The Ship: Romantica is quite old and dated. It is clean enough on first glance, but quite tired looking. No effort at all has been made to beautify it anywhere. There are no green potplants on the decks outside the lifts. There are no bright paintings or art work on the walls anywhere
the ship is basic and provided the means to get from port to port but not much else. We chose this cruise for the ports of call. We would not travel on Costa again.
We found that the drinks were expensive, particularly for the southern hemisphere passengers as it was all charged in Euro. A can of coke was 2.7Euro!!
Cabin: - Our cabin was on deck 4 and an outside cabin. It was quite roomy with plenty of storage space. The bed was hard and just OK but the mattress really needed to be renewed. It was sagging. The furnishings were once again adequate, but needed to be renewed. The ensuite was clean and a good size. The shower is on an extension hose and ours would not stay upright on the holder. Once the cabin steward knew that it was broken he got a maintenance person to come and fix it immediately.
Our Cabin Steward - was Fillipino and he was great. I have read other reviews and they all commend the hardworking cabin staff and I do too. Ours was exceptional. I have heard and read on Cruise Critic that the cabin staff have had a pay CUT recently and they don't get paid the prepaid gratuties that we and I am sure many other passengers would have prepaid. This is unacceptable by Costa and should not be permitted, but unfortunately the cabin staff can't do anything about it as they need the jobs and any complaints mean they would nothave a job. Disgusting and greedy of Costa and something needs to be done about it.
Our young cabin steward was wonderful. He was hard working and did longhours. He always had time to stop and talk to us and always a ready smile. My regret it that we could not do anything about ensuring his "tips" would be paid to him by Costa. The certainly work very hard and deserve and by rights should be given this money.
Dining Staff: we had a wonderful Chinese waitress in the evenings and she was very good, my only criticism is that as we were first sitting the staff was under pressure to get us out of the dining room as quickly as possible to they could set up for the second sitting passengers.
The food was just OK...... very monotonous afer a week. On this ship you can only eat dinner in the formal dining room. It would have been good to have the buffet offering food at night too as we and others didn't want to eat formally every night.
The lunch was served in the buffet and probably the best food of the day, although getting it was difficult lining up like at a "Coles" Cafe trying to fill our plates along with all the other passengers and people butting in. Not good at all.
Breakfast was also served in the buffet and once again a struggle to get to the buffet and get the food and then even more difficult to navigate through the queues to find a table. The aisles are far too narrow to walk down with everyone waiting to try and get their food and the ship staff trying to replenish the food too.
The ONLY FREE thing on the ship was the "cold" water, Even this was never cold, usually very hot actually and oneneeded to add the ice from the same machine to get the water cold. We filled up our drink bottles at the water machine every night. There are about 5 machines and all of them are in the buffet on Deck 8.!!! Why don't they have them scattered around the ship. No sense really.
SMOKING: - this was permitted everywhere it seemed. Certainly the Costa staff did nothing to discourage it and people were even smoking cigars and pipes!!!! The main lounge on Deck 8 was always smokey and stunk as did most of the corridors on the ship. The trouble with smokers is they don't care if you don't like it!!! and they certainly made no efforts them selves to be courteous about where they smoked. It was disgusting. Even out at breakfast smoke was puffed into people's faces.
Air conditioning: - it was almost non existent in the cabin where it was really needed at night to try and get a good sleep. Other parts of the ship it was freezing cold.
Swimming decks: - the pools were nice and warm but there was very little shade for passengers and Costa staff would just come and take the sun umbrellas down if a little breeze blew!!!! There was no consideration given to the passengers at all.
Entertainment: - was uninteresting and unispiring apart from one show where there was a tumbling act and a comedian which was from USA. Apart from this the Costa dancers and singers worked hard, but it was all done on the cheap.
Costa Officers: These are mostly Italian and could care less about pleasihg the passengers. No effort was made to help even when help was asked for. The officers are just full of their own self importance and no politeness in them at all.
Entertainment Crew: these were young, loud and immature. They took no consideration of the age group of this cruise which i would estimate to be on average 55 - 65 yrs of age. The Entertainment crew were very young and just came out and taught the ChaCha or Samba every day for 2 weeks..... no variation.... It was boring. The young woman running the quiz's had a very strong Italian accent and her speaking was sometimes undecipherable,she could care less!!! Even when quite a few English speaking passengers said they coudn't understand her well, she just shrugged her sholders, looked down her nose at us and walked away. Not good customer service at all and yet another bad critisism of the ship and the crew.
The meanness and penny pinching of Costa was also shown at the quiz times too, when they would not even give each winning team a small prize. They would only give one prize to one person and to get that if there was more than 1 winning team a member from each team had to throw a dice and the highest number won!!! I am not talkingabout expensive prizes either. Just cheap Costa writing notebooks, or a recycle bag jst big enought to hold a block of chocolate. We are not talking about expensive giveaways here. They were cheap and nasty prizes and the Costa meanness really showed.
The ports we went to were great. We did not take any organised tours from the ship as they were expensive even in Euro. We would find a taxi on the wharf or outside the gates and after bartering we would agree on a price for the whole day and the taxi took us in airconditioned comfort to all the places the tours went to, but we didn't have to wait for the slow tour person or sit on an uncomfortable unairconditioned bus as one tour had to in Da Nang. I strongly recommend that you taxi everywhere it is cheaper and much more leisurely.
Manila is so dirty and so many young homeless people and slums. It was disgusting place and made me very sad to see so many young children out on the streets begging for money. Filty place where nothing looks to be finished. The roads are rough and potholed, thefootpaths was unfinished and dusty and dirts. Everyone should see this country I think and then they would realise how lucky they are to live in relative comfort and have the oney to holiday from time to time. I now understand why Fillipino's work overseas. Even tho many of them are maids in Arab countries and poorly paid it would be preferable to the miserable brokenlives they would endure in their home country. I feel very sorry for the inhabitants of Manila. It was a dump.
Sabbah was great and different again. Lots of slum houses and rubbish everywhere, so unkept, just like Maniala but not quite as bad.
Brunei was great, clean and tidy but the port is about a 40 minute drive to the city. You need to get a taxi here and go to the Water Village. this is something else andwell worth the visit. Amazing place.
Singapore is wonderful. Great people, great shopping, great sights too. Clean and orderly and a pleasure to be there.
Ho Chi Minh was chaotic but exciting too. Loved Vietnam and its people, lots of poor people too and very untidy place with lots of rubbish but not nearly as bad as Manila.
Da Nang was great and we also took a taxi to Hoi Ahn a wonderful little vietnamese village, no cars inthe streets and a very different place to visit. Would like to go back to Da Nang and really see the place. Loved China Beach there too. In 10 years time it will be full of resort type hotels as they were all being built already.
Overall I would not recommend Costa Cruising to anyone. It was just a very basic cruise, but the price we paid was not basic and certainly all the prices on board were expensive. The shops on board are a waste of time. only 2shops. One of jewellery the other sold bags, cigarettes, cruise t-shirts and a few blingly tops and pashminas but nothing really to even be bothered buying.
Very disappointing cruise over all. Arrogant main staff and overworked and underpaid cabin staff.
Wake up Costa and start paying your staff what they deserve. You know that they can't fight for themselves as Costa would just put them off so the staff are stuck and obviously Costa don't want passengers to know that staff are not getting their gratutities.
Don't go Costa but do go the the ports, each and everyone was different and really worth the visit.