My husband and I selected this 5-day cruise from Savona to Venice for its good value price and the ports of call. We chose the best deck - 8 - balcony cabin 8101 on the port side. Port side was the better side for views in all ports but the better choice of cabin would have been amidships - around 8166. In fact the two lower decks would have been equally good.
A reasonable pre-cruise hotel is Hotel Coccodrillo in Varazze, half an hour from the port, they supply taxi to cruise port for 10 euros each. We arrived at Savona cruise port at 11.30 a.m. for an advertised 1.00 p.m. check-in. On delivering baggage to handler, we were given a number - 13 - the number of our group to be called! The Costa cruise terminal building is spacious (even for 2,000 passengers), airy and modern with lots of light. There is a restaurant/bar area with efficient counter service, though expensive. Check-in did begin at 1.00 and group boarding according to number was smooth - about 20 minutes between each number, so we boarded at 2.45 p.m. Be warned, all non-EU passengers must surrender their passports to the ship until the end of the trip - a photocopy is given to passenger for re-boarding at each port.
Cabin was spacious and closet space better than on other cruises - one hanging closet each and a shelf closet. Bathroom also quite adequate and cabin steward was extremely pleasant - we received bucket of ice on request each evening, as morning's supply had melted. Balcony adequate for two chairs and table. Television stations in English were very limited.
The number of English-speaking passengers was small - about 200 out of a total of 2,000 - although we were seated - second seating, with an American and an English couple at an 8 seater table. Second seating was nominally at 9.15 p.m. - a bit later than the normal 8.30 p.m. on other cruises that we have taken - and in fact there was a huge queue to get into the dining room each evening at this time, so it was really a 9.30 entry. We had two waiters to our table, but though very willing and pleasant, they seemed to have too many people to serve for optimum service time. Breakfast buffet was satisfactory, except for the plastic glasses and coffee mugs. Served breakfast in the dining room was very slow, too many people.
first port of call - due at noon, we were able to disembark at 11.45 a.m. and, as we had been there before, we took a ferry, right beside the cruise port at Molo Beverello, to Capri, arriving 50 minutes later. (We recommend taking a taxi to Anacapri and then the chairlift to the top of Monte Solare) Ferries and hydrofoils also leave from Molo Beverello to Sorrento. Our tablemates who took the ship's Pompeii tour were very impressed, but those who took the ship's special train to Sorrento were less so.
new cruise terminal being built - good taxi dispatch arrangement before you leave the terminal - there is a fixed list of tariffs for certain tours offered by taxi, and tickets are sold and issued there. You then give the ticket to the first taxi in line outside - we shared a two-hour taxi ride with another couple and went to the old capital of Mdina which was well worth a visit, and after visiting a few craft shops we were dropped back at the city of Valletta gates to explore on our own there.
chaotic arrangements on the ship for disembarking, as they were issuing free (for 2,000 people!)passes for two shuttle buses into town - one to the terminal building which is a 15 minute walk from the ship, and another into town. The ticket system was quite unnecessary, one could just have walked off the ship and taken the first shuttle - first come first served. The ship's newsletter also informed that it was a 40 minute drive into town - quite incorrect - it was more like a forty minute walk. Result was we walked to the terminal and took a shuttle back to the ship, thus missing Corfu town.
tickets were issued for the tenders to go ashore - luckily this was better arranged. I picked up two tickets for tender number 5 after breakfast, went back to the cabin and returned to hear number 5 called about a half hour after picking up the tickets. This was most people's favourite port - lovely small walled city - we walked the walls, lots of nice shops, unspoilt by signs, very friendly English-speaking tourist-oriented people, could have spent longer here.
one highlight of the trip was sailing into Venice on a Sunday morning at 7.00 a.m. when all was quiet, fantastic view of St. Mark's Square before the crowds. Disembarkation fairly slow but organized - bus from ship to Piazzale Roma leaves you at point to take vaporetto into Venice proper. Later that evening we went to a point on the same outer canal to watch the Costa Mediterranea depart at 6.00 p.m, dwarfing everything around.
Overall, we had good value for money and visited interesting ports. The food and service were satisfactory but not wonderful. More suited to a Mediterranean clientele than to English-speaking.