The cruise was around Italy in November 04 We flew from the UK and boarded in Venice. We had booked a suite so received preferential treatment and was in the first group to board. Everything went smoothly, a man came to our suite and introduced himself as our butler. We only saw him twice after that in the following 6 days, he said the reason was because we had the "don't disturb notice" hung on our door. He could have rang, there was a phone in the suite. The reason we displayed the don't disturb notice was because on 3 occasions members of the crew (including the butler) knocked and before we could get to the door to open it they had opened it themselves and walked in. We had to push a chair up behind the door to maintain some privacy.
My first problem arose when I went to the bar and asked for a draught beer, they don't have any. The only drink on draught was Heineken lager. All the bars throughout the ship were the same. I am not a lager drinker and only enjoy beer so this really spoiled my holiday. The lager was expensive at 4.60 Euro, 60 was a service charge, you had no choice but to pay it. We received a notice saying that you were not allowed to bring alcoholic drinks on to the boat, if you did they would be taken from you and handed back at the end of the cruise. Was this a holiday or a disciplinary sentence ? Six Euro per person per day service charge was added to the final bill, you could object to this but surely the method should be open to you to "opt in to payment" rather than having to "opt out"
There were over 2000 passengers with less than 200 being English speaking. We found language to be a problem. Our cabin steward spoke broken English. We could not fully understand her and she could not fully understand us. This communication problem resulted in us missing the very important lifeboat emergency drill. There was only one television channel in English which repeated its-self every 15 minutes.
Food was readily available and the crew took pride in the various dishes on offer. Now I accept that Costa is an Italian cruise company but I didn't expect the food to be all of a Mediterranean/Italian theme. I am not a lover of this sort of food so I had a problem throughout the cruise. I would have loved some Indian, Chinese or even Brit food.
Now to the good points. The crew were very helpful, very polite and courteous. We were always met with a smile, this applied equally in the restaurant, bars and general public areas. The boat was spotlessly clean 10 out of 10 for the hard working cleaners. The cruiser was designed and fitted out with the most luxurious surroundings I have ever seen. It was like walking round a 5 star hotel. Also a mention must go to the entertainers who worked very hard to put on first class shows. The entertainment in the various bars was also of a very high standard. The general organisation and planning went well, which cant be easy when you have so many people on board.
Will I go on another Costa Cruise ? Come on Costa get some draught beer in your bars then maybe so.