We have just returned from a back to back middle east cuise sailing on the costa Neo-rivierra for a total of 30 nights. The first week was spent sailing around the UAE and then a 23 night crossing from Dubai to Genova in Italy. The ... Read More
We have just returned from a back to back middle east cuise sailing on the costa Neo-rivierra for a total of 30 nights. The first week was spent sailing around the UAE and then a 23 night crossing from Dubai to Genova in Italy. The following is our opinion on this cruise experience. We try to be fair with our viewpoints on every cruise we do, other passengers on this cruise may have a different opinion than ours.
Flight, pre cruise stay and embarkation.
We flew to London for a couple of days before the cruise and then took an overnight flight with British Airways from London heathrow to Dubai. The evening hot meal was a choice of meat or veg curry and was suprisingly tasty. Breakfast was a dissapointment, just a cereal bar, juice and tea or coffee. Entertainment system was good and flight was comfortable for the 6h.45m flight. I had assistance at the airport and immigration was fast and efficient.
We used the Dubai metro to get to our hotel and bought a gold NOL card. The first class carraige at the front of the train had room for luggage and was not as crowded as the other compartments. It was very easy to use and cost 25 Dirham,with a 19 Dirham credit included.
Our hotel was the Novotel Mall of the emirates suites, 2 metro stops within easy walking distance. The hotel was clean and welcoming,all the staff were friendly, our suite was large and comfortable and it was made available as soon as we arrived,which was a nice unexpected touch. Breakfast was very good,with an international selection as well as a few local dishes.
2 days later and we checked out, we took a Taxi to the cruise terminal at about 1pm. We dropped off our luggage and filled out the health questionaire and were informed that boarding would begin at about 3pm but our cabin would not be available until 8pm. A small selection of sandwiches and juice was made available while we waited.
At 3pm embarkation started and there was only a few people. The gangway was very steep and there was no way that i could walk it and so a security/immigration officer came down to take my passport and photo and i was escorted through a seperate entrance,i was made very welcome and directed to the buffet on deck 11. Our cruise card could not be collected until 8pm but we just showed our printed ticket to show we had the drink package and that enabled us to get drinks.
The Costa Neo-rivierra.
A small ship that was at first confusing to get around. The easiest way to navigate was to remember that the vast majority of places could be accessed by walking along deck 6 and make your way around from there.
Most of the inside entertainment areas were on deck 6 with a few on deck 5 , 7 and 12. Decks 11 and 12 were the buffet and outside areas.
We did'nt use it that often, the meal we had on embarkation day here was very nice with a nice selection of dishes including curries etc, however all this changed for the crossing where the selection became a lot more suited to the Med palate. There was always a choice but IMHO you cant really make a ships buffet look appealing. At peak times there could be difficulty in finding a seat,but this is true of any ship we have been on. Breakfast in the buffet on this ship included hot as well as cold selection. There was NO free pizza on this ship but a grill serving burgers, hot dogs, fries and salad was available, i tried a couple of burgers and they were good.
The only real complaint i had of this buffet area were the drink stations, they could become a bottleneck. My major problem here was that some passengers would fill thier personal water receptacles from the public stations and on many occasions i saw passengers coughing,then drink from the bottle and then fill this same bottle – small wonder that diseases soon spread. You can't blame the ship for this blatant abuse,there are big notices on the dispensers and even when i pointed the notice out to an offender,he became verbally abusive and a ships officer had to intervene.
Main Restaurant Cetera and St Tropez.
The Main restaurant is called the Cetera and although we didn't eat here,we had a look around and it looked very nice.
Because we are Pearla diamente members,we were allocated the St Tropez restaurant which is used for suite and pearl members and is open every day for breakfast,lunch and Dinner. Most of the meals served here are also served in the Cetera restaurant with the exception of a chefs menu and we could have steak or king prawns as a no cost always available item.
The menu on the whole was definate regional Italian with a few exceptions.
On the whole the food ranged from good to very good,i only had to send 1 dish back because it was served cold.
Lobster was available at a 15€ supplement. I had it and it was my first whole Maine lobster complete with the lobster crackers (to get in the shell)It was messy to eat but superb.
Everyone, from the Maitre`D to the asst waiter were incredibly efficiant and friendly,nothing was too much trouble for them. A special thanks to the team led by Tamara. Amanda, Jin Jin (papardelle) Sylvester and Jessica, you are all stars and will be missed.
Bars and Drinks.
On our first week we had a pio gusto drinks package included. This gave you quite an extensive choice of both alco and non alco drinks. We are not huge alco drinkers, Donald enjoys an occasional glass of wine and i like my non alco cocktails. My fav on this line is the virgin banana colada and the pink panther. The pink panther tasted the same throughout the bars but the banana colada could change so vastly depending on who made it. It tasted so disgusting in 1 bar that i had to send it back,the second time it was better so i don't know what happened.
On our 23 night crossing, no drinks were included,so we bought a 40 non alco package at 110€ and a 25 cappacino coffee pack at 85€ inc service charge. Most of the bar staff were very friendly and we never had to wait long before being served. Anjean, Deryl, Leah and Michelle quickly learned our likes and dislikes and were such good fun to be around. Our thanks to you.
The usual daytime quizzes,games,dances etc during the day and music and dancing in the bars and lounges in the evening as well as the different theatre shows. We found the entertainment and shows to be a very good standard. The entertainment team were friendly and worked hard.
We did hear some people complaining that there wasnt much to do but these were N.Americans and they freely admited that they like every minute of every day filled with organised activities.
2 of the 5 excursions we had booked were cancelled due to lack of english speakers. They are fairly expensive but on the whole offered reasonable value for money.
We did the safari on sir bani yas island. I was dissapointed not to see the giraffes but like the guide said, sightings can't be guaranteed. We did see cheetahs, gazelles,deers, ostrich eagles etc.
The Dhow cruise in Muscat was very relaxing,to be fair theres not an awful lot to see other than the rugged coastline.
The ancient etruscan civilization from civatavecia. Nice to look around and learn about these people. Supposed to have a typical etruscan meal included but don`t be fooled, meal was nice but i doubt the etruscans ate chicken, sausage chips and salad.
Front desk/customer service
Front of house staff, we feel often have the most difficult job aboard. They have to deal with passenger complaints and queries and Costa ships have a very large mix of different nationalities on board,this can result in quite a culture shock,especialy amongst the english speakers.
Some of the complaints we heard were quite ridiculous and could have been avoided had the passenger done just the simplest of research or used a modicum of common sense.
Why for instance would you complain because the tea used on board is not your favourite brand, why argue that you wont pay the compulsory service charge, saying the service you received is not to your satisfaction and you've only just got on board. Why should they refund your internet account after 3 days usage because you have now decided that this package wasn't for you. I heard all of this and more. The answers given were clear and dealt with in a precise and friendly way. Whenever we walked by we were always greeted by name and asked how we were with a smile.
Lots of different nationalities on board, Italians, Dutch, French, German, Swiss, English, Russian, Spanish, Australians and Americans etc.
We only encountered a handful of rude passengers. For the first time ever on a Costa cruise we easily interacted with a group of Italian people. This may have been because several spanish words are similar and we have now gained more confidence speaking Spanish. We had such a good time with this group especially in the restaurant. We also met a delightful couple from Oz, Malcolm and Beverly, Thanks for your company and also to Yvonne and Hubby,we'll be in touch soon.
The ship and disembarkation.
The Neo riviera was kept spotlessly clean and was just a nice size for me to move about with my mobility problems. There are a few areas where i had to be extra careful, sometimes moving from a carpeted area to a piece of flooring caused me to go off balance.
Staff were very accomadating at the fire drill and whenever i went ashore, and assistance was always given to me when needed, i never had to ask for this, it was all done with a smile.
We arrived back at Genova Italy at 8am and were told we could stay on board until 5 pm and have lunch if we wished. Our train to Milan wasn't until 2pm so we stayed on board and had a bit of lunch and then disembarked. Because of our Perla diamente status, luggage was collected the night before and would be shipped home to us in Spain, so we only had an overnight bag to carry. I was once again assisted down the gangway and the chap took my bag and carried it to the exit,where we were shown the way to the train station, an easy 10 minute walk away. Both Donald and myself were very sorry to leave and we both agreed that this ship has now become the favourite in the fleet so far. We have now arrived home and have booked to go back on her in 2019. Thank you to everyone on board the wonderful Costa Neo-riviera, we had a wonderful time. Read Less