CostaVictoria - Eastern Mediterranean: Costa Victoria Cruise Review by Édouard Robitaille
Overall Member Rating
CostaVictoria - Eastern Mediterranean
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
We had been on one cruise previously, with another line and had been extremely impressed by the quality of service and the friendliness of the staff. Our expectation with Costa was therefore quite high. We were not intimidated by the multicultural environment offered by Costa as we both speak French and English quite well and can get along in Italian.
Venice was our port of embarkation and we made independent arrangements to get there, spending most of a day and a night in that beautiful city before getting to the ship.
In Venice, there is a shuttle bus service from Piazzale Roma to the ship. Near boarding time, the buses come at +/- 20 minute intervals. We got there in plenty of time and hooked up with a small group of fellow travellers who were boarding the ship that day. We actually got into a queue at More the point where the bus was expected and as only a few people were ahead of us, we were expecting an easy shuttle. Wrong! When the bus arrived, a throng appeared out of nowhere and pushed and shoved its way onto the bus. My wife and I managed to get our suitcases into the compartment and found standing room on the bus. Then we were told to get off and take the next bus, our suitcases would wait for us at the port.
When we did get to the port, 20 minutes later, our suitcases were there, on the parking lot, unattended. We picked them up and lugged them towards the check-in, following the Costa signs for some 500 meters. Once there, we realized that we should have left our luggage at the drop-off point near the area where the first bus had deposited our luggage. So we went back, with our luggage, for another +/- 500 meters. At the luggage drop-off, things went rather smoothly as did the subsequent check-in.
Our stateroom was a standard category 10 stateroom with ocean view and balcony. Were talking pretty small here, perhaps 150 square feet plus perhaps another 40 square feet for the balcony. The use of the space, however, is quite efficient and the stateroom was very comfortable. We were on the port side and got the chance to see some spectacular views along the cruise. A small irritant was the room safe. It was quite finicky, requiring several attempts to open or close and occasionally requiring reprogramming. Moreover, it operates with only one of the ID cards issued by Costa for the cabin, which means that I had to stay on my wifes good side for the whole duration of the cruise.
On the first day, we rushed to the front of Deck 12 to get a good place in order to observe our departure through the spectacular Canale della Giudecca which we had been observing for a few weeks on the ships webcam. Each time, the ship had departed, like clockwork at 6:00 PM sharp, local time. This time, 6:00 PM came and went. We waited and waited. At 6:45, we had to go to our meal sitting. The ship left shortly after that, having been delayed by some late passengers.
We had been at sea for the first day when we had our emergency drill. Much effort was made to place the passengers by height so that the ships photographer would be able to get a snapshot of everyone. The drill took forever as all announcements had to be made in six languages (Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese).
The ship is just about the right size. It is big enough to offer a variety of services and enable passengers to roam without feeling constrained, and yet not so big so as to preclude them from finding their way about. All the main services are available: shops, casino, enough bars to satisfy a very large number of thirsty people, a theatre, a spa and a very small space serving as a gym. In all honesty, the gym could use more space, more equipment, and longer opening hours.
My wife and I enjoy a brisk walk and we often used the jogging track on Deck 6. The problem here is that people will run or walk, at whatever pace they see fit, in any direction they see fit. The jogging track could use a couple of lanes, fast and slow, as well as directional arrows.
The meals are pretty good, although, given the Italian reputation for superb eating, not quite up to our expectations. The coffee was nowhere near the rich dark brew one would expect. The breakfast buffet presented a rich selection of fruit together with a wide choice of artery clogging foods including all sorts of eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon and sausage. A small section is reserved for the Health Corner where one can find a bit of stewed fruit, some yoghurt, and a limited selection of cereals. For dinner, we were told wed share our table with two other couples. We were surprised to find ourselves at a table for two. Each dinner consisted of a seven-course meal. The food was plentiful, servings were generous and the preparation was quite good albeit not exceptional. The wine selection is varied and suggestions are offered on the menus. During the cruise, we got to know our waiter and assistant quite well. They were friendly, helpful and quite competent.
Entertaining a complement of passengers speaking at least six different languages has got to be a nightmare, and the staff did an impressive job in this respect. Roberto, the cruise director, was a riot and he was ably assisted by his colleagues. The after dinner show every night was different and entertaining. The talent was varied and competent. DO NOT miss the Roman Night on the last night of sailing. I cant remember the last time I laughed so hard.
The shore excursions were handled efficiently. Each group was individually led off the ship and handed over to the tour guide. Overall, the tour guides were quite good and knowledgeable. On two occasions, however, the tour guide would give us instruction for place and time to return to the ship, and then drop off in order to give the passengers free time for sightseeing and shopping. This is quite good except for one thing. When you have to board a tender by a specific time, you may encounter a bottleneck at the port if more than one cruise ship is anchored offshore. We started heading back with what we thought was a good margin for making the tender only to encounter long queues of people trying to do the same thing at the same time. Not good for the blood pressure!
The disembarkation procedure was exactly the opposite of our first days boarding. On the day prior to our return to Venice, we were invited to a meeting at which the disembarkation procedures were clearly explained. Our luggage was picked up as promised. We got our suitcases within five minutes of getting off the ship. We breezed right through out to the shuttle bus and were back at Piazzale Roma within ten minutes.
My wife and I both enjoyed the multi-cultural composition of the passengers although it did tend to slow down communication at times. There is probably less mingling among passengers than there would be if there was a more common background. We certainly did not notice much mixing between the cultural groups. This may please people who want to keep to themselves but disappoint more outgoing types.
As a general impression, I would say that we got good value for the price of our cruise. Our opinion is mitigated by the fact that our previous cruise experience had left us with very high expectations. One might say that the Costa Victoria suffered by comparison. Less
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