Costa neoClassica Cruise Review by CenTexKev: Need good Internet? Don't choose Costa!
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Need good Internet? Don't choose Costa!
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
It is nice to cruise on a medium size ship that "only" accommodates about 1,600 passengers instead of the 3,500+ on the new mega ships. We were looking forward to this cruise and the ports. We embarked at Trieste (near Venice) and took a 7 day cruise of the Adriatic sea. The Classica is a nice ship with a relatively convenient layout. The rooms were very spacious compared to many of the cruise ships that I have been on. Unfortunately, the electrical outlets did not work in our cabin and it took some time to get them turned on. The shower had horrible pressure and was more of drizzle than a shower. The bed was comfortable and our room steward was efficient.
I was not impressed with the food, even in the main dining room. I was expecting an Italian ship to have great pasta dishes but they were all rather ordinary and none of them were cooked al dente. Fortunately, none of the food was bad and I would give all of the food quality a solid 3 rating. The main dining room service More was excellent but slow. Should it really take 2 hours to eat dinner when most of the dishes are precooked? If you want to eat a quick dinner you are out of luck because the self-service buffet is closed during the two main dinner sessions. Apparently on Costa, the fancy midnight buffet is a casualty of the weak economy. There is no midnight buffet, just a few little snack areas that are set-up in or near the public areas. The little pizzeria on the ship was therefore swamped with late night snackers and it took 40 minutes to get a pizza.
My biggest food and drink complaint was the method Costa apparently is using to maximize it's profit from drink packages. While waiting to embark, you will be visited by one of the bar staff who will show you the monetary wisdom of buying an inclusive drink package. There are many to choose from. I bought one that included all drinks except for the premium brands. Perhaps part of the plan to limit the number of drinks you order is to make certain that all of the bars are understaffed. I have read this same complaint in other reviews of Costa. Passengers are all crowded around the bar because the number of barroom waiters is so small. In the main Piazza Navona bar, I decided to do a little test and sat in a centrally located chair and waited to see how long before a waiter would appear to take my drink order. After an hour of waiting, I finally decided to join the crowd of passengers elbowing their way to the front of the bar to get drinks directly from the bartenders. It was this way the entire cruise and in both of the main bar venues. You can not have 4 waiters trying to service 400 passengers! Of course, I finally added 2 + 2 and determined that this was Costa's way of serving the least number of drinks after charging $140 for an "unlimited" drink package. So folks, sharpen your elbowing skills if you want to get served more than one drink every 90 minutes.
I can't say enough about the excellent itinerary and this was the highlight of the tour. A different and very interesting port each day. There was no pressure to buy any of the ship excursions. One of our dining room friends were forced to accept two refunds for excursions they had pre-paid because there were no English speaking guides available or not enough English speaking tour buyers. My only wish would have been more than 4 hours in Kotor and I think if Costa would allow the captain to increase his speed from Kefalonika by 2 knots, we would have had more time to enjoy this fiord and port experience.
For a relatively small ship, the entertainment staff was top notch. There were 6 female dancers, 2 male dancers, a male singer and a female magician/acrobat. Their dance routines were all sharp and in sync. The male singer had good range, projection and personality. The acrobat & magic lady was also very good. A small staff but certainly high quality. My only suggestion would be a female singer to balance out the male singer.
I would prefer to write a glowing review with no complaints but I really can't do that with Costa. My BIGGEST COMPLAINT is about the expensive and horrible Internet service. I own a business and I need to stay in contact with my office at least 2 hours each day. Costa advertises that it has Wi-Fi service in all of their cabins. The price is $24 Euros for 3 hours which works to about $10 per hour. I understand that getting Internet service through satellite at sea is more expensive than on land. However, the signal strength in my cabin and the cabin of our dining partners was only 1 bar (poor) and after connecting, the connection would have to be refreshed often. For any 10 minute period of usage, I actually had about 3 minutes of actual packet traffic. I was a computer network manager for 8 years and I understand the traffic problems when there is a poor signal. Technically, the network knows that you are logged in but very few packets are being transferred. The only way to get a decent amount of Internet traffic was to take my notebook to the Internet section of the ship's library where there was always good signal strength (4 bars). If my cabin had even 2 or 3 signal strength bars I would not be writing this complaint. To add insult to expensive injury when I complained to the "Customer No-service" staff they told me there was no problem. They got a report from their IT people in Genoa that my cabin had good Internet service, that I was using the service and that no refund or adjustment was warranted. The woman actually looked me in the eye and said, "there is no problem with your Internet service and there is nothing to complain about"! This woman obviously has no clue about signal strength and packet traffic and was counting on an aggregate data report from some IT guy 500 miles away! IF there was no problem, why was I forced to go to the library every time I wanted decent Internet service! She just looked at me with an arrogant look on her face!! So, I kept paying $10 per hour, going to the library and doing my work. The final injury was when I paid for a 3rd block of 3 hour service knowing that we would be waiting several hours on the ship to disembark. I paid the night before we returned, used about 30 minutes of time before bed and planned to use the other 2.5 hours after breakfast while waiting for our group to be called to disembark. When I tried to login that morning I found out that my user account was no longer active because all transactions had been cancelled at 01:00 when all Costa Cards were terminated. So, I paid an extra $30 for 30 minutes of Internet access. Except for the Somalia pirates, the Costa Internet service is the biggest rip-off on the high seas. What is even worse is they don't care. This is the single biggest reason why I will never take another Costa cruise again - a condescending, arrogant attitude that I don't know what I am talking about from people who are not qualified to even make that judgement. Less
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