had told them). It was my wife's birthday on the day of boarding and there was a birthday card from the captain waiting for her in the cabin. On the bed were our Costa Cards, and some other information. At this point we discovered that people were allowed on-board from 11:45. So we had been killing time all morning waiting when we could have been on the ship 2-3 hours earlier. We had read many articles suggest things to do during the first few hours onboard. To put it mildly, we were overwhelmed. I think initially someone had suggested the pool. We didn't get this far until day 3 ! Each day a "Diary de Bordo" is delivered to your cabin. This shows navigation, weather and entertainment information and also information about shore excursions (where to meet and at what time etc). However, something that we almost missed was the "Welcome meeting" which was done at 15:30 in the Grand Bar Ellectra for English speaking guests. We found this very useful and would strongly suggest that any novice cruisers like ourselves seek this out on the first afternoon. We were advised that "English Speaking Guests" totaled 440 on this cruise. English speaking guests are those who don't communicate in the main languages used (French / German and Italian but not Russian). So included in this number were Swedish, Norwegian and Brazilian nationalities as well as British, Amercan and Canadians etc. I believe there was also a Russian host on board but ship announcements were not made in Russian. Whilst I am not privy to exact numbers I would estimate that the cruise consisted of 40% Italian, 25% German, 25% French and 10% split between other nationalities. It was rare to hear any other guest speak English on board. Most of the ships activities are on decks 2, 3 and 9. It's a beautiful ship. Very clean and well maintained. It was interesting to watch the officers do their inspections and pick up on the tiniest area that wasn't clean enough and tell staff to clean it. The Costa Card :- in our cabin was a Costa Card. This was our "passport" to the ship for the next week. It opened the cabin door and was used to obtain services on board. It was shown (and scanned) when leaving on shore excursions and likewise when returning to the ship. As our cabin included certain drinks we had to show it whenever ordering a drink. Each bar has a drinks menu. Next to each drink is a colour code representing the various drinks packages. I believe a grey dot represented a drink included in our package. Should we have ordered a drink that was not included in the package we would have been given a receipt and this amount debited to our room. Drinks on board generally ranged from 3 to 6 Euros. We subsequently discovered that our drinks package would have cost us 27 Euro's per day - that's between 5 and 9 drinks per day to make it worthwhile. We probably had about 5. Drinks that are included in your package convey no surcharge. However, anything not included has a 15% surcharge levied. Free water is available (by the glass) in the buffet area and pool area at the rear of the ship. Bottled water costs 1.70 Euro's (plus service charge) for 0.5 litres. One thing worth noting is that we were told that for environmental reasons all drinks are by the glass. When ordering a Pepsi it was poured from a 330ml can into a glass holding 250ml. What happened to the last bit I have no idea but we never saw them "recycle" a drink by pouring a bit from one can and the rest from another. The main dining seemed to be quieter (and smaller) on deck 3 rather than deck 2. Our waiter said the later sitting was the busiest. We found the food the be excellent. Yes, there is an Italian theme but also plenty of choices that are not just pasta. Each evening my wife was given a special "Gluten Free" menu which generally contain choices not available on the standard menu. Our waiter was slightly dour on the first day and we recalled some bad reviews with trepidation. However, we joked with him, talked to him and, by the end of the cruise felt that he was one of our best friends. A truly warm, genuine person. The cabin steward was also a very kind, warm person. Always smiling and kept the cabin in immaculate condition. When we got to the cabin on the first afternoon we could choose the time that would suit us best for it to be cleaned. We opted for the afternoon/evening as we would normally be having dinner. We had a very slight problem with a light not working and the cabin steward immediately stopped everything he was doing to fix it (it transpires that a previous guest had unplugged it) The bar staff were also great. Often remembering who arrived for drinks in what order and dealing with 3 people at once. On our subsequent feedback questionnaire to Costa we rated the ships officers quite badly as they hardly spoke and were miserable. However, without exception, the "normal" staff were incredibly attentive and cheerful. If you engage with them you would be treat like royalty. I received a free drink at the bar one day because, he said, " I had made him smile". Also, I had a daily ritual with one of the chefs at breakfast. Early in the cruise she was singing "You are my sunshine" as it was a beautiful sunny day. As the week progressed I asked her about the song of the day. As she normally was cooking omelets we had songs like "How do you like you eggs in the morning" and "Smile" though we changed the words a little from "Smile though your heart is aching" to "Smile though your eggs are breaking". Even though my wife was on a Gluten free diet we did use the buffet area on more than one occasion. My wife has an intolerance to wheat but if we are sensible we can work out what foods are likely to contain this substance. By 8am the buffet was busy. As early risers we were there at 7-7.30 and it was almsot deserted. The buffet restaurant opened about 11.30 for lunch. Usually at this time (until about midday) it wasn't that busy. However by 12:30 people were hunting for tables. There are four main serving areas. However there may be small variation with what's available at each one. For example, one may have carrots whilst another one may have the carrots swapped for Broccoli. Unless you are really picky and desperate there is certainly no need to visit more than one serving station. We only visited the buffet once in the evening and this was at 8pm and found it to be quiet. There is some repetition of food and some dishes (potato wedges appeared every night) In the main dining room you have an allocated table for evening meal but you are shown to a seat at Breakfast and Lunch which could be anywhere and generally only on deck 2 (the upstairs restaurant is only open on an evening). We had breakfast in the main dining room once and was bitterly disappointed. There is a small buffet area and you can also order one of a themed breakfast - so they had an American breakast, an English breakfast a Norwegian brekfast etc. We found, on the English breakfast that the bacon was like charcoal and the egg very "snotty". However for lunch and evening meal the food was spectacular. The portions are not huge but the menu is based on having 4 or 5 courses. We really enjoyed our meals and found them to well presented and very tasty. Dress code was varied. Each night there was a theme. Red & Black night / White night / Mask night. I would estimate that only 10% of guests actually took heed of this. People were having meals in shorts and t-shirts - even on gala night. The theatre has two showings. (I believe) at 19:30 if you have a late meal and 21:30 if you have an early sitting for dinner. Each show lasts 35-40 minutes. The first night was a magician who was "ok". Other nights we thoroughly enjoyed each show. One reviewer said "slapstick". We would vehemently disagree. Each announcement was made in Italian, French, German and English. Some people have said this was tedious. However we are an English couple sailing from Italy to the Greek islands. How lucky were we that they even took the time to speak English ? In our opinion - very ! Every member of staff was fluent in all the aforementioned languages. Also, we found it nice to be part of the minority. If, as an English couple, we wanted to be surrounded by English speaking people and visit a destination where everyone spoke English then we could have gone to Skegness. It was an eye-opener in our last port as a cruise ship with predominantly English speaking guests was also in port. Suddenly everywhere in town were British people and it spoilt what I would describe as the "exclusivity". We found the majority of other passengers to be miserable and very bad mannered. The staff would pass you and say "hello, Good morning". You would have been lucky to get a scowl from other guests. At the bar I would say " a cappuccino please". Many, many times I heard other nationalities just say "expresso" or "pepsi". No manners ! Needless to say that their bad manners persisted on shore excursions and meal times. We booked all of our shore excursions through Costa as we were unsure what would happen with self booked tours. This was, to us the worst part of our cruise. Generally, with fewer English speaking guests we shared our coach with other nationalities. French one day, Italian the next etc - however all announcements were multi-lingual Bari - Sassi de Matera We were in port for 6 hours but this tour took 5.5 hours. We were rushed with hardly any time for toilet stops. An audio/visual presentation was made in a cave. The tour guide cut in half way through say "got to go". We were given 30 minutes of free time at the end and told to meet "back here at 17:30". At 17:25 the tour guide took us back the coach, as she was in such a hurry, leaving some guests behind and a couple of these must have been in their 80's. Of course we were then delayed whilst she went back to find them... Keffalonia - Caves/Lake/Beach The visit to the beach was to "look at it" from 1000ft up a maintain. The caves and lake were good but very long queues for the lake (1 hour queue) Santorini - Oia and Fira Excellent tour guide. Excursion spoilt by very long wait to use the cable car. Queuing for 1 hour to use it. Worried about making the last tender back to the boat Mykonos- walking tour of Mykonos Waste of money. Tour guide took us on a 1 hour walk around Mykonos. "here's a windmill", "this is a shop", "that's a church". We discovered more in our own time that with him. Katakolon - Olympia We got a coach from Katakolon to Olympia with entrance included but no tour guide. We were disappointed by the short time we had there and also the lack of signage in Olympia telling you what things were. At the end of the cruise we were disappointed to leave. Whilst we didn't participate in many of the activities available time went by quickly - even our last day- at sea. We are now looking forward to our next cruise - but would like to try another company for comparison. Considering all of the negative reviews on Cruise Critic about Costa we were very impressed and they exceeded our expectations. I use an old adage "behavior breeds behavior". Treat the staff with courtesy and respect and they will treat you like royalty. The poor shore excursions and bad mannered, rude fellow travellers has stopped me rating this as 5* Even though we would like to try another cruise line we would not hesitate to book with Costa again.

Exceeded our expectations

Costa Luminosa Cruise Review by skeldergate

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our first cruise. We needed a cruise that fit in with pre-allocated holidays at work and also to discover somewhere new. The Western Mediterranean ports have mostly been visited on other, non cruising holidays, so we wanted the Eastern Mediterranean and chose a cruise from Venice on Costa Luminosa.

Some of the points highlighted in this review may seem trivial to seasoned cruisers but we had 101 questions before our cruise so hopefully this review may help others who are/were in the same situation as ourselves. To anyone like ourselves I would say "don't worry. A lot of things become self explanatory once on board"

There are lots of variables when booking a cruise and I did some hefty research on sites like Cruise Critic. Some of the items we booked were merely a "fluke" like getting a drinks package included.

We booked around 7 months in advance on the Costa website and chose a Premium Balcony cabin. This allowed us to choose the cabin we wanted and we opted for cabin 7260 which was mid-ship on the left hand side and had cabins above and below us to minimize the noise from bars, disco's, engines, theatre and the sundeck. As mentioned this also included the Brindiamo drinks package - more later. Also, by choosing this type of cabin we could specify preferences about meal times and we chose the first sitting (18:45) and specified a table for two in the upstairs dining room.

My wife is on a Gluten Free diet so, a few days after booking, I telephoned Costa in Genoa and told them about the special request. We were advised that they could only guarantee gluten free food if we ate in the main dining room. They advised us not to eat in the buffet for this reason.

We paid our deposit and I made a note to myself and paid the balance about 8 weeks in advance. Whilst the initial booking could be done online we could only pay the balance by telephone.

Approximately 3 weeks before travel we received an email from Costa with boarding forms and luggage labels which we had to print out ourselves.

We traveled from the UK to Venice by train and stayed the night before the cruise in a hotel in Mestre which is a few miles from Venice on the mainland.

Our documentation from Costa said that boarding began at 14:00 so we headed from Mestre to Venice late morning and had a bite to eat. From Santa Lucia railway station in Venice it's a steady 25 minute walk to the cruise terminal. There's also a people mover which costs 1.50 Euro's and would reduce this transit time to about 12 minutes.

Once at the port (at about 14:05) we handed our suitcases over and were given embarkation number 15. We proceeded to a waiting room and discovered that they were processing group number 12. We sat and waited for a short time before they called number 15. There were long queues but we seemed to move quickly. After checking in we had the obligatory pose for the camer-man and headed to the ship. It took exactly 1 hour from arriving at the terminal to getting to our cabin.

The cabin was excellent. Plenty of room. A decent sized en-suite. Balcony with two chairs and a small table. Mini-Bar and a comfy bed. There was a selection of fruit and biscuits for us and a sign saying that they were gluten free (as we had told them). It was my wife's birthday on the day of boarding and there was a birthday card from the captain waiting for her in the cabin. On the bed were our Costa Cards, and some other information.

At this point we discovered that people were allowed on-board from 11:45. So we had been killing time all morning waiting when we could have been on the ship 2-3 hours earlier.

We had read many articles suggest things to do during the first few hours onboard. To put it mildly, we were overwhelmed. I think initially someone had suggested the pool. We didn't get this far until day 3 !

Each day a "Diary de Bordo" is delivered to your cabin. This shows navigation, weather and entertainment information and also information about shore excursions (where to meet and at what time etc).

However, something that we almost missed was the "Welcome meeting" which was done at 15:30 in the Grand Bar Ellectra for English speaking guests. We found this very useful and would strongly suggest that any novice cruisers like ourselves seek this out on the first afternoon.

We were advised that "English Speaking Guests" totaled 440 on this cruise. English speaking guests are those who don't communicate in the main languages used (French / German and Italian but not Russian). So included in this number were Swedish, Norwegian and Brazilian nationalities as well as British, Amercan and Canadians etc. I believe there was also a Russian host on board but ship announcements were not made in Russian.

Whilst I am not privy to exact numbers I would estimate that the cruise consisted of 40% Italian, 25% German, 25% French and 10% split between other nationalities. It was rare to hear any other guest speak English on board.

Most of the ships activities are on decks 2, 3 and 9. It's a beautiful ship. Very clean and well maintained. It was interesting to watch the officers do their inspections and pick up on the tiniest area that wasn't clean enough and tell staff to clean it.

The Costa Card :- in our cabin was a Costa Card. This was our "passport" to the ship for the next week. It opened the cabin door and was used to obtain services on board. It was shown (and scanned) when leaving on shore excursions and likewise when returning to the ship. As our cabin included certain drinks we had to show it whenever ordering a drink. Each bar has a drinks menu. Next to each drink is a colour code representing the various drinks packages. I believe a grey dot represented a drink included in our package. Should we have ordered a drink that was not included in the package we would have been given a receipt and this amount debited to our room.

Drinks on board generally ranged from 3 to 6 Euros. We subsequently discovered that our drinks package would have cost us 27 Euro's per day - that's between 5 and 9 drinks per day to make it worthwhile. We probably had about 5. Drinks that are included in your package convey no surcharge. However, anything not included has a 15% surcharge levied.

Free water is available (by the glass) in the buffet area and pool area at the rear of the ship. Bottled water costs 1.70 Euro's (plus service charge) for 0.5 litres.

One thing worth noting is that we were told that for environmental reasons all drinks are by the glass. When ordering a Pepsi it was poured from a 330ml can into a glass holding 250ml. What happened to the last bit I have no idea but we never saw them "recycle" a drink by pouring a bit from one can and the rest from another.

The main dining seemed to be quieter (and smaller) on deck 3 rather than deck 2. Our waiter said the later sitting was the busiest. We found the food the be excellent. Yes, there is an Italian theme but also plenty of choices that are not just pasta. Each evening my wife was given a special "Gluten Free" menu which generally contain choices not available on the standard menu.

Our waiter was slightly dour on the first day and we recalled some bad reviews with trepidation. However, we joked with him, talked to him and, by the end of the cruise felt that he was one of our best friends. A truly warm, genuine person.

The cabin steward was also a very kind, warm person. Always smiling and kept the cabin in immaculate condition. When we got to the cabin on the first afternoon we could choose the time that would suit us best for it to be cleaned. We opted for the afternoon/evening as we would normally be having dinner. We had a very slight problem with a light not working and the cabin steward immediately stopped everything he was doing to fix it (it transpires that a previous guest had unplugged it)

The bar staff were also great. Often remembering who arrived for drinks in what order and dealing with 3 people at once.

On our subsequent feedback questionnaire to Costa we rated the ships officers quite badly as they hardly spoke and were miserable. However, without exception, the "normal" staff were incredibly attentive and cheerful. If you engage with them you would be treat like royalty. I received a free drink at the bar one day because, he said, " I had made him smile". Also, I had a daily ritual with one of the chefs at breakfast. Early in the cruise she was singing "You are my sunshine" as it was a beautiful sunny day. As the week progressed I asked her about the song of the day. As she normally was cooking omelets we had songs like "How do you like you eggs in the morning" and "Smile" though we changed the words a little from "Smile though your heart is aching" to "Smile though your eggs are breaking".

Even though my wife was on a Gluten free diet we did use the buffet area on more than one occasion. My wife has an intolerance to wheat but if we are sensible we can work out what foods are likely to contain this substance.

By 8am the buffet was busy. As early risers we were there at 7-7.30 and it was almsot deserted.

The buffet restaurant opened about 11.30 for lunch. Usually at this time (until about midday) it wasn't that busy. However by 12:30 people were hunting for tables. There are four main serving areas. However there may be small variation with what's available at each one. For example, one may have carrots whilst another one may have the carrots swapped for Broccoli. Unless you are really picky and desperate there is certainly no need to visit more than one serving station.

We only visited the buffet once in the evening and this was at 8pm and found it to be quiet.

There is some repetition of food and some dishes (potato wedges appeared every night)

In the main dining room you have an allocated table for evening meal but you are shown to a seat at Breakfast and Lunch which could be anywhere and generally only on deck 2 (the upstairs restaurant is only open on an evening). We had breakfast in the main dining room once and was bitterly disappointed. There is a small buffet area and you can also order one of a themed breakfast - so they had an American breakast, an English breakfast a Norwegian brekfast etc. We found, on the English breakfast that the bacon was like charcoal and the egg very "snotty".

However for lunch and evening meal the food was spectacular. The portions are not huge but the menu is based on having 4 or 5 courses. We really enjoyed our meals and found them to well presented and very tasty.

Dress code was varied. Each night there was a theme. Red & Black night / White night / Mask night. I would estimate that only 10% of guests actually took heed of this. People were having meals in shorts and t-shirts - even on gala night.

The theatre has two showings. (I believe) at 19:30 if you have a late meal and 21:30 if you have an early sitting for dinner. Each show lasts 35-40 minutes. The first night was a magician who was "ok". Other nights we thoroughly enjoyed each show. One reviewer said "slapstick". We would vehemently disagree.

Each announcement was made in Italian, French, German and English. Some people have said this was tedious. However we are an English couple sailing from Italy to the Greek islands. How lucky were we that they even took the time to speak English ? In our opinion - very ! Every member of staff was fluent in all the aforementioned languages. Also, we found it nice to be part of the minority. If, as an English couple, we wanted to be surrounded by English speaking people and visit a destination where everyone spoke English then we could have gone to Skegness. It was an eye-opener in our last port as a cruise ship with predominantly English speaking guests was also in port. Suddenly everywhere in town were British people and it spoilt what I would describe as the "exclusivity".

We found the majority of other passengers to be miserable and very bad mannered. The staff would pass you and say "hello, Good morning". You would have been lucky to get a scowl from other guests. At the bar I would say " a cappuccino please". Many, many times I heard other nationalities just say "expresso" or "pepsi". No manners ! Needless to say that their bad manners persisted on shore excursions and meal times.

We booked all of our shore excursions through Costa as we were unsure what would happen with self booked tours. This was, to us the worst part of our cruise. Generally, with fewer English speaking guests we shared our coach with other nationalities. French one day, Italian the next etc - however all announcements were multi-lingual

Bari - Sassi de Matera

We were in port for 6 hours but this tour took 5.5 hours. We were rushed with hardly any time for toilet stops. An audio/visual presentation was made in a cave. The tour guide cut in half way through say "got to go". We were given 30 minutes of free time at the end and told to meet "back here at 17:30". At 17:25 the tour guide took us back the coach, as she was in such a hurry, leaving some guests behind and a couple of these must have been in their 80's. Of course we were then delayed whilst she went back to find them...

Keffalonia - Caves/Lake/Beach

The visit to the beach was to "look at it" from 1000ft up a maintain. The caves and lake were good but very long queues for the lake (1 hour queue)

Santorini - Oia and Fira

Excellent tour guide. Excursion spoilt by very long wait to use the cable car. Queuing for 1 hour to use it. Worried about making the last tender back to the boat

Mykonos- walking tour of Mykonos

Waste of money. Tour guide took us on a 1 hour walk around Mykonos. "here's a windmill", "this is a shop", "that's a church". We discovered more in our own time that with him.

Katakolon - Olympia

We got a coach from Katakolon to Olympia with entrance included but no tour guide. We were disappointed by the short time we had there and also the lack of signage in Olympia telling you what things were.

At the end of the cruise we were disappointed to leave. Whilst we didn't participate in many of the activities available time went by quickly - even our last day- at sea.

We are now looking forward to our next cruise - but would like to try another company for comparison.

Considering all of the negative reviews on Cruise Critic about Costa we were very impressed and they exceeded our expectations. I use an old adage "behavior breeds behavior". Treat the staff with courtesy and respect and they will treat you like royalty.

The poor shore excursions and bad mannered, rude fellow travellers has stopped me rating this as 5*

Even though we would like to try another cruise line we would not hesitate to book with Costa again.
skeldergate’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Balcony Premium
Cabin BP 7260
We chose cabin 7260 - a Premium Cabin with balcony. Perfect location and very quiet
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