Third Costa Cruise, may very well be our last!
This ship when brand new must have been spectacular, too bad they don't seem to be able to keep it clean. Dirty windows, dirty carpet, dirty drapes, furniture, Sticky tables to eat or just read or play games on. But it had some good points as well and I'll discuss them first but it will be hard to do considering the limitations and exceptions we noted.
Our dinner waiter and bus boy were outstanding! They always remembered to bring my wife and I a pitcher of Iced tea at dinner and plenty of cream (not just milk) for our coffee. The Dinner entree choices were very limited, and no steak or lobster was ever offered to us. What they did make available was generally very tasty, though often the meat was overcooked and tough. The limited choices available for appetizers, soups, salads, pasta and desserts, however, were generally very good. Just don't count on Haute cuisine or many options.
The cruise staff, those people who provide daily activities, danced with the passengers in the ballroom dancing lounge and participated in a few of the shows, were probably the hardest working group we've ever had. They did their best to keep us entertained. That said, however, there were many long periods during the day when no planned activities were available on the ship. Thank goodness they provided us with a scrabble game to use while on board.
If you love Ballroom dancing either as a participant or as a watcher, this is your ship. All evening long, every evening you could dance your night away. Unfortunately that was about all you could do. Don't get me wrong, they did have shows every night but not all were worth attending. For example, the first night they showed a Frank Sinatra concert movie. That's it, a 45 minute movie of a 1970's concert. There was the obligatory crew show, the passenger talent show, three song and dance shows performed by the on-board troupe (who were good but not spectacular), and only three "professional" acts (one magician, one soul-gospel singer who sang as loudly as she could to make up for her merely adequate voice, and an Italian crooner who couldn't hold a long note.) In ten days only three (two mediocre) professional acts? That's what you might expect on a seven not a ten night cruise. The cruise staff did on several evenings put on games for the cruisers and did their very best to make them amusing and fun events. Overall, there was little to do in the evenings unless you like to dance or if you like to spend a lot of money drinking, drinking at the many bars on the ship where they did provide musicians and sometimes singers to entertain you. But for those who don't or can't drink a lot, all you were left to do is gamble in the casino.
The rooms, we had an inside room. were adequate in size, larger than on some ships we traveled and the water pressure of the shower was among the best we've experienced. The TVs were relics of the 80's or 90's and were both poor in visual and audio quality. The cabin steward did an adequate job, but did nothing exceptionally well and had to reminded several times to bring us extra towels. The level of cleanliness was barely adequate, as ground-in dirt was evident everywhere you looked.
This is an international ship. Those of us from the US were in the minority. 80% (or more) of the passengers were European, with Italians and Germans accounting for the majority of the European passengers. Hence all announcements had to made in FIVE languages, Italian (this is of course an Italian ship) German, French, Spanish and English. Problem was the crew, who is mostly Italian, when speaking in English, did so with a hard Italian accent, putting emphasis on the wrong syllables and often speaking English at the same very fast rate Italian is spoken (English and German are among the slowest spoken languages) AND to complicate matters more, once the Italian and German messages were read, those passengers would begin to engage in conversation thus drowning out the messages spoken in the other three languages. Only when the made the announcement first in English, or right after the French and/or Spanish language messages were spoken, did we have a decent chance to hear our English spoken messages. PS most of the English speakers on board were Canadian. They were a great group of people to hang out with and we often formed teams of "North Americans" to compete against the Italians and Germans during the games of skill and knowledge put on during the day light hours. If it wasn't for our Canadian friends we would have had difficulty in finding any English speakers on board, though Costa did their best to try to seat people at the restaurants by the language they spoke, and organize the excursions similarly. Then there is one more observation we made about our Italian and German shipmates. Many, many many of them were rude, often pushing and elbowing you out of the way to get to something they wanted, to get a head of you, cutting in on lines, etc. Generally they were both obnoxious and unaware of the words "excuse me" (or the German or Italian counterparts which sound very much like excuse me). If those of us from the US are the so called "Ugly Americans", then the Germans or Italians should be known as the "Medusan Europeans!" Be prepared. I'm originally from the NY metropolitan area so I know how to apply defensive skills when I have to and I found myself resorting to them way too often.
We had two life boat drills while on board. I wonder why? Could the Concordia incident have anything to do with that?
Food other than dinner. Breakfast - unless you waited on line at Omelet Station in the buffet restaurant the eggs were usually runny and undercooked. The bacon was dead the sausages undercooked and everything was luke-cool (luke-warm would have given it more credit than it deserved) to downright cold. The restaurant was no better for breakfast. No cream only milk or skim milk for coffee. No pancake syrup for the cold tough pancakes and french toast. An overall underwhelming experience. Lunch - In the Restaurant was not bad. Food often was warm. Variety was very limited but it was warm. At the buffet, well it often looked as bad as it tasted. Best lunches we had were off the ship in port! Midnight buffet - what buffet? There was none! They served the leftover pastries from Dinner and only at the Casino. Wonder why they make you go to the casino to get them, hmm, could it be they wanted you to gamble! There was a pizza station at night, but usually it was a simple cheese pizza or vegetable pizza, rarely did it contain any meat toppings. Oh, if you wanted ice tea at night, you had to hunt for it and often there was none. So your choices were plain water or Soda at $2.75 plus tip (added automatically to the cost) per CAN of soda!
There was no soda package for adults and if you wanted a drink package each member of your party, whether they drink or not, had to buy it at $26/day for every day of the cruise. This was considered an 11 day cruise and that meant shelling out over $275 per person. Or you could buy individual cocktails at $7.80 (plus the mandatory tip) per drink.
Despite the above, we liked the ports we went to and we meet some very nice people on board which made the journey a pleasant one despite the shortcomings of the ship.
One final point and it is a personal issue that upset me and may or may not seem to be a big deal to others considering cruising on a Costa ship. On the 7th day of the cruise my foot was injured when the plastic drainage grate surrounding the hot tub collapsed as I tried to enter the hot tub. I believe that the individual 8" long grate pieces which were held in-place by plastic male connectors fitting into the female receptacles of the next piece of grating had broken repeatedly before I tried to enter the hot tub. Each time breaking of more and more of the male connectors until there weren't enough to maintain the structural integrity of the grates. My foot was cut in two places and pieces of the few remaining male connectors broke off and punctured my foot. I had to receive medical attention by the ship's doctor who had to remove these pieces of plastic where they punctured my foot. The medical treatment I received was very good.
I understand accidents can happen, but the ship's crew needed to have repaired this grate long before I stepped on it. Even after my accident, they merely shifted the pieces of the grate around, leaving gaps in the grate, where another incident like mine could happen. What upsets me the most was at first the ship's Purser told me that I would be charged for the medical treatment I received (which turned out to be wrong as I was reassured 12 hours later by the Ship's Chief Medical Officer that I would not be charged since my injury was not my fault), but even worse, neither while on board the ship or to this day (6 days after I disembarked) has anyone from the ship's crew (company) or from Costa (or its parent company Carnivale) contacted me to ask me how I was feeling or doing!! Even though I filled out the ship's Security accident report, not one word!! Its as if they simply don't care. Maybe they don't!