Getting Aboard (Finally)
After making a comfortable one-hour transfer by bus (provided by Costa Cruises), we arrived at the port of Santos. Embarkation can be defined in one word: chaos. It took more than five hours to get aboard the ship; we stood three and a half hours in line before reaching the check-in counter. There were only eight Costa attendants for 1,700 passengers!
My accommodations (Individual Inside, category 10, Genoa Deck) had soft colors, beautiful wood cabinetry, a desk with mirror, minibar/refrigerator, a personal safe, a TV set, and was clean and comfortable. The closets were ample and the cabin had one extra bed, which I asked to be removed from the cabin. The soundproofing is simply non-existent: you can hear everything from the hallways and neighboring cabins. (Note: room service is limited and there is an extra charge of US $2.50.) The cabin steward, Henry from Guatemala, was good, keeping the cabin clean and made up.
The Tivoli Restaurant is used for two seatings; although well decorated, it has plain white ceilings, tables that are too close together, and is extremely noisy (sometimes you cannot hear your tablemate). My table fellows were interesting people who made my dining nicer, though. The food itself was completely tasteless, really mediocre and the service was rushed and impersonal (the waiter, Mr. Flores, did not even introduce himself to us) and lacked finesse.
The buffet, La Trattoria, used for breakfast and alternative lunch, is very informal, but the food is better than in the main restaurant. The pizza served in the La Tavernetta is the worst I have ever had on a ship. Breakfast and Midnight Buffets were good, with lots of fresh fruit.
Ports of Call
This small island is very nice and has a rain forest, small beaches, a bar, and restaurant. Nautical sports are offered. The small town is really not worth a visit.
This is the highlight of the cruise. The island is rich in natural beauty, crowned by steep, rainforested mountains, and rimmed with gorgeous beaches. It is a place as marvelous as its name, which means "beautiful island." To preserve the charm of the island, local law dictates that no building may stand taller than two stories. The island's exquisite shorelines beckon you to swim, snorkel, and dive around the numerous shipwrecks, or just lounge along the water's edge. In town you can shop the island's boutiques, and savour a tropical fruit ice cream or a Brazilian coffee in one of the charming cafés.
Surprisingly enough, after the dismal embarkation, debarkation was surprisingly smooth.
Nelson de Barros Pereira is a Civil Engineer who currently resides in Brazil. He has been on 13 cruises and may be reached at: Nesclau@uol.com.br.
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