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 More
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. Less
Costa Mediterranea Cruises to the Western Mediterranean
Cabin 7254 deck 7. Really wonderful cabin in all aspects. 27' balcony with two loungers, two chairs, two tables. The floor size of the cabin was 20' x 12 'excluding the wardrobes which were of very good size. The bathroom was of a good size with excellent shower. The position was Port side directly by the stairwells and bank of four lifts. These lifts took us directly down to the entrance of the dining room on deck 3 and directly into the buffet area on deck 9. 10/10 for the cabin.
I have been wanting to go to Istanbul for over 40 years and finally made it. What a wonderful city and one which comes in my top three (Venice and Cape Town being the other two). We took a Red Sightseeing bus which went from directly outside the port gates which was only about 100 yards from the ship. (Of course Costa never mentioned anything about this convenience or sightseeing bus). At 20 euros each we had a lovely tour and got off at the famous Blue Mosque, which was free to enter...a real must visit.
The locals were extremely friendly, helpful and genuinely pleased to please.
After going back to the ship with my wife, as it was too hot for her, I went out again on foot and walked over the Bosphorus bridge. This was facinating as underneath the roadway almost a water level, there were some 30/35 restaurants straddling both sides of the bridge which only had the middle part for navigation. The views from the eating places was simply stunning. In fact the whole city was just stunningly beautiful. Euros were accepted everywhere I went.
Went ashore by tender which took us directly to the beautiful waterfont lined with cafes/restaurants. Having been there many times before and for two land holidays, it is a very firm favourite with a myriad of very narrow streets (no traffic apart from the occasional motor scooter). The streets are all crazy-paved with white paint in between the large slabs of stone. All the buildings are painted white and not more than 2/3 stories in height. It is very easy to get lost as it is like a maze, but you can't stray too far without getting back to base. Lots and lots of trendy shops most of which are very small.Soe lovely merchandise.
If one has long enough ashore, from the main square at the top of the town you can take a bus to a small fishing village from where you get on a colourful fishing boat which drops you off at one of five beautiful sandy bays....well worth doing.
The port for Roma is Civitiavecchia, which is about one hour by train away from Rome and costs about 15 euros. The Port town is rather lovely especially now as they are spending a lot of money in making a really lovely wide waterfront promenade. The town itself is rather nice with a busy market at the back of the town.