This was my first cruise experience and I had been given a variety of information about cruises from my friends. However, this cruise was unlike any that they experienced.
Now don't get me wrong. It wasn't bad, but different. There are 4 major points that one should be aware of before boarding the ship.
FIRSTLY, it was a very European based ship. Italian in origin and very Italian/European in its approach to food and Entertainment. As this cruise departed from New York and sailed up the Eastern seaboard and down the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, I assumed it to be manned by many North American English speaking crew members. However, it was completely manned by heavily accented, English speaking crew from all over the world. This presented as a shock initially, for some of these wonderful people were very difficult to understand and their level of comprehension of our North American English was weak in many areas.
BUT, after a few days, all worked out well as we became accustomed to each others' speech patterns. If we were in Europe or India or the Orient, would we fare as well in their languages?
SECONDLY, the ship worked on the Euro system of currency. That was another shock as the prices shown for articles and alcohol purchased on board were really higher due to the currency exchange. Not a huge problem, but something travelers would appreciate knowing before hand.
THIRDLY, the ship ran on a European electrical system, something that is not noted in any literature we could find. As I needed to use some medical equipment, it posed a major problem until my Steward located an extension cord that stretched from the dresser's only North American outlet, to the bed, where my breathing equipment was used. Had I known, I could have come prepared with a converter.
LASTLY, water was not free. And purchasing each bottle became expensive once the Euro was factored into the bill. I happen to drink lots of water as it is necessary for my medical condition, so it was a bit disconcerting.
HOWEVER, overall, my experience was a good one and I would recommend this trip to others as long as you are aware of the above items.
The staff is obliging and work long hours to keep the ship running smoothly and their passengers safe and happy. Any minor problems were attended to immediately with no fuss.
The food was not the best that I have eaten, but once again, it had an International flare and the chefs worked hard to create varied, interesting menus that should please all. And if an item didn't suit the taste buds, there were others to choose from.
The main dining hall was noisy and often cool, so bring a sweater. Staff tried to seat people at tables with others of the same language. My table was a fun one with a variety of people who were quick to laugh and include all in the conversation. Our waiter became part of the group as did others and we found him joining in with the laughter and comradery
The Buffet at the 9th floor "Fred and Ginger" was always well stocked. It just tended to close several stations earlier than many guests would have liked.
Once again, I must remind you that the food is not North American and the presentation and taste was often different than my table mates and I expected...different....yet unique. We all ate it and ordered more!
I find walking sometimes difficult and in order to cruise this ship, you must expect to do lots of walking on board. But there were people in wheelchairs and motor scooters and the staff were more than obliging in accommodating them.
I only took one full day excursion at Boston and found it long, expensive and the guide catered to her German guests. That disappointed me, so I ended up exploring the various ports independently and discovered that every port offered several tours and many free or very cheap bus rides around town. Often I would just hop the public transit, ride it's whole circuit, then get on another bus when it returned to it's starting point. I missed the commentary and some points of interest, but was perfectly satisfied, as were several other of my ship mates.
Be aware that you must leave the ship early on the last day and if you book your flight too late in the day, you will have several hours to keep yourself occupied. Once again, no big problem and as a first time cruiser, I was unaware of this fact.
By the way, the rooms are large. Even the indoor cabins were big....almost as big as my balcony cabin. They were brightly lit so people never felt hemmed in and there was plenty of storage room for one's clothes, etc.
I found that Costa offered many great deals and most people I spoke to booked last minute at a tremendous savings! They couldn't go away on land to a lovely resort with all food included for what they paid!
After returning home and reading some of the reviews of this ship, I felt it necessary to write my review. It would seem that Costa reads these reviews and addresses the negatives, as I did not find any of the problems mentioned in other reviews to be true on this trip of mine.
Just go with an open mind and relax and enjoy.