My suggestion is to not listen to them. I'm cruising Costa for the first time in November and despite everything I've read here, am really looking forward to it. Understand that Costa is a European line and that Europeans do things differently than Americans.
I've heard many complaints from people regarding the food, the service and the fellow passengers. It's probably no different than people I know that have gone to Europe and complained that the food in Italy isn't like it is at Olive Garden, that the service in Spain is slow and disorganized, and that the French are rude and unfriendly.
If you want Italian food like they have at Olive Garden, don't go to Italy or go on an Italian cruise line. They do not eat what we eat!
If you want good service, be able to communicate with your waiter. Since Costa caters primarily to Europeans, the waiters shouldn't have to speak English fluently to accomodate the small percentage of Americans and Brits on their European cruises.
The French are warm and wonderful people but like most Europeans, take offense to Americans who EXPECT them to speak English and make no apologies for not being able to speak their language.
Kudos to you for taking your children on this wonderful adventure. If none of you know Italian, it would be helpful to either take a class or get a Berlitz course and do it at home. Being able to communicate with people makes all the difference when traveling abroad. I've been on 18 cruises and have NEVER been on a bad one. Take a good attitude and a sense of adventure and you'll have a great time. If you want familiarity and to be surrounded by Americans, take an American line instead.
Go and enjoy. I don't speak Italian and cruised Costa this month. I had no trouble communicating. All of my service people spoke very passable English. The staff that work with the children all speak English and are fantastic. I repeat.....Go and enjoy!!!!!
I could not have said it better myself! Jeffrey, as I have stated many times on this board, my wife and I had a WONDERFUL time aboard the Mediterranea when we did our Caribbean cruise. We travel to Europe extensively (we have family in Italy), so the food, the service, and even the often-times rude French were of no surprise to us at all. As a matter of fact, we found the food and the service to be wonderful.... the French, well, that's another story entirely, but that's not Costa's fault. Brian is right, if you think Italian food is what you get at Olive Garden, you will be surprised and possibly disappointed. Go with an open mind, and I am sure you will have a wonderful time. My wife and I are actually thinking about doing that same cruise you mentioned next y year.
I am sure you will enjoy your cruise. Keep us posted on your experience.
Brian J, Thanks for the advice. I've travelled extensively abroad and agree 100% about "ugly Americans." My family went to England and France last summer and NEVER experienced rudeness from anyone, including the French. Diversity is what I'm trying to teach me kids. Jeff
My advice is to take an English/ Italian phrase book/dictionary. Even if you don't understand someone or they don't understand you, each of you can use the book to point out what you are trying to say.
The Italians will love you for even trying to speak and they are most helpful!
I am envious. Have a great time!
Most hotels do not have washcloths so if you are used to having one, take it in a ziplok bag.
I logged onto this board looking for information after sailing on the Mediterranea last month. I had a fair time, but I think that I would choose another cruise line next time.
You wrote this: "I've heard many complaints from people regarding the food, the service and the fellow passengers. It's probably no different than people I know that have gone to Europe and complained that the food in Italy isn't like it is at Olive Garden, that the service in Spain is slow and disorganized, and that the French are rude and unfriendly.
And then you wrote: "If you want Italian food like they have at Olive Garden, don't go to Italy or go on an Italian cruise line. They do not eat what we eat!"
My question for you is this: what makes you think that the complaints were from people expecting food (slop) from the Olive Garden? I find that insulting. We don't all eat slop and we aren't all idiots. For every uncultured uneducated american who eats slop there is one who likes real food. Why insult us all?
Why bring bad feeling to such a nice group of people?
Sir: If you are trying to say that my Italian cuisine entails the Olive Garden, I assure you that is not the fact. I eat and have eaten in some of the FINEST Italian restaurants in the world. I will assure you that the cuisine you will be getting on Costa will not even come close to the Olive garden. You will wish you were at the Olive garden. The staff in the kitchen on the Med is anything but Italian. You will be treated to Italian style via Peru. Sir, the bottom line is that you have been warned. If you are paying $300 per person for a 8 day cruise you aill have a bargain, and remember that you do get what you paid for. Anything more, you will be sorry.
I don’t feel Brian is insulting anybody referring to Olive Garden food.
In my opinion he refers to Olive Garden as an example of a well known chain of Italian restaurants.
I’m Italian used to travel a lot both on business and holydays, and I’ve been to all Continents.
I tried sometimes Italian Restaurants abroad and, although food has improved in the last years, I found real Italian food only very few times, and, strange enough, Italian cuisine closest to what it should be… in Japan only.
My suggestion is go with an open mind and do not expect anything (from staff to fellow passengers and food) to be American style: If you like to be in contact with different ways of life, mentality, habits and food you will not be disappointed on Costa.
BTW always consider that you are among other 2000+ people and this affects everything (form catering to service), in some way.
My experience is that best service and food is to be found in small hotels and restaurants rather than in big hotels and resorts, and a cruise ship, unless you go to small ships “yacht style” and pay for it, is exactly a big resort rather than a small hideaway hotel.
My comments were not meant to offend the two of you and I was not specifically addressing you or any Costa complaints either of you may have posted on this board. I'm glad, however, to have stimulated some discussion on the subject of expectations.
I took a cruise many years ago that by the end, had a majority of the passengers complaining loudly and demanding refunds. The ship, an old Premier ship, was not in the best of shape. The food was mediocre at best, the service was lousy and worst of all, the weather was incredibly bad for the entire week. Dark stormy skies, very rough seas, lots of seasick passengers (who frequently forgot to take their seasick bags with them when they left their cabins), leaks everywhere, and numerous plumbing problems. The weather was so bad that all ports of call were cancelled. It was just seven days of being trapped on a rocking and rolling ship with each day bringing disasters worse than the day before.
It was, however, probably the best cruise we ever took. We met numerous people we still, six years later, talk to regularly. I often think that it's the friendships you form on board that make or break a cruise. I never once wished that we had selected a different line or a different itinerary. Afterwards, I wrote a calm and professional letter to Premier, pointing out the problems with the ship, the food, and the service. A month later, I received a certificate for 75% off my next cruise with them and took the same ship again with better results, although it was not nearly as memorable as the previous one had been.