Originally Posted by Paul Motter
I think I summed it up in a sticky I have at the top of this thread...
The drawback with Costa is that it can be a tad unfamiliar to Americans. When you are traveling in Europe, sometimes you want to experience Europe all day, but when its time to go to bed you want your CNN, movies, onboard entertainment, etc, to be in English. On Costa they will be in four other languages before they get to English. It isn't HORRIBLE, it is just different. Its very acceptable to Europeans, they are used to it.
But for Americans, if you can find a ship which is your "home" while you are overseas, and that home is American-oriented (your food, language, etc). Then sometimes that makes seeing Europe more enjoyable.
I would not steer people away from Costa, I would just say "understand what you will be getting onboard before you book it").
You have make sure your tour guide will speak English, for example. You have to understand that all the other passengers around you will be speaking a foreign tongue. The entertainment will be largely visual and don't expect any onboard lectures about ports of call in English.
You can certainly go on Costa and have a great cruise if you do your own research on the destinations and have a plan. But you have to be prepared to work a little harder to make sure you find things in English, etc. There will be fewer tour options, fewer TV channels, fewer menu items, that are "American." Some people will find that to be part of the fun, while others will find it confusing and challenging.
I don't disagree with you that some folks are put off by being out of their element. That is a common issue for many folks.
But the issues you raise above, were not any of the issues we had, and to try and box everyone who doesn't care for Costa into that category is really painting with a bit of a broad brush. I don't care how many languages they do the announcements in. I can't believe someone would get hung up on something like that, but we all have tolerances to different things.
I guess it was fortunate that we were able to be in contact in advance with other english speaking people going on the same sailing to be able to know that if we all planned to go on the same english speaking excursions then we knew in advance there would be enough people signed up that they wouldn't cancel them. So many of us went on the two ship excursions I mentioned in my review. We had a plan, we weren't confused or challenged. The areas we controlled and planned went pretty well for the most part. Costa had plenty of room for improvement in our experience however. The bright spots on Costa, was the cleanliness of our cabin, the hours of the kids club and the spa.
The food service was the pits, in food quality, service and pretty much all the way around. I love authentic Italian food and really enjoyed getting off the ship in port to enjoy some. There were fruit flies swarming all over the buffet, this is in November/December...it was jacket weather outside. I have not seen anything like that on any of our cruises even in the Caribbean, I have pictures of them if you don't believe me
Sometimes bad is just plain bad, regardless of whatever language you speak. It has nothing to do with culture or language barriers, it just is below average when compared to their competition.
I think we are also confusing the term "European" with the term "Italian" and I am not sure that Italian even is the correct way to sum up Costa, I really am at a loss for a way to classify this cruise line. But while Italians are most definitely Europeans, Europeans are not all Italians. There are even vast cultural differences between Southern Italy and Northern Italy. I had to laugh when the cab driver in Sicily was trying to coerce us to take a cab tour that we weren't interested in. I kept saying " No thank you, over and over again, he finally told me to be quiet...he wanted to talk to my Husband, my husband laughed at him and walked away. There are a lot of people in parts of Europe that have the same feelings about Costa that I do... like Davy above and several of the German, Dutch, Belgian and English folks on board with us.
I am so glad that you had a positive experience, and you felt that Costa is improving their product. I imagine that had I been on that same cruise with you, I might have shared your opinion. I also believe that if you had been on our cruise with us, you would also agree that what we experienced was below average.