Costa Magica Cruise: Ten Days on the MediterInian
Having been on more than ten cruises, my wife and I knew pretty much what to expect. This is not a company that deals in expensive and highly rated cruises, so we boarded not expecting much. After all, you usually get what you pay for.
This was a last minute decision because it was cheap and took us to a cruise location where we had not been before. The cruise makes seven ports of call in ten days, ending back at its starting point in Marseille, France.
Our first surprise was our room. Located on the bottom-most passenger floor, deck number one, we thought when we booked it that it would be tiny, cramped, noisy and uncomfortable. It turned out to be large , roomy with a bed that connected two twins with a single mattress cover making it as big as our California King at home. The room also contained a couch, an occasional chair and table making it comfortable to take room service meals. The lighting was super bright when wanted or could be adjusted downward to just two night stand lamps. The rooms have individual thermostats, so we were comfortable at all times. We had three clothes closets, two large pull out storage drawers under the couch, brightly lit make-up table, mini bar and a safe which could be locked and unlocked with a credit card swipe. The bathroom had the first shower that I have ever liked on a ship. Shut the water on and off without readjusting the temperature each time and the shower curtain stayed out of the way without sticking to my wet body.
Did I mention the window? We were expecting little more than a port hole on the first floor, but it turned out to be a nice size window (about 4 X 5 feet) that was deep enought to sit in and watch the entry and exits to the ports and to watch the islands and the Mediterainian glide by.
The crew, as it is on most cruise lines, is made up mostly of workers from third - world countries. The ones we had most contact with were mainly from South America with a few from middle and far eastern countries. They were some of the most courteous, well mannered and pleasant crew we have encountered on any cruise. This is in stark difference to the passengers that I'll mention later on.
I can be picky about my food, so I'll say up front that I may not be totally objective here. The only meals we took in the main dining room were at dinner time. The quality was good as was the service. We always had a good choice. The only critical thing I have to say -and it really isn't a criticism- is that meat products do not have the same flavor as American meat products. It is not bad, it is just different.
On the other hand, food choice in the buffet areas of the ship leaves something to be desired. The breakfast buffets are adequate, comparable to truck-stops in the U.S. Any other time, you have you choice of pizza and salad or salad and pizza ... that's it! Even in the late night selection the only variation is that you get to order your choice of three pizzas from a menu instead of taking it by the slice from the buffet.
As with the meals, something is left to be desired here. On other cruise lines we have been entertained by Hollywood performers, quality acts by well known musicians, comedians, and TV performers. On this cruise, we saw performances by no-name entertainers, a singer, a pianist, an acrobatic troup with dancers and a talent show by crew members themselves. On other lines, there were always two shows per night and the theaters were packed. On this line only one show was performed each night, and then, only to a partially filled theater.
All the ports of call were places we were most interested in because of their historical significance. These are places we have only read about and this was the chance of a lifetime to see so many on one trip. Although a little pricey, we were not disappointed in any of them. We are still in awe at being able to tie time and place together with the history we were taught in earlier years. And the beauty of each place just left us breathless.
Nickels and dimes
One of the most irritating things we encountered on the cruise was prices charged for little things. Tap water on the ship is not potable, so you end up buying water for your room. The price per small bottle, about 12 to 13 ounces, will cost you â‚¬3.22, currently $4.25 U.S. currency per bottle. Consume two bottles each for you and your spouse or companion and you are talking about $17.00 U.S. per day ... Just for water. Take a ten day cruise and you will pay $170 for water alone.
Want an eight ounce glass of draft beer? Be prepared to pay $6.45 U.S.
How about Internet WIFI service? It will cost you $13.20 per hour. And, the instructions for use are so vague, they do not prominently show that you must
return to the Costa web site to log off, otherwise your WIFI will continue running, costing you money although you may have turned your wireless connector off.
So, don't think that the cost of your ticket is going to be the price of your cruise. You are going to be in for sticker shock.
I guess I really should not complain here ... It is what I get for doing this cruise on the cheap. But, I have to say it. These passengers, as a group, were some of the most rude, uncouth, ill-mannered, people I have ever met. They never said "pardon me", "may I", "excuse me" or "thank you".
And heaven forbid, don't get in their way at the breakfast buffet. They will literally (not figuratively) run over you to get there first. They reminded me of a stampeding herd of cattle.
This is not to say we didn't meet nice people - we did. But they were a very select few.
To sum up ...
So, is it worth it? Yeah, I would have to say so. We saw some places and things we will never see again. And despite the type of passengers encountered and the petty pricing scheme, we are left with some good memories and a newfound perspective on history, maybe the most significant experience of all.