Before you read further into my review, it should be noted that I am not the typical cruiser:
I am a 22 year old American college student. My father booked this cruise for my Spring Break, and we had no idea what to expect. This was suppose to be a nice family vacation, with a bit of partying on the side (for me at least :D).
We fly into Zurich and long story short, numerous delays resulted in me losing my luggage. One thing you'll notice about Italy is the fact that their government is just completely inefficient and incompetent. I have been to developing countries, and the level of efficiency is just as bad. For any Western European or American this should be considered if you are traveling into Italy.
Classic case in point: My luggage arrived in Zurich the day after I landed, but since we were headed to Milan, I told them to ship it to the Milanese hotel I was staying at.
Days in Switzerland: 1
Days in the Milan Airport: 14 days
So I More
arrive in Savona luggage less. The check in process was actually quite efficient. Of course, we were among the last to board, so it may not be an accurate representation.
The first thing you will notice about the ship, everything is spoken in at least four languages. This can get very annoying for some, as things are repeated constantly over the PA. Of course this is due to the overwhelming European presence on the cruise, which isn't bad until you start encountering the Italians and French.
Now let me tell you something, I am a big extrovert and very friendly, yet these Italians and French are among the most rudest people I have met. They are extremely snobby when it comes to speaking in English and really just tick me off. I can't decide which countrymen are worse, all I know is that their attitudes have put me off from ever traveling in those two countries in the near future.
Now the only cruise before I have been on was the Norwegian Sun, a nice little but antiquated ship in today's ship age. Compared to the sun, the ship was magnificent, but in a tacky way. It felt like I was in some cheap, wannabe Vegas styled ship.
However, compared to the sun, this was 10 times better. The facilities were nice, although the pools were small. There were four indoor hot tubs and one outside one (which is the one I used all the time). The water slide was fun, I guess, nothing too special. The disco is miles ahead of the sun, and has a very good sound and lighting system. It is also fully enclosed, so you can see from atop what is going down in the disco.
The restaurants were pretty normal. However, the food I must say was excellent. Perhaps I have not been on a superb cruise, but compared to the Sun, the Concordia's food was amazing. They had a lot of seafood (which I love) and all kinds of fish.
In addition, since Europeans love cheese and pasta, you can order basically a 6 or 7 course meal for dinner.
A typical meal for me would be: Appetizer - Soup - Salad - Pasta - Main Course - Cheese (yes a dish) - Dessert - Fruit. A very satisfying experience, considering I don't get to eat a 5+ course meal everyday. Regarding the frozen, just make sure you order the fresh stuff off the menu (without the asterisk). I've had some meals that were better then anything I've had in the last 2 years.
One minor complaint regarding food: The guy selling drinks at the dinner table tries to trick you by asking for water, and bringing out bottled water (which is quite expensive), just make sure its tap water!
Our waiter and clean staff was excellent. The room charge of 12 EUR a day was a reasonable rate to charge.
The entertainment was amazing compared to the sun. The light and sound system in the theater was first class, and although the acts were short, they were definitely pushing for Quality over Quantity. The gymnastic performance especially was great. One minor note, a lot of the speaking stuff is not in English, since most of the cruise was Italian (Ugh).
A big annoyance on this cruise is the ridiculous amount of Italian patriotism embedded in the cruise. EVERY show had Italian national song and other important cultural songs. At first it is fun to listen to, but gets very annoying when your eating dinner and the whole place stampedes as the Italians take their napkins and start waving it to Funiculi Funicula. Imagine if on the Caribbean you heard the national anthem every dinner. Yes, I get it, its an Italian cruise, however almost 1/2 the cruise isn't Italian, no need to shove this Italian culture down our throats.
Regarding the nightlife, there was a grand total of three single women my age. There were a significant gathering of high schoolers going on a field trip for their cooking school (seriously). While they were friendly enough, none of them amazingly spoke English. Also some french youngsters, the only two countries who's youngsters don't know English. It was mission impossible, but I made the most of it. Lots of Russians too.
Thank god the whole cruise wasn't Italian, French, or Russian, there were other Europeans and Americans and they seemed to help save the ship's environment from total disaster.
Cruise customer service was alright. I told them about the luggage and how Milan Airport had found it and needed an address to ship it to. It took them two days for Costa to tell me that they couldn't find the luggage at Milan. This is odd, since I told them that an agent told me it was there, and basically the supervisor wasn't paying attention. I finally got my luggage in Malaga... after getting real nasty with him. It seems like yelling is the only way to get things done...
The cruise needs to learn how to manage PR during troubled times. Our main engine broke, and thus the last stop in ROME (the highlight) was canceled. We were scheduled to disembark at 8 am in Malaga. At 8 AM precisely, a voice came over and said we were due to arrive a 1 pm due to technical problems. I have no clue why they wouldn't tell us a couple of hours before or during the night (when the engine broke) so I wouldn't have to get up so early for nothing.
It was done very non-Chantilly like nothing in the world mattered, and when they cancelled Rome it was done the same way... needless to say lots of angry passengers.
Eventually they gave us all 100 EUR credit per cabin or 300 EUR to another trip. Take the money the run.
I will admit the ship experience was manageable and at the end I began to like all the songs, but really I couldn't complain cause this cruise was free for me. I would NOT however travel this ship again nor cannot recommend to any Americans. If your Italian and like the ultra-patriotism you will love this ship. Less