Year Started: 1854
Ships in Fleet: 11
Summary: A Europe-based mainstream cruise line owned by Carnival. Ships are structurally identical to Carnival. Recommended for European cruisers who do not speak English - good for bargains in the Caribbean.
Regions:Middle East, The Orient
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Middle East
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, World
Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.
Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Western Mediterranean, Middle East, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic
Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.
Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic
Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.
Regions:Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Children`s Programs. Families.
Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe
Good for: Group. Families.
Good for: Group. Singles. Families.
I went on a pre-holiday cruise on Costa. It was a slightly different experience than on the major U.S. cruise lines, but overall a good value for the money.
Embarkation We arrived late at the ship, so we walked right on board. Staff was helpful and friendly.
The Ship The Mediterranea is very attractive, designed by the same man who did the Carnival Legend, and I noticed how similar the two ships are. I was able to easily find my way around as the layout was almost exactly the same. The only hard part for me was trying to remember the names of the lounges and restaurants, because they are Italian. The huge Christmas tree in the Atrium made it feel more festive.
Pools and Hot Tubs Pools were salt water, but very nice and never too crowded. The middle pool is the most crowded because they have activities there by day, and the band plays. Still, you can find a lounge chair on Deck 10 -- just walk down the stairs and you're at the pool. Towels are placed all over the lido deck, so you just grab what you need.The hot tubs are never hot enough for me on cruise ships; they should call them bubble baths -- lukewarm water with a nice jet massage. There is a water slide; read your newsletter or ask for the times when it's open. It's a lot of fun for adults and kiddies.
Children I don't have any children, but my cabin mate told me she overheard parents raving about how good the children's programs are on Costa. I can tell you I hardly saw any kids on the ship, and the ones I did see were well behaved.This time of year was good for adults who don't want a lot of children running around, because most kids were in school. The Costa staff seems excellent with kids; they put the little ones on stage with the band and let them play the maracas or teach them to play steel drums -- too cute!
The Lifeboat Drill This was extremely long, since the staff had to recite everything in half a dozen languages.
My Cabin The cabins are clean and well kept. I slept like a baby on the firm mattress and I swear my back never felt better. Others complained the mattresses are too firm, but you can ask for an extra mattress pad (egg-crate style, I heard).
The Staff The staffers are more quiet and unassuming than on other cruise lines; they are friendly, but more in the background just doing their jobs. Perhaps they are not as interactive with the customers as other cruise lines, but they are polite and well mannered. I think this is Costa's European style. Say bongiorno ("good morning") and you will be greeted with a big smile..
The Food I really enjoyed the food in the dining room. The soups were good. Different pastas were offered for dinner each day. They had chicken, fish, pork, beef, shellfish and vegetarian entrees. My favorite was a pork dish (I wish I remembered the name). The mahi-mahi was also good. There was a lamb dish that was heavenly! I was pleasantly surprised with the desserts -- good variety. The pear tart is not to be missed; nor is the gelato they had in the buffet area on certain days only.
As for the buffet area, my only complaint is that they only serve breakfast and lunch with a choice of different food stations; during dinner hours, all they had was pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers and Mexican. The pizza was tasty but I would like more food choices.
Activities Costa has many activities to choose from, but the line dance classes are a blast! Just jump in and try to follow the crowd. I was shy and waited until the last day to join in -- big mistake; I had a ball and a good workout to boot! They also had cooking lessons, bocce ball, arts and crafts. The horse races were fun to watch. The "sexy legs" competition for men was so funny! There is no reason to be bored on this active ship -- so much activity, too little time!
Entertainment Costa falls a bit behind some of the other lines, but I was still entertained. The bands were decent. The Mellow Calypso band by the pool did Bob Marley standards, etc. An Italian Elvis singer was quite enjoyable. I missed the Time Machine show that I heard later was the best of the cruise. They had a female Latin singer in one of the lounges -- she was excellent! The band that plays outside the disco is quite good also. I watched the staff talent show, which was impressive as the staff members who are not professional singers or dancer perform a variety of acts. They did dances from different countries.
Shore Excursions In San Juan I did the city tour -- skip it and take a cab to Fort Cristobal; we were there just 20 minutes, friends who took a cab spent three hours wandering around at their leisure. Then go downtown to Old San Juan and walk around the shops. You can walk back to the cruise ship from Old San Juan. The locals speak English. It's a beautiful and safe port. We got directions from locals and everyone was nice. We went to Senior Frog's at night to see a good rock and roll cover band -- a loud, rowdy spring break-type bar. If you want to cut loose this is the place, but older folks might prefer one of the classy bistros to sip wine and sit at a sidewalk table. There are lots of choices, all close to the ship.
In St. Thomas, I did a private tour here so I can't comment on the ship's excursions. It is a beautiful place!
At Catalina Island/Casa de Campo, I was going to tour Santa Domingo after viewing impressive photos on the Internet of this, the oldest city in the Americas. Columbus is buried here. But being exhausted from three ports in a row, I decided not to take this nine-hour tour, so I changed my excursion to the Amphibious Vehicle on the Chavon River. This sounds like an historic tour, but it's a party boat -- rum punch and beer served at 8 a.m. The bathroom on the boat was the most rustic thing I've ever used; I had to take a photo of it to show my family. Many did not use it, and beware it's a very long ride to Altos De Chavon -- especially if you drank some beer or rum! Altos De Chavon, the Artists' Village, is lovely and very picturesque. I would not recommend going on your own in the Dominican Republic -- take a ship tour or do the free beach day on Catalina Island. I heard the Kandella show at night was very good.
Nassau is a great port; I've been here before so I did my own thing here, no ship tour. I haven't been here since 1987, so I was pleased to see how much the island has changed -- no more drug dealers or panhandlers; it was clean, safe, and commercialized. There are lots of high-end jewelry stores. The Straw Market is now indoors. The locals were very helpful with directions. I even took a city bus and felt very safe, they take great care of the tourists here.
So what was the best part of Costa for me?
The Toga Party and Guest Talent show! It's what I will always remember... Do bring some gold ribbons or braids to wrap around your toga; wear tons of jewelry and make yourself a leaf headband. Caesar and his entourage come to dinner, but the fun starts at the talent show. Don't change out of your toga after dinner -- just go right to the theater still dressed. The cruise guests perform and the audience votes "thumbs up" to send the good performers to the buffet, or "thumbs down" to send the bad ones to the lions! I don't want to spoil all the fun for you by telling you everything, but it's a blast!
Overall, it's a slightly different cruise experience, but I'd say have an open mind and give it a try.
We started planning this cruise just six weeks prior to the sailing date. Having looked at two other alternatives, Costa Mediterranea and MSC Armonia, we opted for the Costa Classica, for which we got the best deal. The itinerary of the Armonia was just as interesting, but for the same price as two inside cabins on that ship, we got two outside cabins on the Classica. We already knew the Armonia since we had sailed her two years earlier when it was operating under another name. This was our ninth voyage (with the kids) since we started cruising in 1997. The itinerary was Venice, Ancona (Italy), sea day, Athens, Crete, Corfu, Dubrovnik and back to Venice. We were initially scheduled to sail as a group of six – me and my wife, our daughter of 13, sons 12 and 10, and grandma. Given that the Classica does not have quads as outside cabins, we had booked two triples. Three days before sailing, grandma had a nasty bicycle accident and had to have emergency surgery on her knee, so we left without her.
Just two days before sailing, the cruise agent informedme of a change of cabin numbers. When we booked, we had obtained two adjacent cabins. Now that grandma did not sail with us, the new assignments had the boys in one cabin on starboard side and the rest of us on port side. This was a worry to me as the Costa Classica had a fire a few weeks earlier on the same deck as ours, and I already visions of a similar situation with two boys, possibly in the middle of the night having to evacuate and getting into a state of panic.
We took the night train from Geneva, Switzerland (our home town) to Venice. It went smoothly, and upon arrival we had a nice Sunday morning walking tour of the beautiful Italian city. Costa arranges for a luggage service in the main train station for a small charge, and you do not see your luggage again until it is in your cabin. We got to the terminal around noon and thanks to our Costa club membership, we got to board immediately. When on board we went to reception and explained about the cabin issue. Note was taken of our request and we were told to come back once at sea.We headed to the buffet and got to know the ship quite well between 1 and 5 in the afternoon, the time when we got our luggage. We unpacked our bags but the boys kept their bags packed, hoping some miracle would solve our cabin issue. We went to speak to the hotel manager, Sarah, who told us the ship was full and that the cabin problem had occurred because of the reduced capacity following the fire. She showed us a suite that could accommodate all five of us, but she had to put the request to Costa’s main office in Genoa for approval. So, the first night our cabins were not switched. The next day the hotel manager called to tell us Costa’s main office had found two adjacent cabins on the same deck. We accepted and got cabins 6060 and 6062.
We had sailed previously with Costa (Allegra, Victoria, Riviera and Fortuna) and found this 14-year-old ship to be in excellent shape. It takes around 1,500 passengers (55,000 GRT). There was a refurbishment in 2003 and this showed. The ship has an overall sober decor and a lot of marble combined with soft colors. It is definitely a change from the Costa Fortuna.
The layout is, however, based on Carnival Fantasy class ships or Celebrity Horizon class, meaning the cabins are all in the lower part of the ship and the main decks are in the upper part. I do not like this lay out for several reasons. One is that you have to climb a lot of stories before getting to the main decks, whereas on ships like the Costa Victoria or Fortuna cabins are located between the lounges and restaurants on lower decks and the buffet and pool areas on the higher decks -- always close to everything. Another reason is that the tenders are placed in front of the windows of the lounges and buffet area, blocking the views.
The buffet area on Deck 10 has a wonderful outdoor terrace aft. But given the season, the outside temperatures were rather low (50s and 60s Fahrenheit), so when we were sailing, sitting there was a challenge. The buffet lines were extremely well organized and we never had a wait. Choice was good and food was tasteful. This is the first time I have seen on a ship a barbecue (every lunch, even if rainy) with real charcoal. This seems like a definite plus. Also the teak wood in the buffet area adds a nice touch to this extremely dark and enclosed room with views blocked by the life boats.
The restaurant on Deck 8 has two sittings. We were in the first and shared an eight-person table with two couples, meaning we were nine at the table and a bit squeezed. We did not want to eat late so we had no alternative. Our table mates were nice people. The restaurant is extremely noisy and service was sometimes speedy. We were well cared for by our waiter, but the assistant could do better. Costa sells cards good for 20 sodas for the children, at an advantageous price (about 40 euros). They also sell packages for wine (six bottles, red and white) and mineral water (10 bottles). The layout of the restaurant is not optimal (square) and I would not call it my favorite restaurant at sea. There is no specialty restaurant.
The lounges are nice, especially the ballroom lounge aft on Deck 9; unfortunately you have to walk through the casino (not recommended for children). On Deck 9 you can walk outside under the lifeboats (from the aft of the ship to almost the front), a very unappealing and boring “walkway”. Other ships would typically have this on a lower deck, with a nice teak wooden pathway.
There are many little lounges or rooms (card room, conference rooms) where you can sit and enjoy the inside of the ship; this is because the windows are narrow and do not offer good viewing opportunities.
The cabins are very spacious, offering many drawers and a nicely sized bathroom with real teak wooden floor. Only the sound proofing is not up to date and noises from neighbors and the corridor can be disturbing. It was definitely one of the nicest cabins we had been in (together with those of the Fortuna).
The entertainment was a disappointment except for two major productions. Also the music in the lounges was sometimes not up to what one would expect. But all in all we had a nice time. Bar service is efficient without being pushy.
We did not take any organized tours since we had already been in some of the ports. Ancona (whole day) was a port where passengers from mid and southern Italy could embark or disembark. It is not a very big town and has some nice viewpoints as it is slightly uphill. We just walked from the ship into town (2 minutes).
For Athens (12 to 7 p.m.), the ship docks in Piraeus; we took a taxi to visit Athens’ Acropolis and did some shopping. We paid 25 euro one way (with taxi-meter) for the 20-minute ride.
In Crete (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) we got into a taxi, and as we were driving towards the port exit we negotiated for the driver to take us to Knossos, an ancient palace some 10 km from the port. During hard discussions the driver decreased the offer from 100 euros to 80, but we still found it too much and just got out at the port exit traffic lights. He was furious but we found that he was excessively high-priced. Our assumption was confirmed when we walked to the bus station (3 minutes walk) and saw a notice board with taxi fares -- Knossos was 7 euros! We took the taxi and saved quite a bit of money.
In Corfu (noon to 6 p.m.), the ship was docked at a 25 minute walk from the city center, but we had already booked a bus transfer into town. We visited at own pace and found it a very interesting experience. Corfu has some nice narrow streets full of shops. We walked back to the ship.
Final port of call was Dubrovnik (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.), where we had to tender into the port. There were about six ships in Dubrovnik and it was raining. The dock for the tenders is about 5 miles from the old city center, and we took the shuttle bus (5 euros). We toured on the outer parts of the city walls and got a good impression of the town that way. After that we also walked in the main street but there was no time left to explore the little streets. The time that Costa allows there is a bit too short, especially with the tender ride and wait, etc. We have already planned to revisit it next summer on board the new MSC Musica.
We got back to Venice the next morning and had plenty of time before our train departed (1 p.m.), so we stayed on the ship until the last passengers had debarked.
By the time we left the ship, the luggage in the terminal was cleared. A shuttle bus took us back to the center of Venice and we took one of those bus-boats to the train station. The trip back home was uneventful.
All in all it was another nice cruise. I would not sail the ship again, not only because there are plenty of other ships out there but because of the ship and restaurant layout. If it offered an extremely interesting itinerary, I might consider it. Service was in any case very good.
Our next cruises are already scheduled with MSC Musica to the Eastern Mediterranean early July 2006 and MSC Lirica to the Norwegian fjords late August 2006. We have never been on board MSC ships, but they seem very well appointed and have extremely good deals for families with kids.
The cruise ship is very large (about 2,600 passengers, with all the amenities of a large ship. This being an inland sea (Mediterrean)the waters are very calm. Embarkment and Disembarkment were very well. The itinerary is excellent for a mid-priced cruise (we visited Bari, Italy, four greek islands (Santorini,Mykonos, Olympia and Rhodes) and Dubrovnik (Croatia). Unfortunately thats all I can say positive about the experience.....ideally this cruise would be for an italian (hetero)couple in their late 40's. Thats about all I would market this cruise for.
1. Everything on board the ship is geared to italians and things italian. Announcements on board the ship were mostly unintelligble in five languages (which is fine). However, the food was terrible. All italian, all the time, for every meal!!! You also have to pay for water, coffee, tea, etc (except for breakfast). I like pasta, just not for every meal.The midnight buffet was served with lunch buffet items - read stale for example - with NO water or drinks. They had you buy a juice cocktail for 4.75E. Too much nickle and diming!!
The entertainment lacked spontaniety being that announcements were in five languages. However the BESTshow was the crew who performed for us with selected songs and dances from their countries..that was touching and the audience responded very favorably.
Shore excursions and time on land were very short. About 5 hours in each port. Bear that in mind since it is difficult to get too much done. Italian organization is an oxymoron...it doesnt exist. On Bari, the shops close for 'siesta' from 12pm to 4pm. The ship docked at 12pm and left at 5pm-figure that one out!!
My recommendation is that Costa Cruises should not market to the American Market.
Let me first start by telling everyone that is planning this trip =>> Make sure that your connecting flights from US to Savona or any other connecting city is at least a few hours apart. Mine was only 35 min and I missed it because we spent 45 min on the runway in New York's JFK airport due to traffic.
Please take a small carry on with all the necessary toiletries and 2-3 days worth of underwear/clothing change in case they lose your luggage. Mine was lost due the AlItalia's negligence and I did not get it until Barcelona (6 days later). The lost luggage assistance is very poor (no proper tel numbers or contacts on board or on land) and there is nothing to buy on board to help.
Costa Cruises do not offer anything except for a small survival kit (toothpaste, toothbrush and shampoo). Laundry is free, but what do you wear while they are washing it?
The Carnival corp. has purchased Costa Cruises and you can feel it right away. The food is very average and the service is just ok.
The Costa Fortuna ship itself is big andnice, however the décor is dizzying. Typical of Carnival's luck of taste and limit.
The cabin #9205 (suites class S) on the 9th deck is very nice, and not expensive if 3 people are sharing it. It is spacious and very clean.
Early sitting dinner starts at 7-7:30PM and does not end till 9PM. Late sitting dinner is too late starts at 9:30PM.
The crowd is mostly middle class Italians, French and Spanish, only a few Americans. Everyone pushes into elevators and there is no consideration for space or people. Very strange behaviors regarding other passengers, children are everywhere, even if it's specified that it be for adults only.
Smoking is allowed everywhere except for the theater. There are non-smoking sections, but the air-conditioning is not working at all and it is very hot and stuffy everywhere.
The cruises excursions are nice and worth the money, not the dinner and show, but the history and the city's sight seeing tours.
The nightly shows are very primitive and uninteresting.
The music in all lounges is very nice and there is lots of dancing going on everywhere.
I do not recommend any Carnival cruises here in USA or Europe, very poor standards even for the money.
We traveled the beautiful Mediterranean on the Costa Fortuna in July, 2005.
Embarkation was like other cruise lines. Hurry up and wait but manageable. Our suitcases were already in our cabin when we got on the ship! That was great!
Cabins are like other cruise lines. We had two balcony cabins (6330 and 6334). Good sized rooms with nice sized balcony. Two deck chairs and table. The only problem was it was located over the grand bar room which had loud events on every night until 2:30 a.m. Very annoying and disturbing. Glad I had my ear plugs. Room steward was good. Didn't see him much but rooms were well taken care of. Royal Caribbean line has room stewards that make animals out of towels and we even got chocolates on our beds! Much better service with Royal Caribbean. Those extra touches are nice!
If you are a smoker, than this cruise will suit you fine. Smoking apparently was restricted to certain areas on the ship, however we saw many people smoking in elevators, hallways, outside the dining rooms and bathrooms. By the end of the week, my throat was sore and myeyes were burning due to all the smoke. Sorry to offend any smokers, but it was difficult and unpleasant to endure.
Announcements were heard in four or five different languages which was annoying in the end. It took a long time to get through all the languages.
Food on the Fortuna was mediocre at best. I did not have a truly hot meal the whole week. Entrees arrived sporatically with half the table almost finished their meal and half the table having not received their meal yet. Waiters seemed to be on automatic pilot with no personality or desire to get to know our likes and dislikes over the week. Language barriers were a problem with a lot of the staff not speaking the basic english. The chef cannot cook beef properly. It was always overdone and the prawns were like mush. BUT...the desserts were wonderful!
We called room service TWICE one evening with a staff member answering and not understanding what we were saying. On the third call, we said, "COULD YOU PUT US THROUGH TO SOMEONE WHO CAN UNDERSTAND US???".
Entertainment was like other lines. Kind of hokey and high school'ish. Although the caribbean drummers were good!
Kids arcade is located in the casino yet, the ship doesn't allow kids in the casino. It made it hard to control that. Plus the smoking in the casino was dreadful and the kids were all exposed to that.
We were the minority on this ship. Being canadians we were amongst a small group with the majority of passengers being of european descent. I am european born and was shocked to witness the behavior of some of the children on this ship! In the dining room, many children ran around unsupervised, jumping and sliding off window sills, throwing napkins around and just being very annoying and disrespectful. I had heard that there were even children found sleeping on the booths in the buffet at 6:00 a.m. in the morning!! I have two children and I was proud that my kids didn't behave like a lot of these children did. My kids had a few problems with kids in the arcade begging for game tokens and butting in trying to play games they were on.
The buffet area was not clean. Waiters would come and clear a table of dishes and cutlery, but not wipe down and sanitize the table. I saw a child sneeze all over the table and it was not wiped down.
The buffet needs an omelette bar. The omelette chef is located in the main buffet area so if you want an omelette you have to wait in the long line up with all the others that are getting other items of breakfast food.
So, to summarize, this trip was all about the ports as we rode this glorified ferry called the Fortuna to each destination. The ports of Sicily, Majorca, Barcelona, Tunis, Marseille and Naples were stunning and amazing! Truly worth seeing and a trip of a lifetime, but it would have been way better on another cruise line.
We will be sticking to the American cruise lines, as we find the service on the Royal Caribbean to be more personalized, more professional and just better overall.
My family and I recently went on a cruise for my parents' 40th anniversary. We chose Costa cruise lines as we were assured by our travel agent that they were very high end and also we chose them for the itinerary. Overall we rated the experience as being poor to awful for several reasons. The first reason being the food quality and preperation were terrible. For an Italian cruise line we assumed the pasta at least would be good but our Gnocchi appeared to be a frozen and not properly reheated version, all sauces were bland and watery, and the menu showed little imagination. Also, the service of the food was atrocious. The servers appeared to know little to nothing about proper table service or wine service. The butler was hard to locate most of the time and failed to bring several of the items we had ordered when dining in the room. We had purchased three of the grande suites aboard the ship which did not apparently entitle us to any special considerations or attentions. We weren't even afforded priority embarkations.
The accomodations were hardly impressive for suites. The size appearedto be the only thing grande about them. The beds were little more than metal cots with thin matresses on them. I ended up taking many towels from the deck and padding my bed with them to attempt a good nights rest. I am a relatively young person who shouldn't have back problems from sleeping on a different bed than I am used to. The excursion descriptions were misleading and promised sights that were no longer in existance or not accesible. The service throughout the ship was as bad as the dining room service. There were times when I would stand at a bar watching three bartenders chit chat amongst themselves for many minutes before I finally had to reqest attention for a drink. At those times I was the only person at the bar. Not a particularly busy time where one could be overlooked. Also, the adult only pool had children in it at all times with no enforcement. When several people finally complained, the deck steward merely shrugged his shouleders and wondered off. Finally, one of the passengers rounded up a particularly loud group of teenagers and physically ushered them out of the area. Overall the lack of attention to detail is what ruined the excitement of the cruise for us. The tips are automatically included for all personell that work on board which led me to beleive that it was not necessary for any to go above and beyond mediocre service. There were only two servers on the ship that impressed us in any way and that was due to them taking the time to give us personal attention and remembering the little things like what our favorite drink was or making sure to read the room card and thank us by our names. Overall I would not recommend this cruise line to anyone who expects more than Denny's quality of food and service.
There were 17 of us going on this cruise as part of a family reunion. Our group included several parties of 2, a single, and 2 families of 4. Overall, I'd say our experience was very good (less so for the 2 families).
The cabins were much larger than I had expected based on my 1 previous cruise. The cabins set up for the families of 4 were much, much larger than those on our previous cruise. Unfortunately, the particular cabins our 2 families had were situated on deck 2 in the middle of the ship, directly under the ship's kitchen. This meant that the families were awoken between 3am and 4am every morning by loud banging and other noises. The noises rarely subsided before 7am. Complaining to ship's services didn't help. By day 3 they were able to sleep through all but the worst of the noise, due to extreme fatigue. There are other 4-person cabins available. Avoid deck 2, center of the ship.
We all enjoyed the dinners in Smerelda. Our American bellies couldn't have handled waiting until 8:45 for dinner. We had the 7:15 seating. The waiters for ourtwo tables seemed a bit overworked with since they also had 3 other tables to serve. We really liked that we could eat at those exact same tables with the exact same waiters at breakfast and lunch as well.
The picky eaters had some problems finding food they liked. The 2nd day during lunch we asked if fettuchini alfredo (aka fancy macoroni and cheese) could be offered to them. The pickiest eaters ended up having that every lunch and dinner for the rest of the cruise, even though it was never offered on the menu. Just because they don't offer it, doesn't mean they won't make it for you.
I wouldn't suggest ordering anything from the "standard" menu. Order from the "Chef's Recommendations" menu. As our waiter said: "if you don't like it, I'll take it back and get you something else!" There were a few unusual items, but all were good. I did miss chicken by the end of the cruise. The meals were very beef/fish oriented, the fish generally being the better choice. The cream soups were wonderful, but skip the cucumber one.
Desserts were OK. Few chocolate offerings, but the chocolate gelato was heavenly. If offered, always order the fresh fruit (in addition to whatever "naughty" dessert you want). All of the fruit was 'the best fruit I've ever had', excluding the canned pineapple rings at breakfast. Hint: fresh pineapple could be found in the fruit cocktail. Beware of seeds in the grapes!
Entertainment: The "local acts" were good, but the shows put on by the ship's crew were laughable (although several adult members of my family thought all were quite good). The one standout was the show put on the night we left Sicily. Where were these people the rest of the time?! They were good!!
We only took 1 guided tour: in Tunis. I would recommend that. It was rushed, but I think we wouldn't have escaped the souk to see anything else, if we had gone on our own.
The Savona, Barcelona, Malta, and Palermo stops were all about 2 hours too short. We could have used another 4 hours in Palma. Malta was my favorite, with Barcelona and Savona tied for 2nd. In all 3, you could easily walk off the ship and wander the city on your own (you needed a city bus to safely leave the pier in Barcelona).
Be prepared to have people cut in front of you in line, getting on and off the ship. With 17 of us, we could fan out and block the sides of the line from cutters. When there were only a few of us, we learned to use elbows to good measure.
We had 2 days in Rome before our cruise, but spent most of that time recovering from jet lag. So we were glad we still had 3 days in Rome after the cruise.