Costa Luminosa -Feb. 5 – 15, 2014 Bahamas, Grand Turk, Grand Cayman, Ocho Rios, Roatan and Cozumel.
Embarkation : Our hotel assigned a leave time of 10:45 a.m. so we arrived early (11:30) to the terminal. Porters there to take our luggage....we're coming and departing passengers are trying to get away. Bit confusing. We stood around for about ½ hour and then entered the building, we were given our “section” number and sent off to fill out our health forms. Then the “Disney” style line to the counter where we showed our passport, boarding form and health form. Once our papers were stamped “completed”, we were directed to go and sit in our “numbered section”. This is a bit of a joke....there aren't near enough seats and the representative couldn't keep track of where everyone was going and many just stood or parked themselves on the floor. Very disorganized and I'm not sure why this seating was necessary. Refreshments were available as were bathrooms. DO NOT TAKE PHOTOS. Someone took a photo of friends/family sitting in the chairs and a rep almost broke her neck to get there and tell them not to take any more photos. Started boarding the ship about 1:00 p.m. We showed our passport and boarding pass and our photo was taken for our “key”. Our rooms were not ready, so we were sent to deck 9 to Self Serve Restaurant.
Room 4336 : An announcement was made about 2:30 that we could get in our rooms. Our luggage, cabin key cards, lifeboat drill card and dinner seating info were all in our room. 4336 is an outside obstructed room with a huge floor to ceiling window...there is a lifeboat outside, but it is situated so that we could see thru the windows of the lifeboat to the shore or water. Don't leave the curtains open....they clean these boats at 7:00a.m.! Lots of light. Queen size bed, plus the couch will open up and another bed will drop down from the ceiling. There is only a bottom sheet and then a duvet on the bed.....we asked for a top sheet, it was handed to my husband and he threw it on top of the bed. There was a large desk area with mirror, storage under the desk, a couch and small table, tv, safe, hairdryer, lots of lighting, beach towels, and a refrigerator full of beer, pop, water, liquor and candy (we saw no price list, but I'm sure it's not cheap). We asked to have our refrig emptied so we could use it for our own things. There is a three section closet....2 sections for hanging clothes and one section with 5 shelves and the safe. Bring some hangars (14 in our cupboard and one was broke). Nice sized bathroom with lots of hot water and a high shower head. There was a small square of soap for the sink and there is liquid soap in the shower. On this ship, the spa does not supply “samples” for your use. I suggest you bring your own shampoo/conditioner and soap. Our soap square got very thin and was not automatically replaced....my husband had to ask for another one. There was no washcloth....I carry the little compacted ones that revive with water and when the cabin steward saw it, washcloths were put in the room. However, the dirty ones would disappear and not be replaced. (Washcloths are in some of the public restrooms and are used to dry hands....I snitched two and kept them in our room just in case.) All in all, a really nice, big room we were very happy with. Our cabin steward was another story....at midnight, that top sheet was still on top of the bed as was the luggage cloth....and he either didn't sweep our room or the sweeper was useless. There were plastic clothing tags on the floor when we moved in (which we left) and they were still there when we left and yes, we did ask to have the room swept. My husband wanted to steal a sweeper and do it himself! The ship sailed at 11:00 p.m. (yes, you read that right). You do get to see Miami with all the lights on and there's not much to do all the time you're waiting for the ship to leave so you have lots of time to unpack and get situated in your cabin.
Lifeboat drill was at 10:15 p.m. Yes, you read that right too. Bunch of tired people (and children) out on the deck at 10:30 at night listening to the life boat drill announcements in 5 or 6 languages (Italian, English, Spanish, French, German and I swear there was a sixth language) and the crew is trying to make everyone stand in lines with women in the front and men in the rear and that's when we realized that this cruise was going to be one massive language problem.
Beverages : At lunch the first day (still in Miami), the bar staff was pushing the beverage package.....$260. for soda, wine, drinks and fou-fou coffee and here's the catch.....if there are two people in your cabin, you BOTH have to sign up for the beverage package, so that's $520. (this price probably varies depending on length of cruise.) Check the flyers.....there is also a water package, a boys & girls non-alcoholic pkg, coffee packages, etc. We did the boys & girls pack ($55.20 for 20 fruit/pop cocktails....5 to choose from altho 1 was no longer available on day 2!) You can get juices, coffee and hot tea in the buffet in the morning and then water, ice tea, coffee and hot tea for lunch and dinner. Your beverage choice in the diningroom is water unless you carry in your own drink or you have a wine package. We were told it would take too long to go to the bar to get one of our fruit cocktails so we carried them in to dinner. Coke products will cost you $2.95, Red Bull-$6.00, beer-$5.00, cappuccino-$2.60, cocktail-$8.00. Coffee at dinner is for AFTER the meal and I don't care how many times you ask and then you still might not get it! After a few nights, I just gave up....we got up from dinner and went to the buffet and got our coffee.
Meals : You know the cruises where there is food all the time....well, this ain't one of them and then good luck! You might actually go on this cruise ship and lose weight.
Breakfast in your room : Will cost you $2.50 service fee...rest of your order might be free but we didn't try this and the menu doesn't specify.
Breakfast in the buffet : Great....go back to the pool area and you can get eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, grilled tomatoes and such without too much trouble. Course you have to work your way around the people in line waiting to get made to order eggs and omelets. But it's still less busy then the other areas. The wait staff does NOTHING but clean off tables and honestly, some aren't that good at that either. Sometimes they reset tables with wrapped silver. They don't help handicapped carry food, they don't get drinks unless you show your card that you're buying a drink and then that's a bar staff, and not a wait person. They will get baby chairs if you ask. Breakfast in the Taurus diningroom....they seat you at the table they are filling at the moment so chances are you will be seated with Europeans who don't speak English or else don't admit to speaking English. This is pretty much just another buffet unless you pointedly ask for the breakfast menu and actually get to order from it. Hope you get an English speaking waiter. Bonus....coffee does appear at the beginning of your meal!
Lunch in the buffet....good luck. All the food lines may or may not be open at any given time and your choice will be limited. You will be able to make a very decent salad if you wander around to all the food lines to get what you want because they are not all the same....they won't all have carrots and cukes and onions, and each will have different lunch meats and cheeses. You can actually get some exercise tracking down your cobb salad ingredients. On a good day, they will have chicken or pork you can recognize....on a bad day (and there was more than one) you will find octopus stew and they will be slicing an octopus for the main meat. Take heart....there is a pizza buffet (it's chintzy but it's there) and if you head for the pool area, you will find hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries and such. Snag dessert and take it back to your room to put in your empty frig so you have something to snack on after an unsatisfactory dinner.
Afternoon Tea : from 4:00 – 5:00. In the buffet, a selection of small sandwiches, desserts and pastries, tea and coffee. The lunch buffet is still open as well, so you might want to do this for your dinner and skip the evening hassle.
Dinner : Buffet : If you normally eat around 5:30, your choice is going to be whatever they are serving out of the pizza buffet as the regular buffet shuts down at 5:00. They will have a few pizzas (with nothing on them...seriously, I watched a baby eat a piece of pizza and she didn't make a mess...there's nothing on the pizza to make a mess), rolls and about 4 hot dishes (watch for the octopus stew....it didn't go at lunch so it reappears for dinner). Salad will be 4 different kinds of lettuce, some radish slices and three kinds of salad dressing (no ranch the day we went). That's dinner in the buffet. No dessert and the ice cream machine is torn down with the rest of the buffet before 5.
Dinner : Taurus Diningroom : You eat at either 6:30 or 9:15. We had a table for 2 which we didn't like and asked to be changed to a table with “other people” and this was no problem at all. Right up front, I didn't like eating here, but since the so called buffet was a bust, I was stuck. Keep in mind, this is suppose to be haute cuisine. You do have a lot of courses to choose from so you can skip anything or have everything. There was an appetizer, soup, salad, pasta, the entree, cheeses and finally dessert. Here's an example.....”Costata di manzo al sugo naturale” which translates to “Medium roasted American prime rib of beef served with natural sauce, grilled potato and broccoli”. Yes, the translations are there, but they are not always helpful. And what you actually get is about 5 tiny pieces of potato, three small broccoli florets in the center of the huge plate and a thin slice of beef covering the veggies. Always, the tiny portion of potatoes and vegetable are covered by the meat. Have no idea why they hide the sides. Had a few good appetizers, not counting the cuttle fish I tried just because I'd never had it before or even seen it on a menu, but for the most part, thank heavens for the front page of the menu that is “Always Available”....I ate spaghetti with bolognase sauce and the fish grilled in lemon butter. I'm told that they did have a children's menu with burgers and hotdogs on it. One little girl ate spaghetti every night. Yes, they do have vegetarian choices each night and they also offer gluten free meals.
F Y I : We just got water to drink for dinner and most nights we only got one glass of water, no refill. We discovered the very first night of dinner that those with wine and mineral water got better wait service than we did, even at the same table as us. Our wait staff served the table behind us as well and they had no problem with their service at all. Coffee...if you ask for decaf, they may bring you a single serve Sanka pack. But don't expect to have coffee with your meal or even your dessert....my husband sat with his dessert and waited on coffee. Finally gave up and ate his dessert.....then they brought coffee. This is all about European dining.....oh and by the way, no escargot. My husband very disappointed!
We didn't eat in the pay restaurant, so don't know anything about that.
What To Do :
First off, see that big movie screen on the Lido deck....it's not for movies. This screen, for 10 days, was the Costa channel...offering Costa tours and other Costa information. Day and night. There is a 4D Movie theater....had 2 kids' animated movies and another “thrill” ride....same movies the entire trip at $8.00 each person. Movie theatre seats 20 people. Didn't do. Watched thru a window and no one seemed “thrilled”.
There is a walking track with an adjacent Quadline Skate track....the walking is free (until they figure out how to charge you for that as well) and the Quadline skates can be rented for $5.00 an hour.
There is a golf simulator and putting green...$30. and up. Putting green is $5.00 for ½ hour.
Race car simulator...$24.00 for 13 minutes.
Various contests with the Animators (cruise social staff)...do participate. The games are fun, the animators are young and crazy and you will have a good time. And you might win a hat or travel bag.
Crafts...napkin origami, painting, beading, crepe paper flowers. Free. Adults only.
Dance and exercise classes.
Health seminars every day to try to sell you something.
Library.... it doesn't have very many English books...has some games as well. Are all locked up so you must go when library is “open”....better yet, take books with you, read them and donate them to the library. Then you don't have to worry about a $15. lost book fee. And that will leave an empty space in your luggage for souvenirs you had to have. This is where the internet area is and it is open 24 hours. About 6 computers. Didn't use it so have no details.
Pools....there are two that close at 8 or 9 p.m. Hot tubs too.
Dancing.....every night there is lots and lots of music, partying and dancing.
Phoenix Theatre Shows : generally two shows a night at 7:30 and 9:15 (approx.) These shows for the most part are excellent. Vegas style shows with Vegas style costumes. The singers were fantastic, a magician very good, the dancers very professional. There was an opera singer (it is an Italian ship) who did one show and I'm told it was standing room only. Be aware, the shows will have English and Italian singing/music, but it's still all good! Don't miss the shows. Except maybe the last one...the passenger talent show, 1 show only and it was at 10:45 p.m. Ridiculous time for a show!
Shopping : It's a cruise ship. You can shop. Liquor. Lots of jewelry. Sales almost every day in the hallway. Cheap buy....one of the shops has silk drawstring jewelry bags for $1.00 each....good for Christmas/birthday packaging. Forgot to bring?.....sun protection: a large bottle of Australian Gold for $15.00, White Rain Shampoo- large bottle for $5.29, large tube of toothpaste is $2.00.
Squok Club : This is pretty much a baby sitting service, open varying hours depending on if it is a port day or a sea day. For ages 3 to 11 and appears to be free. You can also make arrangements to leave your child in the Squok Club while you do a tour in a port. There is a teen club as well with their own disco and games.
Laundry : There is no self serve laundry. Laundry cost is as follows....man's shirt to wash & dry- $5.00, woman's blouse-$5.00, dress-$16.50, trousers-$8.70. Everything comes on a hangar. If you want them folded, add $.20 to each item. HOWEVER..... Two days before the end of the trip, we were given a flyer that allowed us to have 25 pieces of clothing washed, pressed and folded for $29.99. This was a great perk for anyone doing a back to back cruise. They may not offer this on all cruises. Pack a couple clothespins. Wash your undies in your bathroom sink and hang them up on the clothesline in your shower. Most will dry overnight. And of course, you have the opportunity to scare the daylights out of your cabin steward!
Languages : this was a big problem and the one thing Americans and Canadians didn't like and soon we all commented that we were tired of it. Announcements will definitely be made in Italian, and generally in English, French, Spanish and German, BUT not all the time. I imagine it depends on who's available when they need to make an announcement. And even if it is in English, you may not be able to understand it. Announcements are not heard in the cabin (at least not in ours) and often are garbled in the hallways and forget about the public areas. Very annoying was at the evening shows....when the cruise director would come out and say his little speech, he did it first in Italian and at the end, he said “Ciao” and immediately, the Italians got up and left. Very few other people did that until by the second week, we were all tired of being polite.
Formal Night : You do not need formal clothes or suit and tie. Wear the same thing you wear any other night...blue jeans, capris, golf shorts. Almost anything goes.
This ship has what is called the Multimedia Totems. This is like a super sized computer screen where you can access ship information, book your tickets for the movie theatre, book time at the race car simulator, make reservations in the pay restaurant, schedule golf, sign up for the cruise survey and much more. Also on this ship, within 48 hours, you will have to find an Automatic Registration Device and register your credit card to pay for your expenses or make other arrangements. This info will be in your TODAY (the daily schedule). You are also suppose to be able to purchase tours on your interactive tv in your room, but our “menu” button didn't work, so don't know how that works at all.
Medical : Don't get sick, you can't afford it. Costs are listed on the back of TODAY...visit during medical hours is $70. and a cabin visit is $101. Sea sick medication is suppose to be free at Customer Service.
Photos : Embarkation photos were $19.99. Prices vary on other photos. Photos are in locked cabinets but will eventually end up in boxes that you have to sort thru. And yes, they do take all the special set up photos in the evenings.
Public Restrooms : They have no door handles. Doors are automatic...pass your hand in front of the “light” to get in. The hand dryers are almost worthless, so is nice that they have washcloths in some of the restrooms. Restrooms were always clean and in working order. Pause in front of the door and it will open to let you out.
Smoking : People in previous reviews have complained about the smoking....we are non-smokers and had no issues with any smokers.
Debarkation : This might not apply to all cruises.....On the last full day, we were required to attend a meeting, in our language, where we learned about luggage tags and debarkation instructions. Your colored luggage tags and paperwork will appear in your room and the TODAY on debarkation day will tell you what time you are to report to a specific area to start debarkation. We had to have our luggage out by 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning and we had to be out of our rooms by 8:00 a.m. Saturday morning. We ate breakfast and then just hung around where ever we could til it was our turn. Make sure you have your luggage color stub with you, because they checked them and held you back if you tried to sneak out early. You can get your tags changed if necessary. We were not docked at a terminal...we were the last ship in a long line and we were in the area where they store shipping containers. Since we had a shuttle coming from a hotel, we were scheduled to get off in the next to last group at 11:00 and they were running behind about ½ hour. We had to wait our turn to get into the theatre to pass before the immigration/custom officials. Once our papers were stamped, we were escorted off the ship where we had to go thru a huge tent to retrieve our luggage (12:30) and then out into a very disorganized parking lot to find our ride. Some people had to do some serious walking to get to their transportation. AND, new passengers were arriving to board the ship. We had to walk “to the other side of the fence” to get our ride as he wasn't allowed in the general pick-up area. We arrived back at our hotel at 1:30.
Bottom line : Our first trip on Costa. We specifically wanted to go to Turks and Grand Cayman on one trip. We were watching two cruise lines and we finally booked this trip because they reduced the price and the other company didn't. We won't book another Costa trip. We discovered we didn't like the constant language problem (many of the staff spoke poor English), the food was unappealing so we tended to eat the same thing day in and day out, we found the Europeans rude including the ships officers who never seem to smile and will bump you as you walk by. We saw a waiter in the diningroom bump an elderly gentlemen hard enough to almost knock him down. It's like polite is not a part of the vocabulary on this ship.
Talking to other Americans and Canadians, we all were pretty happy with our cabins, but felt the ship was lacking in cabin service, dining service, food variety and food availability. And we were all tired of the language problems. We got the cruise and a great room at a great sale price, so we got what we paid for....but we've had better....perhaps we'll pay more next time.