Costa Cruises Reviews

Year Started: 1854
Ships in Fleet: 11
Category: Mainstream

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.


Costa Cruises Cruise Ships

34 Reviews

Regions:Middle East, The Orient

Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.

6 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Middle East

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

1 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, World

Good for: Group. Singles. First-time Cruisers.

0 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

1 Reviews

Regions:Western Mediterranean, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

15 Reviews

Regions:Western Mediterranean, Middle East, Scandinavia/Northern Europe, South America, Transatlantic

Good for: Group. First-time Cruisers. Families.

23 Reviews

Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Group. Families.

39 Reviews

Regions:Eastern Caribbean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Transatlantic

Good for: Children`s Programs. Singles. Families.

6 Reviews

Regions:Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe

Good for: Children`s Programs. Families.

0 Reviews

Regions:Mediterranean, Western Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Northern Europe

Good for: Group. Families.

11 Reviews

Regions:The Orient

Good for: Group. Singles. Families.

User Ratings

Overall Rating
from 136 reviews


Service Level

Value for Money

Ship Décor

Public Rooms


Kid's Programs

Daytime Activities


Shore Tours


Alternative Dining

User Reviews

136 User Reviews of Costa Cruises Ships
Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 14, 2004

My husband, two sons (age 15 and 12) and I just returned from our March Break cruise. Our first time cruising with Costa was somewhat disappointing. Having cruised eight times previously, mainly with Royal Caribbean, our expectations may have been higher than those who have not cruised before.

Before setting foot on the ship we encountered some difficulties with the Costa web site: all pages were not accessible; the site's claim that Canadians require a visa was incorrect; and we had problems filling in on-line forms, so we had to call Costa and complete the information over the telephone.

The ticket package mailed to us also contained copies of a Costa guide, shore excursion booklet, gift order form and brochure, and the U.S. Border Security Act for each passenger, even though we are all of the same family. I thought this was a waste of printed materials and postage.

The embarkation process went well. Having all the documents in order for each family member will expedite the process.

On board we were met by a member of the "kids program" and given printed information. Our first impression was that the ship was somewhat overdone.

We found it to be glitzy and very ornate, bordering on gaudy. Our outside cabin was of the expected size. We had an obstructed view due to the lifeboats.

We set out to explore the ship. We asked for directions to the on-board shops and casino from two different staff members, only to be given a nod and a finger pointing -- which turned out to be incorrect both times. This was our first indication that the service may not be all that it should be.

We felt the ship was not well laid out. The buffet areas on Deck 9 were sometimes confusing. There were several locations, but often some were closed or offered different items. Pizza was always good and available.

The buffet food was average. Our biggest complaint was the lack of beverages that were included in the package. Iced tea was sometimes unavailable, but there was regular coffee and decaf as well as orange juice and grapefruit juice and water. Sometimes these dispensers were empty or "out of service." There was no lemonade. Sodas cost $2.30 plus a tip.

The afternoon tea service was very nice, with a server offering a variety of loose teas to choose from.

A "Boys and Girls" coupon booklet for $40 plus tip for 20 beverages (which includes non-alcoholic frozen drinks) was available, and the boys took advantage of it since the frozen drinks were normally $4.75 plus tip. Milkshakes were also supposed to be included, but my boys couldn't find anyplace including the dining room where they could be obtained. My son eventually made his own from the soft ice cream and milk.

Distribution of the luggage to the various decks was something to behold. I repeatedly witnessed baggage crew members unloading the luggage by pushing the entire cart-load of luggage, piled several feet high, onto the floor. At one point the entire floor space between the elevators was covered with a pile three suitcases high! I could not believe my eyes and was concerned for the contents of my luggage.

I went to the information desk to report this and was asked if my luggage was damaged. I had not yet received my luggage but when I did, an hour and a half after departure, sure enough, a brand new can of salon hair mousse exploded inside my suitcase. I had even taped the lid to the can to keep it from coming off, and wrapped it inside a heavy plastic bag; still, some of the contents got onto some of the clothing. Luckily not much damage resulted.

I reported this to the guest services and they requested the empty can. When I returned to the cabin to get it, the very efficient cabin steward had emptied the trash and the can was gone -- hence I was not offered any compensation and my hair was FLAT for the whole trip. Bummer!

The shipboard account credit card registering is left to passengers to decide over a three-day period. This is done in a very small room where there was no number assignment and big crowds. Perhaps they could allow passengers to pre-register online as other companies do, or at least before embarkation.

The cabin, despite comfortable beds, especially the bunks, was noisy. There was a cracking and snapping sound as well as a clanging of metal in the walls and the floor near the balcony doors. It sounded almost as if there was a stress on the walls. This only happened when the ship was in motion; it was not continuous but happened often enough to be an annoyance. Sometimes it even woke us from sleep, even when I used earplugs. Just when we would get a break from it all, the maintenance crew would hose down the lifeboats from the deck below in the morning, with the water spray hitting against the balcony doors.

We reported all this; it was investigated, and crew members confirmed there was indeed a problem and had a plan to fix it. However, even after they unscrewed the panels in the walls and tightened things up, the noise continued. I eventually gave up reporting the problem since I was tired of explaining the situation over and over to guest services. Sometimes I had to repeat the complaint in various terms to the same person before they could comprehend what the problem was. This is another area that needs improvement: communication ability.

The cabin's mini-bar was often not restocked fully even when my husband requested it.

Despite the availability of "service" in five languages, often we encountered crew who did not speak English well enough to provide appropriate assistance to passengers. It was annoying at times to have every announcement and game and introduction coming across the loudspeakers in all five languages, especially since most passengers on this particular cruise were English-speaking.

The dinning room staff was the exception. Everyone we encountered there was excellent in all ways, and the food was always very good, hot when it should be, and delivered in a timely manner. We were assigned the second seating, which we found very late for our family as often dinner did not start until 9 p.m.

The itinerary for this Eastern Caribbean cruise included San Juan, which we felt was a wasted stop since we arrived at after 4 p.m. and were unable to go ashore until after 5 (not great for those on the first seating). There was little to do there and the ship left at 1:30 a.m.

Casa de Campo was also a waste of time, since we arrived at 6 p.m. and departed at midnight. Some of the shore excursions were cancelled.

St Thomas was great as always, and Catalina Island was a beautiful spot with lots to do and a great barbeque provided by Costa.

We opted for only two shore excursions and were glad we did not book more. The snorkeling adventure in St. Thomas was OK, but not as good as others we have experienced. Many people had problems with the masks and snorkels, myself included. I eventually gave up. The lady in the "dive shop" instructing everyone upon our arrival was in desperate need of a lesson in courtesy -- she barked at our group as we entered the shop, for no apparent reason except that they were very busy.

The Blue Lagoon in Nassau was a spectacular place -- a paradise. However, it took an hour from the time we met in the theater until we arrived by boat, then we only had an hour and a half there before we had to return to the transport boat. This was most unfortunate, as this was undoubtedly a place one would want to spend the day. For the price, it was not good value -- nice to visit but I would not do it again unless we had more time there.

The on-board entertainment was not as good as any we have experienced in the past. The magic show the first night was very good. Personally I enjoyed the Italian tenor, but many people left once the show started. The steel drum band was also enjoyable, but the Costa dancers and performers were well below the level of those on other ships. During the talent show, crew members were fooling around behind the backs of passengers who were brave enough to get up and perform, which I felt was inappropriate. This was the first cruise where we were not wowed by the entertainment.

The lines to get off the ship at ports of call were not supervised and sometimes people were pushing and shoving. There were some very rude Europeans who felt they were above taking their turn like the rest of us. When another passenger pointed out to these people where the end of the line was -- after four of them pushed in front of others -- one of them threw his hands up, made a face and remained where he was. I heard stories from fellow passengers about this being a regular occurrence.

One thing I did enjoy was the opportunity to take Italian language lessons. They were given by a Canadian (Martina) from Quebec, a lovely girl who spoke the five languages fluently.

My older son enjoyed the evening teen get-togethers. Maybe the fact that he was getting cozy with a girl on board contributed to this.

Getting off the ship was the usual experience. The only complaint here was that we were allocated to the theater, as were most passengers, where none of the public announcements could be heard. I called Guest Services to advise them of this, and they thanked me, but the announcements still couldn't be heard in the theater. We were advised by a crew member when it was our color's time to leave.

Overall, I would rate the experience a 6 on a scale of 10, and give the ship a 3.5 out of 5. We will not cruise with Costa again as we found it a little too European for our tastes.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 14, 2004

We arrived the night before and stayed at a Costa recommeded hotel. Since it was spring break we kind of knew what to expect. Drunk kids everywhere - another worldly experience.

We took a shuttle to the pier. Since we had a panorama suite, we were given priority embarkation and all went extremely well. Customs held us up a bit - but this is not Costas' problem. Anyway, we wrrived at the pier at 1:30 and were in our room by 2:00.

The ship is beautiful. There is so much decorating done to this ship that it is difficult to notice all that has been done. After a week aboard we discovered most of the decorative theme of the ship.

We had all paperwork completed on the Costa website prior to sailing so all went well.

When we set out to explore the ship, we found the guidance by crew members to be very goo. Since this was our 20th cruise, we quickly found out that the ship is layed out like many others - seems the deign trends are melding together on the newer ships.

Panorama suite: We found it to

be smaller than a similar category on Royal Carribean by about 200 square feet. But the price was certainly right! Room steward and butler spoiled us rotten and our every needs were met, including restocking of the mini bar. In fact, our butler started bringing us bottled spirits from the bar ($20 versus $5.50 for airline sized bottles). This was appreciated and saved us a good amount of money during the cruise since we also entertained in our stateroom.

There have been complaints about the thin mattresses on the beds. We checked this out first thing and requested a second mattress. It was brought and the bed remade in plenty of time for our first night aboard.

Our luggage was distributed to us three hours prior to sailing with no damage. We got things unpacked and into the closets and drawers prior to sailing. The amount of storage was so enormous, even with the souvenirs we purchased we could still not fill it all!

The buffet food was good. Not great, but not bad either. Coffee machines were always full as were juices.

Our room was extremely quiet, especially since the ship rocked and rolled due to large swells for the first three days. The maintenance crew would wash life boats in the AM and took care not to "contaminate" our balcony.

The dining room service was very god and the food - especially if you like seafood- was very good - and hot when delivered to our table. We asked our waiter each night what was best and he was right on each night. The beef was cooked to our liking, and the pasta dishes were excellent - especially the polenta with mushrooms.

Club Medusa, the alternate restaurant, was excellent especially the filet mignons and dessaert. The service was impeccable. Incidentally, you do not have to dress up to eat in this venue.

On two nights were ordered room service - since we had a suite we could order from the dining room menu. The food was always brought on time and piping hot - sometimes with double what we ordered. We had one lunch from room service (we were hungry for hamburgers), and they were some of the best I've every had at sea - much better than in the pool area.

We took two shore excursions. The snorkleling cruise in Casa De Campo was cut short - we still do not know the reason. We found we had adequate time in San Juan. We had a taxi take us to the top of the hill in the shopping district and meandered downhill toward the wharf with plenty of time to spare.

Our shore excursion in the Dominican Republic was cancelled due to a storm and our ticket prices refunded on our final statement. We found everyone courteous and polite in the lines waiting to get onshore in the ports. You draw more flies with the saying goes.

The onboard entertainment in the theatre, except for the steel band, was mediocre. We opted for the casino on a couple of nights and broke even during the duration of the cruise.

Disembarkation was a snap. As we had the suite, we had a VIP room in the Medusa Restaurant where they served a continental breakfast. We were the second group to leave the ship.

We'd take another Costa cruise. We found the Europenas on borad to be respectful, polite, and courteous.

My ratings: Ship 8 of 10 Food 8 of 10.

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Eastern Mediterranean
Publication Date: March 7, 2004

Overview We were attracted to this cruise by the reasonable price and interesting itinerary (visiting Italy, Egypt, Turkey and Greece). Before booking I read 'official' cruise guide reviews, which gave the ship a fairly good rating. I however became a bit concerned after reading a number of critical 'customer reviews'. I think it is however very much about perception and what sort of person you are. I can appreciate some regulars perhaps giving the ship a lower review if they have been on many cruises that they preferred, however it should be remembered that this is a mass-market cruise at a great price. For value for money, it was excellent. The Costa Victoria is a modern, well-maintained ship. Everything looks like new and is spotless. Especially after walking around places like the interesting but hectic Alexandria, we were very pleased to say our beautiful white ship in the harbour on our return. I have only sailed with Orient Lines/NCL previously and there were areas that both companies excelled in. The crew on the Victoria seemed a little more rushed perhaps, especially during the dinner service. However none were unfriendly and my parents,

who had never sailed previously, thought the service was fantastic. So much so that they have booked to travel with Costa again in September.

Food I can honestly say that we never had a bad meal on board. The main restaurant served a 5-course dinner, which featured quite a lot of fish and was Mediterranean in terms of oils/sauces etc. It was all of a high standard and the staff were really wonderful. It is however true that if you like, say, steak and hot puddings then these featured on rare occasions. I read a review stating that the pizzeria served frozen food, this simply isn't true. The poolside grill had lovely well cooked chicken and the cafes throughout the ship were relaxing and pleasant. There was the midnight buffet (disappearing from some lines) that was outstanding. There was also complimentary coffee/juice most of the day at the back of the ship. It is worth buying a 'honeymooners card' (you don't need to be on your honeymoon) for a set number of drinks for one reduced price. Alcoholic drinks were quite expensive although the duty free shop did actually let you take your purchased back to your cabin for consumption, if you so desired.

Shows The cruise featured 'the entertainment team' a group pf Italian performers, which it perhaps took a couple of days for me to get on to their wavelength, however they were very talented. Costa goes in for quite a lot of audience participation shows, which you either love or hate. They could be very amusing to watch and there was little pressure to join in.

Cabin The cabin was a reasonable size and well designed. The hairdryer was damaged but I reported it to the reception and it was replaced with a whole new unit by the time we returned to the cabin.

Itinerary This was a very interesting voyage. One negative was that in most ports, you had to travel some distance to get to the main attraction (eg Pyramids, Taormina, Olympia etc) however only in Alexandria and Messina did we feel we had little option but to take the official tour. On all other occasions we just took local transport. In Katakolon I would recommend taking a taxi, and in Piraeus, if you don't mind some walking then head around to the train station. On our cruise someone was taken ill while we travelled to Alexandria and the boat needed to turn around and due to the delay we missed out Rhodes. The situation was handled professionally although information could perhaps have been more forthcoming.

Misc. Others have commented about smokers onboard. As a non-smoker I feared the worst, but really there wasn't too much of a problem. Some bars could be a little smoky but I never saw anyone smoking in the corridors or waiting for the lift etc as others have reported.

Summary I'm sure that many of the criticisms of Costa will be genuine (otherwise why would people write them) however I believe much is down to Costa being very different and very European. We met French, Germans and Italians on board, who were all very friendly. Yes, one couple did push in the queue in front of us on an occasion but this was very rare. Yes, all the announcements in different languages do take some time, but really - is it that such big a deal? If you are an average easygoing person, then I think you will like (and perhaps even love) Costa. If you want to moan and find fault with anything and everything then this is possible too.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: March 7, 2004

This was my 26th cruise and my first aboard a Costa ship, having cruises with RCCI, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity and a few other smaller lines previously. I had read several reviews after booking this cruise and was quite concerned after reading very poor reviews about this ship. I appoligized profusely to my travel companions before boarding the ship as RCCI was my first choice but was unavailable at line of booking. I was not happy right off the bat!

Costa was fabulous! I can't believe how wrong my concerns could have been.

The Cost Mediterranea is beautiful. Upon boarding the ship, my first reaction was "it's so gaudy", but after a little thought, being of Italian heritage, I realized, it's Italian! One would have to understand that and then appreciate that.

Check in and boarding was the shortest and smoothest of any ship I've ever boarded even having boarded an RCCI ship as a frequent cruiser. We were checked in and boarded in less than 30 minutes after arriving at the pier at 130p, thirty minutes after boarding began. We were all shown to our rooms by a very friendly, warm staff member.

The balcony

rooms were quite large and very comfortably decorated. After finding our rooms and heading out to explore this beautiful ship, my first encounter was with an officer we passed in the hall who greeted us with a smile and a warm "bon giorno". This was not what I expected based on the poor reviews I read.

Dinner in the dining room I found to be fabulous, virgin olive oil on the table as well as all the italian favorites i've grown up with. What a wonderful Italian touch. The food was great every night though I might stay away from the pork, it tended to be quite dry. All other dishes were equal to or above the quality of other cruise ships. The dining room staff was exceptional, at times not giving me a menu yet serving me what I would have chosen and the way I would have ordered it. When a waiter learns your likings that well, he deserves credit. He got it!

The bar staff was attentive no matter where you went. They all smiled, remembered your name as well as your likings. A special thanks to Octavian and Artauro who both went above and beyond.

I can't really comment on the ports of call as I been to the Western Caribbean many times before. Progresso could have been skipped though.

I did miss a few things like the sailing away party with the Caribbean band on deck as well as the Caribbean music on deck every day. I could deal with that though. I understood the differences in lifestyles and accepted them.

My cruise aboard the Costa Mediterranea was wonderful! I am booking another cruise this November with a small group and will definately try to book Costa. I will choose Costa over RCCI, my usual cruiseline of choice. I loved Costa! Perhaps you ahve to be of Italian heritage to appreciate the beauty of a Costa cruise.

Thumbs up Costa, you did good by me.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: March 2, 2004

Be very careful about being friendly with employees on this or any line. I was physically assaulted by an employee on this Costa Line. I had a witness and the cruise line executive said it was only my word against the employe,who by the way admitted he was never questioned about the assault.

The Costa executive refused to take any responsibility for the employees actions. He would not even say if the employee would be fired. By the way, I was told that this and other employees are hired as independent contractors. Con-men employees also prey on women on these cruises. I have first hand experience. They try to gain US citizenship and monetary items from unsuspecting passengers.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: February 29, 2004

This was the third cruise my wife and I have taken with Costa and unfortunately will probably be our last. I won't bore the reader with a lengthy review of ports of call, etc. as the cruise line has virtually no control over the on-shore experiences of their passengers. The ship, however, is another matter. The gaudy decorating hits you the minute you board. Maybe this scheme will be pleasing to some since, as they say: "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", but this ship looks like a circus sign painter did the color scheme. Also, there's no grand atrium area so you feel immediately cramped upon entering the ship. Our balcony cabin was fine as was the cabin steward, but the overall environment of the ship is very smokey. Costa caters to foriegn travelers and apparently their cigarettes don't carry the Surgeon General's warning because they smoke everywhere!

My wife is especially sensitive to second hand smoke and this was a big problem. The other major complaint was the food and food service. We love good Italian food, which was the main reason we chose Costa again, but this

ship's food is downright lousy, even their Italian dishes! Unfortunately the presentation and service of the food was equally poor so if you are taking this ship to eat, forget it (but if you're on a diet it would be great!). The entertainment was all no-names and/or crew members in dual roles so don't expect to see Barry Manilow or such. In summary, this cruise was a major dissapointment and it hurts me to write this because we had loved our previous Costa cruises.
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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: February 10, 2004

We sailed on the Atlantica last year and I finally calmed down enough to write a review. This was our 14th cruise and defintely the one and only time sailing with Costa.

The service and food quality were by far the worst I have ever experienced on any ship I have been on. We had a Grand suite which was nicely appointed but the air conditioning never worked properly even after repeatedly having repairmen attempt to service it. Not good in the Caribbean.

The food in the main dining room was mediocre at best. Even more disappointing was the "gourmet restaurant" The food was so bad there that after trying to eat the food, we just gave up and went back to the main dining room and had dinner there. At least the maitre'd refunded our extra charge after complaining about the inedible food and poor service.

Shore excursions were equally as bad. If you were a European guest you had special buses that were comfortable and air conditioned. Americans had old school buses that the windows barely opened. Europeans had large catamarans with a bar music nd translators. Americans had open boats

with crew members constantly looking for a tip.

Entertainment on board was so amateurish it was not worth watching.

The worst thing happened while laying on the pool deck,when small oily particles started falling on the passengers. Garbage was being burned and the exhaust stack was ejecting the residue on to the passengers ruining clothing. When complaints were made the indifference by the crew almost led to a riot. Security had to be called to prevent passengers from getting violent. The cruise line never offered to make ammends to anyone.

Bottom line - if you are european and especially Italian you might enjoy this ship except for the food. If you are American you are a lower class citizen on this ship. Costa should have spent less on garishly decorating the ship and more on training crew in better customer relations.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: February 8, 2004

Cruising "Italian Style" has to be experienced to be believed. Every announcement was in six languages.

Nothing was ever on time or as advertised. Actually it became quite funny to us. Thats Italian!

Classica have the biggest cabins I have ever seen. This was our first inside cabin. We even had a queen size bed. The ship design was very Italian. Marble everywhere. The decor went from 'Over the top" to very tacky.

Service was excellent. An English speaking staff member was available to us for any problems or help. The entertainment staff went out of their way to make sure we were having a good time. There were only 16 of us (Canadians) on the ship who spoke English.

Entertainment was excellent considering they could not say everything in six languages. So they did not say anything and had some novel and clever ways to communicate to everyone.

The food was everything from blah to excellent. Stangely enough their Italian dishes were not the best. They had the worse pizza I have ever eaten. Any little Mama Papa Italian restaurant in North America could put them to shame.

The shore excursions were much the

same as every other cruise line.

The thing that struck us most was the inconsistences in everthing they did. We enjoyed the experience but would hesitate on cruising with Costa again.

If you want something a little different in a cruise it is worth a try.

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Eastern Caribbean
Publication Date: January 25, 2004

On Sunday my wife and I drove to the Atlantica and immediately after parking the car, we picked up our necessayy papers etc. ( we booked our cruise on on the Monday before the sailing date.) Seeing my wife using a cane, we were provided with a wheel chair along with an attendant and were brought to our cabin immediately. The transition from dock to the cabin was less than 15 minutes.Very impressed.

We were amazed by the size of our cabin # 7178 with balcony. There was plenty of room and it had all we desired.

After a brief tour of our deck we went to have a buffet lunch on deck 9. The food was displayed beautifully and the vast variety was delightful.This was the beginning of a truly enjoyable cruise.

The mandatory lifeboat drill was rather humerous but the directions given in 6 languages were quite boreing. We think that 99% of the cruises knew English and the use of these other languages during the course of the cruise was not necessary.

Most days we took all our meals in the main restaurant as we prefer to be served.

The food was good and the service wasn't rushed. The waiters were friendly as were all the others who attended us. The variety might be limited, nevertheless it was delicious.

We didn't take part in many of the shore excursions offered at the ports we visited, but did go on just 2. These were enjoyable and the persons involved were knowledgable and friendly.

The ship is truly a gem and it is so large that each day we discovered rooms that we had never seen. All were beautifully decorated and illuminated.

The many opportunites afforded to the passengers were as varied as the number of people cruising. We selected a few and the staff that offered these were great and made us appreciate what was offered.

The 7 days were refreshing and enjoyable. This was our second cruise on the Costa line and we were happy we went.

Before going, we read notes of what others said about this ship and were were wary. Whatever these people said differed from what we experienced.

It was one of the more enjoyable cruises we have taken and we have take quite a few,18 to be exact.

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Western Caribbean
Publication Date: January 18, 2004

I have just returned from a weeks Cruise on board Costa Atlantica, which commenced on Sunday 18th January, cabin was inside on floor 6. I purchased this cruise as a Christmas present for my sister-in-law. Destinations were Key West, Cozumel, Jamaica, and Grand Cayman.

I am a very keen traveller. I spend at least 7 weeks every year travelling. I have visited over 50 different countries in the last 12 years, and in the last 5 years I have been on 12 different cruises. This was my first experience with Costa .

Unfortunately this has to be my worst travel experience ever.

I would like to share with you my week on board Costa Atlantica. I hope this helps you to make the right decision if you are contemplating a Costa Cruise. I have sailed many times before with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, and Princess, all of which have been fine.

When we arrived at Port Everglades it was 13:30 and there was already a queue of at least 200 people outside the terminal building. There were no porters ready to take our luggage when we got out of the taxi. We found a Costa

representative and asked her what to do. She told us to leave our luggage with the big pile of luggage and get in line.

We were approached by a luggage handler who told us that our luggage labels were not correct. I told him that these were supplied directly from Costa . They had the Costa logo and had our cabin number on. He said we would have to join the long queue of people to get new labels. I asked him to check this information with another luggage handler. The other luggage handler said that the labels were ok. Then to our surprise the first luggage handler said "Where is my tip. I usually get a tip?"

We went to stand in the line and after 40 minutes we saw Costa assistants waving immigration forms, saying we must get these and fill them in first. After 40 minutes of queuing, I did not feel like starting again. So we ignored the person who told us to fill them in and waited until we got to the reception desk. The lady at the reception desk said we didn't need to fill in the immigration form because she already had the required information in our registration details. I noticed that when we registered we were not able to leave details of our credit cards. The receptionist told us we had plenty of time to register our card details when we got on board. We later found this to be a huge disadvantage. I wanted to register our credit card on day 1, but the queue was so long we decided to go back the next day. We stayed in the queue for 15 minutes on day 2, but then got fed up with waiting. We eventually registered our credit card details on day 3, after queuing for 20 minutes.

I also noticed that when we registered, we did not have to give our passports in. This also turned out to be a huge disadvantage. We were forced to take our passports with us every time we wanted to get off and on the ship. All other cruise ships I have been on, take a photo-id picture when you first come on board so you don't need your passports. I really do not like walking around everywhere with my passport. It meant we were unable to go jet ski-ing or feel comfortable leaving our beach bags unattended when we were on trips or swimming at beaches.

After we had registered at reception we were told to wait in a large hall area until our number was called. This didn't happen for at least 40 minutes. All other cruise ships offer a complimentary cold soft drink whilst you are waiting to get on board. There were no drinks available, which I found a bit strange.

Some people approached us and asked us where our Jazz badges were. We said we had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Then we discovered that the cruise we had booked was a 'Smooth Cruise Jazz Tour'. No-one from Costa had advised us. Our booking agents hadn't advised us. We were devastated, because we both love jazz, and found we were not included in any of the events. We later discovered that Costa had filled half the ship with Jazz customers. The other 50% seemed to have no idea that they were on a cruise which had devoted 50% of the ship to jazz activities and concerts. We had all booked with different Cruise agents, but not one of them had identified that this was a jazz cruise. I was so angry that I phoned my husband at home and ask him to contact my cruise agent to see why they hadn't advised us. They told him that Costa had not advised them. As with all other cruise ships the photographer was available to take your photo when stepping on board. But there was no way of getting past if you didn't want the photo. This really slowed down the process of getting on board. And I noticed that the first ship photograph featured a picture of yourself plus a long queue of people waiting behind you! Not very personal. In general, the ships photographers created photos of a very poor quality, and they took the photographs in positions where you could see other people in the background, or there could be a shop sign above you, or the photos were not centred properly.

We eventually got on board at 16:00pm. This is two and a half hours after getting out of the taxi. Not a very good start.

We headed immediately for the buffet. There was only one station open. There were some variations on pasta but it looked very dried out and there wasn't much left. But we were hungry so we tried. The pasta was dry and luke-warm so we left it.

We went back to our cabins and discovered that our dining card indicated first sitting. I was absolutely horrified, because I had confirmed 3 times with my booking agency that I was on second sitting, in writing, via email, and verbally. I absolutely hate first sitting and it would be good enough reason for me to cancel a cruise. I immediately went to see the Maitre D. The Maitre D on board this ship has to be the rudest, most arrogant and unhelpful person you could ever come across. He said there was absolutely nothing he could do. I told him that I was absolutely 100% sure that my request for second sitting was confirmed before I left the UK, but he simply would not believe me. He took my name and number but said that he couldn't do anything else until tomorrow.

First seating dining was due to commence at 18:00pm. By 18:15pm our bags had still not arrived. I went out to the corridors to see what was happening. There were probably at least 20 people on every single floor waiting for their bags by the lifts. Most people were absolutely furious and really fed up. After checking every single floor to make sure our bags had not been mis-delivered we decided to go to dinner. We were dressed in shorts and beach shoes. It was very embarrassing.

I don't know what time our bags eventually turned up, but it must have been after 9pm. We heard later that some people didn't get all their bags until midnight.

On day 2, I went to find the Maitre D. I was told he was unavailable so I spoke to his assistant. Another unbelievably rude man. He was dealing with an American couple who wanted to swap from 2nd to 1st sitting. I said I would be more than happy to exchange my card with theirs, but the Maitre D had already torn up their card, and wouldn't let me change with them. I asked him to check the seating change plan to make sure that I was included. He said that my new 2nd sitting card was being prepared at the moment and that he didn't have the lists. He told me to go back to my room and wait for the card to be delivered. I told him that I wanted to see the lists straightaway. After five minutes of begging with him, he simply pointed me in the direction of a staircase and said, "Go upstairs and speak to the Maitre D".

The Maitre D was sitting with all his assistants sorting out the change of seating plan. He lied to me and told me no-one had been swapped. I told him that I knew he was lying because I had just stood downstairs next to an American couple who had swapped about 3 minutes ago. He told me that was not possible. After another long argument he asked me to identify the assistant Maitre D who had made the swap. Eventually they tracked him down and then they both lied saying no swaps had been made. I told the Maitre D that from day 3 onwards I would simply turn up at second sitting and I would expect to be seated. He simply waved his arms in the air and said that if that's what I wanted to do then so be it.

About an hour after this incident I was walking along some corridors to get back to my cabin, and I noticed that some cabins had cards posted in their letterboxes. These cards were for change of dinner seating to second sitting. I was furious. The Maitre D on the Costa Atlantica, together with his assistants are rude, arrogant, liars. They need to go back to school to learn how to handle difficult situations with courtesy and respect, not arrogant superiority and a total disregard for customers needs.

On night 3 we turned up for dinner about ½ hour after the scheduled commencement. There were large notices outside saying that second seating was full. In fact there were many completely empty or half empty tables. We asked the assistant Maitre D to seat us. He said he had a perfect table that we could sit at all week. We were horrified to be seated next to the bus-boy counter. Throughout our first course all we could hear was plates, knives and forks being thrown into the bowls, plates being scraped, waiters continuously bumping into us from behind. The assistant Maitre D asked us how we liked our table. I said I was disgusted. I said how would you like it if you brought your wife on board and you were seated next to the bus boy counter. Then he replied very strangely "Madam, I would not bring my wife on board because the ship is full". We had no idea what he was talking about. I told him that second seating was half empty and there was no reason he needed to seat us where he did. He said "Madam I have tried my very best and there is nothing more I can do". He walked off and so did we. We were too angry to finish our dinner.

On night 4 we turned up late again and he attempted to sit us on our own again. We spotted some newly made friends with some empty spaces so we moved there.

Second sitting was almost always only 2/3rds full for the entire cruise.

After speaking to many people on the cruise it became obvious what had happened and why there was such a mix up with the dining arrangements. There were many people who had confirmed 2nd seating dining before arriving on the Cruise. But in fact what Costa had done was to move all the Jazz participants and the Jewish Kosher party to second seating and put everyone else on first sitting. This was to accommodate the entertainment time slots. There was only one main show per night so if you did not go on first sitting you would miss it. My belief is that if Costa would have told people in advance that this was a jazz cruise with very limited entertainment and first sitting dining only, then people would have chosen another week or another option.

Now on to the quality of the food. It was very poor. The choice was very limited. It was almost always luke - warm and sometimes even cold. The pasta dishes nearly always looked dried up. The vegetables reminded me of school dinners in the 1960's when they served up mixed diced vegetables (carrots, swede and beans). The salad bar was the worst I have ever seen any where in the world. Here are some of the choices : a tray of plain lettuce leaves, a tray of whole raw carrots, a tray of plain raw cauliflower, some plain sliced cucumber.

The buffet area was totally disorganised. No-one ever really knew if the buffet stations contained the same food or if they were different. There were always long queues. The cutlery buckets were regularly empty. Breakfast choice was disgraceful. At lunchtime there was only ever a choice of two deserts. Usually these were sugar free jelly and a horrible square of sponge cake with synthetic cream. The ice cream was watery. The drinks machines were very often out of action. On one occasion I had to try five drinks stations before I could find an orange juice dispenser that worked. One day I had squid from the buffet, but the chef had left razor sharp bones in it. They were like glass.

The description of food in the buffet was terrible. The signs only ever said (for example) Fish, Lamb, Chicken etc, which meant you had no idea how the dish had been prepared or you had no idea what kind of fish you were eating. Even if you asked the assistants didn't always know. The buffet staff all looked very bored and weren't very helpful. Dishes weren't cleared away from tables very quickly.

In the evening main dining the food was slightly better, but still not hot. We had to send two plates of food back on one occasion because the food was actually cold to touch. I am not exaggerating. The waiter simply took the dinner plates away, put them in the microwave and handed them back again. So now everything was piping hot but the herbs and salad had wilted! I noticed that everyone struggled on lobster night. Usually, on other cruise ships, the lobster tail is loosened by the restaurant staff, so that people don't have to struggle. The lobster was served still attached to the shell with no dressing or butter. It is the blandest lobster I have ever tasted in my life. Most other dishes were lacking in flavour.

There was no wine waiter ever available. Once the wine had been served by the assistant waiter, you then had to continue to serve yourself all night.

So to the entertainment. The first day was encouraging. The show (of which there was only one performance) was at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We had an ex member of the Platters (not one of the originals I hasten to add who must all now be long gone) - second generation. He was very good.

Second day was a really bad 3 man circus act. I couldn't watch them again after this performance. My sister-in-law struggled through their second show for a short while but gave up after the juggler kept dropping things and after she heard them try to sing. She said it was awful and walked out long before the end. The dance shows were just average. Not bad, but not good. But the show that really took us by surprise as the worst cruise entertainment we have ever witnessed was the night the poolside steel band were given the prime spot as the main evening entertainment. They didn't say a word. They just performed tune after tune. A plaque was displayed with the song they were currently playing. It was awful. Most people had walked out before the end. I lasted until song number three.

To try and cheer ourselves up we went in for the slots tournament. On my last two cruises with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean I have won both a first and second prize. The whole thing with Costa was a shambles. We had enough people for a single round, which went quite well. Then the original organiser walked off and left us in the hands of a young casino lad who didn't speak hardly any English, and who had NO idea what he was doing. He was letting people play just as and when they pleased. One woman had the top three scores, and couldn't understand why she wouldn't be allowed to play three machines in the final! It wasn't really her fault. This boy hadn't explained any rules. Then we discovered that one of the tournament machines hadn't been set up correctly. It was locking out for about 30 seconds after every major win. So people started screaming that they wanted to take their turn again. We were screaming for this boy to get a technician but he just stood there looking gormless. So we screamed for a manager. In the end I had to call someone over myself. Altogether three different casino personnel got involved. In the end, by general consensus, we allowed the lady with the three top scores to play two machines in the final, and we had to play the final as two separate rounds because two of the machines became faulty. I would have loved the Gaming Board regulators to have witnessed this experience. It was simply dreadful. And the prize money? $200 for one and a half hours of screaming and shouting.

We had a couple of problems with the excursion desk. We had booked a Sea Helmet Diving trip, but had received no confirmation by way of tickets delivered to our room. However we had heard from other people that they too had booked trips where the tickets hadn't arrived. But not to worry, they would have a note of our names. So we turned up at the pierside to be told that the trip was off due to lack of participants. This was the first we had heard of it! I can't believe we weren't notified on the previous evening.

Another trip which appeared to be totally disorganised was the Dolphin encounter & Dunn's River falls. We were walked by a Costa guide to a taxi waiting in the car-park which promptly dropped us off 10 minutes later at Dolphin Cove. When the Dolphin experience was complete we went to find our taxi which had gone. We were told to jump in any taxi, which we found a bit confusing. Then we were taken to Dunns River falls which was also a bit chaotic if you didn't want to climb the falls. We weren't really sure where to go or how we were supposed to get back to the ship. Some pre-information would have been useful.

On the two days at sea we sat by the pool. We sat by the main pool and wanted to have a dip in the hot tub, but decided against when we saw one adult with 5 children all under the age of about 8. What really put me off was that the youngest child had been allowed into the hot tub with a nappy on. YUK!!! There was no control over children in the hot tub, despite the signs saying no children under the age of 12 allowed. Children were also running riot in the Adult Only pool and hot tub. They were also left to play with the life saving rings.

Something else I found very distasteful around the pool is that men were smoking cigars. This is not usually allowed on other cruise ships.

Continuing on the poolside theme, Costa must win the award for the most uncomfortable deckside beds ever. The padding was rock hard, and felt like you were lying on wood. It gave me a really numb backside and made my back ache. I saw some people were trying to make themselves more comfortable by putting two of these rock hard cushions on top of each other, or by laying on four towels at a time. I tried the 4 towel technique myself but it didn't work!

There were a couple of other disturbing incidents which really summed up my Costa experience for me. I was sitting by the pool early in the morning. There was only one other lady looking after three very young children. There were 4 poolside bar staff just standing by the bar with their trays waiting for custom, having a good chat. One of the female bar waitresses went over to the mother and said "Can I get you a drink". The lady said "I would love a drink of water". The waitress pointed to the other side of the deck and said "the water machine is over there". Then she walked back to her bar staff friends and continued to chat. Now how is that for friendly and helpful?

The second incident happened after the captains cocktail party. We were leaving the theatre and there was a mother attempting to get her wheelchair bound daughter down a couple of steps. The ships priest was standing next to this. One of the Entertainment staff rushed to help. She was wearing a very lavish long ball gown and obviously found it difficult to help but she did her best. Some guests close by came to her assistance whilst the priest just stood and watched. I was really shocked at this.

I spoke to many many people about their cruise experience on Costa Atlantica. I am not lying when I say that NOT ONE PERSON was complimentary. For most it was their worst cruise experience ever. We also spoke to a lot of staff who were on their first Costa contract. They were very clear to tell us it would be their last. Most of the jazz people seemed to have a great time. But this was nothing to do with the services provided by Costa . It was because their jazz entertainment was superb. They were in agreement about the poor quality of everything else.

One of the few things which I could not fault was the cabin and the cabin steward. Both were excellent. It would be nicer to get some fancy chocolate laid on your pillow at night (as with most other cruise companies) rather than a boiled sweet. But such is life!

The cabin TV had very limited channels. There was no free film channel as with other cruise companies. There was no CNN. The most hilarious channel was the one with the tour director. He was the most boring lifeless unenthusiastic tour director I have ever seen. He gave his commentary slumped over a desk for the full duration. He made you feel really depressed.

The daily newspaper was lacking in detail. There was no weather forecast, no destination overview, just a map with recommended shopping. It was not that well constructed.

There were always long queues at the Excursions desk and at Guest relations. All times I went to Guest relations I had to queue for just under forty minutes.

And the icing on the cake? Well I just happened to overhear that a family were travelling on the same organised trip as us on the last day after disembarkation, and so they had been sent specially coloured Pink luggage labels, so that their luggage could be outsorted. We had booked the same trip. On the last day I was expecting to see pink luggage labels, but they were purple. I stood for the regular 40 minutes at guest relations to discover (purely by chance) that we had got the wrong luggage labels. On the last night, I passed a couple of other families having discussions with their cabin boys, because they appeared to have the wrong luggage labels too.

We were first in queue to get on to the coach for our final Fort Lauderdale trip. But somehow this seemed to be totally chaotic as well. It took about 15 minutes before we finally got our luggage on board the coach.

My conclusion? Costa cruises are regularly discounted and always seem to be a good deal. I cannot comment on other Costa ships but as far as Costa Atlantica is concerned, avoid it. Pay an extra £100-£200 for another cruise line. You will be grateful in the end. This was certainly my first and last Costa cruise.

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