This is a long awaited Costa Concordia review. Please accept this as my families (Parents, 2 children 10 and 13, and grandfather disabled in wheelchair) review of our experience. We flew from Manchester to Genoa on a chartered flight to meet up with Costa Concordia in Savona. Before I enter into the review I might add that customers need to be extremely careful with their luggage when leaving the UK. I purposely went into the travel agents beforehand to ask about hand luggage rules and was told that regulations had now been relaxed and was "back to normal". Whilst I am happy that we are made to feel safe and are agreeable with all security/safety issues we had many things taken off us, as well as having to strip down. Only prescription (liquid) drugs are allowed through. The queue's at baggage handling were so huge that I had to be asked to be pushed through or I would have missed the flight, so be prepared.
On the return fight the rules appeared to be much less strict.
Good flight and easy access to coaches who were to take us to the post of Savona. Embarkation was a bit chaotic, you were given a number as you left the coach and walked into the embarkation area. Having been on last years P&O Aurora Xmas cruise, we were extremely disappointed to find that you had to purchase a drink and had to just sit there until your number was called to enter the ship (well over an hour) ..as opposed to carols by a choir, sherry and mince pies and a happy xmas atmosphere last year on Aurora. Whilst we should not compare cruises as they all have their advantages and disadvantages it is sometimes difficult not to.
We finally entered the ship (no champagne entrance or anything spectacular) to be herded into the theatre to surrender our passports. I felt that Costa could have made much more effort on their first impressions. We then went to find our cabin, inside cabin (1305) lowest deck (Deck 1). We had a 4 berth cabin which is not ideal but a little expensive for two separate cabins, and my father had a single cabin. Our 4 berth cabin was fantastic, a wonderful king size bed in the centre of the cabin and 2 single berths above, one either side. Previously we have experienced the bunks being lifted back into the ceiling each day but on this ship they are left in their evening position all the time. This didn't pose a problem. The cabin was roomy, mini bar which is kept locked unless you ask for it to be opened. Daily ice in your bucket, TV usual setup, plenty of cupboard space, 2 bedside cabinets, good lighting. We were very happy with our cabin and with dad's single cabin which was extremely roomy. We had not booked a disabled cabin for him but it was extremely roomy with plenty of room for his wheelchair. What we did notice is that the corridor aisles on the bottom deck (not on all decks) is very wide. We did on occasion smell sewage down our corridor but could not smell it in the room, on some days we could also smell diesel fumes.
Announcements were often in 5 different languages quite loud in the room, most mornings which did not go down well when it was hoped for a restful morning.
Our first impressions of the ship were very good. It is a beautiful new ship, very loud in decoration but we liked it. It definitely has the WOW factor and everything (well nearly some disgusting person had scrawled Man Utd on the lift doors inside. Presumably this was some English brat which really sickened and disgusted us) is very new and clean looking.
Childrens Clubs Our children do like to visit the clubs to make friends but do not spend all their time in here. One child was in the maxi club for 7 to 12 years (our daughter 10) and teen zone for our son (13). Whilst my son did make friends with the children of other languages (some of them could speak English), my daughter found it really difficult. There were about 4 girls who spoke English and her club was full of children speaking other languages. Not once did the leaders speak to these girls in English and most of the time these children had no idea what was going on. Subsequently my daughter only went to the club 2 or 3 times which was really disappointing for her. My daughter also felt that the club was babyish for her age as most of the children were 7 8 years. This was a big disappointment for us as a whole as children do like to make friends on holiday and my daughter was not old enough to wonder around on her own so had to spend much of her time with us. My son however had a good time but not as good as he has previously been used to. The club times are very late for teens with it starting and finishing quite late.
One evening we happened to drop in on a "bath party" where all the teens were in the pool and worried ourselves silly with what we found. All the children were in the pool having shoulder fights, throwing trainers into the pool and all in all completely out of control. The leaders were totally unable to control these kids and it was a miracle that no-one got hurt. Whilst not wanting to appear the over protective parents to our son, it was so unsafe that he had to come out of the pool.
Xmas day Santa was in one of the bars and all children received a hippo with chocolates in it. Parents received a cake and nuts. Not anywhere in the same league as the P&O xmas cruise. No party for kids s and not a lot going on.
Food Food on the whole was a little disappointing and the least enjoyable that we have had in all our past cruises. Buffet food was much the same every day with breakfast being the least exciting. What we did notice about the staff is that they were not particularly helpful with customers who find it difficult. Perhaps this was more noticeable with my father being with us. He is disabled and struggled to get his breakfast, hold his stick and carry it back to his table. On previous cruises there was always waiters to help but it was noticeable that this time he was left to his own devise.
Desserts in the restaurant and the buffet were very disappointing with very little choice but one plus feature was the ice cream which was available all the time.
Restaurant food although good was the least favourable we have had before. Making the experience more enjoyable were our two fantastic waiters who never wavered in their service and kindness. No coffee at the end of your meal but tea and coffee available at all times in the buffet.
There were midnight buffets I think every night or nearly every night and these were impressive. More often that not it was desserts (which were far better than the desserts served either in the buffet or restaurant). No themed buffets.
Entertainment We did go to quite a few of the shows available as we found the alternative bar entertainment a pain with the language problem.
Singers and Dancers Brilliant! Magician I did not attend but my father and husband thought it was good.
There were a lot of complaints at the airport on the return journey about Bingo apparently the cards were 20 euros with 15% tax added on.
Gratuities The custom on ALL the ships we have previously travelled on was that these were added automatically unless the company was advised otherwise. We have always removed the automatic gratuities and tipped our cabin steward, the children's club and our waiters well. It is COMPULSORY with Costa and many people were complaining. Apparently Costa introduced compulsory tipping in December which I was told is in their terms and conditions This equates to 4.5 euros per day which is not particularly out of the way, it's just the fact that it is compulsory as well as the 15 1/2 % tax that is added that sticks in the gut.
Water Slide This was another huge disappointment, our kids had looked forward to this in the build up to the cruise. The first day it was not open, nothing said. The second day I rang to see why it was not open not today maybe tomorrow. The next day same story. The next day the slide won't be open at this entire cruise. I was told my Travel Agent should have advised me which is absolute tripe. I was told it was winter and too cold it wasn't at least not for the English kids .yet the Jacuzzi and pool next to it were open I couldn't work out the logic and complained terribly, it did no good, so don't go with the idea that it will be open. The weather was fine and definitely hot enough some days but it didn't make any difference.
Staff Generally courteous and kind, the buffet staff worked so hard and such long hours it made us feel very sad as some of them looked so tired.
Pools and Jacuzzi Both pools were frequented by kids although it did say in the daily newspaper that they were only supposed to use one. The pool near the big screen was a damn nuisance. The same music/reels were playing all the time and it became quite boring, as well as extremely loud. On a movie night you had to pay 6.45 for a non alcoholic drink and ear phones and 9.95 for an alcoholic drink and earphones what a rip off! Everything was money, money, money. Jacuzzi's had brown rims round the outside with dirt from peoples hair. Pool attendants worked hard to keep the area sorted and were always visible. Pool is salt water.
Samsara Spa We did not use the samsara spa it was approximately 30 euros per day. We did use the gym which was very impressive and rather large.
Drinks Drinks were very expensive and the drinks packages were extortionate.TRIPS
Egypt The only trip we went on was the Pyramids in Egypt and it was very enjoyable if not a little frightening at times. Lunch was at a top hotel and very good, we visited a papyrus workshop, bazaar and museum. Our guide was very good but it was obvious both on the trip and at the bazaar that the guides were on commission for what they sold so it was a little hard sell on the coach.
It was possible to get off the ship and go on your own around Alexandria but as soon you were off the ship the locals were round you and would not leave you alone (much the same at the pyramids but not a sight to miss).
Rhodes What a beautiful place, the ship docks right in the town which is beautiful, one of our favourite places.
Limassol Shuttle bus into the town which you need to take as it is a long way to walk and not much time to spend in the port as there was only a morning there.
Rome and Athens Unless you are going to Olympia there is nothing to get off for in Pireous but if you are not going to Rome in Civvitivechia you can have a leisurely walk along the front.
All in all a fantastic ship, very much money making experience it was all pay, pay pay, least favourable of all our cruises. We will not be taking another Costa cruise unless it is an outstanding deal (apparently Italian kids go free on costa cruises which we were told by more than one family). Food mediocre, itinerary excellent, kids club poor. Whilst it may sound like we did not enjoy ourselves, we did I have just given an honest review in our experience/opinion.
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