Mediterranean Cruise, March 2008

Sometimes the best way to describe a trip is to go back into the archives and see if there is something there that was written at the time. Clearly, I was quite bowled over by my first cruise ship experience (if we overlook a school trip taken at the tender age of twelve). If I have rendered this feedback report in too deep a shade of purple then please forgive me, it is nothing in comparison to the visual extravagance of the experience itself.

This Western Mediterranean trip was the first experience of cruising for both my 80 year old mother and myself and we very much enjoyed our trip.

The Costa Serena is an extremely comfortable ship once the eye became accustomed to the riotous incandescence of its interior design. Every available surface is enhanced with vibrantly coloured design motifs, taking their inspiration from the mythological characters after which each part of the ship is named. Decorated walls, floors, ceilings – surely that would be enough? But no! Look down at the coffee table in front of you and you notice that it is fashioned in the shape of a Grecian urn. In the central atrium of the Pantheon, models of the gods dressed as if for a Venetian carnival look down upon the guests while glass fronted lifts, whose illumination scintillates with all the colours of the rainbow, transport you up to even greater delights.

This is an unashamedly family oriented ship, with numerous children of all ages, babies, teenagers and grandparents able to share the many facilities in comfort. At first we were concerned that the environment might not be restful enough for my mother but the disability facilities were excellent, the cabins very comfortable and the staff extremely caring. There were plenty of well run activities for the young people and it wasn’t until the very last day that some of them became restless and noisy. We both agreed that we enjoyed the International ambiance and mixed age groups much more than we would have done something which catered exclusively for older people. How could we have missed the wonderful sight of the Italian men, tending to their infant children in pushchairs while all dressed up for a formal dinner?

The cuisine was magnificent. There were a great variety of restaurants and buffets with almost twenty four hour serving times, all the food was freshly prepared and delicious and there were a gym and fitness activities thoughtfully supplied for those whose digestion required some relief. This marvellous variety of food contributed a great deal to my mother’s well being as her appetite had been poor for some time before the trip. Seeing her enjoying her daily pasta and gelati was a great treat for me. We were also very appreciative of the long hours served by the Pizzeria, not because we used it but because it was so popular with the teenagers, keeping them out of the main dining rooms for much of the time.

Probably the most important factor in the success of this cruise was the attentiveness of the staff. Everyone aboard took the greatest trouble to ensure that my mother was well cared for and this was reflected in the fact that I also was able to relax and enjoy myself, something that carers are not always lucky enough to be able to do on holiday. Our cabin stewardess was lovely, the waiters and office staff were consideration itself and, as for the crew’s entertainment evening – well, the joyous recollection of “My Way” being enthusiastically belted out with a Philippine accent will stay with me for a long time.

Not much has been said about the destinations. My mother sampled two excursions but found the coach travel uncomfortable and decided that she preferred to stay on board. I was able to take a couple of trips on my own and found the organization to be excellent, although, frankly, a cruise ship would not be my sightseeing vehicle of choice. The Costa Serena was a great success for both of us although restful is not necessarily the word that I would chose to describe some of its more glorious embellishments.

Categories: Europe, Mediterranean

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