Costa Mediterranea Dec 14-21 2003 ( FLL-Key WestProgresso-Cozumel-Grand Cayman-FLL) We flew down to FLL one day early and stayed at Amerisuites. We arrived about 8pm and the shuttle was very busy so we opted to take a van to the hotel. $5 each for a total of $20. We were maybe in the Van 8 minutes. Arrived at Amerisuites and were unable to have a non smoking room due to hotel being sold out. We purchased room on line at Value Trips.com for $69. We were not charged an extra fee for the 2 additional people in the room. The room was the TCB suite which apparently is larger than the other suites. The rug was stained and burned and the room was dreary. We noticed very small insects climbing the walls by the beds. Breakfast was good, however due to the bugs and the stained and burned carpeting I would not stay at this hotel again. The interesting point is that this "TCB" suite is apparently something special - Yikes!!
We had breakfast in the morning with friends we met on out Transatlantic cruise in 2002. It was nice to catch up with them. Breakfast was quite extensive and for the most part very good. We then headed across the street to the liquor store to stock up on provisions for the week. While my daughter is legal to drink in Canada , she was not legal on Costa so her and her friend would be having a few drinks in the room.
Since we had heard that Costa will not start boarding until 1pm on the dot, we knew there was no rush. We left the hotel at 1pm on the shuttle and were at the pier and checked in by 1.20pm. No lines at all. We were given #15 as a boarding # and discovered that #3 was being called. One number was called every 6 minutes and we were on board by 3pm. We knew the ship layout, as it is identical to the Carnival Legend and so proceeded to the front set of elevators, while the rest of the passengers waited in a long line for the elevator right in front of the gangway. The ship is beautiful and as with the Legend we loved the layout and the ship itself.
Daughter and her friend were upgraded from an inside guarantee to a balcony on deck seven. The upgrade was given even though they only paid 288 plus port/tax and we did not book until Nov 2.. Cabin was a basic balcony cabin. We proceeded to our Cat 11 balcony # 7295. This was an awesome cabin. Square in shape and at least twice the size of a regular balcony cabin if not more. The balcony itself was twice as deep and more than twice as wide as a regular balcony. The outdoor furnishings were upgraded and constructed of wood with thick cushions. The cabin was beautifully decorated with wide dark wood trim, light wood cabinetry and a marble bathroom. The only drawback to the cabin was the mattress was only about 3 inches thick, about the same as a pull out sofa bed. There was more than enough storage space for our trip. My husband promptly declared that he could do a world cruise in this cabin.
Entertainment The 2 production shows were excellent and of the same high Calibre of those on Carnival. My husband went to see the Magician and did not care for the show, even though he normally loves magicians. Husband also went to the Steel Band Show one evening in the theatre and liked it. There was also a passenger talent show on the last night which I missed because I was very ill with a stomach virus.
Entertainment in the lounges appeared to be very good. We are not night owls so I cannot give an in depth opinion of this. Others commented on lots of talented singers and musicians.
Daytime activities were adequate, but lacked the enthusiasm of say a Carnival Cruise. The usual Bingo, Aerobics, Belly flop contest were evident.
The food would be the main reason we would not sail on this line/ship again. We usually look forward to our meals in the dining room, but not on this ship. Our waiter and assistant waiter - Jose and Chester- were wonderful, and I think that the food started out as good quality. However, at best it was tasteless, with little use of seasonings, sauces or garlic. The biggest surprise was the lack of garlic when cruising Italian Style. Usually the food was lukewarm. The desserts were not of the calibre we have become accustomed to on Carnival and HAL and sometimes I even skipped dessert, which is highly unusual for me. On other lines we have been so overwhelmed by the wonderful choices for dinner that we have often ordered 2 entrees and shared them because we could not decide. On Costa I was often unable to find anything that really appealed to me and as a result I sometimes had the chicken breast or the grilled salmon , which were available every night. Breakfast was hit and miss in the dining room. The eggs benedict were tasteless and I stopped ordering them after day 3. Seating was open at lunch and breakfast and while some waiters were very good others should not be there. I truly believe that there is a morale problem with the crew on this ship
Buffet food was acceptable, and again very bland. Even the Mexican food had no seasonings. No trays available on buffet lines!! I have no idea what the problem is , but the food on this ship needs a complete overhaul. Weather The weather on this cruise was not good. We had a huge storm on day 3 that forced us to miss Progresso and head to Cozumel early. Cocktails were given free for one hour as compensation. With the exception of our stop in Key West and Cozumel the weather was cloudy and very cool. Obviously this is not the cruise lines fault. When we arrived in Grand Cayman we docked at the south end of the Island and tendering was handled horribly. The Noordam and a RCCL was also tendering and their process was going smoothly. Tendering began at 9am and we were unable to get off until 12 noon. Many excursions were cancelled due to the wind and the Cold temperatures. I honestly consider that we missed this stop too. We had to pay $4 per person to go to Georgetown on the bus ($4 back also) I was not overly impressed with Georgetown and we stayed less than 1 hour and took the bus back. I would not get off here again unless I had a snorkeling or scuba excursion planned.
The pursers/reception desk, more fondly referred to as the complaint desk, had one employee who was wonderful and 4 or 5 who were horrible to deal with. The motto on this Ship seems to be the "Passenger is always wrong". The internet was worthless, and slower than dial up. It took 90 seconds to send a message after I pressed the send button on my email. One morning I tried unsuccessfully at several different sites to retrieve my email . Total cost $4. I went to the Reception to ask for a refund and was laughed at. I was told I should not have tried for so long!! The internet employee came in one hour per day from 5.30 to 6.30pm!!! I tried to make a call from may cabin to Captain Marvins on Grand Cayman, because Costa would not let us off the ship with the other excursion passengers. (Normally this would not be a problem with a cruise line that is more organized) I tried twice to place the call and both times I could hear the other party but they could not hear me. Total cost $15.90 USD for worthless calls. Again down to the Reception Desk , to be told that there is nothing wrong with Costa 's phone system that it must be Captain Marvins phone that is the problem. No refund available, we do not give refunds under any circumstances. I had had enough of the attitude by this time. So far that morning I had been told I could not get off to go on my own excursion, that I would have to pay for useless internet and phones that did not work. I was so frustrated I was almost in tears, and the worst part was Costa does not give a damn. Other passengers were also there demanding refunds for worthless internet time. Finally one female employee took pity on me and let me use the satellite phone in the back office for free. I finally got through to Captain Marvin's and was advised that the excursions were all cancelled anyway.( For what it is worth, RCCL let us tender in with other excursion passengers in Belize so that we would not miss our self booked excursion. )
Although the pre cruise docs ( printed specifically for the Caribbean) state clearly that tips will be added to your on board account, on the last day(sea day) we were advised that this would not be the case, that it was not possible. With not ATM on board, many people did not have enough cash to tip those that most deserved it. We were lucky to have some cash , but others were refused cash advances on credit cards and the Casino would not sell any tokens or chips on the last day. Prospective"Gamblers" were told to use their Costa Card directly at the gaming tables. Obviously this was to deter pax from getting cash to pay their tips. This cannot be good for the morale of the crew. Why on earth could they not have told us on the first day, when people could have used the ATM in Key West. Better still, an ATM should be installed on a ship this size.
I cannot tell you the ratio of N American to European, but there were many Italians and Germans on Board. We also met a couple from Switzerland. Announcements were not annoying in the five languages, except for the life boat drill which was quite drawn out due to the languages( Life boat drill was not held until the second evening at sea)
All in all, I would have to say that we will not book another Costa Cruise. For us, the service and the food on a cruise are very important. On this Ship, both were terrible. I felt at times that some of the Reception area staff were even getting enjoyment out of the passengers being upset. The positives on this cruise were our wait staff, our beautiful cabin and the beautiful ship itself. If food and service are not important to you then you may like this cruise.