Well, what a disappointment.
Whilst we understood that Costa is by no means a premium cruise line, we did not expect SUCH a poor level of service and facilities.
Apparently the ship just underwent a multi-million Dollar refurbishment, but where this money was spent is a mystery. Definitely not in the public areas, I would guess. With the exception of putting up Chinese signage all over the ship. Chinese writing is incidentally the FIRST. Even before Italian, English and others. Goes to show what the target market really is.
But from the beginning.
Embarkation in Singapore was a pain. Officially embarkation was scheduled to begin a 16.00, so we arrived a few minutes before that time. ....And waited nearly two and a half hours in line #1, where our booking documents were checked (3 agent only!) and we were handed a slip of paper with some cabin details. On to line #2, from which everyone was supposed to have a souvenir photo taken (the one with the ships steering wheel...). We skipped that line by ducking under the barriers. On to line #3 for Singapore passport control. That was handled very quickly by nearly a dozen officers. On to the ship proper and line #4. Now our photo for the cruise card was taken, passports were confiscated and we were handed our cruise cards and sent our merry way to find our cabin.
Incidentally, on Costa Victoria you do now get ONE card which is both your room key and charge card (as in most other cruise lines). We had pre-purchased the unlimited drinks package, and that was marked on the back of the cards.
We managed to find our cabin without too much trouble on deck 9. We had a balcony cabin, of which there are not too many on this ship. 25% perhaps. I noticed what seemed to be an extraordinary number of inside cabins.
Our cabin was quite small. Not TINY, but very small. The bed was reasonably comfortable. There was a tint table - about the size of a pizza-box and a chair. Both were virtually unusable, because of the tight space. It was impossible to actually sit on the chair, because both chair and table were wedged in a corner between bed and wall. It would have been far better not to have these things in the cabin.
On the up-side, there was plenty of storage space in the wardrobe and various shelves and drawers, as well as space for the suitcases under the bed.
There were two chairs and a small table on the small-ish balcony.
The bathroom is really tiny and one of these one-piece plastic moulded numbers, like in a cheap French motel. There were absolutely minimal amenities. One bar of soap (not replenished for the entire cruise) and a wall mounted shower gel dispenser. The towels were thin, but replaced twice a day. Face cloth were supplied quite randomly, only once in a while. There were 2 blue pool / beach towels on the bed with a stern note that $20 would be charged if the towels were not returned. Used towels should be left on the bathroom floor and they would be replaced. We did not get fresh pool towels on the second day, but somehow we ended up with 14 blue towels on the last day. I was tempted to sell them for $10.....
The mini bar was locked and we had to chase a room attendant to open it so my wife could store her medications. This was the one and only time we saw our room attendant. Ice was never supplied, despite requesting it. There is however a small kettle in the room as well as few tea bags (which are randomly restocked)...
The TV in the room is fixed in an awkward angle and shows a bizzare selection of programs. Nothing much in English. One movie repeated over and over again, random news channels such as the English version of France 24 News. Did not notice CNN or BBC. Most of the time the reception was snowy with poor sound.
We managed to hook up the laptop to the TV and watch our own movies....
Oh my God. What a disaster. (and I would like to use a much stronger tern to describe it...)
The food ranged from truly diabolical (for example a "duck soup" at the first night dinner that was literally hot water with an oil film and a few duck bones in it, or an appetizer of a cookie-cutter cut out canned ham-like substance with a "grilled" ring of tinned pineapple and a glace' cherry on top for CHRISTMAS DAY lunch) to adequate. Most pasta dishes were not too bad. Something you would get at a Sizzler's pasta bar.
This was the food in the dining rooms. The poor waiters did their best to talk the stuff up, but they kept apologizing for the quality and variety....
The buffets for breakfast and lunch were pathetic. Low cost, low quality slop. Third rate products and ingredients. Hot food was barely warm. Cutlery was mismatched and we noticed at least 4 different styles. Low quality melamine plates and bowls, something I would imagine they use in Kindergartens. The layout of the buffets was completely idiotic. Basically 2 long lines of food counters, like in a cheap department store canteen, where guests had to shuffle along in food lines like in a prison mess hall. A few randomly placed food cart like stations (breakfast omelettes / lunchtime pasta etc) completed the sorry scenario.
There was another food counter on another deck where they served pizza wedges (not TOO bad, but definitely not "American style" pizza) and a Burger / Hot Dog counter that was open for a few hours over lunch). Room Service food seems to attract an extra charge for everything. Not that there is room to eat in the cabin anyway.
That sort of food would perhaps be acceptable at a school camp or Quantanamo Bay (however in case of the latter, Amnesty International would raise a complaint).
Western guest are upset, because the food is just nasty. Asian guest are upset because the food is a mish-mash of various cuisines and just not fresh enough.
On the up side, this was the first cruise where we actually LOST a few kg!!!
As mentioned, the waiters in the dining room did a sterling job, given the difficult circumstances.
The bar tenders was mostly very good as well.
The waiters in the lounges and bars were OK. The service staff in the buffet and deck areas were less than adequate and lacked in training and basic understanding of Western service concepts. They seemed to be mainly Chinese and had a very limited understanding of English. They smiled a lot, but that was about it.
We pre-purchased a beverage package and that was a wise move. It was less than $20 p.p. a day and included pretty much every cocktail on the menu, a good range of spirits, pretty decent wines and also hot beverages. A stiff drink or two before dinner (breakfast even) significantly lessened the pain of Costa’s food.
We only managed to catch 1 ½ shows in the theatre. They were, let’s say, “cute”. Sort of rural high school drama department production quality.
The entertainment in the lounges and bars was, well, poor.
There are many very high end pianos all over the ship, but they are not played. The “artists” (notice the hyphenation) are using electronic backing music and have up to 3 laptops open whilst they perform. Just plain weird. Especially some guy that is standing there, stiff like a night club bouncer, cupping his hands in front of his private parts as if expecting David Beckham taking a penalty shot against him. He is singing completely emotionless (but out of tune), reading the lyrics off his laptop. His girlfriend is standing next to him, with a bored expression, shaking some egg thingy to form the rhythm section. Seriously, the tambourine group of the Salvation Army are livelier, better musicians (and sexier as well).
Poolside entertainment consists of short and silly games. A few dance games and such. Mercifully few and far between.
Public announcements are less than you would expect. Good.
Décor and public areas are dated, dated, dated. Something you would remember from the days of TV shows like “Heart to Heart” or “Kojak”.
It may have been “glam” in a bygone area, but nowadays it is just sad.
Bars and lounges are almost without exception windowless and uncomfortable with tatty and worn furniture.
Ports and excursions:
Well, we left Singapore hours late and the delay crept along the entire cruise.
First stop was in Java, Indonesia at some sad port called Semarang.
An industrial harbour with chemical stench in the air and complete waste of time, with the only real sightseeing option at far-away temple site of Borobodur.
Borobodur is actually very beautiful, but one is basically forced to book the pricy ships excursions to get there and back. Our bus convoy had an escort of 5 or 6 police cars with flashing lights and sirens to get there and back thru diabolical traffic. – and we still got back nearly 2 hour after the “all on board” time.
Second stop, Benoa in Bali.
Just to show how Costa operates; the map display on the cabin TV showed the port as “Balboa” (as in Rocky Balboa).
Late again, we arrive hours after the scheduled time. Costa had the verve to actually sell sightseeing tours to far away and beautiful Ubud. With under 2 hours of day light left, the beauty of Bali lay in the dark (and hidden in pouring rain on top of it).
Why bother AT ALL with a stop in Bali for a few hours of usable time?
Last stop was the island of Lombok (late arrival as well).
Tender from the ship to the port worked well and Lombok is quite nice but it was another overcast and partly rainy day.
Passenger comments were basically that it would have been better to ditch Lombok and rather spend a full day in Bali to enjoy the island.
There were two “formal nights”, where tables in the restaurants were decorated a bit nicer.
A handful of passenger made an effort to dress up, but some cabins may not have mirrors, judging the getups some people showed up on a nightly basis.
There must have been a real problem with people throwing stuff in the toilets. Announcements were made time and time again and numerous notes were left in cabins not to throw x-y-z in the toilets. Still, there were apparently many blocked and overflowing WCs in cabins and also public areas.
Costa Victoria is NOT an Italian ship. There is zero Italian (or even European) feel to it.
This old pot is geared fully to the low end Chinese-Asian market. It is run down, tired, low quality and has all the charm of a Hong Kong food court.
Cost does not do themselves any favours painting their name on the side of this ship.
We only booked this trip because the departure dates suited our needs and we managed to find a special price deal. Despite the comparatively low fare, the cruise was not value for money.
Never again with this cruise line.