After planning a dream holiday for two people six months ahead of sailing date. My wife had kept up her job to pay for every detail in advance. It would be our 50th wedding anniversary and my birthday to boot. I only found out about the holiday a week before we flew to our connection for the cruise FT Lauderdale. We had asked the travel company: Reader offers Ltd, for good leg room seats on the air trip to Miami via Paris-this was not provided. Air France was the carrier from B-Ham to Miami.We had completed and were accepted for the American department of homeland security. ESTA visa waver program,with certificates issued to both of us.
Our first shock and disappointment was the way in which we and at least 1300 other passengers were made to stand in a long zigzag line for over two hours in a very hot shed with our luggage. On reaching the US emigration desk we were not greeted but a harsh demand for "Papers" was made. The ESTA document was refused; we were ordered to the back of the queue to fill in emigration forms even though we were in transit from Miami to Ft Lauderdale. Exhausted and very thirsty we finally passed immigration two and a Half hours later.I should explain that I am 75 years old my wife is 72, I am a chronic diabetic requiring injections of insulin twice a day, my wife has to take heart tablets. After further immigration checks at Ft Lauderdale we were taken by bus to the ship Costa Fortuna Dock.
We were not greeted onto the ship but friendly crew showed us the nearest lifts to use and the deck and cabin were found, on opening the door we saw our luggage had been put onto bed. After a shower and tidy up, a dosage of individual drugs taken. We went to the buffet area had a meal which was plentiful and well laid out. Seating was a problem as the table chosen was often taken when returning to it after leaving it to obtain other things. The trick being was for someone to stay on the table at all times. Every thing on board ship was Duty free, however every service or item purchased had a 15% service charge on it. There was no money on the ship a Costacard being issued against ones own credit card. on leaving ship the total cost + service charge was taken from the credit card.
Trips ashore in and on various islands had to be booked and pre-paid using your Costa- card which was also your cabin key and pass to get on and off ship.
On one trip ashore in Nassau. Bahamas we missed ship by accident due to the unclear method of time allowed on shore and last time to get ship.
We were left in Nassau, even though we were at ship-side in port. doors had been closed and we could not attract attention of crew. The ship sailed away we were left without medication and what clothes we stood up in. Luckily we had our passports and credit-cards. We contacted the ships agents and evoked the repatriation procedures. we were found a cheap hotel for night, medication had to be found no pharmacy would supply, unless we had a prescription, no prescription unless we had a doctor.The doctor would only take us on his list for $550. After another flea pit hotel, in Ocho Rios an air flight to Miami and back to Jamaica we rejoined our cruise ship the Costa Fortuna. There was no one to welcome us aboard or to examine us medically. We had veiled threats not to cause trouble or complain while on board. No help or apologies were given to us. A very bad experience in all. costing 3 times the price of 1st class hotel Due to lack of space full report cannot be made