Our family of 5 went on the mediterranean cruise with Costa, an Italian Cruise Line. We live in Italy and are in the process of learning Italian. We have lived in Europe and the UK for the last 14 years and always learned the language of the country. We realized this was an Italian Cruise Line and were assured that we would be accommodated in English just as the other non-Italian passengers (Deutsch, Spanish, Asian etc.). This was our first time taking a cruise. Our primary language is English, but we can get by in other languages. We had 2 cabins, one with a balcony (BP) and one without a balcony/or window (IC). The room without was obviously on the 'darker' and smaller side since it also had no window. We will not book one of those again as it is what it is and we simply didn't like it. The room with the balcony was nice, spacious and without complaint. The ship was beautiful and MOST of the crew was courteous, but not all; specifically some of the excursion desk attendants and the bar attendants taking orders in the food areas and theater. We witnessed several incidents of servers, taking bar orders, be rude in their actions and even yell at the passengers who were trying to place an order. In two instances, it was uncalled for and in the other, while it could've been justified, it was still highly unprofessional behavior and terribly unacceptable. Above all, we feel that when you treat others with respect, they will be respectful in return. However, It is well known that you will have those who do their jobs well and those who will still need redirection, encouragement and customer-service training.
Moving on, we had fun participating in activities and loved the shows--the one put on by the crew was excellent!! The breakfast and lunch buffets were good but after five days, it all begin to taste the same. We quite enjoyed dinner--loved tasting dishes from the areas we were visiting! :D
So, as I've said, there were things we enjoyed, but unfortunately, the things that we did not appreciate (listed below) highly outweighed the things we liked and as a result, we do not plan to cruise with Costa again.
1) Until three days into the trip, we did not know to watch the cruise channel on the TV or to read the 'Today' brochure in order to know what was going on each day (activities, dinner dress code, shows, etc.). It would've been very helpful to have an orientation, especially since it was our first ever cruise, to know all of this on the first day. I will say that as soon as we boarded, we had a safety-practice fire drill. Afterwards, an announcement sent us to deck 5 for an orientation, but once there, we were told we didn't need to be there. It was rather disorganized and it took three cruise attendants to decide that we didn't need to be there. It could be that we DID need to be there. In any case, it needed to be better organized.
2) Sometimes, the lines for food could be long and my husband had stood and waited through the whole line. When he was up to get his food, the cook began to take up the utensils and remove the food trays, which still contained plenty of food. It didn't matter how long people had waited or that some had not been served, it was 'time' to close up so he started doing that. This was extremely unacceptable. We have already PAID for our food and then had to stand in a long line to get it & once there to do so, was removed. Again, there was still plenty of food, but he was removing it nonetheless. My husband did get a supervisor & was allowed to get his food, but it left a very displeasing 'taste'. It should never have happened. This was the burger line out by the pool.
3) If you bought an excursion and it did not have enough English-speaking people going on it, they cancelled it. The deal breaker was that they also refused to refund your money. You could either choose another excursion for that port or lose your money. This happened to another English-speaking companion of ours aboard ship. Some of the attendants at the excursion desk were friendly, some were not. Another issue was if you wanted to go ashore but not as part of the cruise excursion. Instead of having passengers pick up numbers to de-board the night before, they did it all the morning of and it was rather a chaotic process. Of course, the excursions left first. Simultaneously, people were scurrying to get numbers to go ashore. Once you obtained your 'ticket', you had to wait for your number group to be called in order to go ashore. As a result, while we should've had 5 hours in a port, we ended up with maybe 2-3 hours. That was very disappointing. We did buy one excursion during the cruise and it was rushed the entire time. We were herded through the village at Santorini (which actually was just up & back down one alleyway before basically returning to the bus) and once in Thira, we more or less spent the entire time standing in the LONG line to get on the cable car to go back to the ship. Again, rather disappointing--not Santorini, but the logistics of the excursion. Granted, we do try to consider that there are some things beyond the control of the cruise ship.
4) Every day a 'Today' brochure was put in the cabin so we would know what to expect for the next day (thankfully, we figured that out!) On Sunday, with two days left in our cruise, we were not given a brochure for the next day. We asked our cabin attendant about it and were referred to the information desk because he had not received one for us. Upon addressing the matter with the information desk, we were literally told 'there are not enough english-speaking people left on board to print a brochure in English". We paid for the cruise, including the last two days. Never did payment hinge on whether there were enough 'English-speaking' passengers. We approached this situation for a second time and were basically told the same thing but in a much nicer way. We paid for the cruise experience, for two cabins and were charged 8 Euro per person per day of the cruise...to include the last two days of the cruise. Yet, regardless of the fact that we paid for those last two days of the cruise, not only did they neglect and refuse to give us a daily brochure of activities/excursions/dress code/shows/etc. based upon their own admission, the number of English-speaking passengers aboard but they also quit making any announcements in English. The last two days were not enjoyable as we were never quite sure what was going on. We were highly displeased and it was a blatant act of discrimination. Regardless of the number of English-speaking (or any other language) passengers aboard, if there are any, should be valued and given every amenity that they have already paid for in order to be on board.
5) A huge disappointment, in general, was that while in different countries, we were not given the option/excursion of experiencing the place. Everything was touristy. For example, we stopped in three different places of Greece and never got to experience greek dancing or plate breaking. Of course, we want to see the 'highlights' (touristy stuff), but we would first choose the option to experience authentic cultural things while there. The best would be to combine the cultural and touristy. Granted, it is not always possible, but it is definitely something to consider and offer.