Once one has been on a few cruises it is easy to be disappointed. We expected to encounter Continental sophistication and flair on the Costa Classica cruise between Singapore and Hong Kong, but instead found ourselves on a very 'average' ship which appeared to have a crew whose morale was a trifle low.
First the good points. The inside cabin which we had was spacious and comfortable. Our cabin steward was helpful if possibly a bit overworked. The beds were comfortable, the towels regularly changed, and ice replaced in its container on a regular basis (but, since passengers were banned from bringing drinks on board, this service appeared rather futile!). The food on-board was okay (a fellow passenger, who was a chef, described it as 6 out of 10 and I would agree). The ship was clean and hygienic.
Now for the moans. The air-conditioning in our cabin did not work properly and despite complaining on at least five occasions our room temperature only became comfortable when the weather cooled. We spent six uncomfortable, disturbed nights. Sometimes the staff at reception appeared a little less than helpful.
My major moan was the cost of drinks. Immediately we boarded we were approached by a succession of waiters who wanted to sell us dinner time drinks packages at the same time telling us that the water on board was dangerous to drink and that we should only drink bottled water. This was extremely annoying in that passengers were forbidden to bring bottled water onto the ship and the bottled water on-board was very expensive. Bottles of wine averaged about £20 each which seems excessive presuming that it was duty and tax free. A 400 ml beer cost about £ 4.50 and tasted awful. Every time one bought a drink a 'service charge' was added which brought insult to injury. Security was strict and my daughter had great difficulty bringing a bottle of Vietnamese wine that she had bought for me prior to the cruise. Every time one boarded the ship you were 'shaken down' for smuggled booze by security. Even if one bought a bottle of over priced spirits from the ship's shop, you could only collect the bottle at the end of the cruise!
Entertainment on the Classica was not nearly up to the standard of the British sips we have used previously, and I write this from the standpoint of someone who has worked as a theatre practitioner for over 35 years.
Somewhat to my surprise the public areas if the Costa Classica have all the sophistication, flair and ambience of a 1980's cross channel ferry. A good deal of effort was devoted to selling over priced excursions but, then again, most cruise lines appear to engage in this racket.
Visits to the ports for Saigon, Da Nang, and Hailong Bay were good. However, the port for Bangkok was over two hours travel from that city, and only the sleazy city of Pattaya was nearby. Sanya was really a waste of time, the stay only being less than 6 hours and passengers required to pay just to disembark.
In view of all the above the 6.50 euro per person per day 'service charge' that one had to pay without question was a bitter pill to swallow. Costa.....yup, in the end it was Costalot!