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.
My husband and I selected this 5-day cruise from Savona to Venice for its good value price and the ports of call. We chose the best deck - 8 - balcony cabin 8101 on the port side. Port side was the better side for views in all ports but the better choice of cabin would have been amidships - around 8166. In fact the two lower decks would have been equally good.
A reasonable pre-cruise hotel is Hotel Coccodrillo in Varazze, half an hour from the port, they supply taxi to cruise port for 10 euros each. We arrived at Savona cruise port at 11.30 a.m. for an advertised 1.00 p.m. check-in. On delivering baggage to handler, we were given a number - 13 - the number of our group to be called! The Costa cruise terminal building is spacious (even for 2,000 passengers), airy and modern with lots of light. There is a restaurant/bar area with efficient counter service, though expensive. Check-in did begin at 1.00 and group boarding according to number was smooth - about 20 minutes between each number, so we boarded at 2.45 p.m. Be warned, allnon-EU passengers must surrender their passports to the ship until the end of the trip - a photocopy is given to passenger for re-boarding at each port.
Cabin was spacious and closet space better than on other cruises - one hanging closet each and a shelf closet. Bathroom also quite adequate and cabin steward was extremely pleasant - we received bucket of ice on request each evening, as morning's supply had melted. Balcony adequate for two chairs and table. Television stations in English were very limited.
The number of English-speaking passengers was small - about 200 out of a total of 2,000 - although we were seated - second seating, with an American and an English couple at an 8 seater table. Second seating was nominally at 9.15 p.m. - a bit later than the normal 8.30 p.m. on other cruises that we have taken - and in fact there was a huge queue to get into the dining room each evening at this time, so it was really a 9.30 entry. We had two waiters to our table, but though very willing and pleasant, they seemed to have too many people to serve for optimum service time. Breakfast buffet was satisfactory, except for the plastic glasses and coffee mugs. Served breakfast in the dining room was very slow, too many people.
Naples - first port of call - due at noon, we were able to disembark at 11.45 a.m. and, as we had been there before, we took a ferry, right beside the cruise port at Molo Beverello, to Capri, arriving 50 minutes later. (We recommend taking a taxi to Anacapri and then the chairlift to the top of Monte Solare) Ferries and hydrofoils also leave from Molo Beverello to Sorrento. Our tablemates who took the ship's Pompeii tour were very impressed, but those who took the ship's special train to Sorrento were less so.
Malta - new cruise terminal being built - good taxi dispatch arrangement before you leave the terminal - there is a fixed list of tariffs for certain tours offered by taxi, and tickets are sold and issued there. You then give the ticket to the first taxi in line outside - we shared a two-hour taxi ride with another couple and went to the old capital of Mdina which was well worth a visit, and after visiting a few craft shops we were dropped back at the city of Valletta gates to explore on our own there.
Corfu - chaotic arrangements on the ship for disembarking, as they were issuing free (for 2,000 people!)passes for two shuttle buses into town - one to the terminal building which is a 15 minute walk from the ship, and another into town. The ticket system was quite unnecessary, one could just have walked off the ship and taken the first shuttle - first come first served. The ship's newsletter also informed that it was a 40 minute drive into town - quite incorrect - it was more like a forty minute walk. Result was we walked to the terminal and took a shuttle back to the ship, thus missing Corfu town.
Dubrovnik - tickets were issued for the tenders to go ashore - luckily this was better arranged. I picked up two tickets for tender number 5 after breakfast, went back to the cabin and returned to hear number 5 called about a half hour after picking up the tickets. This was most people's favourite port - lovely small walled city - we walked the walls, lots of nice shops, unspoilt by signs, very friendly English-speaking tourist-oriented people, could have spent longer here.
Venice - one highlight of the trip was sailing into Venice on a Sunday morning at 7.00 a.m. when all was quiet, fantastic view of St. Mark's Square before the crowds. Disembarkation fairly slow but organized - bus from ship to Piazzale Roma leaves you at point to take vaporetto into Venice proper. Later that evening we went to a point on the same outer canal to watch the Costa Mediterranea depart at 6.00 p.m, dwarfing everything around. Overall, we had good value for money and visited interesting ports. The food and service were satisfactory but not wonderful. More suited to a Mediterranean clientele than to English-speaking.
Myself, my wife and four children (aged 10 to 14) cruised in the Eastern Med, starting and ending in Savona, Italy. This was our fifth -- but worst -- cruise.
Embarkation Embarkation was a nightmare. We were kept waiting for ages in the terminal building. There was a numbering system, so you knew when your number was coming up -- but had no way of knowing how long it would take. After waiting about an hour, we went through the worst boarding process imaginable, with far too many steps and lots of duplication involved -- e.g., four separate passport checks.
Cabins & Attendant Once on board we found we had been incorrectly allocated cabins. The root cause of the problem was the travel agent (Cruisedeals.co.uk - more on them later), so the reception desk stood their ground and refused to change our accommodations -- not very flexible of them, but admittedly not their fault. The cabins themselves were very clean and about the same size as on other cruise liners we have sailed on. Our cabin attendant was marvelous, a real gem -- sympathetic about our problems, very meticulous in her work, andalways cheerful. We canceled the ridiculously high standard gratuity charge in favor of giving it all to her in cash at the end of the cruise.
Food & Dining The dining experience was not great; in fact, it left a lot to be desired relative to other liners. The worst part was having to dine at set times. The service was poor and slow, even by European standards. You could eat buffet style outside of the main restaurants, but were offered nothing more than bland pizza and salad. The wine waiters were slow and sometimes forgot your order altogether. I think there were far too few waiters for both food and drink, which caused the problem.
Entertainment This was fairly limited. It needed to be more visual than verbal due to the number of different languages spoken by the passengers on board. Generally the quality of the acts was poor. The kids' entertainment was marvelous, however; my kids really enjoyed the activities and they ran to the club for long hours each day.
Reception The reception desk was slow, with long queues. It had an unfriendly staff who could pretend simply to not understand when asked something difficult -- very, very poor.
On Deck There was plenty of space to sit, and usually we did not have much trouble finding deck chairs -- except for days at sea, but that is standard on most ships. Waiters out on deck were few and far between, and seemed to wait for you to approach them rather than walking about asking if anyone wanted a drink. I tended to give up and walk to the bar myself. Again, there were far too few of them compared to, say, a Thomson cruise.
Itinerary The itinerary was marvelous: Savona, Alexandria, Cyprus, Rhodes, Izmir, Athens, Katakolon -- great places to go, and a very well-thought-out route. We spent two days early on cruising to warmer climes, giving everyone time to find their way about; then we had a port stop every day, other than the last day when the ship was heading north again.
The Ship Overall, the ship was very good. It's the exact same ship as the Carnival Glory, but with some different uses for various rooms. The gym was very good, and not too busy other than mid-morning (especially on at sea days).
Overall Summary The cruise had too many downsides. Compared to other cruise ships, it was definitely the worst in our experience, so we would never sail with them again. It didn't help that the reception desk staffers were not interested in our initial cabin problems; but even after that it was not the best of cruises.
Regarding the cabin problems, a quick word on Cruisedeals.co.uk: I booked the cruise asking specifically for two cabins capable of sleeping three people each, i.e. expecting two cabins each with four berths. When the tickets arrived, I saw that they allocated my wife and I to one cabin and my four kids (the oldest 14) to the other. I assumed this was a nominal allocation and that we could reorganize ourselves into two rooms of three (girls in one, boys in the other) upon boarding. However, just to be safe I called Cruisedeals to get it sorted out.
They did not fix it, and it transpires by their own admission they didn't even log the call on their system. I called them several times from the ship, but they refused to fix it, stating that our booking matched what their system said. I formally complained in writing on my return but was fobbed off with the same line. Beware !! I would never trust them with a booking again.
The bottom line: a crowded, noisy, glitzy environment; adequate cabin service; mediocre food; and corporate policies that are both cowardly and deeply insulting to American citizens and to Jews.
Details: The Costa Fortuna is an immense ship. The first problem comes at Costa's Savona, Italy embarkation terminal, where they try to debark 3,200 passengers between 8am and noon; and then embark 3,200 passengers between noon and 5pm sailing time. We arrived on our hotel transfer bus from Genoa at 12:30. We waited three hours in the crowded, boring terminal hall until our number was called; then we stood for another half hour in a security line. We finally reached our cabin four hours after arriving at the terminal.
Debarkation was similar; the ship docked at 8am, and it was 12:30 pm when our bus reached our hotel in Genoa.
Every time you leave the ship for a shore excursion, or return (hot and tired) from a shore excursion, you will spend time in a long queue. The worst was a time on Crete when Costa scheduled seventeen (I counted them) full tour coaches into the same restaurant for lunch at the sametime. We stood in that queue for over one hour waiting to reach the one serving line. It was horrible.
The interior of the ship is glitzy and gimmicky, like a second-tier Vegas casino. There is noise all the time -- the only quiet place is your cabin, if your neighbors are out. Even in the ship's tiny library, the PA announcements are at a piercing level. Every PA announcement is repeated five times, in Italian, French, English, Spanish and German. Sometimes Japanese is added. There are constant PA announcements for the many special events the ship uses to separate you from your money: art auctions, fashion shows, etc. When the PA isn't blaring, there's loud Euro-pop muzak going.
There is one casual buffet where all 3,200 people trample each other for breakfast, lunch, and to pig-out on cake and cookies at tea time. However it is not an alternative for supper, if you want to escape the dining room experience: the buffet only provides pizza and salads after 5pm. For anything else you have to go and be sociable at table for 8, and sit through a typical Italian antipasto, primi, secondi, dessert menu. The food ranged from just-ok to inedible.
The cowardly and insulting part is how Costa knuckles under to the Libyan authorities. Costa insists on visiting Tripoli. But Libya requires that (a) NOBODY on the ship carries an Israeli passport (2) NOBODY on the ship has an Israeli visa stamp in their passport (3) no U.S. passport holders are to leave the ship in a Libyan port. Costa took great pains to implement the anti-semitic policies (1) and (2), warning us repeatedly that if we snuck on the ship with an Israeli visa stamp, we'd be put ashore. And they provided no special events or entertainment to compensate their American guests who had to spend a day on ship in port (with the bars closed because Libya doesn't allow alcohol sales either).
Costa also took away everyone's passport and held them for the duration of the cruise. Europeans got their passports back the day before debarkation. Not so U.S. citizens -- our passports were held by the ship until the Italian authorities could "inspect" them -- as if they hadn't already checked them on arrival in Italy and when boarding the vessel -- and we didn't get them back until an hour after the ship docked at the end of the cruise.
There are so many ports that could be substituted for Tripoli -- Malta, Rhodes, Sardinia, any Greek island -- it is just a blatant insult to Jews and to Americans generally that Costa bows to the Libyan's outrageous demands. And infuriating that the Italian police -- or somebody -- wanted to specially "inspect" American passports.
Based on this I absolutely would NOT recommend this ship or this line to any U.S. citizen -- or to anyone of Jewish descent -- or indeed to anyone who likes peaceful or tasteful surroundings.
This cruise was our 14th cruise in 15 years and one of our best. For the value the cabins with balconies are outstanding. Overall decor of the ship,layout and design was very good. The food was also very good. LOts of Itialian and pasta dishes but still very good quality. Service was also very good and overall great experience with the staff. For the value received for expense paid I would put this criuse in our top 3 and highely receommend. We went on the eastern caribbean trip to Tortola ,Virgin Gorda. Best destination in the caribbean. Forget the negative reviews, if you pay less than $1,000 per person for week long cruise this once is hard to beat for value received.
Just got home from fabulous week!
I'll try and keep this brief, to please the editors of this fine cruise review on-line periodical. This was our 5th or 6th cruise and the first on Costa. After reading some of the reviews I was a bit hesitant, but any concerns were completely unfounded. First off, embarcation was fine. We flew down on Sunday, the day of departure, and had no problems.
Folks were extremely polite and efficient. We were aboard in about 20 minutes.
We expected an extremely "gaudy" ship, but were pleasantly surprised. She was very well layed out and beautiful. Our cabin, a balcony on deck 7 was as nice as on any ship we have been on ( which includes Princess, Carnival, and Celebrity).
The food, with one exception, was impeccable. The one exception was resolved by the entire staff ensuring that everything was perfect for the remainder of the cruise). We are New Yorkers and are pretty finicky about food, so when we say the food was very good, we mean it!
The entire staff, from our cabin staff, to dining room staff, bar staff, and casino personnel (including both Gabriella's)were warm, wonderful, and professional).
Our ports, St. Martin, Tortola, and Nassau were good, but we should have gone to the Baths in Tortola, which we didn't. For those of you who read or write terrible reviews of this ship and line, we are sorry and if you write them, you probably got a vacation that was a self-fulfilling prophecy!!!
Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and if you have any questions do not hesitate to e-mail me!
Food was VERY poor. Service was bad - you felt you were bothering the crew if you asked them a question. Most did not speak English. Our cabin steward, Jimmie, was wonderful. Entertainment was not good. Very much like a high school production. I do not recommend this cruise line. I talked to many people on-board, all had the same opinion - about 95% were negative. Beware, that's all.
Just returned from a Western Carribean Cruise aboard the Costa Mediterranea. The cruise staff were very pleasant and helpful. Our waiter, Ruel was excellent and the assistant waiter, Sahika was excellent. Our cabin steward, Jimmie was very friendly and helpful. The overall cruise was a delight and I would definitely go again. The Mediterranea is a beautiful ship!
"Con te Partiro'...," once again we are cruising "Italian Style" on the Costa Mediterranea --- our third trip on this excellent ship. Naturally, if we return to the same ship, we must have enjoyed ourselves immensely on previous cruises --- and we did! So, this poses the question, what is so good about Costa that we find ourselves returning twelve times in all?
Let's start with the crew. Captain Massimo Garbarino, we have considered a friend since he commanded the Costa Romantica where our son was married on February 14th several years ago. He always takes a personal interest in passengers' views of cruising. Costa Mediterranea Hotel Director Ann Ryan, whom we had previously met on the Costa Atlantica, is dedicated to following up on any inquiry by a passenger. She ensures that each passenger has the most enjoyable trip possible. When speaking with her, she proudly noted that recently the Mediterranea in the last two sanitation inspections by CDC (Center for Disease Control) has received two perfect scores of 100. This is a nearly improbable feat, denoting that the ship is impeccably run.
There are many countries represented among the crew and passengersleading to a wonderful international feeling on board. The Mediterranea was built in Kvaerna Masa Shipyards in Finland and Captain Garbarino oversaw the entire construction. She was outfitted in Italy and many crew members were on site studying and practicing their Italian, and then each summer the Mediterranea returns to her home port in Savona, Italy and cruises the Mediterranean Sea. From the moment passengers board, the air is full of the melodic Italian language. A very nostalgic sound to Vincent's ears since he was born in Italy. There are many languages spoken among the passengers from USA, Europe, S. America, and Asia. Our butler Ronald delivered the morning papers in both English and Italian, making us feel at home (where we normally listen to CNN and the BBC while Vincent reads the local US and Italian papers on line). It seems that old academic habits die hard! We are both retired teachers. The continental influence and the opportunities for speaking a foreign language always draw us back to Costa. Then, of course, the food on board is deliciously incessant. Thus, when you can't afford to go to Europe, but want a taste of the Continent --- Sail Costa.
EMBARKATION Ft. Lauderdale's Port Everglades is easily accessed off I-95, just beyond the Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Security is well organized and Pier numbers and Ship names are clearly posted. Embarkation was set for 1:30pm, but boarding began shortly before noon. We arrived at 12:30pm and went straight on with wheelchair assistance. We were in our suite before 1:00pm, where champagne, fresh fruit and canapés greeted us. This suite was all the way aft on Deck 6 with a large balcony. We checked on our dinner reservations: early seating (5:45pm) a table for two near the entrance to the restaurant --- excellent! We were off to the buffet of rare roast beef, fresh salads, pastas, fruits, fine cheeses and desserts --- very nice.
SHIP We have reported in detail on this ship before (see 2004 and 2005 reviews), so here we want to draw more on how the ship's layout is conducive to creating an Italian atmosphere. The Costa Mediterranea was launched in 2003 and is registered in Italy; she is 86,000 gross tons and 960 ft. long with 12 decks and 1,057 cabins of which 678 have balconies. Double occupancy is 2,114 passengers with a crew of 920. Her cruising speed is 22 knots and a top speed of 24 knots. Her design is based on Carnival's Spirit Class and the Costa Atlantica is her sister ship. She has 2 Azipods and 6 diesel electric generators. According to Captain Garbarino, she can do one mile on eighty-five gallons of fuel.
The flow of the promenade on Deck 3 Bacco is reminiscent of the classic liners of yesteryear where the passenger could walk all around the ship on the promenade deck. The Winter Terrace Walk is accessed from the outside promenade forward or the doors adjacent the theatre. This lovely indoor promenade has large porthole shaped windows overlooking the sea. There are many tables and seats by each window, which are great for conversations, doing puzzles, playing cards, reading, or just relaxing and sea watching. This is an example of excellent flow, since this walk way goes all around the prow of the ship, back to the promenade. Toward midship on Deck 3 is the immense Oriental Lounge with its huge curving bar and piano strains of music. Continuing toward midship are the Via Condotti Shops. When leaving the Osiris Theatre on Deck 2 Tersicore, passengers pass the Piazza Casanova (with its multitude of "putti": white cherubs), a spacious room which has constant activities throughout the day and evening --- trivia, games, dancing lessons and live music. Going aft from Piazza Casanova on Deck 2, passengers pass through the Grand Canal Casino, one of the most spacious casinos afloat, no crowded aisles here.
The same flow is also evident on Deck 9 Armonia with the two Pools forming open spaces. When passengers leave the Ischia Spa they pass the pools and on into the Perla del Lago Buffet, then toward aft to the Apollo Spa and pool with its fine Apollo statue by Rigamonti. From the moment passengers enter the ship they are surrounded by artifacts and motifs of that inimitable Mediterranean area: Venetian Characters, Egyptian Obelisks, Grecian statuary, all contributing to a fantastic cruise atmosphere.
FOOD & SERVICE Guest Relations Manager Daniele Puma is very visible and easily accessed through the Passenger Services Desk. He is very capable of answering and solving passenger needs, not to mention handsome and with delightful continental manners. Each morning our Butler Ronald, in white gloves, delivered our full American breakfast punctually at 7:15am: eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, rolls, and fruit marmalades, including Mary's favorite apricot. Ronald set the table with a white linen cloth and a floral bud vase, which we collected daily, so that by the end of the cruise, there were six on our shelf, but, with the mirror behind them, they gave the optical illusion of twelve vases..., lovely.
The Buffet on Deck 9 is abundant with many stations, so lines are short. Salad Bars, fresh fruit displays, hot entrees and made to order sandwiches are all available; the perfect touch is the Pizzeria and ice cream/dessert area. We had lunch there on the first day. However, we prefer lunch in the main dining room, Restaurant degli Argentieri, with its walls lined with vitrines displaying copies of famous silver pieces (vases, candle sticks, pitchers, etc.) and murals depicting Italian pastoral scenes. We enjoyed the special attention of Maitre D' Fernando Sanna (quite elegant in his tails) and the two 2nd Maitres D' Luigi Cuomo and Leonardo Moccia. They are all very observant and make sure every passenger feels special at every meal.
Dinner each evening at Table #90 was enjoyable with our Waiter Valerio Olano and his assistant Victor D'Sousa. They were perfect and anticipated our every needs. Prosciutto and Grana Padana, Mozzarella di Bufala or Bruschetta magically appear as antipasto in addition to the menu's long lists of appetizers, soups, salads, pasta dishes, entrees, desserts, cheese plates and fresh fruit. If one cannot find a preference in these lists, there are the "Always Available" items: Caesar Salad; Spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce or with meat balls and basil; Fillet of Salmon poached, broiled or grilled; Skinless Chicken Breast, also prepared as one likes it; and many side dishes of vegetable and potatoes, fried or baked with butter or sour cream, bacon bits and chives or anything also available upon request.
Some of our favorite appetizers are the following: Beef Carpaccio with shaved Parmigiano and black olive tapenade, Escargots Bourguignon, Bresaola with tomato, arugula and Parmigiano, Vitello tonnato (thin sliced veal with tuna sauce), etc. Favorite soups: Cream of forest mushrooms, Pasta e Fagioli, French Onion Soup, Consommé Stracciatella, etc. Favorite salads: Tossed Spinach Salad (with bacon bits, chopped hard boiled eggs and croutons), Seasonal Tender Leaves (Belgian endive and Radicchio) and other mixed salads (i.e. water cress, spinach and pine nuts, etc.). Favorite pasta dishes: Bucatini alla Amatriciana (long pasta with pancetta and onion in a piquant tomato sauce), Tagliolini alla Bolognese with Porcini mushrooms, Penne all'arrabbiata (with a piquant tomato sauce), etc. Some of our favorite Entrees: Roasted Rack of Lamb, Ossobuco alla Milanese (veal shank in a special sauce), Fillet Mignon grilled to perfection, Mahi Mahi filets, Veal Liver with onions, etc. Everything was "delizioso!" Compliments to the Chef.
The Gala Dinners are especially enjoyable with candles and flowers on the tables and complimentary champagne for all. Desserts included Cannoli, Italian cheese cake, Baba', Tiramisu and the typical pies: apple, cherry, pecan, lemon meringue, and all sorts of freshly made ice creams and sherbets, or International cheeses and fresh fruits, etc. The wait staff are on their toes and they greet passengers in many languages. Quite a number of the staff are budding polyglots!
The festive atmosphere in the dining room includes many types of Italian music from Opera (Aida's Triumphal March), to Neapolitan Classics to Modern music. Passengers will most likely find themselves dancing the Tarantella with a waiter. Food is great, the atmosphere is fine, a taste of Italy is wonderful. We especially enjoyed 2nd Maitre D' Leonardo from Bari, Italy whose kind attentions we very much appreciated. The Club Medusa is the upscale Italian restaurant, reservations required ($20 per person). It features menus by Gaultiero Marchesi which have been improved and diversified from the earlier ones we had on previous Costa cruises. Dining is on Versace plates and service is top notch. We can report that service and food on this ship are excellent.
CABIN Suite #6260 is on Deck 6 Narciso. Costa's suites are standardized: wide ceiling moldings of fine woods, granite tops on all furnishings and warm monochromatic colors of peaches, oranges and reds. Very sumptuous. On entering the suite, on the left there is an anteroom with a large lighted vanity, with a double armoire across from it. There is a door that leads to the bathroom with a full jacuzzi tub/shower. The room is tile and marble and has twin sinks and ample shelves for toiletries. The suite opens to the left with a large bar with TV, Personal safe and built in bureau and another double armoire. There is a king bed with copper and Murano blown glass lamps on the night stands. Opposite there is a desk with columns and mirrors, a refrigerator, a coffee table and a peach colored leather sofa. An arm chair completes the furnishings. The glassed far wall leads to the large balcony which holds two recliners and a table.
Our suite had a picture of King Tut's golden mask and wall paintings from a pyramid, in keeping with the Mediterranean theme. There was another picture of a lady in summer attire. Our Stewardess Leonor, who is wonderful and has a sweet nature, kept the suite spotless. Thanks!
ENTERTAINMENT The suave Cruise Director Paul Rutter leads the Costa Animation Team in the multitude of activities on board, which include Bingo, Casino Tournaments, Italian and Dance Lessons, Trivia Quizzes, Crafts, etc.... The shows nightly in the Osiris Theatre were entertaining. We especially liked the "Time Machine" on formal night and John Ciotta on Italian night. Most of all we enjoyed the Italian joy of life which pervades the Costa Mediterranea. On "Notte Mediterranea" each passenger is given a "passport," which they take to four different lounges set up featuring the cultures (food, music, games and customs) of Greece, France, Spain and Egypt. The passengers collect four "visas" and then turn in the passport to Passenger Services, and they will get a $100 discount valid for a Transatlantic or European Costa Cruise. Costa works hard to make cruises entertaining.
DEBARKATION Sunday at 8:30am, a crew member came to our suite to help with the wheelchair. We had green tags, which were the third ones called. We were through the passport check, luggage pick up and customs in less than 30 minutes. We were on our way home by 9:00am. This was simple and rapid.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Sail Away 7:00pm
Day 2. Key West, Florida Arrive 8:00am Depart 1:00pm Take the Conch Train or the Trolley Tour ($26) for a good overview. See the Little White House of Pres. Harry Truman and muse on how complicated life has become in the US in the last fifty years.
Day 3. 3-7-06 Cozumel, Mexico Arrive 8:00am Depart 7:00pm Cozumel was hit hard by Hurricane Wilma Oct. 2005. It lost the new pier, but with tendering the tourists are returning. See the local San Gervasio Ruins and the Folkloric Show ($72). Snorkeling is great here, but for those who cannot swim go to the Sea Trek Helmet Diving tour ($88).
Day 4. At sea
Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Dunns River Falls is the highlight to see; climbing them is a must for those with able bodies.
Day 6. Georgetown, Grand Caymans Arrive 8:00am Depart 5:00pm Once again there is tendering in order to go ashore. Here among the favorite tours are those which include swimming with the Stingrays.
Day 7. At sea
Day 8. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Arrival 8:00am
CONCLUSION It is always pleasant to return to a ship we have already sailed on before, where most probably we'll be welcomed by some of the crew and officers we had befriended on earlier cruises. This was true on this cruise, where we encountered Captain Garbarino, Hotel Director Ann Ryan and Maitre d' Luigi Cuomo, all of whom we had met on previous cruises on the Mediterranea and other Costa ships. Needless to say, they welcomed us as old, special friends and made our cruise a great one. We have cruised on about three dozen ships of nine cruise lines, but we tend to cruise more frequently on those lines that offer special perks to "frequent floaters," such as occasional upgrades, Champagne, fruit basket, a Concierge, VIP treatment, etc. Costa is one of our favorite lines. We'll be cruising on Costa again, but our next cruises will be on Carnival Triumph, May 13th, on the Caribbean Princess, Sept. 23rd and on the new Freedom of the Seas, Oct. 15th. However, we'll keep our eyes open for special sales during the summer for a last minute booking. Happy Cruising!
Costa Cruises Costa Magica by Sherri Betz Eastern Caribbean March 5, 2006
First of all, we are veteran cruisers. As a former marketing manager for a Fortune 500 company, I have booked group cruises for 200+ people as part of our sales incentive programs. I have also cruised for pleasure with my family on several lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Princess.
My husband and I decided to try a Costa cruise for our vacation March 5-12 aboard the Magica because of its Italian flair, its reputed reputation for being among the best lines, and its port of embarkation (Ft. Lauderdale). We were so looking forward to another wonderful cruise experience.
Our Costa cruise experience was extremely disappointing from the moment of arrival at the port to disembarkation. By day three, I was in tears with frustration from dealing with an unresponsive and, many times, outwardly rude crew and poor service.
Embarkation at the port was extremely disorganized with an unreasonable delay in boarding the ship. I have never experienced such a lengthy delay in all my times cruising. It took us well over two hours to board, only to find luggage thrown ina huge, unorganized pile halfway up to the ceiling by the central elevators. Fortunately, there was not an emergency or fire, because passengers would not have been able to make their way around the luggage.
After dinner that night, we still did not have two of our suitcases, so we checked with Guest Services. I had been in my traveling clothes since 4 am that morning and it was now past 9 pm. Guest Services told us to wait for it to show up, and told us letters were sent to all cabins asking passengers to report luggage that was not theirs. Our cabins had been reassigned, so we repeatedly asked Guest Services to check our previously assigned cabin for misdelivered luggage. We were told they could not enter as it was occupied.
Only after our insistence did Guest Services have a steward open the cabin that we suspected our bags were in. Sure enough, there was our luggage sitting on a bed that the steward had already turned down. There was no evidence that the cabin was occupied, and obviously no one to read the letter concerning misdelivered luggage. No apologies, no free drinks, nothing. Oops. Too bad.
Overall, the crew seemed very unhappy; no smiles, few greetings. In fact, I can't recall having any conversation with any of the crew. The pool crew was very unhelpful in helping us find towel or lounges. The dining staff's only function seemed to be clearing tables because when we asked for a clean spoon to stir our tea, the crew would simply point to another area for us to go and fetch whatever it was we needed.
Here's another example of poor service. In the casino one night, my wallet fell out of my purse and I immediately went to the casino cashier to report this. The cashier, who had a long line of customers, simply looked up and said, "You want me to help you? Now?" I could not believe my ears. Of course I needed help, now! I had more than $400 cash in that wallet for the casino. No one from security was called to help, and my husband and I simply had to search the floors to find where it would have dropped. Thank God, we found my wallet on the floor with the money still there. But it was no thanks to Costa's unhelpful staff.
While our cabin accommodations were fine, we found there was no complimentary shampoo, conditioner, razor or other personal items. Even 3 star hotels provide these modest effects. No chocolates on our pillow, except for one night, and then after that we received Lifesavers. Not exactly top shelf. We also found the towels to be excessively rough and scratchy - very hard on the sunburn. So we asked our steward to bring us soft towels and never got them. Here in America have something called fabric softener. I suggest Costa use it on their linens for the comfort of their guests.
The food was mediocre at best and clearly catered to European tastes. The buffet's "salad bar" often consisted of tomato wedges, a big bowl of olives, onions and lettuce wedges. There was no grilled seafood to my knowledge, and fresh tuna was never served. Many of the entrees were batter dipped and fried. Even the desserts at the Midnight Dessert Buffet were disappointing. They looked scrumptious, but didn't have much taste.
Another problem was getting good port information. While we've been to many Caribbean ports, some were new to us - such as the Dominican Republic -- but useful information was hard to find. When we arrived in the Dominican Republic at 7 pm, we decided to venture into port to see the city and have dinner. No one advised us that it was not safe for tourists to go into town in the evening at this port. We only learned this from the waiter at the local Shish Kabob restaurant after we had paid a taxi $20 to drive us one way into town to see the port. Thankfully, the waiter spoke English and arranged for a "safe" driver to take us back to the ship.
The itinerary also didn't allow for adequate time to experience the ports. In both San Juan and Nassau, we had only a few hours in port before we sailed. Costa needs to alter its Eastern Caribbean itinerary to give passengers more time in these wonderful ports. In Nassau, for example, we were extremely rushed to visit Atlantis and walk the Straw Market.
During the entire week, there was a putrid smell of sewage or garbage on several floors near the mid-elevators. We overheard many passengers making the same comment.
All night long, we heard banging the floor above us. Apparently our cabin (#2391) was directly below the kitchen or laundry room. Needless to say, all this noise did not allow us a restful night's sleep.
Another very irritable thing about the ship was its passengers. The majority were very loud, pushy Europeans who don't know common courtesy, "sorry" or "excuse me" (apparently even in Italian they don't know these words!) We would be trying to relax on the deck and a whole swarm of them would gather around our lounges and burst into loud conversation. Talk about fraying the nerves day after day. Don't care if I ever hear another lick of Italian in my life. Kids were playing in the casino, people smoked wherever they wanted, and I actually had crew and passengers push me out of their way when we were in a crowded area! And they say Americans are rude, go figure.
Finally - and this is a very small thing - but on other cruises we've had the opportunity to purchase beautiful glassware with the purchase of cocktails of the day. I acquired a set of unique martini and shot glasses while aboard a Princess cruise last year, and had hoped to do so again this year aboard Costa. All that was offered were plastic souvenir cups with daily drink specials.
Look, I know that Costa is new to sailing the Caribbean and is very eager to capture a share of the American cruise market there. But this will never happen if Costa doesn't address the basics of customer service.
American passengers will not tolerate poor service, and negative experiences about Costa shared with others will jeopardize Costa's opportunity to earn new and repeat cruisers. Americans expect a high level of service from a cheerful and helpful crew when aboard a luxury cruise ship. Although the ship itself was stunningly beautiful and clean, there were so many other issues that we did not have a pleasurable experience and are highly unlikely to ever cruise Costa again. We did fill out our questionnaires, but in all sincerity, we are doubtful our specific concerns will ever be addressed.
In sum, it was by far the worst cruise experience we ever have had. I've been on much smaller ships (Sovereign of the Seas-RCCL) puttering around the Western Caribbean that were far more enjoyable simply because of the cheerful staff and excellent service. Chio, Costa! Never again.
Ok here goes my first attempt at a trip report.
I have chosen to break it up into sections, as I didn't take notes (hey I'm on vacation) it's all from memory.
Embarkation/Debarkation- When I got to the port I checked my one bag with the porter and went and found a wheelchair. The employee that pushed me in the chair took me to the front of the line and I was the second person on the ship. I really don't like to cut in line but this is how they do it and nobody seemed to get upset. Once onboard I went to the Show Lounge and waited for the buffet to open. I'll discuss the food in a later section.
Debarkation went very smoothly as I went to the top deck and waited near the pool, I was one of the last to get off of the ship. Try as I might I couldn't find a good hiding spot that would allow me to stowaway for the next cruise.
Cabin- I had a balconey cabin towards the aft of the ship on the starboard side. It was verynice having a balconey which allowed me to go out and watch us we pulled into or out of port. As other reviews stated the beds were pretty hard but to me not unbearable. There was also plenty of storage and the shower was big enough.
Food- I have heard negative reviews about the food on Costa but I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the food served in the dining room and the buffet. One night however I didn't see an entre that I liked so I just had pasta as an entre.
Service- I found that the service in the dining room was outstanding, my waiter Jose Torres and his asst. waiter (can't remember his name) were great. My stewardess was good also and cleaned my cabin twice a day, the only thing I missed were towel animals. It's not a big deal but I kind of like them. The service on the rest of the ship left a lot to be desired, especially the photo shop. They weren't rude neccesarily just indiferent.
Entertainment- The shows were exellent. The props and costumes were great and stage changes were unbelievable during the Time travel show. I only went to two lounges, but the singers were great. The guy in the Talia lounge was a very talented singer and the Blue Note in the Casanova lounge were very good.
Ports- I did not get off in St Martin so I don't have a review of that port. Catalina Island was the most beautiful beach that I have ever been to. The only drawback is the merchants that almost drag you into their shops. (I know that is common in a lot of ports, I just don't like it). La Romana, Dominica, I went to the Kandela show and it was worth the $36 that I spent, very high energy and I like seeing other culture's dancing and music. Nassau, went snorkling and had a great time. This was my first time to swim in the Caribbean and I was surprised by the fact that the water was cold. I thought it was supposed to be warm down there. But then again I am a wimp when it comes to cold water.
So there it is, my review. I had a wonderful time and can't wait until my cruise in Sept. Will I go on another Costa ship? Sure!!! It was a beautiful ship.