Wednesday 20th October
Husband rang to say he had received a phone call from Costa Crusies (cruise Line) to say the boat had crashed and we would be leaving Hong Kong 2 days late and losing Manila and Sanya from our cruise. They told us we would stay in a luxury hotel all inclusive in Hong Kong and the boat would sail 25th OCTOBER.
We checked out the damage and to say it has been damaged is a bit of an understatement. There is a 60ft gash down the one side with a larger crease above it! It is massive. A repair in 5-6 days seems ambitious but they assure us on calling them the following day that they can.
Much laughter from friends and and family who cannot believe the damage once viewed after placing on Facebook. Purpose built balcony, air conditioned with seaview ...... perfect! Well a few days in Hong Kong is a plus but gutted about not going to Manila or Sanya.
Thursday 21st October
Rang the insurance, upgraded it! They say we have to go as they have offered alternative. We want to but really not sure the project can be redeemed as the hole is so Huge. Anyway we are going. Work colleagues think I have just put out a joke until I convince them NO, this really is our boat. The kids are nonchalant and the dogs seem to know we are going. The other thing that spoils it. ..... but hey! The EAST we are on our way.
Friday /Saturday 22/23rd October all mingled into 1
Finally on our way and Jamie took us to the airport. What a difference it makes being dropped to the door .... checked in and soon we were on a flight on a 388 air bus. Nice plane, big plane but we were separated on 2nd leg and we would need to sort at Dubai!.
Long Journey, Heathrow to Dubai, 3 hr stop over, Dubai to Bangkok, stop over in Bangkok but had to stay on the plane for 90 minutes then over to Hong Kong. 27 hrs later we were stood like a herd of cattle whilst they took us over the the Airport Regal Hotel. It was here they checked us in. We left our fellow passenger we just met - Maureen with airline to check in. Can't be easy in a wheelchair, but hte airline had managed to damage her chair!!! At the start of the holiday too.
As usual the reassurances made back at home that we were to be out up in a 5* hotel in Hong Kong were incorrect. The hotel is nice but at the airport means we are 50 miles away from Kowloon or The Island. Tired and irritable I said my bit and came to the room on the 5th floor and as far away from the lifts as possible to find that the door key was not activated. I walked back down and sorted that then back up again with absolutely no good grace whatsoever, by now I really wanted to punch someone but decided not to .... , but we did decide to investigate as we were in Hong Kong and we were only here for a short time. Showered, ate at the restaurant (average) then we took the Airport train to Kowloon and the Ladies Market. A bit smelly but we wandered. Trying to get a cab back to the train station was more of a challenge. 4 taxi drivers refused us as they did not understand what we wanted. Steve was about to rag it but we finally got an english speaker and we came back to the hotel bar. The drinks are expensive in Hong Kong but essential after a long day. The singers in the bar were enough to send anyone to bed but as they just finished we managed another one.
SUNDAY 24th October
Sun shining and less tired the day already seemed better and we agreed to the do the free tour of Hong Kong. Everybody converged to the foyer. Really lovely people. Jenny and Chris are Northerners and there is a family from the Rhondda. The young couple are on honeymoon with both sets of their parents. She has had a op for cancer and reconstruction so is in a wheelchair. What a terrible honeymoon but they were given the option to cancel and we were not.
The operator COSTA DISASTER offered a free tour of Hong Kong:
Wendy was the tour guide who could talk ....about everything, probably more than we wanted to know but with enthusiasm and humour. She was lovely.
The peak first, 1/2 hour and we had to be back at her number 18 sign. Like lambs to the slaughter we followed.
Then to the Jumbo floating boat for lunch - those of them that eat Chinese food it was good ... not me of course but then we had to follow the number 18 .....
then to a factory for diamonds where the smallest ring was £515 and that was about £415 too much ..... but Steve and I had to leave as we made the mistake of showing an interest in a ring and as she followed us with a supervisor hoping we would buy so we ended up running out through the exit. Out of there and back to a boat ride down at the river that was about as unremarkable as anything gets. The house boats were unremarkable but once we found number 18 again we were of to a temple that looked ancient and was actually built in 1963. Buddhas and gods, there was the buddha of forgiveness, the buddha of wealth, and we looked for the buddha of huge willies but failed to find him!
Then to a market where we could shop BUT found a bar at last - The peculiar pelican - and had a cocktail and chips! Yummy boiling hot best tasting chips ever bought. Sadly that hour came to an end and we followed number 18 to a temple that burned incense. There was more smoke there than the Miracles ever had . We were off and on the coach like yoyos ..... It was pretty awful but we had seen Hong Kong and we had some pictures, which I lost transferring to my computer! DICK HEAD!
We asked Wendy (Windy in her speak) to drop us off at Kowloon so we could watch the laser show. We walked up Nathan Road and found the nearest Irish bar (Murphy's) cos there is one everywhere in the world and we needed/ had a few cocktails and beers before heading to the promenade. We settled at a Tapas bar to watch the laser show only to find that we could only see 1/2 of it once it started ..... so 1/2 of it we watched. There was a great big building built right in our way!
We were told though that the boat was being boarded tomorrow so we need to pack and get the bags outside the door by 8am.
MONDAY 25th October
Well we got our bags outside the door at 8am. Good job cos they were still there at 11am!
Hungover, but not a mess we went down to check out, had to get a red sticker on our passports and wait for bus 12. Stuffed Steve at 13 card brag waiting. Half a day wasted sat in a hotel foyer but once the bus came we queued again to get on the boat. This was about noon. We queued for ages to get on the boat where they searched for alcohol and stuff(prohibited on the boat if it is yours). We came to the cabin and was extremely disappointed. Old and shabby. Not a bad size, but old and shabby is an understatement. We had to get some lunch whilst we waited for the luggage. Plastic plates and glasses it was like a rugby day in Wales expecting a fight. Hoards of people in the self service. Cold food that was supposed to be hot - even warm. Steves was better from the Wok. VERY expensive drinks. 3.60 for a red bull, 2.60 for a coke. 18 euros for a bottle of wine. The ship is really in need of a face lift. We watched as the rail fell off at the really badly coloured salt swimming pool. It even clouded over for us. We spoke to many people. NOT one person is pleased. Some are gutted. Some are angry, mostly just huge disappointment. We queued to get through passport control. We laughed but only because we have really warped sense of humour! There is nothing luxury about this cruise, the boat or the things on offer. Only the prices are high but that does not relate to the standard of the ship. We will wait and see how it goes before making any final judgements .... Steve just got in the shower and all I heard is "for chris sake" ..... I will know why in a second ...........
There is more water on the bathroom floor than anywhere and it is a small shower head a few inches long and an inch across that sprays water everywhere but where you want it to go. I had a bath at the hotel earlier so will leave it there and postpone my experience until tomorrow.
We went to eat. Our table was changed from an early to a late sitting and we were told we would be alone, but we were joined by Rob from Australia and his partner from Indonesia who spoke little english. Apart from the wine package only including white and red wine when I only drink Rose (I will try and resolve at reception later but they were not helpful ......) I had roast beef so survived another day. Steve, Red Snapper. NOTHING like the service we received from previous cruises but the staff are really hard workers and we appreciate their effort. Still the food comes warm, not hot. We went into the main bar, which all looks much better in the evening.
Disappointing ship but the people are really nice we have met and the crew and you have to make the most of it. The views leaving port of the Hong Kong skyline were worth the experience even though the ship skulked out of port with absolutely no ceremony.
Tuesday 26th October
Optimistic we woke to blue skies and sea. Of we went for a walk. It was 9.45 on a sea day and we thought we would have a little breakfast and pitch up somewhere. The food left in the self service area was dreadful. The scrambled eggs had gone orange on top and looked disgusting, opting for two hard boiled eggs and some rolls I vended an orange juice. Without a word of eggsageration .....( get it? ) it was hot ....... and watery. Still I put some ice in it which melted immediately and it was watery watery orange juce that made you wretch and it was still warm! we enjoyed a cocktail at noon as happy hour is 11-12 ?? then we looked at lunch at about 1.30 ish. Again as we queued like a school hall the food was warm not hot, we did find some water that was not charged for (as it should be) and picked at a little snack but went back to a sunbed. In general everyone hopes for a revolution but we all sit and moan and gripe but there is little we can do as the staff are just doing their best. Still good company and we are considering white eater rafting in Borneo with them on Thursday.
At 4pm we had to muster and emergency drill procedure. Steve was doing a "they can go get lost" routine but persuaded him he should as it was compulsory for them to do it. It was too hot for the jackets, and as we stood there after climbing 7 flights of stairs I thought I would pass out. Accepting that we had to we listened to the instructions then we were notified that we had to listen to it in 7 more languages please be tolerant! OK we understand they have to but I had to get the jacket off ......... still it was over soon enough and we returned to the cabin where I spent an hour on the internet banking and sending messages and I did get 5 minutes on facebook before my 10 EURO hour was over.
Showered (its a knack) and changed we went for a drink. I think we are going to see our rep today about the fact we are sitting solo.
Copy of letter sent to Hotel Director
Mr and Mrs Brook Cabin 4138 27/10/10
It is with regret we find it necessary to put in writing already our complaint regarding the cruise on the Costa Classica.
Already hugely disappointed to have missed manila and Sanya we are now told we will also miss the last night in Hong Kong.
The boat itself is in poor condition, old, tatty and NOT the luxury cruise we were promised and have experienced before with better cruise lines.
Not one apology has been made as to the problems from being promised bath robes and slippers, wonderful food and fantastic dining experience, we have found the opposite.
We have had consistently cold food in self service, but hot orange juice. We requested late sitting when we booked the cruise (we always do) and we now find ourselves most nights sat on a table for 6 alone. We bought a wind package that we find only serves red and white and excludes Rose - not explained at time of purchase and we even offered to pay more so we could have Rose to no satisfactory response.
We have been queued, herded and stood in line so many time I think I am back in school. we have lost hours of several days.
Your charges on this poor and shabby ship are excessive especially for basics like water. Openly admitting this you offer better cake, coffee and icecream if we pay for it on an all inclusive food cruise. Shameful.
This holiday was as surprise present fro me from my husband and he and I have been let down enormously by COSTA. The whole thing is really really really poor. You have ruined a special thing for us and many many other passengers.
Only the people we have met who feel exactly as we do have redeemed this holiday in any way. Your staff have worked hard in the face of adversity and we cannot take our disappointment out on them. The internet has now been down for 2 days (a service you promised) and it just gets worse.
In these days of internet and critic sites you cannot afford to get it this wrong. Of course we expect compensation but you must try and redeem this cruise to some extent as soon as possible
An unhappy couple of customers
(THIS LETTER WENT UN - ACKNOWLEDGED)
KAY AND STEVE BROOK
Wednesday 27th October
Steve stayed in bed but the strong small of adhesive overwhelmed me and I got up.
We had now been notified we lose the last night in Hong Kong as well so Manila dropped, Sanya dropped and now a night in HK - so wrong !!!!!
After a while we went to lunch and the urge to write a complaint overcame me and away I went. I took it to reception where the rep was inundated by complaints from fellow brits ... I felt sorry for her what a terrible task to represent this ship! Ferry more like. I have but two people who are happy enough not to complain.
I dropped the letter to her in the hope our dinner plight may be resolved, it is a formal night tonight and we don't want to sit alone. At £10.00 a round for two drinks we are compelled to wait until 5pm when we get buy one get one free .... we would spend so much more if we had better value for money ironically!
One woman has the gangplank as her window view so asked to be moved, not upgraded - just moved so she can have privacy. They want to charge her 500 euros to move. I find this incredible. They have a cabin and they put her in a terrible one. so they should move her and she will be happy ....... EVERYTHING for more money, they are dreadful! I have walked around with Frankie Boyle book "My life so far" and I have put a plaster over life and written Cruise.
Terrible rain storm at 6.15 so came to shower. Failed to connect to internet as arranged with kids so will have to wait until tomorrow. We should dock at Borneo tomorrow and have booked white water rafting ....
Formal evening now so must get ready.
Well, not what we expected. Our table companion complained about the smell of paint this morning and asked for a chemical breakdowm please!!! He then went for a photo of the captain and asked him why he was not allowed to cancel in front of all passengers ........ good for him.
My husband hates the bed and was a pain in the back - literally - all night wanting pain killers, more pillows, blah blah!
Thursday 28th October 2010
Absolutely great to see when we got up that we managed to reach somewhere ..... almost a week ...... and here we were looking at Borneo.
Of course as we booked a trip Costa did not miss the opportunity to get us to stand in line for a sticker and to get off the boat ....
They were also selling water at 2.60 euros a small bottle. People buying them in pairs to get off the ship as it was hot and humid. Once on the coach we were immediately given a free bottle of water, they must have known that was the case.
We set off with a fantastic tour guide Angelo and went to the river on very winding roads and lovely scenery. Views of great mountains, tin shacks, lovely houses, and not so. We went with Sandra Pete and Katie and all in all had the best fun. We had a helmet and lifejacket, a dinghy and an oar. A bit of advice/training and were off. Hardly white water rafting - pussy stuff - but the inter boat wars were really funny. Steve targeted a larger chap from another boat and he pulled him into the water .... he was not that amused. This started a trend. We attacked boats, they attacked us,Some of us were pulled off twice, kidnapped and dumped back in the water. All excellent fun. Paddles splashed water over everyone, we were soaked and loved it.
All in all a lunch afterwards was lovely and we got back to the coach.
They took us to a pottery and a demonstration curiously, I quite liked a 6ft urn but felt it may not fit in my suitcase. Then to a building that was a huge 55 storey high ex- government building ... Oh! Then to a mosque that we could photograph. Oh!
Back to the ship and it was raining very heavily. We went for a quick Turkish baths and a jacuzzi to warm up. An afternoonof tea of cake I did not like
The boat sailed out of Borneo at 6.30 with no ceremony and that was goodbye to a lovely brief visit to the island.
Happy hour it was and it was great to talk about something rather than the state of the boat. We were Billy no mates at dinner again but we were okay ...... it was very pleasant.
Friday 29th October Brunei
We docked in Brunei as we woke. We arranged to meet people at 8.15 to make our way into Brunei. The ship information said we would not find a taxi and to book with them. We immediately found a taxi and negotiated a price for 6 of us . Our driver took us to Brunei and arranged a boat around the river where to water village is. Interesting and poor (also loads of plastic and garbage everywhere), Some of the houses were okay some were derelict. In contrast the Sultans palace and the mosques were fabulous and oppulent in the extreme. Brunei infrastructure is superb (unlike Borneo) with roads, services etc all as modern as any country in the West. We went to get some cash from an ATM and saw some mosques from the outside that are incredible. Busy place but it is only a 1/2 day stop so were were brought back to the ship by the same driver. Not actually a taxi drive but a port worker making a little extra cash .... good for him He dropped us back an hour early due to his needing to pray.
We had a lunch, sat outside until it clouded over and then it rained.
Still no wifi.
The weather is atrocious and the boat is rocking.
SATURDAY 30th October
The weather was wet. The family we met played ping pong and the daughter won the teen champion as the only entrant. We had a game of table football that I was awful at.
Steve and I played cards for an hour and had lunch with Paul and Lyn from the Midlands who are just as
After lunch - ( we sit in everyday at the Tivoli full service every day now as at least there the food is hot and we can send it back ) then we tried to sit on deck but it was spitting rain and blowing a gale. We found somewhere sheltered and had a game of cards with the Hugheses to pass some time. , A formal night but the husband just went in pants and a shirt as it is really very mixed as to making the effort. On nights when there is a shore visit the next day early its most people to bed early so we wandered to the front bar where mostly the Italian are, and they are having a great time. Tonight it was Karaoke. We stayed for about 5 songs but my ears could take no more.
UNBELIEVABLE! They informed us we would not pulling into the the cruise ship terminal where you walk off into the mall and the town centre seeing all the glory of the Singapore coast line but the Cargo area where a bus would be provided for us for an hour journey into Singapore at 9.30. We had to gather at the theatre again at 9.30 as the tours would go first. This meant getting to Singapore at 10.30 instead of 8.30 if we were lucky and we had to be bussed back at 5pm instead of 6.30pm - So our 10hr ish day became 6hrs. It was about midnight hen we go this news and we were furious. They must have known sooner.
SUNDAY 31st October - Halloween and the Horror of Costa.
AGAIN the passengers we know are all up in arms ..... How very dare they! The view from the ship is miles of cranes, freighters, rusty cargo ships, oil refineries and industry. It is horrible. We make our way after a bit of food to the theatre and get an early bus allocation with the Hugheses who are livid! No Manila, No Sanya, No Hong Kong and 1/2 Singapore. We get on a bus at 10.35 and depart at 10.45 - the journey took 35 minutes and we dropped outside the Marriott and told we would be picked up her at 5PM AT THE LATEST!!!!!!!!!!! We went it alone and headed out to the Malls - I needed to buy a camera as I had lost the charger to mine. We not only got a charger here but also an new camera/video camera and memory card. It is lovely little toy and off we go into Singapore to have a look. We head for the flyer and have a look at the birds eye view of Singapore, very clean place and very expensive. Our idea to buy for the kids here blown away as we cannot afford Louis Vitton, Chanel, or even Guess at these prices, but beautiful Malls with Top Shop, River Island, Dolce, Rolex, and fab toilets! but sooooo expensive. After the big flyer we head for the Marina Bay Sands where there is a bar on top - only to find we cannot go until 6pm when it opens, this roof garden would have been impressive, in the shape of a ship it is brand new and has a bar and a pool. But we have to be on a bus at 5pm.
So we headed for Chinatown and the market there was great. we bought a few bits and had some really good food. We were approached by some people from the boat who pointed out the food was so much better here than the mediocre warm food we were getting on the ship and they told us how disappointed they were with the cruise and how angry they were about the shortened day etc etc. Aaargh!!
As we got off the boat it was obvious they had gone into this terminal to conduct repairs on the ship from the crash. Boats pulled up alongside, and carpets being delivered on a Sunday morning. This had to be pre arranged days before - such contempt shown for us passengers as they get these repairs done at our expense. The fury of everyone was that when we saw anyone that is what they talked about.
One couple got off outside the terminal to be picked up by friends as arranged not realising it was the wrong terminal and found themselves stranded in the middle of nowhere and had to wait until someone stopped to help them!! Very funny Chris and Jenny. Stupid, but very funny.
Anyway, we did not have long so a taxi to the raffles Hotel where we had a photo - on my new camera, but at £28 for 2 drinks seemed steep so we had the taxi driver give us a little tour of Singapore and a bit of background etc... He dropped us near the pick up point, we went back to the camera shop and he gave me a charged battery and I bought a spare and some earphones - might as well after we bartered for a good price and walked about looking for gifts but there was nothing. The suit Steve was to have made in Hong not possible due to the late arrival was mostly what they were selling - but even they can't make a suit in 3 hours!
Time to go all too soon - there was so much more we could have done with 3 more hours but we went to get the bus. 30 minutes later there was only 2 other people around. We started to check out other people loitering and found they were waiting for the bus too but not sure where. We showed them our drop off point and where we were told to wait. This went on for about 15 more minutes. Suddenly we saw someone from the boat and they hailed us over and we followed...... only to fine that the buses were outside a totally different hotel. Costa couldn't arrange a rave up in a brewery. Another 45 minutes wasted in hot humid conditions. I did have a pop at the rep who was as dismissive as ever, Steve was furious so were several other hot and bothered people on the bus. We have such a nice time away from the boat but involve Costa and it all goes horribly wrong.
Only 15 minutes back to the boat - and the cranes and the mess. Why all that time out and such as short ride back? On board the husband decided he did not think they should retain our passports. It got a bit heated and I dragged him to the cabin, if we are to have visas at Vietnam they will have to have the passports. He is not happy. Up to the deck and we find a group of very unhappy passengers who are talking about how lovely Singapore was and they wanted longer there, what lovely cameras they bought (snap Pete) and the bitching went on for an hour. The sunset would have been lovely if it were not marred by massive industrial views .......
We decided to go and see Jennifer the English speaking rep. I asked her to explain today's problem. She looked me in the face and said "What problem?" Bare faced as if I was a bolt from the blue. Steve put it less diplomatically and asked "What these bunch of monkeys were up to spoiling another day?". I calmed him down(she hates us and is really getting it from everyone) and she claimed that they tried up to last night to get us into the cruise terminal but there was no room and the information was not given to us until late because they only decided very late yesterday .......... but in plenty of time to get those carpets delivered on a Sunday morning at 9am eh ???
She must be being battered by complaints and we put a few other complaints to her about the barge, the service, the lack of shore stops, but she basically has no powers to do anything. We asked if there were arrangements in Hong for our luggage so we could shop on the last day as our flight is late and as were missing the Friday by docking a day late. She honestly fobbed us off with nothing but "we will have to see". I am worried they may do their best - because so far, their best has been awful. Waste of a complaint, waste of time, Costa are waste of space....... they are dreadful.
Anyway, Quick change for dinner and went for a wander chatting to various discontents and drinking wine.
"the clocks go back an hour tonight? An extra hour on this ship? You joking?"
Monday 01st November 2010
It started off a beautiful and sunny morning with a bit of a hangover. A few hours lying out in the sunshine was all it would take to recover. We met a friend quite early as we went to sit down who told us he had a private taxi arranged yesterday cos he insisted. This man is becoming a legend! We sat and read, chatted to Emma and Ian and then .... it rained.
We took lunch and went to sit upstairs playing Yahtzee,
Anyway, a day off the boat tomorrow so after an early drink and early night seemed a great idea.
Tuesday 2nd November 2010 Ho Chi Minh (Sai Gon)
Had to get on the Costa shuttle bus but it was worth it as the journey took ages due to the traffic. Wow!!! The traffic. If there are 9 millions bicycles in Beijing there must be 9 million and two scooters in Ho chi minh ......... unbelievable site. carrying 1 person, 2 person, small babies, food, panes of glass, a door, plants, boxes, huge boxes, anything you name they were carrying. Hundreds of them all in line going every which way. Once we got off we were invited to get into a tuk tuk type thing and we were pedalled around the city. In these rickshaw things we approached roundabouts with coaches, cars, and hundreds of scooters heading your way, the trick it seems is to just head into all of it hoping someone will let you in! There are, we were told, 1300 deaths a month on the roads ....Emma was terrified at first but we persuaded her that 1/2 hr would be fun - but she soon admitted it was the best move to be able to see anything given the size and heat of the city. A great way to see the city - we saw the chinese temple, the American market, the main market, and the war museum which was quite harrowing. We had arranged a fee with the cyclists but when they dropped us off they wanted the fee per hour (3) which was still good value but we did not have quite as much as they wanted. They were quite crafty (when we met the family later they had done the same to them). Anyway we gave them all we had and shot off to get more dong from the ATM but not before we almost fell out with them. $50 is approx 1,000,000 dong ...... so we were millionaires for a day if nothing else. We bought chinese hats like triangles and formed our own tour. Shopping was impossible. We were literally held back at places where they wanted you to buy, in the grip of girls preventing you moving forward and all talking at you 10 to the dozen ...... so we bought hardly anything as we had to get out of there. All a part of the day though. The lacquered stuff here is lovely, the fake stuff abundant, and the people are so desperate to sell it to you they lose the chance. You have to escape them, and the converting of a dollar to a dong in vast quantities is mad!
We went into a restaurant and they ordered food I would not really eat, lovely the boys said and all of us £25 per couple. Good value, good food. It rained. Another belting downpour. Time to get on the bus back. We did get on the wrong bus that turned out to be the Costa Romantica, but they would not take us with them however much we begged. Another cruise ship passed us, it was magnificent compared to our prisoner boat but resigned to seeing this experience through I went back to the cabin to shower. I did go back up to take a photo when it calmed down later but it was dusk and blowy so not the exit you might hope for.
Dinner was very poor tonight. The vegetable soup was parmesan? The lamb was a sample again not a portion. The dessert was plastic and gooey. Prifieroles without cream?
It was supposed to be Carnival night and about 20 -3 0 people dressed up in stupid costumes and ran about the ship. There are a few people and staff on board really trying to get people to enjoy, but the success rate is limited but we don't knock that.
A few more beers and bed. There is no where you want to sit as even the duo singing are making up the words to the songs as they go along and they are terrible singers anyway. It would be funny if they were not on every night.
Wednesday 3rd November 2010 a day at sea. we hope.
The only thing that makes the day at sea on this boat bearable is the sun, I woke up being almost thrown around the cabin and it was obvious we were on rough seas. A quick poke around the blinds confirmed you worst fears of grey skies, huge waves and your heart sunk to your toes. All day on this ship, no trainers for the gym, £20 quid for a bottle of wine and £5 for a beer, you can't even afford to get pissed. Steve took one look and told me not to wake him. Tempting!
Went up stairs at 9.45 and the main restaurant already closed so we went for an omelette in the self serve. Walking was dangerous and the rain was lashing. People were throwing up in the toilets. Even the staff had not experienced anything like it. I took a kwell and we walked into the middle of the boat which was a bit better ...... maybe not. After a spot of awful lunch - I failed on all 3 courses - we went back and eventually a small drinking party emerged of about 11 of us and despite stories of the Titanic, Poseidon and the perfect storm we had an hysterical afternoon with a few beers and mates. Costa Fortune.
It was 7.45 before we got thrown back to our room and we needed to be ready for a formal evening in half an hour ........ sorted.
The evening meal was also a disappointing menu but my mate (we now definitely call him a legend) ordered me a steak and chips and I got it .....with a jacket potato. He is so funny. Whilst talking to the information the girl took a call on the phone, he leant over, cut her off and told her she was dealing with him!!! It was him time. He is a delight to listen to. I want one. Since complaining to Captain Norm he has had champagne, fruit, chocolate dipped strawberries ..... and he gets us for dinner.
Despite trying to stay after dinner, the captain had announced the weather was an all nighter, we had been on an all dayer and I needed to sleep. We are docking in Da Nang late tomorrow due to the weather but we still need to be up early so we rolled back to our cabin ...... the boat was rolling on this occasion not us!!
Thursday 4th November 2010
Still dreadful weather and we are in Da Nang, we cheated and got on a shuttle bus when the taxi driver wanted a silly amount of dollars. At Da Nang we caught a taxi for 7 and went to Hoi An which was a lovely village and ancient Japanese bridge, hassle free ish shopping. Bought a few bits here but again only had a few hours and running out of money was as problem as all ATM do not offer cash on our cards.
We walked around in various very fetching colour kagools we bought for a dollar without which we would have been soaked. Hoi An was very pretty and would have great in good weather but we are in Vietnam winter and end of the Typhoon season. This is the first place we could shop but finding dong was difficult. The silk is lovely here and the people less pressurising. It is a pity it rained so hard.
We were supposed to see Marble mountain but the rain meant we couldn't (?) but we stopped at Marble shop but refused to get out ..... for the second time. They are really pushy.
Back at Da Nang it was quite horrible, the roads busy, the markets smelly, very poor area and of course rain. We did have a big Chinese meal (yes I am starving) but it was good and very cheap - oh and hot!. We had a letter from Costa offering us a credit for 2 days of the cruise (less the flights) as compensation. I don't think this will be worth very much and they are not specific. They want us to sign now and we then cannot try for more once we get off. If they were specific about the amount it may be a consideration but too vague for my liking and need to be accountable for so spoiling so many peoples holidays.
We went down for dinner and spoke to several people. Some had just signed the paperwork in resignation that when they get back they don't want the fight. Perhaps they are turning into Italians. Some, like us, think just the cruise part means a few pound for a whole holiday spoiled.
Poor old Milton Keynes was asleep on a settee after trying to find a place on the boat with less motion than their cabin. Induced to sleep with alcohol so we were okay but getting up to pee meant standing close to the wall as you approached the toilet, standing astride to keep your balance and then launching yourself towards the target before a boat roll sent you flying ..... quite a challenge.
Friday 5th November - last day at sea
Still a very bumpy ride and the waves are above the cabin window. Went for breakfast where the upstairs was shut at 9.45pm and I was looking forward to my poached eggs on rock hard toast, I went downstairs to find they had run out of ham and an omelette was out of the question. I had a hard boiled egg hard roll ....tough going but I needed something to eat. I went to the meeting with friends. Just a few words about getting off the boat and about filling the questionaire. Jennifer even suggested we looked at it sympathetically and marked some as excellent. If there was a question saying "How rubbish are Costa at everything?" I feel I could comfortably have answered "Exceeded Excellent".
She did try to introduce a bit of humour, to what, she is fully aware, was a holiday from hell for almost everyone. Once again we had received a letter asking us to sign the compensation form which we would have had it not said we had no redress to Costa to take any further action, but they had not stated how much they would offer. They may be offering £10 for all we know.
We packed most of our stuff and got another letter saying we could stay on the boat tomorrow and use the facilities but not our cabin until 7pm where we would be transported to the airport. WHY would we want to spend another moment on this boat than necessary? We could leave the ship but had to be back by 6.30pm. We decided to hold on to our luggage and check in at Kowloon airport check in and get off that boat!
The rest of the day was spent with a few others and we drank again whilst being bumped about. The weather was atrocious and it was a dull and long day. The first day we did this was novel and fun, today was harder but we swapped emails and addresses so we can go visit if we want. One guy went to dinner one night in a tie and a lifejacket.
By the time we went to change for dinner we were a few sheets to the wind, and tired. The food was as expected as it had gone down hill gradually. We dropped the 2 waiters a few pound for their excellent service and the head waiter nothing in line with the service he offered us.
We went back early as it was a very early start the next day and as we had decided to keep our luggage we were able to finish packing in the morning.
Saturday 6th November.
We were supposed to collect our passports so we could achieve freedom from our 2 weeks hard labour on Costa Classica at 6.30 am. It felt like elation that we could soon get off the misery of this cruise. But they hadn't finished with us yet! OH NO. We went up about 7.30 to find that people had been stood in a queue for hours and that Costa had not arranged Immigration on board and people were missing their flights! It was 2 hours later that we could collect our passports. They were offering water in the line to people who had been stood there for hours. They really are a bunch of muppets .... though that is a bit unfair to the Muppets.
Our decision to keep our luggage was a good one, we got of board feeling like it must feel to be released from jail, it was pouring down with rain but we just kept walking. A taxi with Ian and Emma got us to Kowloon and we checked in our luggage and had a day in Hong Kong alone. We had, by not docking last night, missed a spectacular firework display we were meant to see and the night in Hong Kong, and the weather meant our best investment was an umbrella we had to buy for today. We walked, shopped, bought suitable clothing for me to travel home in, we went on the Star Ferry, the cable bus, went to a few markets, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and finally went in Murphy's bar for a beerbefore heading to the airport via the railway - and a bit of a long detour via every mode of transport - but got there by the only bit of luck we have had I think.
The airport shops shut when we got there I missed the last opportunity to shop. A disaster as I have bought almost nothing.
The flight first leg was a smaller plane with insufficient lag room that made my legs hurt. A few hours in Dubai flew by as we bought a Burger King to see what hot food still tasted like.
For the record: We hated Costa, their tin can ship was awful, the food, their organisation shameful, and customer services POOR but we loved the people who made this holiday very funny and sometimes even enjoyable:
Whilst I have rarely laughed as much at our dilemma and enjoyed such a good bitch with some lovely people I am gutted for my husband as he was so excited to have booked this for me, We cannot nip back to ever see Manila or China again, nor get to see the bits of Singapore we never saw, or order the suit in Hong Kong,etc... 12 nights and 7 days on the boat should mean relaxing and self indulgent moments in clean and lovely surroundings, quality cocktails and drinks. We have memories of a holiday robbed from us by stress, queueing, low quality 2* food and drink at 5* prices and less than luxurious, in fact poor surroundings. Swimming pool 4m square (rank at first with orange/green water) and shabby rooms, tired decor and weary from complaints staff. Having cruised before, our expectations were higher and our excitement at being able to see these wonderful places were ruined totally. Give me my money back!