I have been absent from the Blogosphere for several weeks as I have been cruising and the internet is super expensive when you’re at sea. I began the story of our adventure here
We are not seasoned cruisers but a long cruise was on our bucket list and it was a toss up which cruise line to choose. Costa won because of its interesting itinerary starting at Port Louis, Mauritius and ending in Venice, Italy. Along the way we would stop in at Seychelles, Oman, Israel, Jordan, Cyprus, Crete. Santorini, Olympia, Corfu and Croatia. I will not bore my readers with all the details of every stop but would like to share with you the highlights of cruising.
The Costa Victoria is a 14-deck ship with 964 cabins. It takes between 1928 and 2314 passengers and has a crew of 820. We were on deck 4 in a cabin with a porthole and sea view. It was spacious and comfortable and we called it home for the 28 days!
Now some people on the ship informed us that the accommodation was not up to the standard of other cruise lines. This might be true but then Costa is not that expensive and as we are used to sleeping in a caravan we found the cabin totally luxurious!
The Costa Victoria is small compared to some other ships. She is also old having being built in 1996. She has had a refurbish but we loved the old style. A week after disembarking from this lovely old lady we went on another cruise and found the modern ship too glitzy, too big and too noisy – but more about that in a future post.
Cruises ships are notorious for being disorganised about embarking. At first it looked that way when we arrived at Port Louis but in fact we waited no more than 20 minutes before being processed and getting on board!
If you decide to do a cruise be prepared for queues, pushing and rude people. That is the downside – but on the whole most people were well-behaved! This might be because on this particular cruise most of the passengers were over 60. There were a few young families but not more that 12 children aged between 2 and 15.
Everybody tells you about the food on cruise ships and Costa Victoria certainly is up there with the best where catering is concerned. The meals were awesome. In spite of this I heard a number of people complaining and I wonder what they were used to. No we were not served Lobster or Caviar but at the formal restaurants you had an amazing choice and if you so desired could order 6 courses! The waiters were awesome and we were waited on attentively by a very gentle mannered Talekar. We were surprised when on the last night of the cruise he danced with each of the ladies at our table!
Each evening there was a dress code – either casual, gala, red and back, black and white, Arabian, Italian etc. Most people joined in the fun but it was not compulsory.
One could also choose to dine at the buffet on Deck 11. It offered a variety of choice and was a more casual option of dining. We used the buffet at lunch time and for most breakfasts. All the food was well prepared and very tasty – and there was plenty of it. However, we were somewhat shocked to see how wasteful some passengers were. They would pile their plates and then leave half of it in spite of the many signs that suggested – taste don’t waste!
Every day there were delicious treats on offer for morning and afternoon tea too. There is no way one could go hungry on a cruise such as this.
Life on board was awesome. During the first half of the cruise it was summer and we spent a great deal of time around the pool. It was here that many of organised activities took place too. Every morning (unless it was a shore day) our cruise director, Daniela, lead a health walk. Daniela has a huge personality and made the walks so much fun. As we walked around the deck doing our arm exercises at the same time she would have a brief word with passengers lounging in the sun – always in their own language – she could speak 5! There were pool aerobic classes, stretch classes and dance classes too. Then of course there were the deck games which were fun to participate in and to watch.
Throughout the day on sea days and shore days there were activities you could join. There were craft classes, cultural quizzes, Bingo etc. There was a spa and a gym on board but the latter was very small. I didn’t bother to use it as I preferred to go to the pool exercise classes and to do the walking deck circuit.
The evening entertainment was fantastic. Each evening there were two shows – one for those who had an early dinner seating and one for those who dined later. There were acrobatic shows, song and dance shows, magic shows and all by highly talented people. We were hugely impressed.
There were also places where one could go to dance from quiet bars to noisy discos. Our favourite was the Concorde Bar.
At every port there were a number of excursions (to your own account) that you could go on. They were expensive but well worth it. If you go with a ship organised tour you are guaranteed that the ship won’t sail without you. But it is also perfectly possible to arrange your own shore excursions. We opted to do the organised ones but chose the cheapest on offer!
Cruising is certainly a relaxing way of having a holiday. Once you have settled in there is no fuss about packing up and moving on to the next place. All meals and entertainment are included in the very reasonable cruise price. There are optional extras but you never need to use cash or your credit card. Instead you are given a cruise card and this is linked to your credit car or you can place a cash deposit against it. Any outstanding costs are paid at the end of the cruise. Drinks are extra – except breakfast juice, tea and coffee. There is also water on tap – you need to fill your water bottle from a glass to prevent contamination. Drinks packages are available and are well worth taking. We had Pranzo and Cena which gave you a glass of wine or beer with lunch or dinner but for ten euros a day extra we upgraded to Brindiamo which gave you limitless drinks including tea and good coffee so long as the drink did not cost more that nine euros. It covered our wine, beer, gin and tonics, soft drinks, cappuccinos etc.
Staff are very friendly and attentive on Costa Victoria but perhaps there are just not enough in attendance at the various bars and pool deck. However, this did not worry us – so what if you have to wait a while to receive your order – you’re on holiday and there’s no rush to do anything.
Hopefully I’ve given enough of an introduction to cruising here. Feel free to ask questions in the comments – I will do my best to answer.
More about our adventure in posts to follow.