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Carol Norman

Age: 49


Number of Cruises: 9

Cruise Line: Costa

Ship: Costa Fortuna

Sailing Date: May 13thth, 2007

Itinerary: Western Mediterranean

Costa Cruise Lines
Costa Fortuna Cruise Review
Western Mediterranean

Carol Norman

This was probably the best cruise we've ever taken.  There are several cruise lines that cover the Western Med, but we chose Costa because it is decidedly non-American. It was important for us to give our nephew the full "foreign" experience on his first trip to Europe.  With less than 10% Americans on board, he got the whole package of Italian, French, Spanish and German speaking guests. 

We've cruised most major lines and were very impressed, on every level, with Costa.  Every employee speaks English so there is never a problem communicating with staff. 

The food in the dining room was perfectly prepared every time. If you're looking for large T-bone steaks and baked potatoes, look elsewhere.  The food on board is international, exciting and delicious. 

As far a cleanliness is concerned, the ship was immaculate from top to bottom.  It was a rare event to see a finger print on glass or a piece of paper on the floor.  Our room steward came in five times a day (always when we were out) and kept our room spotless with fresh towels continually re-supplied. 

The ship is very interesting if you like nautical history.  Each public room has a different theme from classic ships of the past.  Also there are large models of classic ships located throughout.  

There are several pools and Jacuzzis on board, however, the temperature of the Jacuzzis was lukewarm and not very satisfying if you like it hot.  Also, children are not allowed in certain Jacuzzis but we found that this rule was universally ignored by guests and staff.   So most of the time we skipped it because there were kids playing in them like they were in a bath tub. 

The state-of-the-art health and fitness center was well equipped and we loved looking out at the sea while getting our exercise.  There is an elevated Jacuzzi inside the center that is quite impressive and since the center is off limits to children, it was a great escape.  Not that the ship was overrun with kids, mind you, it’s just that they gravitate to the water activities. 

The entertainment on board was pretty amateurish on most evenings. It graduated to proper “cruise” level entertainment only two evenings during our trip: formal night and the last night of the cruise.  Even then, it wasn’t quite up to the standards of other lines, but the talent worked hard at it and we were fairly impressed.  

We didn’t take any cruise excursions as we prefer to have our own adventures without the cost and crowds of excursions.  However, our tablemates took the excursions everyday and we listened closely to their comments.  While they loved the sites they were very frustrated by the language problem.  Since the English speaking guests were in a minority, they had to be combined with Italian speaking guests in order to fill up a tour bus.  As a result, the tour guide spoke both languages. While this wasn’t an issue, the problem was that whenever the guide was speaking English, the Italians would  commence conversing making it very difficult for the English speaking guests to hear any information.  So our tablemates felt as though they didn’t get their money’s worth. 

There were six ports of call and we liked all but Tunis, Tunisia.  We found the local men, who hung out in droves, intimidating.  We hired a local guide and he was an exceptional man, so we were fortunate.  Except for the mosque and the hilltop cathedral, we found the architecture very boring.  

The two ports in Spain (Palma de Mallorca and Barcelona) were fabulous. These should not be missed. They are clean and friendly cities. The public transportation is excellent and easy to access directly from the ship for those who prefer to explore on their own.  Be sure to visit the shopping district just off the port in Barcelona.  It is tree and brick lined street and no traffic is allowed.  The street entertainers are a hoot.

Palermo, Sicily is a busy and congested Italian city with lots of cars careening around.  Shopping was good with lots of nooks and crannies in the city to find fish markets with lots of character.  The historical sites are endless and around every corner.  We enjoyed Palermo much more than Naples.  Naples doesn’t have much to offer except Pompeii and Capri.  Otherwise, it’s a congested, dirty port city. 

Marseilles was lovely with the main attraction being the Vieux Porte (Old Port).  For the independent explorer, Costa provided bus transport directly to the port for only 5 Euros per person.  There are dozens of small streets and squares around the port that have outdoor cafes and shopping, although the shopping was quite expensive. 

Up the hill from the Vieux Porte is a Notre Dame and if you’re not up for the hike up the hill, there is a neat little tourist train that will take you up for a nominal fee.  The view of the Mediterranean from up there is just incredible and should not be missed.

Overall the cruise exceeded our expectations and we would certainly book with Costa again.  This cruise is a great way to get a taste of several of the romance countries without having to pack and unpack every other day.  We loved waking up every morning to a new city with lots of exciting things to see and do.  

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