We did not book until late and the only suite available was a Samsara Grand suite on the costa favolosa sailing from Dubai over the New year. Although expensive, we wanted a nice cabin and as we have had suites on the Celebrity ships(Century,Summit and Eclipse) we naively thought the service would be similar.
1, Check In
After flying overnight from the UK, we arrived in Dubai at about 8.30am and made our way to the cruise terminal. A lady told us that they would look after our luggage but we will not be able to check in until 3pm and definitely cannot have access to our suite until 8pm!!.
After 2 mornings of eating our eggs cold, I asked our butler why we were getting cold breakfast, he replied that the kitchen was 200 meters away and by the time he got it to our cabin, it will be cold!!.
After being used to dialing the cabin butlers direct on Celebrity ships, it was a shock to be told that should you need your butler, you have to ring room service and they will ask him to contact you. It quickly became obvious that the butler was also on other duties and felt that any calls from you was an inconvenience.
As a Samsara Grand suite guests, we were supposed to have access to the samsara spa and the remaining tranquil and restricted areas but as soon as the ship sailed from Dubai, Costa promptly sold the samsara package to any passenger willing to pay and the spa was no longer tranquil and relaxing.
The same thing happened with the Samsara restaurant. This was supposed to be available for Samsara guest only so that you can eat dinner at anytime from 6pm. Costa told this to other passengers and then restricted the times Samsara passengers could have dinner as there were too many people.
We were invited to the Captain's VIP cocktail party and took a photograph with the captain and another senior officer. To our horror, we were told that we would have to pay for the photograph!( On Celebrity, that would have been sent to your suite with the captain's compliments.
Normally, after dinner, we would sit in one of the ship's bar and enjoy a drink but were unable to do this on this cruise as people were allowed to spoke and as non smokers, it was not a pleasant environment to relax in. Also apart from one bar at the end of the ship on deck 5, nearly all the bars on the Favolosa are walkways and people were constantly walking pass meaning that you could not relax, particularly as most of the guest smoked as they walked past.
I could go on but ultimately, we realised why a beautiful ship like the Favolosa had only a few suite is because Costa is not in the market to provide the services that people willing to pay the price of a suite demand. The ratio of guest to staff is so low that you had to wait ages for everything, from being served at the bar to getting your lukewarm double espresso after eating in the main restaurant!!
We were aware that being English speaking would put us in the minority on the ship and were not bothered but what we were not prepared for was the rudeness of the other non English speaking passenger's and the fact that it was really difficult to follow a show when it is being translated to about 6 different languages simultaneously. Even announcements were challenging as by the time they finally get to English, everyone else were chatting away next to you meaning that you could not hear.
If you don't mind paying to have a suite and expect the services that goes with it,DO NOT BOOK A COSTA CRUISE.