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Costa Cruises Review: Western Mediterranean Cruise

by Lisa Stentvedt
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Have you ever been curious about what going on a cruise is like? Or more specifically, a Western Mediterranean Cruise? Then you’re in luck, because I recently went on a 7-day Mediterranean cruise with Costa Cruise Lines, and you know I had to document the entire trip. Photos, videos (scroll down for my Youtube video from the experience) and text all come together in this Costa Cruises review.

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Side note: I say my first proper cruise, all thought I have once before been on a Disney cruise. However, that was only for 3 nights, and I went with friends who had been on several Disney cruises before. This meant that I didn’t really have to do anything except show up, and so I feel like this Costa cruise is my first actual cruise.

I was so excited for the cruise and spent the weeks leading up to it googling everything there is to know about cruises around the med, Mediterranean cruise reviews, Costa cruises reviews and so on. I was soaking up all the information I could, and still, the experience turned out to be nothing like I could have imagined myself. So, if you are curious about what it’s like to go on a Costa Cruise in the Mediterranean (and specifically, in the Western Mediterranean), keep reading!

In this Costa Cruises review, I cover the ship and the “on board” part of my Western Mediterranean cruise. Don’t worry, I’ll have posts coming your way soon about the destinations and excursions I went on during the trip!

Head this way to read my advice for first-time cruisers!

Also, don’t miss these cruise essentials when packing for your first cruise.

costa cruises review, Costa Magica in Palermo
Keep reading for my full Costa cruises review

Costa Cruises Review: About my Western Mediterranean Cruise

Before I get into the actual Mediterranean cruise review, I’ll share some details about the cruise itself. As mentioned, I went on a 7 night, 8-day cruise around the Western Mediterranean with Costa Cruise Lines. In fact, this was the cruise I took. I sailed onboard the beautiful Costa Magica, a ship that has actually been to Flåm, where I grew up! Everything always comes full circle, doesn’t it?

The Western Mediterranean cruise I took sailed from Savona, in Northern Italy, and it also ended there. I flew into Genova, which is about a 40-minute drive away. It is also possible to fly into Naples.

During the week onboard I learned that you could embark and disembark (cruise lingo for getting on and off) in several of the ports it stops in, and I met others who started and ended their cruise in Barcelona, for example.

From Savona, the itinerary of the cruise looked like this:

As you can see, this Mediterranean cruise allowed me to visit Italy, Spain and France, all in one week! I loved the itinerary and was especially happy to have a full day at sea. This meant that I got to take full advantage of all the offers and amenities onboard the ship, without feeling as if I was taking valuable time out of my shore days.

Now, let’s get on with the Costa Cruises Review (but first, why not watch the video I created from the cruise?).

Costa Cruises Review: Arrival Onboard

I landed in Genova at 13:30 (on schedule) and had booked a transfer through Costa. I had expected some waiting but found that the whole arrival sequence was very quick and easy. There was no significant time spent waiting, which was great, as I had prepared myself for around 20 minutes of downtime at the airport, as you can expect with group transfers (I’ve been to Gran Canaria on a chartered tour before and know exactly how inefficient it can be).

After I had picked up my luggage, I checked in with the Costa representative and spent a maximum of 3 minutes waiting for her to gather up all the passengers heading for their Costa cruises. It seems that there were 2 Mediterranean Cruises leaving on the same day; one with Costa Magica (mine) and another with Costa Favolosa. We were all travelling on the same bus, and both the Costa rep and the driver ensured to ask everyone which ship they were embarking on to make sure our luggage (and us, presumably) were all in the right place.

A mere 40 minutes later I was off the bus on the docks of Savona and ready to board the Costa Magica for my first proper cruise!

Side note: if you are heading on a cruise yourself anytime soon, make sure to read my list of cruise essentials before packing!

Western Mediterranean Cruise onboard Costa Magica
I was ready for my Western Mediterranean Cruise!

Boarding / embarkment

This is where it became quite clear that I haven’t been on a cruise where I have had to take responsibility of myself before. The check-in process was incredibly easy, and I simply showed my passport and my embarkment documents and was lead through security and onto the ship. It took a total of 5 minutes, which I was incredibly impressed with.

Once I was on board, however, I needed some help figuring out what to do. I had expected a continuous process, thinking that “there’s no way it’s this easy”. I expected more people to check in with, longer lines and lots of crowds.

But what I saw upon entering the ship was none of the sorts. I arrived in the main hall of the ship (I assumed), to a beautiful lobby with gold details, see-through lifts (the kind my brother would have loved if he was 14 again), waiters ready to serve you a nice glass of wine, a bar with guests already enjoying said glasses of wine, and a DJ playing what I would describe as upbeat, welcoming music. It was all so impressive! I later learned that this was the Italia Magica Atrium (indeed, the main hall).

Still, I had no idea what to do, so I found the nearest waiter and told him. The conversation went a little something like this:

Waiter: “How can I help you, madam?”

Me: “Uhm, I’m not sure what to do.”

Waiter: “There is a buffet on the 9th floor that is open at this time, you can find the lifts just through here.”

Me: “No, I mean, I just embarked, and I don’t know what I am supposed to do next. Do I line up somewhere?”

Him (slightly confused): “Madam, you can do whatever you like. The buffet is open if you are hungry, or you can explore the ship, or simply retire to your cabin. Your bag will be brought there.”

Me: “That’s the thing, I don’t have my room key, and don’t know where I’m supposed to get it.”

Him (understanding that he’s dealing with a first-timer): “Oh, I see! Madam, your cabin will be open, and you will find your key and all the information you need inside.”

Me: “Woah! Is it that easy?!”

You can say I was pretty impressed with how easy the whole check-in and boarding process was! I loved being able to go straight to my cabin, finding everything I needed there, and doing my own thing from the get-go.

My Cabin

I had cabin number 8237 onboard Costa Magica for my Western Mediterranean cruise. This is a premium cabin with a balcony. Having a balcony on my 7-night cruise really made a world of difference, as I sometimes didn’t even think about the fact that I was on a ship. Bear in mind that when I have cruised in the past it has been on the ferry cruise between countries in Scandinavia, where I’d usually stay underwater in cabins without windows. Waking up and enjoying the views of the ocean from my own balcony felt like such a luxury, and is something I would definitely recommend if you are thinking of going on a cruise yourself.

In short; if you get one takeaway from my Costa Cruises review, I hope it is to book a cabin with a balcony.

As mentioned, when I arrived in my cabin I found my Costa card already there, along with information about the offerings for the day, the schedule and anything else I needed to know about the upcoming Mediterranean cruise.

Size-wise, the cabin was perfect for one person, and I believe that it would not have been crowded with two either. I wish I would have brought my best friend to join me, so we could have enjoyed the cruise together. There was a small seating area with a couch and a table, a desk with a stool (perfect for editing photos in the evening), and a large, comfortable bed.

I also have to give a shoutout to my cabin steward Vincent here, and the impeccable service he provided. On the first full cruise day, I put the “Do not disturb” sign at my door, as I was spending some time showering and getting ready for the day, and by the time I was naked and ready to hit the shower (we are talking 40 seconds), someone was at my door. I thought that was quite odd, but opened nonetheless (in my Costa robe, of course), and there was Vincent, asking if I wanted him to clean my room.

It turns out, I had put the wrong sign at my door, and used the “please clean” sign instead. Naturally, Vincent understood that this was another cruise rookie mistake, and I put the correct card out. But, I was still incredibly impressed with the speed he arrived at, ready to clean my cabin!

Mediterranean cruise review, premium balcony cabin costa magica

Food & restaurants onboard

The ship has two main restaurants for dinner, each with two seatings. In the weeks before the cruise, you can select your preferred seating online, and I was happy to see I got my first choice of the early seating (meaning, you are seated for dinner at around 7, and will finish before the second seating, which starts at around 9). My restaurant was the Costa Smeralda.

I’m not quite sure what I expected when it came to the food on board, but my expectations weren’t even near the league of the food served. I had foreseen buffets for every meal, and lots of crowds. Instead, I was served incredible food from an a la carte menu for both lunch and dinner (you could, of course, opt for a different restaurant for a buffet dinner if you prefer), AND I enjoyed breakfast in my cabin every day. You may have seen the amazing breakfast spread on my Instagram stories (highlighted here).

Every evening there was a different menu for dinner, themed according to the destination of the day. Naturally, dinner is Italian-style, meaning there are two mains (or, as they say, a Primi Piatti and a Secondo). For each of the courses, there is a selection of 3-4 high-quality dishes, ranging from vegetarian and fish to incredible meat dishes. Two evenings there was a special menu, imagined by the head chef one night, and by a Michelin-star chef on another!

Pictured below are meals from dinner on the day at sea, from a menu created by Bruno Barbieri. From the top left to the bottom right; Spiced chicken with roast glaze, taleggio cream and roast cherry tomatoes; Potato gnocchi with sage and black pepper, spicy gorgonzola fondue and sauteed spinach; Beef fillet with sour cream, green peppercorn glaze and spiced mixed vegetables; and finally a creamy parfait with coffee reduction, whipped milk chocolate ganache with Grand Marnier and hazelnut mousse. Now wipe that drool.

Fun fact: they make their own mozzarella on board the Costa Magica, so whenever you get that as an option for a meal; go for it!

In addition to the a la carte and buffet restaurant onboard, you’ll find a Pizza Restaurant open every evening (the Pizzeria Pummid’oro), where you can enjoy real, Italian pizza. Going on a Costa cruise really is Italy at sea! I got to try the pizza one evening (the Quattro Formaggi was to die for and the Tiramisu so yummy), and it was such a great meal. There is an extra cost if you chose to eat there during the crossing, but I highly recommend it.

Last but not least, there is also an Italian Gelateria onboard (The Amarillo Ice Cream Shop and Chocolate Bar), where you can enjoy sundaes, chocolate, ice cream cones and great coffee along with the views of the ocean. Personally, I loved the sundae including a shot of Bailey’s (yes, Bailey’s).

7 day mediterranean cruise, costa magica ice cream

Costa Cruises Drinks Packages

There are 3 different drinks packages to chose from during the cruise, and this wouldn’t be a Costa Cruises review without a brief run-through of them. Naturally, you can also check out the Costa website for more information and prices.

The most affordable is the Brindiamo, which gives you access to non-alcoholic selections such as coffee, tea, sodas and other soft drinks. But, you also get unlimited access to a selection of beer, aperitifs and wines and selected spirits.

Next up is the Piú Gusto, which is Italian for “more taste”, I have learned, and the drinks package I had. I definitely recommend this package, as it allowed me to drink pretty much whatever I wanted during the cruise, with a few exceptions, such as speciality cocktails, selected hard liqueurs and some of the hand-picked wines available onboard. To get all of these as well (you wine-connoisseur!), opt for the Intenditore drinks package. The Intenditore package pretty much lets you drink whatever you want, so it’s definitely the way to go if you want no limitations during your trip.

One thing that is worth noting is that the package you select will be applied to everyone in your cabin, so if you are travelling as a group, make sure everyone agrees on which of the Costa cruises drinks packages you choose.

costa cruises reviews, costa magica ocean view

Other amenities on my Western Mediterranean Cruise

As mentioned, I sailed on the Costa Magica for my Western Mediterranean Cruise, and it is a ship full of fun amenities and things to do. In addition to the several restaurants and bars mentioned above, there’s lots to do on board when you aren’t eating (all though, I’ll admit I was full for a whole week).

On Deck 11, at the front of the ship, you’ll find the Health Club and Spa. This is where I managed to complete two whole workouts during my week onboard (haha!). Naturally, a treadmill and a spinning session on your own is a lot more fun with the views of the horizon in front of you. At the spa, you can get your nails done, opt for a massage, or enjoy a simple facial.

Top tip: if you are hoping to book anything at the spa during the day at sea, do book it in advance. Most people want to make the most of this day, so it books up quickly. You can book online before your Western Mediterranean Cruise on the MyCosta page. On there you can also book Wifi packages and excursions in advance, and I strongly recommend doing this.

Of course, there are pools on the ship, both indoor and outdoor. There is also a fun slide (pictured below) that I am sad I didn’t get to try as it was a little windy up on the top deck. But I’ll be back, for sure!

Mediterranean cruise ships, costa magica deck

Entertainment onboard

This deserved a section of its own, as the entertainment on the ship was out of this world. Every night there was a different show, all with talent on a Broadway-level, in my opinion. One evening, the theme was fairytales and childhood stories, and not only did they cover A Whole New World while flying on a magic carpet, but there was also a scene from Harry Potter played out; moving staircase included!

What’s most impressive (if that’s even possible), was that there was a tenor onboard, who one evening dazzled us all with his own show. His voice was out of this world, and I don’t even know how to describe it. You just have to experience it to know (but seriously, when I heard there was a tenor onboard I got so excited, I mean how cool is that?).

In addition to the shows every evening, there was live music playing in several of the bars in the evening, as well as in the Main Atrium. So, depending on whether you feel like Latin rhythms, smooth piano or listening to a DJ, you’d find the mood you wanted. I loved walking around the ship after dinner (and a martini, which they nailed every time, by the way) listening to all the various kinds of music playing at all times.

view from costa magica in the west mediterranean

To sum up this Costa Cruises review, I had an amazing time on my Western Mediterranean cruise. A whole week onboard such a luxurious ship, enjoying world-class food and drinks, fun activities and top-notch entertainment, all whilst visiting bucket-list destinations around the Mediterranean ocean. The experience surpassed all of my expectations and quashed anything I thought I knew about cruising, and I am so happy to have gotten feedback that it changed some of your ideas of cruises too!

Final tip: signing up for the Costa Club before your cruise gives you discounts onboard and is something I highly recommend doing before you board.

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