This was our sixth cruise with Costa (Victoria, Atlantica (twice), Europa, Magica and now Mediterranea). With some 23 cruises behind us, this cruise was way below the standard of care, help, thoughtfulness and information we have experienced on other ships. The Black Sea is not exactly the "run of the mill" of itineraries and therefore the majority of passengers had not been to that area before.
Unlike other ships we have been on, the daily paper, in this case "Today" can always be relied upon to give useful and helpful information about the Port being visited and particularly the safety aspect.
The Today paper onboard the Costa Mediterranea said absolutely nothing, not one single word about the Port and did not even give the name of the Country!!! It merely said Constanta, Odessa, Yalta, Katakolon,Izmir, Istanbul, Mykonos. There were many first time cruisers and also first time to Costa cruisers and I doubt everyone had a degree in Geography! It said nothing about what the local currency was called or the exchange rate and whether or not they would accept euros/dollars.I soon discovered that in Odessa for example, some taxi drivers would only take euros and others would only take the local currency. The venicular (to avoid walking up 220 steps to the town) only took local currency. Most shops would accept euros.
The Today paper gave no information about the city/town, taxis, local buses, stations, shops, nearness to the port, markets etc. In Odessa we were given a map of the town only to quickly find that the street names bore no resemblance to the Russian Cyrillic street names, neither did it have a compass point. I repeat, not one single mention was made about the Port. When I went down to Reception and asked why they gave no information, she said that the Today paper was only about giving information about the Ship!! It was then that I asked to see the Hotel Director, which I did the following day. He seemed quite "surprised" that it said nothing about the currency but did nothing about it in the next three Ports visited.He sent me a bottle of wine at my table, but that cut no ice with me because two days later I had a meeting with the manager of Customer Services and the last day I wrote to the Captain.
Passengers got the impression that Costa was only interested in selling their excursions and had no interest if you were exploring the city on your own. To make matters worse, there were no announcements to say that it was ok to go ashore, nor were there any signs to say which deck the gangway was on or which bank of lifts to take. At Mykonos, I went to reception and asked, only to be sent to the wrong deck in the wrong part of the ship and was confronted by a large white "crew only" door.
Even in their own Country, Civitiavecchia, no mention was made of the free shuttle bus which the Port provided. It was only because I saw a big sign painted on the roadway from my balcony, saying "Free Shuttle Bus" that made me enquire at Reception. Oh yes, she said, there is. It dropped you off a few hundred yards from the ship directly at the beautiful new promenade they have almost completed and by the town centre. The train station was nearby taking you to Rome for some 15 euros and yet none of this information was given...I again repeat, nothing was said about any Port.
We have always had a table for two, but this time we were on a table for six and luckily we had four other lovely people on our table. However, we were always one of the last tables to finish out of the second sitting of some 1,200 passengers. The average time at the table was 2 1/2 hours and the food was, in our opinion, below average and certainly not worth sitting around for that length of time. There is no Alternative or Anytime dining, apart from Pizza, Pizza or Pizza,and soggy at that. On three nights they did provide an Alternative Buffet dinner which was quite well attended, but one of these nights was in Mykonos when we were not sailing until 11pm and therefore quite a lot of passengers had dinner ashore in that beautiful island.
The meal times on this cruise were changed to fit in with the unbalanced number of German guests who prefer to eat early. Fair enough, but this altered the times of the Shows and instead of being able to enjoy the slightly cooler evening sun (we had unbroken sunshine for 13 days at around 32/35 degrees)one had to start getting ready at 6.30 so as to go to the Show at 7.15/7.30 and the 8.30 dinner.Had there been a buffet, on some nights we would have enjoyed our balcony or sundecks until later and still take in the Show.
The saving grace was our Cabin on Deck 7 , 7254. By far the largest and best of any cruise. With a 27' balcony and a 20 x 12' cabin, excluding wardrobes, it was ideally situated directly opposite the bank of lifts and stairs.It was nicely furnished, good sized bathroom with excellent shower and very clean. The lifts were amazingly quick; we never waited more than about 30 seconds for a lift at any time throughout the who cruise.
The Shows were pretty mediocre and not up to the standard of their other ships or other lines. Lovely theatre with great space between rows so that one never had to get up to let people get past. The other entertainment, i.e. singers and bands were very good.
We flew to Nice, but had to wait over 1 1/2 hours for the coach to take us to Savona because whilst there was room for some of us on the bus, there was not enough room for our luggage. About 20 of us had to wait. On the return journey, we were told to disembark at 8.45 (the first) and yet our flight from Nice was not until 18.45. Hence we arrived at Nice about 11.30 and had to wait 7 hours. But they dropped us off at the wrong terminal. With a bad back and my wife not in great health, we had to get a shuttle bus to the other terminal..One, humping our four cases on and off the shuttle bus.
I am what they call a Pearl member and was given all sorts of things; half bottle bubbly in the cabin, bowl of fresh fruit which was very nice, but we also were sent each day, complete Evening Menu. This I regarded as a complete waste of money and unnecessary expense on the part of Costa. Also we received a model of the ship, plus a 10 euro chip for the casino. In my opinion they should cut out all these "goodies" and concentrate of getting their act in order by giving the expected, needed and desired information about the Port one is visiting.