Suffocating, Noise and Air Pollution, Poor Organization, Chaotic, Cheap, Demeaning, Refugee Feel, Low Quality of Food and Services -- these are words that associated with memory of our recent cruise to Halong Bay and Sanya with Costa Classica.
Suffocating : To our surprise, smoking was allowed anywhere on board, even in cabins ! Some guests were smoking with their cabin doors open so you could feel it once you turned into the corridor; don't mention other public areas. The better choice would be on the open deck but still there was no guarantee as someone might smoke next to you.
Noise Pollution : Since the ship was not a big one, you could hear the Bingo going on couple of decks below while other guests were chatting loudly in common area.
Poor Organization : It was chaotic in the collection / distribution of passports / travel documents; what you could find were groups of people crowding over a table or two with no indication on where to line up and for what purpose. It was only through the kind gestures of fellow travelers that you had a clue on where to line up.
Provision of the Basic and Bare Minimum : In comparison, cabin room was quite spacious but a bit dated though it had been refurbished some years ago. Room amenities were very basic. The wood planks in toilet smelled due to constant moisture. Water power from shower was so weak that it took ages plus a lot of patience to finish your bath while the bath gel was so diluted that it was just like water with soap. The hot water kettle was old and metal was chipping off in every boil. Fridge was locked.
Low Quality of Food and Services : There were 2 restaurants on board, one was the buffet restaurant which was not opened throughout the day - 3 hours for breakfast/lunch but image only 1.5 hours for dinner ! Food was pretty much the same throughout the cruise with minimal alterations and non-appealing quality.
The other was a served restaurant with more or less the same food served at your table. Dinner on the first night on board was so chaotic and noisy that you found yourself like eating in a market place. On one occasion the Chinese desert was mostly untouched and staff had to offer fruits (not fresh looking either) as an alternative.
Demeaning : The attitude of the male Mandarin speaking Restaurant Usher was so poor that those people queuing up to enter were like refugees lining up for charity food. Understand that it might be a bit difficult to manage certain group of guests but do bear in mind that not all guests were like this. Most guests preferred a hassle free relaxing dinner in a quiet and nice restaurant setting ! Unfortunately, we found no trace of this on board.
Some Good Points : One thing worth mentioning was that the housekeeping staff was doing a good job in making the room comfortable and clean. Throughout the cruise, it was from the housekeeping staff and waitresses in the served restaurant that we got a feel of hospitality which reminded us of being served and welcomed. There was a chapel on board and a priest was present for daily service.
Suggestion : Whether you are a first-time cruise goer or an experienced one, go elsewhere with a different brand for better memory !