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Old March 26th, 2008, 05:00 AM
Cullen1224 Cullen1224 is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1
Default Costa Serena - AMERICANS BEWARE!

We just returned from An 11 day Costa Cruise aboard the Serena from Savona Italy to the Mediterranean (Canary Islands) and wanted to share, what we feel is important information for those considering a cruise with Costa, and aboard this ship. First allow me to preface by saying this was my seventh cruise, and first with Costa. I have sailed the Med and Baltic Sea before so not unaccustomed to ‘European’ cruising. One of the first things we noted with Costa onboard the Serena is the tolerance of smoking everywhere – neither myself or husband smoke, and we found this prevalence distasteful in bars, restaurants and common areas (including poolside). Also, we noted the abundance of children on-board and the lack of adequate programs to keep the children engaged. Although it is more common for Europeans to travel with their children than Americans, we found unattended children significantly detracted from our ability to fully relax and enjoy peace and quiet.

Also it is important to note there is a remarkable “sell? mentality onboard which, again, not commonly found among the American lines. From the moment you board we found the constant “push? for you to purchase extra’s incredibly tacky and distasteful. People walk around at dinner trying to sell you appetizers on trays, extra desserts or drinks – unreal. Also, there are drink “packages? available to purchase to include, soft drinks, wine and water (yes bottled water). We purchased the bottle water drink package 29.99 euros for 13 bottles – equivalent is almost $50 (USD) for 13 bottles!! (and we only used 8 of our allotted tickets – no refunds) you would do better to purchase the water as you disembark for port days. Also, you should know Costa charges 10 euros (almost 17 USD per person) for a shuttle bus at the various ports you arrive to take you to the town! First time we ever paid to get from the ship to town. Just another illustration of the constant nickel and diming we found tacky and uncomfortable.

Service was another area we found disappointing. Yet, another example of the constant nickel and dimming is charging for room service, this is the first cruise we have ever been charged for room service! One of the reasons we enjoy cruising so much is the service we receive. On Costa – service is provided at a flat fee – meaning, at the end of your cruise you are charged a flat rate for the services provided while aboard. Essentially this removes the incentive for staff to provide service to guests, and often – as a result - we found completely disengaged staff – who simply shrugged when requests were made of them. This includes the customer service folks at the front desk – many of whom disengaged when we asked specific questions

FOOD: Aside from the service, and general peace and quiet – we also enjoy cruising for the excellent variety and quality of food. We found this element with Costa - incredibly disappointing. Breakfast and dinner wasn’t too bad – typical eggs, bacon, fruit for breakfast and dinner 5 course meals. Lunch and the midnight ‘snack’ another story altogether. Lunch; hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries all buffet style – stale rolls and some off fruit. Food lines were well beyond what you would you would see on an American ship. The buffet also consisted of PIZZA constantly – Many complaints were overheard about the amount of money spent for such poor quality and choice - not impressive overall.

Cleanliness was an issue. Our cabin was – very comfortable and well appointed and cleaned twice daily (our Cabin Steward was EXCELLENT). However the common areas were often in disarray and dirty. Poolside tables were left unclean for long periods, hallways often cluttered with debris. In our cabin we had a balcony, a portion of which was glass. This went unclean for 8 of the 11 days while onboard and as a result we couldn’t see out of it. In our opinion this was a waste of a purchase of a ‘balcony’ due to the obstructed view. We asked for it to be cleaned and was told exterior cleaning of the windows would only be facilitated at a certain port (which was correct) unfortunately that port was not reached until the latter portion of our trip.

ONSHORE EXCURSIONS: BECAREFUL with Costa!! We researched each of our ports to find alternative activities by going on the internet and to the local tourist information sites. Several identical excursions offered by Costa were available at the ports sometimes at half the cost!! When we raised this issue to the excursion desk we were informed “it’s a business and we have to get our cut to?. We did do two excursions with Costa – the trip to FEZ in Morocco and horseback riding. The Fez trip was not at all what was represented in the brochure and not recommended for those wishing for “free time to shop at the souks?. In fact there was only shopping allowed at two shops which were owned / operated by friends of our tour guide. Many on the trip wondered how much his cut was at the end of the excursion!

Overall, Costa is not RCCL or Princess – it is a budget European product. Unfortunately Americans (like my husband and I) presently pay more for the product than normal since the sagging dollar – as such - you would get better VALUE for your money somewhere else, for certain! IF you are considering sailing Costa Cruise Lines – and this ship – I STRONGLY encourage you to speak to as many people as possible who have experienced their product. We found our overall experience well below expectations and are providing this input to hopefully assist those who are considering investing their money and, subsequently, hard earned vacation time.

We wished we had had some of this information before making our decision.
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