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7 Costa neoRomantica Senior Cruise Reviews

After having made many cruises with mid-class (like Princess, Celebrity) and luxury cruise lines (e.g. Oceania) we wanted to investigate the difference between those cruise lines and Costa, which is frequently offering cruises for very ... Read More
After having made many cruises with mid-class (like Princess, Celebrity) and luxury cruise lines (e.g. Oceania) we wanted to investigate the difference between those cruise lines and Costa, which is frequently offering cruises for very attractive prices. As we had already booked an Oceania cruise for later this summer, we accepted a cheap last minute offer for the Costa NeoRomantica cruise tot he Norwegian fjords (€700 in the cheapest cabin), a.o. to be able to make this investigation. We had read beforehand various reviews on CruiseCritic and hence were prepared for a somewhat different experience then with the other abovementioned cruise line companies. We must say that the ship NeoRomantica itself was much nicer then expected, and certainly not attractive then ships of other cruiselines of a comparable size. It was just a pity that with the latest renovation the theatre had been removed to make space for a wellness area. The cabins are vary spacious and well equipped (although without bathrobes), and the available inside public areas is ample enough even in cool weather situations. Boarding and debarkation was very smooth and efficient. COMPARISON OF TOTAL CRUISE COST: COSTA vs e.g. OCEANIA (a luxury cruise line specially known for it’s exquisite food) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COSTA ---------- Last minute cruiseprice = €700 p.p. for 9 nights in the cheapest cabin. Effective real additional costs for service fee + a modest amount of non-alcoholic drinks (1 specialty coffee, 1 non alcoholic drink + 0,5 bottle of mineral water a day): € 170. The total cost (without excursions) thereby comes to € 97 p.p per night Crew to Passengers ratio: 650/1700 = 38% OCEANIA ------------ Pseudo last minute cruiseprice (4 month before embarcation) = €1575 p.p. for 12 nights in cheapest cabin: € 131 per night all-in. Included in this price: * $400 board credit (repeater rebate + travel agent offer) which covers the service charge * limitless non alcoholic drinks + specialty Illy coffees/teas * free WiFi * a complimentary visit to a specialty restaurant every 3 nights (value of appx €30: €10 per night) * a complimentary full day shore excursion every 3 nights (which I value at € 50: €17 per night. List value is much higher but irrealistic) Crew to Passengers ratio: 787/1250 = 63% Deducting the value of the complimentary specialty restaurants + shore excursions, the daily rate comes to € 131-27 = € 104, €7 more then at Costa. COMPARISON CONCLUSION ------------------------------------ For a daily extra of € 7 p.p. one gets with Oceania next to free WiFi, limitless non alcoholic drinks and really exquisite food (e.g. including lobster, steaks, etc.; we experienced the quality on various previous cruises), much friendlier and quicker service: incomparable to Costa. If a specific itinerary is offered by Costa as well as Oceania I would allways choose Oceania. However, to get this all for this little extra, one has to be very alert on special offers, as the regular list prices of Oceania are very much higher. Moreover one has to value the complimentary specialty restaurants and shore excursions. If you don’t care for those, Costa may be a good bargain. SOME OBSERVATIONS on the COSTA NEOROMANTICA ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Positive points: ------------------- * Efficient boarding and debarkation * Very spacious and well equipped cabins (although without bathrobes) * Sufficient public areas (inside as well as on deck), inside even in cool weather situations * Linen towels in public restrooms (a luxury touch!) * Excellent Illy coffee (extra charge) * Offering of an area with popular classical music next tot he venues with popular music. Weak points: ---------------- * The penny pinching and high costs for extra's (like coffee during the day, better but still simple food, entry fee for aft deck, etc). During over 30 trips with other cruise lines we never experienced that one had to pay extra for items in the main restaurant, pizza, etc. * Excessive drink prices, e.g. € 3,50 for a cappucino coffee, € 8 for a non alcoholic coctail * The offered food was OK but nothing more. There was never anything on the menu which I would have ordered in even a simple local restaurant. * Service is very slow, mainly because of a crew to passengers ratio which is to low. * Most (but luckily not all) of the service personnel worked like robots, not giving the feeling they were happy with their job. They appeared to be overstressed and underpaid. * Very noisy animateurs * Dinner times are not well coördinated with timing of shows * No real theatre: just lounge shows * Complimentary coffee and tea is only available during breakfast + afternoon tea. * Tap water is available during lunch at the buffet restaurant, but not automatically offered in the main restaurant. * Hygiene is not stressed overly strong. * Life enrichment lectures were only at midnight .... FELLOW PASSENGERS ------------------------------- The passengers are mainly Italian and French, with a smaller but still considerable group of Dutch and Germans (departure was from Amsterdam). As far as we can tell almost no Americans, Englishman or Australians. Because of differences in culture and mentality the south European and north European passengers groups practically don’t mix. The whole atmosphere is more oriented towards the Italian style. E.g. where on ships with mainly Anglo-Saxon passengerst there is usually the silence of the grave after the last show, that’s the moment where on the NeoRomantica the big parties start. Announcements are always made in 5 languages: Italian, French, Spanish, English and German. Especially during the emergency exersize quite tiring. ITINERARY & EXCURSIONS ------------------------------------ In essence the cruise to the Norwegian fjord region was fine, although the time spend in small towns like Geiranger, Olden and Flam could have been slightly shorter as there is not much to do. Better spend part of the afternoon cruising the fjord. We didn’t use the shore excursions as these are excessively overpriced (as is the case with all cruiselines). We always organise excursions ourselves, whenever possible by renting a car. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
I preferred to try an European Line after have done many cruises with British and American Lines. I specially liked the food. The cabin was excellent as well as the cabin service. Entertainment and features of the ship very enjoyable. ... Read More
I preferred to try an European Line after have done many cruises with British and American Lines. I specially liked the food. The cabin was excellent as well as the cabin service. Entertainment and features of the ship very enjoyable. What really stood out for me and made my holiday very special was the Hungarian Latin Dance Group. They were four outstanding professionals and kind human beings. The two bands playing in the Grand Piazza were superb. I would like to do another cruise with Costa mainly because of them and the Entertainment Team, formed by Italian, Spanish and Brazilian nationals. Nothing was too much trouble for them. The one disappointment was Ingrid, the Hotel Officer. My wallet was stolen in the Port of Savona just before starting the Cruise. She just was not interested in my problem and frustration. With the help of my son from Britain I could get money sent to the next Port: Barcelona. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Overall friendly helpful staff, excellent service and small, modern clean boat with comfortable atmosphere. Good points: varied entertainment, hardworking animation team, trips mostly good value for money, cabin comfortable size, good ... Read More
Overall friendly helpful staff, excellent service and small, modern clean boat with comfortable atmosphere. Good points: varied entertainment, hardworking animation team, trips mostly good value for money, cabin comfortable size, good destinations, plenty to do throughout day, lots choices in buffet and Capri Grill. Suggestions: Need free 24 hour water /ice/ tea/ coffee could be located in Capri Grill. Could do with current FILMS on deck 11, every night,could rotate languages or subtitles. INDEPENDENT TRAVELERS need more info e.g. local bus services When disembarking, all guests need input whether COSTA transfers or not. (Ensure they all are promptly organised and not left in the sun for hours). A pleasure to be on a ship with so many lovely people (crew and guests) of varying nationalities. Fabritzio made the quizzes highly entertaining. Dancing on deck11 good fun. Good to watch all deck activities, made entertaining by animation team. Cooking competition good fun. Main entertainment in Cabaret Vienna Deck 9 singers, magicians, dancers some brought aboard others ship dancers, crew and entertainers. Grand bar had Guiseppe playing on keyboard and singing and alternated with Jack's band. Anticipate either a drinks package 28 euros a day for all inc (this is water/tea/coffee/juice as well as alcoholic drinks) or just drink couple a night. There is a variety of packages. One of the quiz teams was called Costalot!! Lot people managed to be independent travellers and raid the buffet for snacks juice and water. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We booked a Winter getaway at a fairly good price We are seasoned cruisers who enjoy the freedom cruising offers The ship is in good shape and the Decor is classically pleasant The design would work with fewer passengers and on ... Read More
We booked a Winter getaway at a fairly good price We are seasoned cruisers who enjoy the freedom cruising offers The ship is in good shape and the Decor is classically pleasant The design would work with fewer passengers and on cold windy sea days there is little to do. The 2 mini pools are useless for anyone wishing to swim. An enclosed pool area is missing and the price for Solarium use at €35.00 per day when all one wishes is to have a sauna i not value for money The ever present Solarium staff pushing Solarium deals are also indicative of the fact that the price is too high The free Gym, (one of the few free facilities), is fairly well equipped, very clean and almost always full at peak times The change rooms and toilets are 5 star The wine bar is an exceptional although very expensive feature Shopping on board is fairly limited but adequate, the range is limited, again because of the space problem The cigar smoking room was also a wonderful plus for the addicts and contained the smoke perfectly, a plus for Costa here The deck smoking area is a bit too close to the doors and can be a bit of a problem The animation staff do a lot to keep passengers busy with an array of ideas detailed in the daily newsletter The service most of the time is good and sometimes outstanding. Credit card verification was easy and quick We did not use the ships excursions and there were the usual shuttle bus charges for the ports where the ship docked a distance from town A safety warning was issued in the daily newsletter for Athens and not for Naples In Naples we were mugged and robbed in a busy street and have since learned that the town is regarded as unsafe. One must be extremely aware and should maybe walk around in a small group, leave all valuables and jewelry on board The ports were a poor substitute for those that have become unsafe, but that cannot be blamed on anyone. Kalamata was good, Napfilon, Volos were not great, Athens is Athens and Trapani was pretty run down and nothing special, Marseilles is also a typical large European port with many possibilities but also earned a safety warning The bus trip by Costa from Villach in Austria was uneventful as was the return trip Boarding in Savona was a little disorganized as usual - queue jumping due to poor system control, luckily not all passengers boarded in Savona Our Inside cabin was a little crammed due to the overhead bunks, although stowed take up a little extra space Otherwise it was adequate, without any problems and the cabin steward was invisible and efficient The food in the buffet was always fresh and the range sufficient to satisfy most tastes At peak times it was very busy and getting a table was not always easy The MDR food was mainly good , for breakfast and lunch the service was a little slow but the area adjacent the entrance was always well served and relaxing The early bird coffee and juice service was erratic and the coffeee quality questionable The small number of children seemed adequately entertained Entertainment was reasonable but with too many dance shows and if you arrive late not all seats have unobstructed viewing A theatre is missing but the ship design does not allow for it Disembarkation for us took a while and Costa mixed up our departure time and delayed our bus for over an hour We checked 3 times but were told to wait until we were called!! This retro ship was not for us and we prefer medium sized ships If you are English speaking multiple announcements will drive you mad. The manner less pushing and shoving of the French, Germans and Italians is also mindboggling. They all need to be first at all costs Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The Ship: The Romantica is an older medium-size cruise ship (53,000 tons, 221 mt. long and 31 mt. wide) built for Costa in 1993. It has 14 decks of which decks 4, 5, 6, and 7 are for standard passenger cabins with suites on decks 10 and ... Read More
The Ship: The Romantica is an older medium-size cruise ship (53,000 tons, 221 mt. long and 31 mt. wide) built for Costa in 1993. It has 14 decks of which decks 4, 5, 6, and 7 are for standard passenger cabins with suites on decks 10 and 11. Decks 8 and 9 are the main entertainment decks, bars, shops and restaurants while the self-service buffet is on Deck 10. The pools and spa are on Deck 11. Passenger capacity is 1,350. Embarkation: The port of embarkation for this cruise was Port Louis, Mauritius. I went solo for this one and had decided to fly down to Mauritius a few days early to get acclimated. I flew business class on Air Mauritius from Paris and arrived refreshed early in the morning after a good nights sleep in a seat that reclined into a bed. After a few days in a paradisiacal resort (the Sands Resort & Spa) at Flic en Flac, about 20 km. south of Port Louis, I took a taxi to the cruise terminal arriving at about noon on 6 Feb. Check-in was fast and smooth and I went immediately aboard and to my cabin. My baggage arrived within 15 or 20 minutes. The Cabin: I had booked Cabin 5079, a standard outside which turned out to be just fine for me. Not huge, about 16 sq. mt., it was more than adequate for one person. Right away I asked my cabin steward (named Emmanuel from the Philippines) to separate the two beds so I could walk up and look outside through the large round porthole. The now single bed was fine for me and quite comfortable. The cabin thus was furnished with two single beds, two nightstands and lamps, a small easy chair and a small round table. Built-in was a desk with two drawers below a large mirror, but only a stool for sitting. On the other side was a cabinet for the minibar refrigerator and a small-screen TV on top. In the corridor inside the entrance door were two good sized wardrobes, one full with two doors and a single with three drawers and three shirt slides, below the hanging space. The larger even had a tie/belt rack. Between it and the minibar cabinet was a piece with five drawers below and a storage cabinet above, with the electronic wall safe in between. Opposite the wardrobes was the bathroom, small but adequate. It had two bath towels, two hand towels, and a bath mat which were changed as necessary twice a day. I mentioned to the steward that the carpet in the cabin had seen better days and two days later when I returned from an excursion I found they had torn out the old carpeting and replaced it with new wall-to-wall. Very nice. I was impressed, but I had to smell the glue for two or three days. As a Costa Club member I received a fruit bowl and a bottle of Prosecco to enjoy. The fruit bowl was never refilled and the pieces I did not consume remained on my table almost to the end of the cruise - here they could have done better. The cabin was quiet, no vibrations, and sea movement minimal even when the sea was rough. I always select a mid-ship cabin with cabin decks above and below which usually ensures lowest noise levels and ship movement. Service and Staff: I found the staff members in the Customer Service and Excursion offices to be professional, friendly, and very helpful whenever I had need of their services. I'd say all of the excursion staff was pretty great while at Reception, Daniela was probably the best. Our captain was Mario Moretta and one of the more visible captains I've run across. He was friendly and always available to answer questions or chat a few moments. The other hotel staff members were almost all quite friendly and seemed to enjoy their work. Passenger Mix: We had a pretty full ship. I queried Daniela at the Reception who checked the computer to find there were 1350 passengers of whom 370 were French, 290 Italians, 150 from the U.K., Australia, South Africa or New Zealand, 130 were from Germany, and 3 held US passports (myself and a couple from Texas), plus a mixture of Russians, Spanish and Portugese. There were also many islanders aboard mainly from Mauritius and Rèunion reflecting the ethnic makeup of those islands: Indian, African, Chinese, and a mixture of all. There were only about 20 children aboard and most were involved with "Squok Club" activities. Cleanliness. Costa is a line that prides itself on keeping their ships clean and shining. Notwithstanding the Romantica's seventeen years, she was kept sparkling by squads of men constantly rubbing and shining the brass, polishing mirrors and glass, vacuuming the carpeting, cleaning and sanitizing tables and surfaces. There were hand sanitizer machines outside of the restaurant and buffet and when boarding the ship. Smoking: As is usually found on Costa ships, the bar and lounges were divided one side for smokers and the other not. Same thing up on the pool decks where ashtrays were laid out on one side but not the other. Unfortunately in the lounge where a very good pianist played each evening (Theatre Foyer), all the tables had ashtrays but even here the smokers tended to sit on just one side. I did not notice any smell of smoke from the cabins near me or in the corridors. Naturally smoking was prohibited in the restaurants, theatre, card rooms, library, etc. Restaurants and Bars: The Romantica had one main dining room (MDR) called the Botticelli Restaurant on the 8th deck open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On the 9th was the Romeo Pizzeria open every evening, and the self-service buffet on the 10th, open for breakfast and lunch. There were seven bars scattered around the ship. MDR: I always book the second seating at 21.00 and was assigned to table 142, the "singles" table. There were five females and only two males, all Italian speaking. Our waiter was Sismundo Herman from the Philippines and his assistant was Richard from Peru. For myself and my table companions the food served was good with only mild complaints on a couple occasions when something wasn't up to expectations. Food was always served piping hot. The only real complaint was the refusal to serve pitchers of free tap water instead of the pay-for bottled water. The first evening at our table and many others, the waiters when asked, brought out jugs of ice water to quench our thirst. On the following evening they had to apologize because word had been passed down not to serve free water any longer. I, along with some others, went to the maitre'd who very apologetically said that a directive had been received from the head office of Costa in Genoa canceling this previously common benefit. He suggested we complain to the Customer Service Office which I did the following day. Here again the answer was that it was a directive the ship had received from Genoa, presumably to all ships in the fleet. For the remainder of the cruise the only option was to bring water from your cabin (which I did once with no problems), buy the bottled, or do without. Since I usually drink only wine at dinner it was no big problem for me but the others went ahead and bought a bottle each evening. Buffet: This was the first cruise that I can remember that there was no problem finding a place to sit for either breakfast or lunch in the buffet. There seemed to be always plenty of open chairs at the large ten-person tables. In addition there was outside seating as well in the Terrazza Caffè. The buffet had two similar serving lines with salads, pastas, hot foods, carvery, pizza, various breads, plus an Italian pasta station and two specialty stations where cooks prepared on the spot a variety of items. The selection of cheese was especially interesting. Fruit and deserts of many types were on display. I found both breakfast and lunch to have so many things to choose from I don't see how anyone could go away hungry or dissatisfied. Again, hot items were always served piping hot. Pizza: The Romantica also had a pizzeria on deck 9 called the Romeo Pizzeria. It was open afternoons from 15.00 to 18.00 for pizza by the slice, and evenings from 21.00 to 01.00 for pizzas made to order. I did not try it (I live near Naples!) but there seemed to be many that did. Bars: The huge Piazza Italia bar & lounge on deck 8 received most of the bar business throughout the day and evening with entertainment by the ship's animation team and professional musicians. I preferred the more intimate Giulietta Bar on deck 9 where Felix, the head bartender, made an excellent espresso coffee for me each morning. On the question of prices, simple aperitifs or after dinner liquors were priced at €4.70 while most mixed drinks cost €6.70. Espresso was €1.30. To these amounts was added the 15% service charge. The water package was €25.99 (plus 15%) for 13 bottles. Library and Internet: The library and internet point was on deck 8. The selection of English language books was reasonably good, as were the selections in other languages. There were many computers available for use for a cost of €10 for 30 minutes. Like all Costa ships now, wifi was throughout and I used my laptop in my cabin extensively. The cost was €3 registration and €24 for three hours, renewable. Costa Club members can deduct a 20% discount bringing that €24 down to €19.20. Laundry: I used the ship's laundry early in the cruise and then again at the end. The quality of the service was excellent and the traditional "magic bag" at end cruise was very economical (€19.99 for up to 25 pieces of laundry). Gym and Spa. The Romantica's gym was rather small but had a half dozen or so treadmills and a variety of other machines. Normally I make extensive use of a ship's gym but this cruise it seemed I never had enough time for it. The spa was really just the beauty center and massage rooms with a sauna. I booked four one-hour massages but when I found how good my masseuse was, I signed up for two more. Her name was Michelle (also from the Philippines) and she was absolutely wonderful, resolving a long standing problem I've had with my feet. It would have been worth extending the cruise just to continue receiving her care. As with all Costa ships the spa was run by the Steiner organization and the prices are standard. The full body one hour massage is listed at €109 but they have the pay three and get four for €327, plus I received a 25% discount on the second two massages I ordered. Entertainment: I went to a couple of the evening shows which were pretty good. Two British singers plus the ship's dancers performed beautifully. Those passengers that attended every evening were consistent in their praise. The ship's animation team was very active and received good cooperation from participating passengers. They weren't really entertainment, but the ship's lecturer, Prof. Carlo Scopelliti gave two excellent history and nature presentations during the course of the cruise; one on the Seychelles and another on Madagascar. Weather and Climatic Conditions: Summer weather in the tropics is characterized by warm sun, white clouds, stable temperatures and frequent rain showers particularly in the afternoon or evening. Such was the case in the Indian Ocean. Daytime temps were usually always in the 28 to 32 degree range, dropping only a couple degrees at night. It was very pleasant indeed and the rain showers were generally brief. HOWEVER, we had to put up with tropical cyclone Bingiza which beat rather heavily the eastern coast of Madagascar and caused several changes to the established itinerary causing the captain to cancel the scheduled port call at Nosy Be, Madagascar and remain an extra day at Victoria, Seychelles until the cyclone moved on. During the days we were anchored at Victoria we had absolutely beautiful weather. Port Calls and Shore Excursions: Day 1 - Port Louis, Mauritius. Warm and sunny; rain in the evening. Perfect for departing and arriving passengers. While many of the newly embarked passengers went ashore after checking in, I decided to remain on board since I had already been on the island for several days. I had previously booked via the internet all the shore excursions I wanted, I used the time to get organized, register my credit card, and get to know the ship. Day 2 - Port Louis, Mauritius. Cloudy day. I had booked the shore excursion to Ile aux Cerfs (Deer Island). It took us about an hour to get there with the bus having to wend its way through heavy Port Louis traffic all the way to the east side of Mauritius where a small boat took us to the island, passing through mangrove swamps. The area wasn't exactly pristine as it was a small resort catering to tourist groups with mattresses on a secondary beach and palm leaf covered tables for lunch. The weather didn't cooperate that day so many didn't go swimming. The lunch however was good, chicken and fish creole specialties. Traffic returning to the ship was horrendous passing through Port Louis. The original itinerary had us remaining at Mauritius for an additional half day but it had been changed. We sailed in the evening. Day 3 - At Sea. Rough seas and cloudy weather as we passed on the far edge of the cyclone activity. First gala evening. Day 4 - At Sea. Sea continued to be rough but the weather improved. The sun loungers around the pools started getting good use. Day 5 - Victoria, Mahè, Seychelles. Arrived right on schedule at 09.00. Nice warm sunny weather but very humid. Walked into the town and did some souvenir shopping in the colorful market. In the afternoon I went with the "Creole Night" shore excursion to Takamaka Bay on the south west corner of Mahè. Very pretty beach with nice swimming before dinner at "Chez Batista" with Creole singers and dancers. Barbequed pork and huge fish along with a multitude of Creole specialties (don't ask - just enjoy!). Entertainment very lively. Nice enjoyable evening. Day 6 - Victoria, Mahè, Seychelles. Beautiful sunny day. Left ship at 10.00 on a big catamaran that was moored right under the ship for Praslin Island (pronounced PRA-lin). After a 45 minute crossing our guide got us on a comfortable bus that took us to the jungle center of the island and the Valle de Mai. Coco de mer trees, coconut palms, and dozens of other strange species producing bread fruit and weird forms of nuts and things. Many birds, black parrots, special spiders, lizards, gekkos, etc. We went back to the little port for a short catamaran ride over to La Digue Island, another paradise. No cars and only a few trucks with benches in the bed to carry tourists around. Most people on bicycles going to the houses of the few inhabitants. We left the little settlement by the jetty and rode a bouncing truck over a narrow paved road that soon became a bumpy sand track to the eastern side of the island and the beach called Grande Anse - a spectacular wide white sand beach with huge granite boulders delimiting the far ends. There was no coral barrier here so the waves were substantial, allowing some local fellows to ride their surfboards. We swam, played with the waves, and roasted in the sun. Lunch was in a little sandy restaurant right on the beach called "Loutier Coco." The Creole barbeque was very good, fish, fish, fish. Before leaving La Digue we went to the Union Estate to see the giant tortises (in a large pen, not walking around freely), and the production of coconut oil. A short walk took us to what is billed as the island's most spectacular beach, Source d'Argent. It was very pretty but not much sand, shallow water with a coral surface that hurt your feet. At least there was plenty of shade trees to block the sun a bit for our by now red skins. Two catamaran rides and we got back to the ship at 20.00. A great but tiring day! Day 7 - Victoria, Mahè, Seychelles. We were supposed to leave the Seychelles today but Cyclone Bingiza caused our itinerary to be changed. It was announced that two of the Madagascar port calls were cancelled but we would make the one for Diego Suarez and have an extra day at Rèunion. A lot of passengers went off on private excursions today but I remained on board trying to cool my sunburn from the day before. Day 8 - Victoria, Mahè, Seychelles. Sunny and warm. I went on a sailing catamaran excursion this morning all around the north end of Mahè island and landing at a small deserted cove beyond Belle Vallon on the northwest corner. Wonderful swimming with multicolored fish. We returned to the ship (sunburned again) by noon and at 13.00 to the voice of Andrea Bocelli singing Con Te Partiro, we sailed away from Victoria, the smallest capital in the world (I think I heard). Day 8 - At Sea. Rough sea and overcast approaching the cyclone area. As the day wore on we were advised that the cyclone was moving southwest and would leave Madagascar shortly. Consequently we received the third change of itinerary since the start of the cruise: we would land not only at Diego Suarez but also make the scheduled stop at Tamatave, so Rèunion was back to just a one day call. Second gala night. Day 9 - Diego Suarez, Madagascar. Gray and overcast, choppy seas. Very humid. We docked on schedule at 07.00 and at 9 I left on a shore excursion (ex Emerald Bay, cancelled due to choppy sea conditions) around the eastern side of the bay. We first went through the very wet town trying to dry out after the cyclone passed. A town with a lot of character with dilapidated colonial buildings, roughly built habitations, stores and shops of every variety (beautiful wood carved products), pot-holed roads that became red-dirt tracks as we left the town proper. Friendly people who seemed very happy to see all the tourists (Costa banners waving around) in town. On the track around the bay (with the island called Pan di Zucchero in the middle) we stopped in one location where ladies were selling bright colored pareos and children displayed large sea shells, men with iguanas or lemurs on branches, some women with white designs painted on their faces, all in all a very interesting setting. We stopped at a beach where a couple brave souls went swimming notwithstanding the less than perfect weather. Returning toward Diego Suarez we stopped at a hotel resort for lunch. I think we were the only customers at Diego's premier Blue Note Resort. A local reggie-type group entertained us with their music while we sipped on chopped-off coconuts with a straw sitting around the pool. Lunch was started off with everyone receiving a first course plate containing a big crab which we had to break open with pliers. The white meat was delicious. The second course was rice with pieces of fish on skewers; also very good. For dessert we served all kinds of local fruits, papaya, mango, pineapple, bananas, etc. Day 10 - At Sea. Overcast and choppy seas. Italian night in the restaurant with the usual singing O'Sole Mio, Volare, etc., waving of the napkins, with the waiters leading the serpent dance around the dining room and dancing with the ladies. A good time was had by all. Day 11 - Tamatave, Madagascar. Sunny with scattered clouds. A very large container port. No excursion today but I took the shuttle bus (€6 round trip) from the ship to the Bazar Be market in town. The streets were horrible, semi flooded after the passing of the cyclone, full of pot holes. The market consisted of hundreds of tiny stalls selling souvenirs, tee shirts, pareos, vanilla, carved wooden handicrafts, model ships, etc. in addition to the food, meat, and houseware stalls for the locals. Here there was a different atmosphere from Diego as there were armies of little children and women with their hands out begging. There was no way you could give them anything or they would chase you forever. I made some purchases and went back to the ship early. Last gala night. Day 12 - At Sea. Sunny and rough sea. Much time was spent around the pools. Day 13 - St. Denis, Rèunion. Sunny and warm. Sea conditions improved. Actually the ship docked at Le Port, about 20 km. south of the capital of St. Denis. Rèunion is an overseas province of France so the currency was euros, French language, French license plates on the cars, and a completely French atmosphere. I went on the excursion to the "Cirque de Salazie" today, passing first to visit a Hindu temple and then a vanilla plantation. We eventually arrived up in the hills passing through green valleys with dozens of high water falls in the clouds, and got into the little alpine town of Hell Bourg. Souvenir stores, crêperies, little bars ; a neat town. We went to lunch at a little hotel complex called « Les Jardins d'Heva. » As usual, it was all quite good. On the return we stopped for an hour at St. Denis for a walk through the market. Back to the ship for the last evening. Bags had to be outside the cabin door by 22.30. Day 14 - St. Louis, Mauritius. We arrived on schedule at 02.30 and by 5 many people were already disembarking. My flight to Milano was supposed to depart at 09.40 but was delayed until 14.30 so I remained on board until noon (cabin vacated at 07.30). Disembarkation: My baggage was waiting for me on the dock so I disembarked on my own. I had arranged a taxi to take me to the airport (Taxi Mauritius - €35 instead of the €60 the port taxis wanted), which took only 45 minutes, being a Sunday. Unfortunately the flight was further delayed until almost 17.00 but since I had a business class ticket I spent my time in the VIP lounge eating good little things and drinking French champagne. What a life! Conclusions: It was a great cruise on a very nice ship. I had previously read a lot of negative comments about the Romantica, being old and small but I'm glad I didn't give it any thought. The number of passengers on a smaller ship allow so much more freedom of movement, both on board and ashore that makes it well worth while. I'll give both the Romantica and the cruise their well deserved five stars. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Embarkation set the tone for this dire cruise, chaotic, badly organised, with total lack of helpful staff. From the dockside sight of the ship, she appeared tired and shabby, and the interior did nothing to improve that impression- she is ... Read More
Embarkation set the tone for this dire cruise, chaotic, badly organised, with total lack of helpful staff. From the dockside sight of the ship, she appeared tired and shabby, and the interior did nothing to improve that impression- she is dated, badly cared for, badly managed and long past her best. Stairwells are echoing , carpet-less, decor-less spaces, reminiscent of school corridors, except lacking artwork! Welcome aboard was a drinks package sales pitch, and there were no directions given for finding cabins. We found our way to our deck 4 cabin, with its large round window- this style was the norm for most of the ship, with the exception of a few balcony suites. the cabin was bland wood panelled, had ample wardrobe and drawer space and a comfortable double bed. Pillows were hard and slab-like, towels long past their pristine best, with only a tiny soap bar provided as toiletry, with harsh gel in the grubby-curtained shower. Requests for softer pillows were refused, and we were advised to phone room service for a few toiletries. Dining was dismal, with repetitive menus, no healthy choices, overcooked fish, poor salads and badly organised service, so tables were not served together. Alternative dining, the open buffet was very poor, with limited repetitive menus, very poor salads, and ran out of green salad in the second week, and , incredibly, butter disappeared from all menus after 10 days. Probably the best choice was a daily pasta, served with fresh parmigiano, but we expected that on an Italian cruise line, and even the most ardent pasta lover would not want it for every meal. Entertainment was very third rate, with tired dancers, poor singers and bizarre novelty acts. If you preferred dancing, then a live trio performed, but often this turned into strange line-dancing sessions. Day time entertainment would have disgraced a holiday camp, with childish, badly organised game like activities, shouted instructions,and little entertainment value. Several ports were tender disembarkation, which again was chaotic to the point of being worrying. Tickets were issued, by ineffective entertainment staff, on a first come-first served basis, to pushing, shouting crowds , and the whole process was so disorganised as to feel totally intimidating. This ship completely fails to deliver a product of acceptable quality, utterly fails to deliver the promised brochure experience and is a Costa concept that needs serious overhaul Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We were for warned that the ship was older and that the cruise was geared for Europeans and that we would be one of the few Americans aboard. We booked the cruise for the itinerary. Dining room service was inconsistent. I didn't ... Read More
We were for warned that the ship was older and that the cruise was geared for Europeans and that we would be one of the few Americans aboard. We booked the cruise for the itinerary. Dining room service was inconsistent. I didn't get two of my entrees and was served wrong desserts on several occasions. The morning cappuicino and espresso were cold(probably made ahead of time) It was difficlut to get decaf coffee. The ice cream was runny and we actaully got hot orange juice out of the dispenser. It was not uncommon to clean our own tables off in the buffet Dishes were left everywhere. The selection in the buffet and the dining room were good. The cabin was clean..our room steward was a joy. The ship was very outdated and was in need of some major updating. Carpets looked dirty but were just worn out. There was lots of smoking on the ship and lots of people just pushing ...Again were were warned that the Europeans will just push you out of line. THE BIG LIE.......This is a very long story and I will try to condense it. We asked to have half our gratuity taken off of the bill We like to tip according to the service received(we are good tippers). We met with Micheal the English speaking host on five occasions. If he had said no you can't do this we would've said ok and dropped the subject. The first meeting he told us that it was possible and that he would contact the American consulate and they in turn would call the IRS. In Singapore we could be detained up to Six months if we didn't pay but he would proceed if we wanted him to. On the second meeting he said that he hadn't heard from our consulate yet. Meeting three he said everything was taken care of and the charges wouldn't be on our bill, however they were still on the bill. Meeting four he contacted us let us know that he called The US Consulate to advise them that they might need to pick up out luggage. He also said that our luggage would be scrutinized and that we should be frightened . When we asked for the phone number of the consulate he said the Singapore authorities would take care of that. Meeting five and hour before we got off the ship the charges were still on the bill. Micheal told us that they would be taken off as soon as we got through immigration... We didn't go to jail and they did charge us...Needless to say the whole thing was a lie. We felt threatened and harassed. On the positive side the whole itinerary was very educational. The ports were very interesting. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Costa neoRomantica Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 3.0 3.5
Entertainment 4.0 2.9
Public Rooms 4.0 3.6
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.3
Family 4.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.3
Enrichment 3.0 2.9
Service 3.0 3.8
Value For Money 4.0 3.4
Rates 4.0 3.5

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