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9 Buenos Aires to Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

This sailing was a repositioning from South America to the Mediterranean. Embarkation in BA was well organised taking only one and half hours from arrival at the cruise terminal to reach our cabin. One case was already there and the other ... Read More
This sailing was a repositioning from South America to the Mediterranean. Embarkation in BA was well organised taking only one and half hours from arrival at the cruise terminal to reach our cabin. One case was already there and the other arrived a couple of hours later. Neither was damaged. Correct protocols were followed for the emergency drill and the exercise was more professional than experienced on our previous MSC cruise. The ship was stunning; impressive in the quality of fittings, use of colour, design and ongoing meticulous maintenance. This was a transatlantic crossing but sailing was a pleasure with little sea movement. We were, perhaps, fortunate not to experience severe weather conditions. Our cabin was well presented, roomy with adequate storage facilities. It was cleaned daily and towels replaced following each use. Pool towels (one per passenger) were available in the cabin. Staff throughout the ship were friendly, smiling and willing to interact and be involved. Bar staff made the effort to remember faces and even orders from day to day. Reception staff were particularly genuine in their assistance even when under heavy guest pressure. Dining rooms (2 on the Poesia) were attractively presented with many smaller rather than larger passenger groupings. Staff were all smartly dressed with name badges and dinner menus were offered in correct languages. Restaurant management did make the effort to seat the same language groups together other than for the lunch and breakfast sittings in Le Fontein; those meals were offered both plated and buffet but the room was consistently crowded and noisy. Our preference was to use the top deck cafeteria. We did not use the speciality sushi restaurant. Due to the large Argentinian passenger component, both dinner sittings were later than normal. Dinner food quality deteriorated through the duration of the cruise. Compliments abounded as we sailed in South American waters but as the transatlantic segment started, it was almost like a change in chef. Food was dry, some undercooked and generally tasteless and bland. Vegetables were consistently overcooked and the selection of desserts pathetic. Our waiter confided that preparation was aimed at the Argentinians who were recognised as not wishing upmarket dishes so the balance of passengers had to endure downgraded meals. At times, the buffet/cafeteria dishes were an improvement on the MDR but were not consistent in terms of heat and succulence. Breakfasts were disappointing offering little variation in the selection and presentation. Selection of wines from pre purchased drinks packages seemed to present a problem with differing views as to which selection was available under which package; our waiter needed to refer us to a much folded grubby piece of paper from her pocket to validate selection - not particularly professional. The availability of wines (and other premium drinks) disappeared through the cruise as MSC were clearly not restocking. Entertainment was boring and conducted mainly in Spanish. Theatre shows varied in quality and, again, dialogue tended to be Spanish. Much of the music in bars was latino themed as were dance lessons and practice. Excursion enhancement talks were provided before each port but the presenter/guide was readily distracted by her personal interest areas and could have added greater practical value, particularly for independent travellers not using ship excursions. Her ability to respond to questions was not good. The organisation of ship excursions left much to be desired with the excursion staff struggling to get the large number of noisy clamouring passengers segregated into correct groupings and off the ship. There were frequent mix ups between designated excursions and passengers generally disembarking. Although an international cruise, by far the majority of passengers were Spanish Argentinians and little effort was made by the Cruise Director (an Argentinian) and the entertainment team to address other language groups. Indeed we found the preponderance of Spanish somewhat overwhelming which would deter us from considering other repositioning cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
The reason for this cruise was because the first cruise we did on the MSC Sinfonia from Venice to Durban was excellent. We thought it will be similar on a longer cruise like the Poesia and booked it already on the Sinfonia. We have not ... Read More
The reason for this cruise was because the first cruise we did on the MSC Sinfonia from Venice to Durban was excellent. We thought it will be similar on a longer cruise like the Poesia and booked it already on the Sinfonia. We have not visited the countries as per the proposed iternary, hence the reason to select this ship and route. We were very disappointed that the amount of English speaking guests were so few, we expected a English cruise but was bombarded with Spanish people Spanish presentations, Spanish excursions, Spanish shows, and we as English speaking persons really were not looked after or allowed to engage in activities due to the language barrier. The food was good as expected. The waiters during lunch was so slow everyday that it was uncomfortable and the never brought correct food as ordered. The dining in the evening was way too late for normal people , and we had first seating, resulting in being unable to attend any shows, since it started too late. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Now don't get me wrong, we really enjoyed this cruise and for the money we paid it was a bargain. However not having cruised with MSC before there were a few unexpected omissions compared to other lines we've used. Embarkation ... Read More
Now don't get me wrong, we really enjoyed this cruise and for the money we paid it was a bargain. However not having cruised with MSC before there were a few unexpected omissions compared to other lines we've used. Embarkation was swift as we were one of the last to board due to a prior trip to the Iguazu Falls, then it was straight into the lifeboat drill, where you not only had to take your life jackets, but wear them. When we got chance to settle in the cabin, it was quite spacious with lots of drawers and wardrobe space. The shower had a plastic curtain but it wasn't as clingy as most and I had to unblock the showerhead before it would work on our first night. The cabin steward was friendly and not too intrusive. There was only fixed dining times available unless you were in a certain class and we were assigned a table for the cruise. The waiter was very efficient and friendly, though his English wasn't the best. His assistant got the drinks and the appetisers but then left him to it most nights. The food was generally very good but the portion sizes are getting smaller (not just on MSC) but there was no problem with ordering more than one item on each course. There was no free water on the table, you had to buy bottles or use your drinks package. Neither was there coffee served at the table afterwards. You couldn't even buy it as they needed people to move on ready for the second sitting. The buffet was laid out with the kitchens and food down the centre of the deck, with tables along the windows on either side. Most items were duplicated on each side, but there was the odd thing e.g. pizza that was only available in one spot. This lead at times to it being awkward to carry plates and drinks whilst weaving in and out of folk looking for what they wanted. There was also a tendency for two people to occupy a table for 6 by placing bags and coats everywhere. There were only a few seats outside at the stern but you could take the food onto the main deck though it wasn't easy to achieve. It wasn't until halfway through the cruise that empty plates got quickly removed and tables cleaned for some reason. At lunchtimes there were specials based on a country of the day (not necessarily a country from our cruise). The lounges were large but two of them were adjacent to each other, and music from one could often be heard in the other. Over half of the passengers were from Argentina with the majority of the others from Italy and Germany, consequently the music in the lounges were suited to them most of the time. There was no 'live' music anywhere on the ship until the evening and between 12.30 and 4pm all the animation ceased. Maybe this was siesta time for most. Siesta probably accounted for the fact that all the big events in the evening didn't start until after 11pm. When the animation team got going, they were very good and always had lots of participants. They even entertained the audience prior to the evening shows in the theatre. The theatre shows again had to cater for different languages, so there were plenty of musical acts. The ships dancers and singers were in the main excellent, however they are from a separate company rather than MSC itself. There was an act in the form of 'Mr Bean' and he had the audience in stiches. There were a few classical shows which we gave a miss, though from the applause we could hear in the lounge, they went down well. Service in the lounges was very good and the servers would have a chat when it wasn't busy. The drinks were not cheap, and all the good stuff was just that bit more expensive than the drinks packages allowed. I ended up buying drinks vouchers because my wife does not drink that much and a drinks package for her would have been uneconomic. The ship was very clean but there was no emphasis on hand washing or other hygiene matters. The bannisters were constantly being polished which left a metallic smell on your hands. In fact the wife's hands turned black as the polish reacted with her hand cream. This was the first ship I've been on where access to certain parts of the deck were restricted to certain classes, you couldn't even walk through them! The sunbeds were odd as they would go completely flat or be reclined, but could not be put in a position were you could sit up and read. Maybe these are peculiar to MSC, though they did have a section that could shade your head from the sun. The excursions we took were ok but due to the small numbers of English speakers they were almost all mixed with a second language. Some of the guides struggled with one language or the other and as a consequence would spend more time speaking their best one. A couple of the tours we had pre-booked were cancelled due to the lack of English speaking numbers, but that did us a favour as we spent more time exploring the ports ourselves. Finally disembarkation in Rome was a complete shambles. Once we were off the gangplank there were no MSC crew to be seen when collecting the luggage and then when trying to get on the correct buses to the port gates. The resultant chaos meant several people missed their trains to Rome itself, and being Easter Monday there was a long wait for the next train. As I said at the start overall we enjoyed the cruise, and for the duration, the ports of call and the price we paid, it was good value for money. There are certain differences on MSC than we have had before, including holding on to your passport for the whole cruise. However I've booked another Grand Voyage with them in 2018 so I'll be more prepared next time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Five stars for this cruise! Was it perfect? No.... But, I am comparing it with a crossing from Santos to Hamburg with the same ship 2 years ago and the MSC Magnifica has definitely improved. Besides that, once you get used to the ... Read More
Five stars for this cruise! Was it perfect? No.... But, I am comparing it with a crossing from Santos to Hamburg with the same ship 2 years ago and the MSC Magnifica has definitely improved. Besides that, once you get used to the imperfections of MSC cruises, or what you think are imperfections comparing to other cruise lines, you do not focus anymore on those issues. At least I do not anymore. A little background about us: we are experienced cruisers, who have travelled with several cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Crystal, Azamara, Oceania, Royal Caribbean and Silversea. This was my fifth cruise with MSC Cruises. What was so good at the MSC Magnifica that deserved five stars? According to our opinion, the officers and crew members did a very good job making us feel at home during the whole crossing. It is impossible to mention by name all of them, but I would like to refer specially to four people who have contributed to making this crossing an excellent one. The Captain of the ship, Raffaelle Russo, who took us in a very relaxed way from one continent to the other, giving us always the feeling that we were safe during this cruise. The Chef of Cuisine, Salvatore Ciannamea, who managed to keep us enjoying the food on board and was always around listening to feedback or special requests. The T'ai Chi Instructor, Marco Calcagni, who transferred his knowledge in a very professional way, motivating us day after day and contributing to our well being. The Cruise Director, Massimo, who with his friendly attitude was attentive and mastered the communication in several languages without tiring us. To all of them: thank you. And to MSC cruise lines: congratulations for choosing the right people for those positions. Concerning to the ship itself, the MSC Magnifica is a beautiful ship. The lobby and lounges were always inviting. Our cabin was a balcony cabin on the 10th floor, which although small was comfortable and which was kept on a pristine condition by our cabin attendant Simone from Brazil. In general, the public areas made a good impression. There are some areas which in our opinion, need improvement. For example embarkation in Buenos Aires was chaotic and took very long. Wine selection was very limited and no champagne was served by the glass. There is no wine bar just a sport bar with wine offerings, but too loud because of the many TVs around. Music at the lobby or at the other venues, at a difference than other MSC ships, started too late in the evening and no music was offered during the afternoon. Destination lectures were rather short and superficial. Despite the areas which were listed as needing improvement, we had a very nice cruise and we would not hesitate to cruise with MSC cruises again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Had wonderful cruise from Buenos Aires to Savona, Italy.we are very seasoned cruisers and after reading some reviews a little worried no need to be, lovely clean ship inside and out! Food ranged from good to excellent,starters could have ... Read More
Had wonderful cruise from Buenos Aires to Savona, Italy.we are very seasoned cruisers and after reading some reviews a little worried no need to be, lovely clean ship inside and out! Food ranged from good to excellent,starters could have been main course .in 3 weeks the evening menu was never repeated, the service was probably some of the best and friendliest we have had in 16 cruises and the entertainment in the bar lounges and theatre was also really good and once again in the theatre different show every night of 3 weeks,we particularly enjoyed Georgio pianist usually in Ricks bar.they even held a small cocktail party for the English mothers on mothering Sunday, there were only 22 of us ,cruisedwith british company on that day couple of years ago and they did nothing.and that would be my only moan,there were just a few English speaking,1200 Argentinians on board,but we enjoyed all the different nationalities and got used to multilingual announcements and fun at the quizzes,we joined 2 lovely Mexican ladies as a team.would have no hesitation to book with Costa again,great value. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
I have been at the MSC Poesia before so I knew what to expect in terms of condition of the ship. The Poesia is a very elegant and beautiful ship. I had booked the fantasia category and I had a very nice balcony cabin on the 9th floor. ... Read More
I have been at the MSC Poesia before so I knew what to expect in terms of condition of the ship. The Poesia is a very elegant and beautiful ship. I had booked the fantasia category and I had a very nice balcony cabin on the 9th floor. Cabin attendant from Brasil was efficient and friendly and kept my cabin always in pristine condition. From my point of view the following areas were excellent and deserve five stars: 1) Food in all restaurants. The chef Salvatore did an excellent job with his team. He was always around at the buffet restaurant monitoring that every thing was good taken care of. This is very good, because we had the feeling that somebody cares and it is doing his job properly. 2) Friendliness of the crew and people working in different areas. Specially the shore excursion ladies made a very good impression to me and were very helpful. 3) The music group Musica in Maschera, which performed beautifully although too short. If I recall properly their performances were each about 30 minutes. 4) The library had a good selection of books in several languages. It appears that hundreds of books have been donated to the MSC Poesia. Who ever did this, THANK YOU. 5) Presentations in Spanisch about the different ports. This presentations were done by an Italian who moderates in Italian TV. Those presentations gave us a good idea of what to expect at the ports of call and were more focused on single aspects without trying to cover every thing. There were also presentations on other languages. However I have found that other presentors could improve their offerings focusing more on the particular port and not covering the whole country. Many of those presentations became too superficial due to this, because, in the limited time, it is impossible really to provide a good inside on a whole country. 6) Hair dresser and spa offers were imho quite good and had reasonable offers. 7) The itinerary was very good. There are other areas however, which need improvement. The main issues for me were: 1) No availability of TV reception in any language during the first days of the cruise. This only improved once we have approached the European continent. Having been on many transatlantic crossings before, I have never experienced this on previous voyages. 2) Available on inside system were movies, which could be seen on the cabins but they were not free of charge. I believe, and many other passengers have pointed this out, this was a mistake from the hotel director. He should have inmediately made available those movies free of charge. After several days of the cruise, finally one movie per day was made available at no charge but even those movies kept repeating after some days. This is an important aspect, because we were on a transatlantic with many sea days and not every body found the activities of the animateur's team an alternative to spend the day. 3) Other music entertainners on board were rather limited with their repertoire. There was a duo of tango players, which played every evening the same songs. As much as I like tango, after 20 days of hearing always the same, I was glad, I did not have to hear them again. In general the musicians with exception of Musica in Maschera, made a very amateur impression. Many passengers, who once in a while took part on the karaoke activities provided a better performance. A flamenco dancers on one evening provided a substandard flamenco show. 4) Maybe the most important negative comment from my side is that there is absolutely no way to provide feedback to the hotel director about any issue. He was never around. This in general a problem observed at MSC Cruises. I wonder why their managers do not actively are around to talk with passengers. Not always feedback is negative. Many of us would like to be asked, how is every thing? Maybe in some cases when something can be improved, this will be done on spot. In other cases, maybe improvements are not possible, but we as passengers would like to hear the explanations. 5) A final negative comment hast to do with our final port Warnemünde. This charming small town does not seem to be prepared to handle thousands of passengers arriving at the same time. On the day we arrived, it was almost impossible to get a taxi (few taxis and many drivers not working on sunday!) and buses were blocking the access for taxis. Also even though the train station is next to the port, it is not easily accesed with luggage or from people with mobility problems. I am not sure which are the possibilities of a cruise line to influence changes in these areas, because it depends of the city administration. But maybe cruise lines are asked about their opinions like we cruisers are asked about ours. In that case, it would be good if MSC explains our concerns to who ever is responsible of those issues. My advice to fellow cruisers would be to preorder a taxi if you arrive to Warnemünde and if you need one. In summary, this was a very good crossing. I have enjoyed it a lot and I am thankful to those people who have contributed to the nice experience. I am rating this time with four stars. I would love to give MSC cruises one day 5 stars. Maybe on my next cruise? I have already booked to more cruises with them.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Embarkation was total chaos - it took an age to be called from the reception hall to check-in, then the check-in seemed very long winded. The cruise began with a four hour delay in sailing from Buenos Aires due to problems with the ... Read More
Embarkation was total chaos - it took an age to be called from the reception hall to check-in, then the check-in seemed very long winded. The cruise began with a four hour delay in sailing from Buenos Aires due to problems with the ship's engine(s) which meant we "missed our slot" on the River Plate. The following day brought another delay as unfortunately a passenger was taken ill and had to be airlifted by helicopter to hospital. We all received a letter explaining that as a result of "a force majeur" we would no longer be visiting the port of Cherbourg. This was a problem to those disembarking there but as this affected very few passengers it seemed to be a logical decision. The letter also stated that we would get 20% off our next cruise booked before 30 April 2013. MSC have no obligation to offer this for a missed port, however the letter didn't seem very official as it was not on letterhead and there was no signature and it was printed on pink paper, so goodness knows if it's worth the paper it's written on. Our cabin stewards were very efficient and we found the ship to be generally clean. Despite the the public rooms having hand sanitizers positioned outside them there was no one to enforce their use. Mind you, very few of the sanitizers seemed to work until the last day when we had heard that inspectors were due on board. The first morning we had breakfast in the buffet but it was so chaotic that for the remainder of the cruise we had breakfast in the MDR. By the second day our waiter knew our breakfast requirements exactly and had no need to bring us the menu. The good thing about having breakfast and lunch in the MDR on MSC was that, unlike other cruise lines, we were not forced to join other people at their table and could choose to sit where we knew there would be an excellent waiter. Unfortunately we weren't so lucky with our waiter at dinner who was uncommunicative and not interested in how we were enjoying our meals. We don't appreciate being pestered all the time while we are eating but not once did he ask if the food was ok. He didn't acknowledge us at all when we saw him in the MDR at other times, however we made allowances for him and decided that either his English was poor or that he was shy. He still received his tip at the end of the cruise. The ship was made up of a great number of Argentinians whom we felt, generally, were very polite and who always took time to greet people in the corridors or lifts. There were a number of Brazilians, about 60 Brits and a handful of Aussies, Kiwis and Europeans. My wife and I have travelled extensively as had the majority of the Brits on board but we don't go around bragging about where we've been. We couldn't get over the attitude of so many of the Brits who came across as the biggest braggarts we've ever met. They all seemed to be trying to outdo one another with stories about all the places they had visited. Two songs came to mind when speaking to these people "Anything you can do, I can do better" and "I've been everywhere man". They were such bores, the worst of these were the Black Card Holders who thought they were MSC Royalty and were invited to dine with the Captain. Whoopie Ding!!!! I wouldn't say anything if they were travelling on a 5 or 6 star cruise ship but a 3 star budget cruise line? Most of them only travel with MSC because it's so cheap and they don't have to pay a single supplement. We decided after our last MSC cruise 9 years ago that we wouldn't cruise with them again but the itinerary attracted us with the added advantage of sailing from Buenos Aires to Southampton, therefore only 1 flight. On the whole we enjoyed the cruise itself, the meals were generally nothing to write home about but the lunches were pretty good. The bar staff were excellent and the passengers we chose to spend time with were extremely nice people who didn't feel the necessity to show off. The ports of call were great, Rio being the jewel in the crown but it was also interesting to see other parts of Brazil - Salvadore and Recife. Unfortunately due to the delay we hit Recife on a public holiday so there was nothing open apart from a prison which had been converted to a shopping centre/craft market. Crossing the Equator in the rain was an experience, especially for those who took part in the King Neptune ceremony. The city tour of Mindelho in Cape Verde was a rip off at $71 each and very little to see. MSC certainly try to get their pound of flesh. Las Palmas, Gran Canaria was great to see from the open top bus tour, especially on a lovely warm day. Lisbon was visited on a damp day but it is still a very interesting city. Our last port of call was Vigo in Spain, we had been before so there was nothing of great interest for us there. Another public holiday so apart from the local shops in the old town nothing else was open. We had a number of days at sea and the deck games were so silly. Luckily the weather was good most of the time so we were able to relax with a book. However when it became colder and the weather worsened there was next to nothing organised by the entertainment staff on board. I was not at all impressed with the cruise director who just seemed to be showing off introducing the shows in 6 languages, just because he could. It was evident what the show was about, he didn't need to spend about 10 minutes before every show. At the end of the show many passengers made a sharp exit rather than having to sit through more of his "jabbering on". We felt that MSC really need to get their act together as far as organisation is concerned. On port days it took ages to disembark the ship because only one exit was open for passengers who were not on tours. People queued for about an hour to get off, it was ridiculous. The disembarkation process at Southampton was farcical. We had to be out of our cabins by 7.00 am but did not arrive at port until 8.15 am. Luckily we got to breakfast early because it was manic later in the morning. We were told to wait in the public areas until we were called but it was around 10 am before the first people were called. When we got off the ship the luggage had only just started appearing in the luggage hall. Normally when we have disembarked at Southampton everyone's luggage is waiting for them and it is extremely organised. This was the worst we've ever experienced on 25 cruises. After 2 lines of luggage had arrived everything came to a standstill. There were no announcements made about the delay and noone from MSC to be seen. The Port Authority staff could only tell us that there were inspector aboard the ship. We don't know what was happening because the ship was also inspected in Las Palmas and Lisbon - what must this tell you about MSC? Around 200 passengers were waiting in the luggage hall for approximately 2 hours with no announcements and no MSC representative present. Passengers began slow hand clapping and whistling to try to draw the attention of MSC officers on the decks but we were ignored. Eventually, after a 2 hour wait, our cases started to appear but still no explanation/apology from MSC. I don't think we'll be using our 20% discount to book another MSC cruise! Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
My wife and I had a very enjoyable cruise. The stateroom had a balcony and was spotless The food was excellent and was '5 star' quality although I would have preferred a better choice of cereals for breakfast.The staff were most ... Read More
My wife and I had a very enjoyable cruise. The stateroom had a balcony and was spotless The food was excellent and was '5 star' quality although I would have preferred a better choice of cereals for breakfast.The staff were most efficient, and helpful as well as being very friendly. We would like to mention in particular our Indonesian waiter in the Sinfonia restaurant, Daniel, a Brazilian waiter in the bar and Mozart, another lovely Brazilian a most gifted and entertaining member of the entertainment group.The evening shows in the theatre were very good on some nights.On a negative side, we really felt quite upset at the behavior of some of the passengers who rushed and pushed to get first at every opportunity. We also felt angry at the practice of a number who took over seats in the theatre and held them for their late arriving friends. We remember seeing a whole row of the best seats booked by a group of Germans. The Germans were the main culprits, but some Italians also abused the system. We reported this , but nothing was done about it.As a small group of English speaking passengers, we travelled with a larger group of German speaking passengers on a tour in Salvador de Bahia. However, although the tour was meant to be in two languages,the German born guide spoke mostly in German. He only spoke in English when we asked him to translate what he had said in German. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
The first two things that really strike you about Victoria is the amount of space in her public areas inside & out, and (more importantly to some) the almost complete lack of revenue driven areas on board. These two aspects are hand in ... Read More
The first two things that really strike you about Victoria is the amount of space in her public areas inside & out, and (more importantly to some) the almost complete lack of revenue driven areas on board. These two aspects are hand in hand in many ways, for example, Orpheus Grand Bar on deck 6 has a huge amount of unused floorspace, this is the same on deck 7 in the casino where large swathes of floorspace has been intentionally left furnishings & thus revenue free. The space in her public rooms is quite unique for a purpose-built cruise ship of her size, one of the big complaints against some cruise ships is the way that tables & chairs seem on top of each other & crowded, this is far from the case on Victoria.Design wise, Victoria is a very elegant ship...as close to an ocean liner as you can probably get in a cruise ship. She has curves everywhere, her external & internal architecture has been beautifully designed and, as with all German built ships, her build quality, attention to detail and overall atmosphere is second to none, she really is quite exceptional in most areas.Technologically speaking she is actually very advanced, especially in her propulsion systems. Her four main powerplants drive two screws, she has two large rudders and 5 thrusters...2 aft & 3 forward. The thrusters are how she manages to parallel park so efficiently. She can berth in about 15 minutes from arriving to roping up, equally getting away is just as quick, a case of drop the ropes and let the thrusters do the work....no hanging about for tug assistance at all. Despite a minor blip off Brazil when she lost all power for about 20 minutes, she has had no major problems...and that is with one engine out of action. Incidently, the engine with the fault will be put right before she leaves for Asia next year, so she should be firing on all cylinders without any difficulties.Boat drill...as per all Costa cruises, you will get a boat drill every 7-8 days and unlike most modern ships, Victoria has her muster stations outside on the boat deck (deck 6) and they have 6 muster stations - A, B, C, D, E & F - three down each side. The drill takes around 15-20 minutes depending on languages required, so be prepared to stand a long while in possibly hot/humid temperatures (especially in Asia).Concorde Plaza is almost cathedral like in its design & build, stretching from deck 7-11 and with two incredible mezzanine floors that are both user friendly and elegant, again the attention to detail is just superb. Another of the main rooms is the theater on decks 6 &7, superbly designed, very thoughtfully built to enable 90% of theater goers to see without obstruction, there are screens on each side of the stage for those in the upper level on deck 7 so that no-one misses anything on stage.Music lovers will really enjoy Victoria...Orpheus (deck 6), Planetarium (deck 5), Capriccio (deck 7), Concorde Plaza (deck7 thru 10) & Tavernetta (deck 12) all have live music in the evenings, Orpheus & Planetarium starting early evening. There are bars in each lounge too, with long drinking hours, so the drinkers will be happy.Dancers are also very well catered for, Victoria has a variety of dancefloors, all with live music in the evenings...ranging from ballroom to disco. A disco is also available on deck 6. Daily dance lessons are available to those wishing to learn from expert dance teachers.Kids & teens....the usual teen & Squok programmes are available and were well organised on my cruise. The children on board seemed to enjoy their experiences, which appears to be standard on Costa, so kids are definitely well looked after aboard Victoria.Sun worshippers will enjoy Victoria. There are no shortages of loungers anywhere on the ship, the sun deck area stretched to the equivalent of around 3 football fields, and as in the inside areas, there are large swathes of space to stretch out in without having to clamber over others to get to a lounger. The upper decks (11, 12 & 14) all have loungers, deck 11 has two bars, an outdoor buffet counter and two very large pools, 4 whirlpools, a stage for live music and plenty of areas to just watch the world float by.One unusual aspect to Victoria is her indoor pool on deck 6. It is alongside the gym & spa and is very popular...the pool itself is larger than most ship's outside pool, so if a few lengths is what you want to do when the weather is not good, then you will be pleased.Eating....often a bone of contention with some people, but in Victoria's case, there is no problem. The service is very good, food quality is very high, I personally did not have any bad meals or slow nights service wise. The pizza is to die for...absolutely wonderful at lunchtime. There were apparent issues with the Sinfonia restaurant at breakfast & lunch which seemed to have been sorted after a couple of days. I had evening meal in Fantasia. Both Sinfonia & Fantasia are on deck 5...Sinfonia is aft whereas Fantasia is midships.Drinking water at evening meal......just ask the waitstaff and they will happily provide jugs of iced water for your table, along with lemon slices too if you so wish. Never a problem for me or countless others in the dining room and always waiting there on my table for when I arrived in the evening.Posh frock nights & cocktails parties....on this cruise we had 4 Gala nights & a total of 3 cocktail parties over the 3 weeks. The buffet & pizza restaurants were either closed or partially closed most nights as most passengers preferred to eat in the main dining rooms, so it would have been pointless to open up both sides of the buffet. Obviously this changes according to itinerary/passenger mix & demand.Powerpoints in the cabin.....standard two voltage shaver point in the bathroom and a two voltage powerpoint in the cabin area (at least in my cabin). Lighting consists of two bedside lamps, 2 spotlights over the desk with independent switches & overhead spotlights, again with independent switches.Theater....the entertainment is very professional and varied, the crew show was standing room only as usual and extremely enjoyable. Overall the shows on Victoria were of an excellent standard - most of the performers were aboard Allegra last year, so it was great to see & hear them again, The animator crew are hysterical, they play pranks on the passengers and crew daily and can always raise a laugh, even when the weather is miserable...whether it be dressing as babies and throwing tantrums in the casino or chasing each other like cops & robbers, these guys & gals put their all into having fun with everyone....brilliant to see and watch.Smoking...another bone of contention...again, I think it really depends on the nationalities & region/itinerary - some are more attached to their ciggies than others and in many respects this showed a little during the cruise. The usual smoky areas to avoid...casino & to some extent Capriccio next door. However, on the whole the smoking was not too much of a problem for the majority of passengers...there are ways and means to avoid the worst areas.Cabins....as with any purpose built cruise ship, the cabins are a tad compact & bijou but since they are just for sleeping, dressing & washing in, they work perfectly fine. My cabin was 80456 a grade I1 inside that was a standalone...with a crew access behind one wall, a linen cupboard behind another wall and the aft elevators behind another wall. Noise transmission was pretty much none existant, the elevators are quiet and foot traffic across the marble landings/stairs is negligible. The bathrooms have a large wooden sliding entry door (be gebtle with these doors as they can be tempermental) and the shower has a curtain to play with. Water pressure is excellent, as is the hot water...very hot and compared to other ships (inc QM2) your tightie whities will stay white, not go an attractive shade of orange. Access to the cabins is via a perforated door key, identical to Costa Allegra. There is a push button safe in the cupboard. Other storage in the cabin comprises of a double wardrobe with a chest of drawers to one side, two bedside chests of drawers, a small desk or table (depending on grade), a fridge and a cupboard with shelving. The TV is a CRT type, therefore not interactive...BUT...there are totems around the ship where you can book shorex, check your ship account, book the speciality restaurant etc, so you do not need to go to the tour desk on deck 6 or the reception deck on deck 5 for everything, it can be done remotely using the totems.There are also several totems for registering credit cards around the ship too.Hosts & hostesses...this is unique to Costa, they always have hosts & hostesses who can speak a variety of languages and they are the point of contact for passengers if they have a problem or just want to ask a question. This time around the English hostess was Rachel and the German hostess was Elke...there were also hosts/hostesses for the Portugese, Spanish & French. They had specific hours where they were available on deck 5 and passengers could just drop by for a chat or whatever. Other lines should take this on as it really does break down barriers tween crew and passenger. All the hosts/hostesses were excellent on this cruise, very hard working, polite & efficient,Secret spaces.....yes, she does have a few areas that you can often have to yourself. Apart from the stern rail on deck 6 (boat deck), decks 7 thru 10 have full width stern balconies that are reached via doors in the cabin corridors. Deck 8 stern balcony also has the Italian flag flying from it when in port. These balconies are brilliant for sailaways...and yes, you CAN smoke on them if you so wish (quite often you'll find crew on them having a quick ciggie]. Many people do not realise that passengers have access to these balconies, but you can and they offer unobstructed views from the stern along with limited wind/weather cover at each end.Ship's photographers...again an area of some consternation on other lines. Yes you will see them and they will see you, but a polite 'no thank you' will suffice and they will leave you alone. They will not continually hassle you to take photo's...if you want to have a photo taken whilst eating, having fun at the pool or whatever, then they are happy to oblige and the standard of the photo's is actually very good, with some unusual and unique montages that make lovely souvenirs for those wanting to purchase them. Costs range from $9.99 to $14.99 each depending on size/event.Potential drawbacks.....with the benefit of hindsight & the fact that nothing is ever perfect, Victoria does have a couple of areas that need to be taken into consideration when booking a cruise on her, especially with your choice of cabin.With the theater behind the aft stair tower from deck 6 thru 7, anyone wanting a siesta in the afternoon or are early/light sleepers might want to book a cabin forward of the aft stair tower due to the inevitable noise issues. Inside aft cabins on deck 8, 9 & 10 aft do pick up noise, this cannot be avoided, obviously deck 8 is probably the worst with 9 & 10 offering some improvement. Outside cabins on these decks aft of the stair tower also experience some noise too but to a lesser extent since the insides are right over the stage area.Concorde Plaza at the very front of the ship could potentially cause noise issues for the outside cabins on decks 6A, 7, 8, 9 & 10 (there are no insides forward of the forward stair tower).Another potentially difficult thing to consider in regard to Concorde Plaza is that with the loss of the inside cabins to accommodate the huge expanse of lounge area, Victoria can be a very bow light ship, so even the slightest of swell could be a problem for those with even slight motion sickness...she does move a lot she has quite a pronounced shimmy and she actually bounces too, especially when fully fuelled/ballasted. In all honesty I actually felt that her center of gravity was too high and that had been messed up by the balconies being added, combined with the weightless bow and engines/fuel tanks aft. The amount of movement IS excessive for a ship of this size and could put some off booking her, but I do suggest that you give her a try, making sure that if you are prone to motion sickness that you take appropriate precautions. You can obtain anti-nausea pills from reception or the pharmacy free of charge if you think you might require them. My inside cabin on deck 8 was right next to the aft stair tower & elevators and I felt every single roll, pitch & shimmy.So the old addage of a cabin midships & low comes into play...if there were low cabins, midships.....Victoria is essentially an upside down ship...her main public areas are deck 5, 6 & 7, there are cabins on deck 4, 5 & 6A but mainly midships to forward. The bulk of her cabins are decks 8, 9, 10, 11 & 12 (the suites are on the upper decks). The retrofitted balconies are mainly decks 9 & 10. The midships cabins are probably the best if you want to avoid the noise of the theater aft or the excesses of movement forward due to the lack of weight in that section of the ship.Seeing the sea.....I have to admit that I found Capriccio & Orpheus a little disappointing when it came to seeing the sea...Capriccio - well you can't and in Orpheus its glimpses via 3 vertically stacked large portholes, so I feel the design (which is otherwise superb) has let the ship down a little in these two areas. Tavernetta on deck 12 has huge picture windows, so seeing the sea is excellent, albeit too high to take in the wildlife very easily. Concorde Plaza has the huge wall of windows overlooking the bow....however, although the visibility forward is good (albeit slightly obstructed by the huge steel trusses), I personally feel that I have been spoilt by Costa Allegra and her Flamenco Ballroom at her stern where she has huge picture windows that look over the wake. Had I designed Victoria I think I would have swapped the theater over with Concorde Plaza and made more of the view by having Concorde at the stern with big windows on three sides...that, IMHO, would have been spectacular. On decks 6 & 7 you can sit on some very comfy wicker chairs or on round sofa's around the atrium, these either look down onto the Planetarium bar on deck 5 or out to sea on 6 & 7. Another 'problem' about both Capriccio & Orpheus is that both lounges are used as corridors to other parts of the ship, so there is always a constant flow of foot traffic and that can spoil an otherwise very pleasant atmosphere.The marble used on the stairs & landings might prove to be a problem for those with sight deficiencies. All passenger stairs & landings are in cream marble and it is not always easy to see where the stair riser is against the landing. Grooves have been cut into the riser surface but they are still cream, thus no clear demarcation, so greater care is required when using the stairs if your eyesight is not great. This could (and did) cause a few stumbles, so be aware of it and don't rush up or down the stairs too often.None of these potential drawbacks are meant to put people off Victoria, she is a stunning ship and ahead of her time in many areas, they are my own observations of how certain areas of the ship could have been made much better than they already are, and to act as guidance for those looking to book a cruise on her and wondering where to go for the quietest or most stable cabins. Costa is by no means responsible for the bad sea handling, crew that I spoke to are equally critical of her sea manners, they too feel that it is her achilles heel in many respects.Visually Victoria is stunning inside and out, her curves and attention to detail is exceptional, her crew are her heart and soul and they are a pure joy to be around, I cannot praise them enough during the 3 weeks I spent aboard her. She is extremely easy to get around...even for those with mobility issues...the flow of her rooms is perfect, access is via either one of 12 elevators (4 of which are glass in the atrium that go from deck 5 thru 12) or via 2 stair towers.So in summary.....is she a good fit for Asia...yes, definitely. She will be very well received out there and will give Legend o/t Seas & SuperStar Virgo a real run for their money. By introducing Victoria to Asia, Costa should be able to capitalise on their already popular itineraries with a very capable ship. However, one part of the itinerary might have to be curtailed, the cruise up the river into Saigon might have to go, this is an uncertainty at time of writing this report, but I fear that her draught & her height could cause a problem with the depth of the river and the new suspension bridge outside Saigon. Time will tell on this.Victoria delivers a great product, her crew are superb, her eating & drinking venues are excellent & her entertainment is varied and very professional. Yes she has her potential drawbacks but they are not really deal breakers, but should be taken into consideration by those they are most likely to affect. By booking a cruise aboard Victoria you are assured of a really friendly & happy ship and some marvelous itineraries. Wherever she is in 2013, I will definitely try to get another cruise on her (2012 is Costa Classica's turn for 37 days) in the knowledge that she is a very different vessel to those I have sailed in the past.One thing that is quite strange, and I know it is never wise to compare ships too much, but when chatting to other passengers, its become clear that many rate Allegra & Marina higher than Victoria. The two main reasons are cabin size & the way that Victoria reacts with weather/sea state. When you consider that both Allegra & Marina are less than half the size/weight of Victoria and the consensus is that they handle the sea better than Victoria, it is quite a surprise to hear that opinion. However, both Allegra & Marina were originally containerships, so their hulls were V shaped and thus built to take any & all weather conditions, Victoria is a purpose built cruise ship with a flat bottom and a shallow draft. As I have already said though, Victoria is slightly hobbled by her weight & balance issues and her high center of gravity.I have a huge amount of gratitude towards Captain Massimo Pennisi & his crew, especially Rachel, Elke (and the other hosts), Alvin, Marianna, Pian & all the crew in Fantasia, Lucas in Orpheus, Brian in Planetarium, Heri my wonderful cabin steward, Alex & the reception staff....and well everyone on board who made my cruise very special & one that I will remember for a very long time to come. A very big thank you to you all & I hope to see you again someday aboard either Costa Victoria or one of the other Costa ships.I would have no hesitation is recommending the Costa Victoria for the Med or for Asia, my only reservations are as I have already pointed out in regard to cabin position & basic 'sea manners' of the ship itself, you will always find some cabins are better than others, just as some ships handle the sea better than others. Do your homework, keep your expectations realistic and you will have a wonderful cruise aboard Costa Victoria. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011

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