The Indians have a saying that "it is not the wind, rain and storms that destroyed the giant redwood tree, it is the termites." CostaMediterranea has a lot of termites.
After a grueling 5 day tour of Italy with Your Man Tours we arrived at the Port of Savona at 1 o clock in the afternoon, our scheduled departure time. There was apparently a security watch by the Italian police at the port and we were kept waiting three and a half hours before being allowed onto the boat. I must say at the onset that we found the waiters, cleaning staff and crew to be very friendly and helpful - especially our cabin steward Byron.
We have traveled 6 cruises including the Grand Princess, Holland American and Crystal Cruises. I would rate these cruise lines at a 7.5 to 8.5 for overall service compared to a 4.5 to 5 for the CostaMediterranea. You would think that a multilingual cruise like Costa would take great pains to overcome the language barrier when it came to entertainment - no such luck. It was understandable that a ship with the multilingual passenger list should do all ship board announcements in 5 languages. The problem however was that although almost half of the passengers were English speaking, the English language movie channels available for the first ten days of the cruise were limited to the BBC World News.
This was a repositioning cruise and consequently we spent 5 days crossing the Atlantic. During this period there were no English speaking channels and we were treated for five days to two English movies (Fat Albert and Alexander). When we neared the Caribbean we were treated not to CNN or Fox news but to 2 different English speaking Chinese news channels. Finally on the last few days we actually got three US channel's and an English speaking Chinese news channel. This in-cabin entertainment became very important to all those poor passenger who came down with a rather severe respiratory infection (my wife being one of them) and were unable to even leave their cabin for 3 and 4 days. Of the group that we associated with, almost half were laid up with what was diagnosed as respiratory problems for at least a couple days. When I spoke to the ship's doctor, he told me for some reason it is common for respiratory infections to occur when people cross the Tropic of Capricorn. Beats me why that would be the case? When I brought my concerns to the person who was supposed to be in charge of the Service desk, she tried to tell me that the passengers were just getting colds, despite the fact that I had heard that some people had to go on oxygen in the infirmary and my wife was so ill that in one day she needed needed intravenous antibiotic, two intravenous injections of cortisone to aid her breathing and an intramuscular injection to alleviate her nausea. I can accept the fact that flu and respiratory infections can infect a lot of people in a relatively closed and crowded environment such as a cruise boat. What I had trouble with was the corporate attitude that seemed to pervade the ship. My concerns are the following along with some suggestions;
1. The other cruise lines that we went on had DVD players in the room and a substantial library of DVD's available at no cost. This was on English speaking cruises - how much more appropriate would it be on a multilingual cruise line such as Costa. Please keep in mind that most DVD's have a multilingual option.
2. The book library was way out of date and most of the books appeared to be at least 10 years since they were originally released.
3. Every other ship that we have been on had laundry facilities to do personal laundry (remember this was a 15 day cruise)- not Costa. I was told by the lady service desk that it was against their policy and they didn't want laundry hanging around the boat (obviously she hadn't heard of clothes dryers. They did have a laundry service that we used but I found it to be extraordinarily expensive.
4. One of the items that I found very irritating was Costa's policy that passengers were not allowed to bring in duty free liquor on the boat. Many of the passenger's were reduced to buying water bottles, emptying them and filling them with the Duty Free liquor. How demeaning was that. I suspect that the purpose of the policy is solely to increase booze sales on the boat.
5. When I went to pay my bill at the Service desk, (after 15 minutes of waiting in line) I was told that the bill could not be paid in American dollars - only in Euros. After putting up a fuss, the cashier "allowed" me to go through the absurd exercise of physically converting my American money into Euros and then handing back the same Euros to the cashier.
While I appreciate that individually these are all relatively minor concerns - but at the end of the day they are all termites that took away from our cruise. Would I travel Costa? NOT A CHANCE not when I have Princess, Crystal and Holland America to choose from.