Our holiday was arranged as a rest bite holiday for my mother who is a carer and included my partner and I. The whole holiday was a disappointment from start to finish and it was not only our party that were unhappy about the cruise but many others we spoke to experienced similar problems.My mother, my partner and I have been on numerous cruises. My mother over 37 in total and we have always been pleased with our holidays. My last cruise was on Island Escape and although the ship was old and tired and is not even listed as a proper cruise ship on many websites, the cruise was 100% better than this cruise!
The poor experience began when we arrived at the port terminal in Venice to go aboard the ship. We were given a card number 15 and told to sit and wait for our number to be called. At no point did anyone tell us we could leave the terminal and return later so that we could visit Venice before disembarkation. 3 hours later with no refreshments that are normally offered, we were finally called to check in and I expressed my disappointment that we had had to sit and wait so long and had missed the opportunity to see Venice, one of the main reasons we chose this particular cruise. We were abruptly told that we should have gone to Venice and came back later and that if there was a problem we should have spoken to customer services in the terminal. We pointed out that we had no idea there was even such a complaints desk. I was deeply upset.
We were sent on our way to embarkation but we avoided the tacky welcome on board photograph that was due next (and was holding up the queue) as we were fed up and grumpy at this point.
We entered the ship and were not greeted or helped by any member of staff. We stood waiting until finally we stopped a crew member and asked how we get to our cabin. This was a new experience as normally crew members meet the passengers upon arrival and help them find their way along even offering them a soft drink somewhere along the way.
We settled into our cabin. The cabin was clean and plenty big enough for 3 of us. Unfortunately, during our stay we noticed that the hairdryer had exposed wires on it that looked dangerous and there were light bulbs not working in the room. There was no hand soap in the bathroom and we had to ask for it as an extra. Shower gel was minimal and kept running out. We were often given 2 towels instead of 3. Often the cabin boy made lovely shapes and animals from the towels and placed them on the bed- unfortunately however, the towels used were dirty, wet towels and made the bedding damp. We could rarely get BBC news on our cabin TV which is usually available on other ships. I do not blame the cabin boy, I blame Costa as their staff seem to be overworked do not seem to be adequately trained. The cabin boy was always polite and helpful.
We then made our way to the bar as we were very thirsty and needed a drink. The bar was very busy and did not have enough staff serving. Instantly, we noticed how unhappy and overworked the bar staff were. There were no smiles and we waited ages to be served. No please or thank you from the staff. We instantly felt unwelcome. The drinks were very expensive and had tax added on so we decided to buy an all inclusive package.
From this point onwards, things got worse and worse. The queues at bars and in the buffet restaurant were always huge. There was not enough staff at the bars and not enough bar waiters. We could rarely get waiter service unless you wanted to buy Sangria or drinks that were at an additional cost, either in the bar areas or in the restaurants. Most of the staff were miserable and snappy, often rude! Hardly any of the staff smiled. We would repeatedly request coffee and juice at breakfast and never get served. Some staff would just tell us that they were working for other tables and walk off, others just slam their eyes at us. There was a complete lack of job satisfaction anywhere on the ship.
The seating in the buffet restaurant was terrible, with no-where to sit. The buffet restaurant food was poor. We had to clear used plates and cutlery ourselves from dirty tables as there was not enough staff to cope. Food was cold and tasteless. We pointed out to the Maitre D at the buffet that the panacotta was like rubber and inedible- a speciality of Italy that I can personally make a better job of creating. The sausages, bacon and potatoes were cold and awash with oil. One day we chose hamburgers and we were astonished that the meat was raw and red in the middle! Only 2 choices of pizza at the buffet, on an Italian ship this is shocking! Food was always running out so there was limited choice. The buffet restaurant closing before 5pm each day until 7pm was outrageous as passengers who were returning from Costa excursions hungry and thirsty could not get food from anywhere. We were on the late dinner sitting at 9.15pm and to go from lunch until 7pm to get any food on a cruise is disgraceful! We could not even help ourselves to a cup of tea or coffee during the day as the dispensers were always closed up.
In the waiter service restaurant, the food was equally awful. Salty, tasteless and over cooked or under cooked. The fish and meat was dry and chewy. The soup was like stew. Vegetables that were diced to an inch of their lives were cold and undercooked. Cheeses looked stale and the biscuits were non descript. The vegetarian lady on our table nearly cried with the lack of thought for her food and was horrified to taste her food had been cooked in fish tainted fat. We found it very, very difficult to get wine refills in this restaurant and I cannot believe that there was no coffee or tea offered at the end of the meal. This just would not happen on another cruise. Every night, all the guests on our table left nearly all the food from every course as it tasted so bad! The waiters looked embarrassed. Over the week it got worse and worse. We came back less heavy than before we left....a rare event on a cruise holiday unless you have had illness.
During the week, I approached the Maitre D after a breakfast in the Smerelda restaurant. I politely explained that I would like to point out the problems we were experiencing in order that he can try and repair them. Instantly, he abruptly told me to see customer services if I had a problem. It felt like he was not interested. I reminded him that he was the Maitre D and that he was the person in charge of the restaurant to which he rolled his eyes, folded his arms and looked the other way. I told him he did not seem to be interested and at that point somebody must have dropped something as there was a crash in the kitchen. At the sound of the crash, he abruptly walked off without word or warning. I was amazed and shocked as there was plenty of other staff standing nearby who could have attended to the kitchen incident. It was obvious to me that he used the crash scenario to take himself away from our conversation. I immediately went to customer service and reported the Maitre D to them. I also said that we were not happy about paying the compulsory Hotel Service Charge at the end of the cruise as the service had been so poor. They sent the English representative to our table that evening to find out what had happened and to listen to our issues. I told her about the Maitre D incident and the problems we were experiencing and she said that Costa had reduced the staff to cut costs on the ship. She said that she was overwhelmed with other complaints from English speaking guests about similar issues. I told her we did not want to pay the service charge as the service was terrible. She agreed it was poor.
The rep visited us a couple of times over the week and the Maitre D did give us a half hearted excuse with an apology about the kitchen incident. We continued to tell Louise how bad the service and food was. She listened to us but offered nothing. We complained to customer services at least twice but they seemed disinterested in the whole thing.
On a more positive note, I would like to point out that that the show dancers and singers were excellent. They worked very hard and produced fantastic shows each time. Also, the excursions and were excellent and well organised.
To add insult to injury, at the end of the holiday we were summoned to the theatre to sit through a disembarkation talk from the rep. There, she gave us information about luggage etc. During her speech, she told passengers that there was only one box to tick on the satisfaction questionnaire, namely ‘excellent’! She reinforced this many, many times suggesting there was no other choice. This was to the obvious disgust of the passengers seated in the theatre. We were now being told what to write on our comments form........priceless!!!!
If you decide to go on this cruise ship do so at your own peril!!! I warn you it is absolutely terrible!