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Old March 25th, 2008, 09:15 PM
WEMSTONE WEMSTONE is offline
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Location: Florida
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Costa Fortuna BEWARE!

With the anticipation of a cruise on a European ship, our expectations rose quickly with the promise of the finest Italian steamships transporting their passengers in a luxurious vessel with all the amenities deserving of the elite. When we sailed on the Costa Fortuna departing Fort Lauderdale on December 16, 2007 our expectations were quickly reduced to disappointment.

I was asked about the cruise and had to reveal that it was our worst cruise so far. We have sailed on Carnival cruises and I on a Disney cruise.

FIRST IMPRESSION

We quickly noticed that the crew on board was much less friendly than others on previous cruises. I let it go, at first, figuring that they were in the process of preparing the ship from the previous cruise to accommodate the newly boarding passengers. I soon realized that this initial perception was to set the tone for the entire cruise.

CREW
On each previous cruise, I noted the friendly nature of the entire crew which would greet me/us at each encounter. On our last cruise our restaurant server was so friendly that we quickly came to think of her as a cherished friend. She knew us by name after one night of service, had our favorite cocktails ready without asking. On the Fortuna our dinner server never introduced himself although the assistant did tell us his name. Our assistant server was Jeff, the main server remains unnamed in my recollection as he did while on board. Each night, our server would take our order without offering any advice or comments. While my wife was ordering her food, he would look away as if he was preoccupied about the other tables rather than ours. A total lack of caring! While on the Fortuna, I would estimate that about 1 in 8 crew members would greet in any way. Our room attendant was Eva and very personable.

FOOD
On the first night dinner was mediocre with bread that was probably, at least, a day or two old again I figured there was no time, in port, to bake fresh bread. The bread got harder by the day.

The meal presentations were pleasing to the eye, although not accurately depicted as described by the menu. The menu description was completely different than the mental image it created. I was flattered, at each meal, by the disappointment my wife shared as she ate and would say that I can cook so much better.

On Tuesday, we elected to visit the restaurant for lunch rather then fight the crowds at the buffet. A cocktail would have been nice but the waiter took our food orders and departed with no offer for any beverages. A server did come to refill water glasses starting to my right and finishing to my left so I requested more water and he said he would be right back. I saw him address two other tables and I asked for water again. I asked another waiter in a different area for water, he said he would be right over, never came by. I asked a third waiter who said he would get the water right away. I saw him about two minutes later serving food to another table. So after my wait of more than ten minutes I finally went to find my own water. I was expecting the maitre’d to visit the table but he conveniently missed ours. I noted this on several occasions where he would visit and serve at the adjacent tables but did not consult at our table. During the entire eight days, the maitre’d visited our table twice.

At this point I considered writing a day by day list of the continued disappointments but I did not. I usually prefer not to complain.

My wife, on one occasion, ordered a key lime dessert which consisted of a tasteless mousse on a pastry that was so hard it had to be cut by stabbing it with a knife.

About the fifth night, during another disappointing dinner and with another comment by my wife, I said that I can’t wait to get home so I could cook. This was the night I had a dessert with a zabaglione sauce which was more like a diluted vanilla pudding.

Once we arrived in Fort Lauderdale, we had breakfast and I noticed that we finally had some semi-fresh bread. This was one of the complaints I heard from other passengers that we encountered. All had indicated that the presentation of food was good but taste was lacking and each stated that all they could get was stale bread.

The drink card, I feel is a rip off. $59.00 for up to 20 soft drinks is double the price we have paid on other ships for unlimited drinks. That does not provide one soft drink for a family of 3 each day for the entire cruise. (8 days, 3 people, 20 drinks, 2 meals per day, $59.00 = rip off).

STATE ROOM
• The state room was mostly very nice, it appeared clean.
• We did note the lack of amenities that I thought had become the norm in most hospitality venues.
• There were no robes available for our use from room to pool or hot tub. We asked but were told that the robes were reserved for those staying in a suite. Our room attendant did later accommodate the request with some very worn robes.
• The liquid soap container in the shower was empty on the second day and the next day we found it on the vanity still empty.
• We also noticed that there were no towel animals typically found when a guest returns to the room at the end of the day.

HOT TUB
We used one of the hot tubs, starboard side on deck 9 but there was some type of chemical imbalance that caused some skin and eye irritation. We told a crew member but I don’t believe any action was taken since another night we used the hot tub on the port side but noticed the other tub still seemed to have an unusual odor like we noted previously.


SHOPPING ON BOARD
• The port side shops carried the usual array souvenirs and sundries fortunately we could buy the items not supplied in the room.
• The starboard shop seemed to use about 40% of the display area for purses, handbags, etc. Are they such hot items that the display is so large?
• Shopping could have been more enticing except that the overly inflated pricing, even with the 50% mark downs were still overpriced.

PORTS OF CALL
• San Juan – We arrived about 1730 local time and had time to visit El Morrow but arriving so late in the day, it was soon dark and many places were closing their businesses for the day, which made for an early return to the ship. I would have liked to have had more time to explore some other sites in this city.

• Saint Thomas - Was our favorite port of call where we elected not to book an island tour excursion which we thought rather expensive at $55.00 per person on board but to just spend the day shopping. We did happen into the tourism office where they recommended an island tour which we were able to take for only $25.00 per person. We met some of our ship mates that spent much more by booking on board.

• Catalina Isle – Was to be the Costa private island which created the expectation of a relaxing day on the beach. A trip to the toilettes only offered a stressful barrage of aggressive street vendors that suffered a lack of ability to accept no for an answer.

• La Romana – Upon arrival it appeared to be the typical freight dock area, arriving at night it was so uninviting that we did not disembark. My thought was that there must be some contractual agreement that if Costa is going to anchor at Catalina that they must also dock at La Romana. Advertising on board indicated that there was not much to do at La Romana, so I don’t understand why we should be there.

• Nassau – A mirror of many other ports except prices are far more inflated than other locations. Glad I got to see it glad I won’t have to return.

• Fort Lauderdale – Upon arrival at our home port, we requested the early disembarkation option because we had had enough of Costa but as I traversed through the terminal hauling two large pieces of luggage, a woman from Costa proceeded to scold me for not having my “passport in hand?, so I asked which hand would she like it, showed her the passport, placed it back in my pocket and continued to the customs desk. He asked, “ how was your trip?? before I could answer he stated, never mind, I know, you should try Princess Cruises, they take care of you on their cruises. I found it really sad that the US Customs Agent sympathized with us for traveling with Costa.

We take vacations to relax and get away from our hectic daily routines and we chose to cruise for the opportunity to relax on a nice sea voyage. The Costa name and promises were intriguing to us but our expectations were quickly shattered.
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