My wife and myself decided to leave all of the work of Christmas and new year and let somebody else do all of the work to somebody else. Finding this cruise was by accident whilst surfing the net for particular travel destinations rather than seeking out Costa as a cruise of choice.
Having never been on a Costa ship and the deal being ever so good, we took the plunge and booked the cruise thinking that an Australian-New Zealand cruise would see many other English speaking guests embark at Melbourne and enjoy a Christmas and New Year break at sea. That was not so as the total passenger numbers totalled approximately only 800 (can carry approx 1800), the majority being made up of Italian (it is an Italian cruise liner after all), French, German and Russian passengers. A significant number of these passengers could not speak or did not try or want to speak English. This was a bit disappointing.
Still trying to be positive just after sailing and trying to engage with other passengers with our limited Italian or French speaking skills, we soon formed the opinion that we were a hindrance to some passengers who perhaps wished us not to be on board. An Italian speaking Australian passenger, travelling with her husband and friends advised us she was mortified by some of the comments made by some Italian passengers in their language that were very derogative to non European travellers.
I suppose that is the risk you take when taking a cruise on a ship with full prior knowledge of English not being the primary language.
Our cruise commenced in Melbourne, Australia and believe it or not the compulsory
lifeboat training drill was at 1.00am in the morning of the first day of departure. Absolutely ridiculous and these sentiments where echoed by all and sundry who presented their required attendance card to staff who marked you off as attending. Those that did not attend promptly were identified and found in their cabins and marched to their stations. There certainly was an assortment of clothing attire ranging from bedtime wear to suits. Quite amazing picking that time to do a drill.
It was an unusual cruise atmosphere for us and apart from the ability to veg out for 21 days reading or sleeping, their was very little else to do on board.
This ship has no theatre having been removed during the recent refit and replaced with a lavish day spa type area where you apparently can pamper yourself silly for an exorbitant fee.
Over all our experience of the Costa Line and this ship was quite poor. The meals in the dining room were good to average. The cafeteria meals were poor to average. The staff though were attentive and tried their best.
Smoking on board the ship is woeful and it was very unusual to see Senior and Junior ships staff, smoking, drinking coffee and cool drink (hopefully) in lounges in full view of paying passengers. This is the first time we have seen this done. Personally, we do not think that is professional.
To the ships credit, the costly refit has been done well, but again the rocking and rolling of the ship with associated creaking sounds is a bit disconcerting and irritating.
Not having free tea and coffee and cold/hot water available 24hrs a day is also something new to us and although the coffee costs throughout the ship were 2 to 3 euro per tiny cup it just was not worth it.
In summary, you pay for what you get but if I had paid a full fare to be on this cruise instead of the heavily discounted fare we got I would have been banging on someones door demanding my money back.
My advice to English only speaking passengers intending to travel with Costa, think again or take language lessons prior to the cruise!