Our first joint adventure on the high seas started at 0700HRS on the 22st July 2011 at Gatwick. It was booked through Virgin Cruises and was a Costa package cruise.
This is what happened.
We flew from Gatwick to Rome Leonardo Di Vinci, great flight (BA) under 2 hours. Arrived at Rome and our baggage arrived one hour and 20 minutes later. There were no seats at the airport and it was HOT! Found the Costa reps and they seemed happy enough to just chat amongst themselves. Finally we got our luggage and then we all galloped with our big cases, cabin cases and hand luggage to the taxi cabs waiting for us.
We then travelled to Civitavecchia all snuggled up nice and tight and very hot, but excited!
We arrived at the embarkation port. First real Costa criticism coming up, the 'helpfull' staff were patronising and next to useless, it was hot pacjked and there was only orange juice to drink.
We finally got on the ship, straight to cabin, it's now 1500HRS. Tipped the porter who hovered around saying 'is there anything else I can do?' untill we got the message. Then we unpacked.
Absolutely fantastic looking ship at first glance and the cabin was roomy with loads of storage and a surprisingly comfy, big bed.
Mini bar was open so got a drink and sat on the balcony, phew!
We had arrived.
Fantabulosious ship (needs a new descriptor to explain the decor), very decorative and very big and well, very very big and decorative!
The non Italian staff and customers were superb in everyway and we had alot of fun and laughter.
This laughter often became subdued because of all the dead pan looks from a certain majority on board, initially, this bothered us. After four days the non Italian speakers were ganging up. It only mattered that you were not Italian, we where French, Spanish, German, Swiss, Irish, Icelandic and British, language was not a barrier to fun and puns! We had a purpose!
That purpose was to refuse to change our manners. We would still smile and thank people in lifts, hold doors, move out of the way, make room even though this would never be reciprocated.
So we spoke for them,
Have a nice day!
Can I help you get up off the floor?
Thankyou for letting your 6 teenage sons stamp all over my feet while you look the other way, that kind of thing, we learned these phrases in another language.
We learned from our new social techniques teachers all around us how to intimidate people out of your favorite spot.
How to jump in front in a line and avoid eye contact.
We bribbed people too!
And then we all had a really great time!
Seriously the food was generally very good, lots of choice. Coffee, cocktails and icecream very good!
Breakfast in your room really nice sat on the balcony at 0700hrs with your coffee, and selection of pastries and cereals, juice and preserves. Lovely jubbly!
Apparently the theatre entertainment was soso to bad, but we never went so it did not matter. Lounge music was generally very good.
Casino was a casino and we learned new types of black jack.
The decks were never too busy with loungers always available.
J2 all inclusive package great, especially for multiple speciality coffees and, well everything fluid, nothing was off limits. Very little fluid of any description is available free.
Itinerary very good, but its just way too hot in the eastern med during July and August.
Everything was really well cleaned all the time, never a fingerprint on the shiny chrome, which was everywhere!
Would we go Costa again? Yes we would because the new guests from Italy came aboard in Savona when the others left, and they were a completely different set of people.
However, there was two disembarkation meetings, Italians and basically others. I was sent to ours and hubby stayed slumped in the cabin.
So he decided to watch the event on TV instead. What he watched was the one before ours, the Italian one. He asked as I came back, did we win anything? or anyone we know win? Confused I watched the other meeting. Envelopes had been secreted under the chairs with prizes in them.
If you had an envelope you where presented with your prize on stage by the cruise director and other notables.
Word of outright discrimination soon spread, it was the principle, official complaints started going in.
One person complained about this to customer services and was asked ' were you offended?' Like he would be complaining if he was not and he was a man of the cloth!
Then when complaints really spread, because we were all on for another day and had plenty of time to get angry, they shut off the TVs and said it never happened LOL!
Then the really horrid bit that left us needing another holiday.
We disembarked at 0900hrs and our, and others peoples flights started leaving at the earliest at 1810hrs. We asked if we could have the 1230hrs or 1500hrs disembarkations made available for some, but got a flat no! We were all stuck in Rome airport all day and some people had children.
So - yes even after being ethnically discriminated against we would go with Costa again, but not in the med in July or August (too hot to enjoy the ports), not embarking in Italy and not as a package arranged through Costa ;)