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9 Dubai to Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We have cruised with other lines prior to booking this cruise as a retirement holiday and so when I read the reviews, I was still optimistic about our holiday. How wrong I was to ignore what other people where saying. On the first night ... Read More
We have cruised with other lines prior to booking this cruise as a retirement holiday and so when I read the reviews, I was still optimistic about our holiday. How wrong I was to ignore what other people where saying. On the first night of our cruise I wanted to come home. We were told that the self service restaurant was open, and so we made our way just to get a drink after a long flight from London. I filled a glass with water and found that it was tainted with oil, this was quite clearly floating on the top of the water. I informed a staff member who merely shrugged his shoulders, took the glass off me and walked away. So to the food counter, limited choice, but what was on offer was in edible. The food tasted awful. We all eventually christened this restaurant as the soup kitchen. We went back to our cabin, which I can only describe as looking like a shipping container with some cheap looking wooden furniture in it. The picture behind the bed was a piece of rug cut into a rectangular shape. Unfortunately we had forgot our key and had to go to customer services desk to get back in. Bearing in mind that it was almost 3 am, and we were tired. The staff took it upon themselves to completely ignore us for several minutes while they had a chat and played on their computers. I don"t think I have ever been great so rudely. The cruise in general was poor, everything was geared up for the Italian and German guests, so all the announcements came in several languages before they got to English. That I didn't mind. The mainly Phillipine staff were wonderful, as they normally are. They tried there best throughout. But I was a little worried about the Italian crew members who were rather aloof and arrogant. Everything on board was very expensive, and I wondered whether Costa had increased their bar prices as there were only 600 passengers, one night at dinner the waiter gave me a menu with cheaper drink prices on. Now to something a little worrying. We were buying drinks throughout the cruise and we noticed on several occasions that the cocktails we purchased were a little weak tasting, and each time we complained about this the waiter would put extra alcohol in the glass. However, one night we ordered two drinks and I stood and watched the barman putting one measure of spirits between the 2 glasses. He denied he had done this when challenged. But when you are paying £6 per glass you expect a full measure. Smoking on board is an issue. The main bar had a smoking area which was occupied by the crew smoking and this was round one of the main entrances, so you had to walk through a cloud of smoke each time you went in. Food standards throughout the cruise never improved, if they put frozen slice beef on the menu once, it must have been on 12 times in 18 days. The chefs never seemed to make any effort and if I had been employed in the kitchen I would have been embarrassed at the food they turned out. So, all in all I would never book another Costa cruise neither would I recommend anyone else do the same. I wonder sometimes what direction the company is heading in, as I can only see them going downwards. Nothing improved from day 1 to day 18 no matter how many complaints were made. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Having always wanted to pass through the Suez Canal, and with my wife wanting to visit Petra this cruise to Civitaveccia seemed ideal, tagging on the next part back to Dover meant the added bonus of no flying home - great. Our holiday ... Read More
Having always wanted to pass through the Suez Canal, and with my wife wanting to visit Petra this cruise to Civitaveccia seemed ideal, tagging on the next part back to Dover meant the added bonus of no flying home - great. Our holiday started with a couple of nights in Dubai at the Ibis, Deira City Centre which is well situated for both Airport and Cruise Port being between the two. Also has a shopping mall opposite the hotel, a direct bus service (No 27) to the Gold Souk Bus Station from the nearby Metro Station (the Metro entrance across the road from the main Mall entrance); the Metro has a closer entrance to the hotel just on the corner of the main road junction 300 metres away, and is handy for reaching the Dubai and Emirates malls. As a bonus we had saved enough by booking our air fare direct with Emirates, rather than the cruise line, to pay for our complete stay in Dubai. On embarkation day we arrived at the port at around 1230, platinum check in was a breeze and inside 20 minutes later we were eating our first cakes of the trip! Cabin wise, as usual the requested separate beds had not been done, but was fixed later. A request for an egg crate topper for the pretty firm mattress could not be done, but our steward arranged an extra duvet under the sheet which worked pretty well instead. The cabin was clean enough, roomy enough and with the exception of the air con which struggled until the ship reached cooler climes was perfectly adequate. Our steward maybe could have had a better eye for detail, with us having to always ask for things like laundry bags, breakfast order forms etc. but we forgave him as he was always a cheerful happy soul! MDR dining was where the ship as a whole gave such a varied experience, that on the one hand it could be 4 star and at other times struggled to be 2 star. We try and avoid buffets, preferring instead to be served our meals at cloth covered tables in a civilised way. The dinner service we received in my time on deck 5 of the MDR was spot on, the food mostly very good for mass catering except the duck, which as usual was tough. Open seating Breakfast and Lunch fell down considerably with some very long waits and mixed up orders, to the point where one of the head waiters ended up apologising to us twice in the same day for the same problems. Following that we started to receive what I can only describe as preferential treatment - very nice if you can get it, but not the norm - with one of the head waiters taking a personal interest in our meals wherever and whenever we ate in the MDR. The buffet was used for just drinks and cakes; many times we saw serving utensils that were in clear need of changing left out and becoming clogged with different cake, often there were no plates to put the servers on so they got dumped back amongst the remaining cakes, and rarely if ever was there a member of staff at the cake/dessert servery. Coffee was hit and miss between weak and strong, cold and hot. Hot milk from the flasks was often curdled with unpleasant bits floating in the cup. The cloudy lemonade was nice, but is full of additives and having got to read the container it comes in, not the old fashioned lemonade it seems to be. Room service was a bit hit and miss; our breakfast coffee showed up at all sorts of times and one day not at all. The nightime snacks on offer came only with fries - no wedges despite being on the menu, and the one time I ordered a well done steak sandwich it turned up an hour later cooked on one side only. The Seaview cafe up on deck 12 was a real gem though. The best pizzas and paninis on ship, all freshly made to your order. So we gave up on room service and trekked up there most nights after the shows. Fortunately, not many others seemed to be either aware of it or able to find it, so we often shared the room with only another 8-10 people. Entertainment varied from guest artistes who sang/told jokes/juggled/acrobatics to production shows. The production shows were the really weak part with some of the cast obviously much better than others, and like many of these efforts at sea, a musical director who seemed to think that drowning out vocalists with a wall of noise was what everyone wanted. Most ships we have been on, we go to all the main theatre shows, even repeats - not this cruise. Ports of call - MUSCAT, we called on a Friday so very little doing until late pm with most of the Souk closed. AQABA - everyone including us went to Petra, which although expensive with the ship was a really good excursion, probably the best ships tour we have ever done. Ignore the walking distances in the ships tour brochure they are at least 100% more, and you need to be fit enough to walk as the alternative horse carts could leave you with serious back problems on the bumpy ground. SAFAGA is an industrial port some way from the small town, again we were there on a Friday so not much doing. SHARM on a Saturday was also quiet, but within 15 minutes walk of the ship, and had private beach areas where you could rent a lounger etc. ALEXANDRIA is filthy, dirty and the people very poor. If you are not going to Cairo, the Corniche area is probably the best to visit and is walkable for the independent traveller but you will get hassled by taxi and horse carriage drivers. CIVITAVECCIA to Rome by train is both easy and cheap; the bus shuttle drops you at the fort like building at the port entrance, on getting off turn right and up onto the parade and the first kiosk will sell you train tickets and for 1 Euro extra a very useful Rome map with train times and all the main tourist spots clearly marked. GIBRALTAR another day of rest, Sunday this time as we were in the UK! Most shops were open and in walkable distance, loads of taxi vans offering Rock tours and the like at the port. LA CORUNA is a gem, free of the normal tourist tat with loads of Tapas bars etc.; tourism here is mostly fellow Spaniards on holiday. Having said that some English is spoken. The castle and lighthouse, churches, shops and squares are all walkable from the ship, or there are cheap and efficent bus services around the city. LE HAVRE was our last call before jumping ship, of course many people will do a long organised trip to Paris. If not, be warned that the walk from ship to city centre is long and pedestrians not very well provided for until you reach the Fish Market area. Although there is a city walking tour, most of the sites are post war and made from concrete, so not much history. We disembarked one day early at Dover (ship went on to Amsterdam) along with several other passengers. We had to attend a special immigration desk set up in one of the meeting rooms at 0730, duly got our exit passes from the ship and after that it was our last MDR breakfast, collect cases and out to a taxi for the train station and our journey back to Scotland. In summary we enjoyed the cruise as it enabled us to tick off two of the things on our "wants" lists,took us to three more ports we hadn't been in before, Muscat/Sharm and La Coruna, and was a welcome change from the awful UK spring weather. Had Brilliance been able to deliver consistently on all fronts it would have been a 3 star cruise, but the mixed performance in the catering and entertainment functions sadly lowered it to 2 stars for us. Would we sail on her again - yes, but only if the itinerary was the deal breaker. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
April 2012 we went on an epic journey around the Middle East. And I must say it was fantastic.The transfers werefantastic all the way through. The Hotel we stayed in, The Sofitel on "The Walk" in Dubai, was absolutely wonderful. ... Read More
April 2012 we went on an epic journey around the Middle East. And I must say it was fantastic.The transfers werefantastic all the way through. The Hotel we stayed in, The Sofitel on "The Walk" in Dubai, was absolutely wonderful. With a good helping of pampering for the guests, included. The hotel staff really looked after you; from when we arrived very early in the morning, the check-in was meant to be after 3 pm, but the room was ready within an hour of us sitting down with a drink in the hotel lobby, to receiving lovely chocolates on your pillow, the bed was turned back and slippers left by your bed every evening.Wow pampering at its best. We stayed there for 3 days and had a good look round Dubaifor the second time. The weather hot and of course the sun is nearly always shining. Day four we boarded a very tired looking ship, Brilliance of the Seas. Check-in was very efficient and our cabin and Steward great. The only down side was the horrific smell from the toilet area was worse than rotten eggs. Plus a toilet that wouldn't flush!!! As it turned out there was a major problem with the pipework on Deck 8 Fwd. that has to be repaired when the ship gets its timely refurb. soon I hope!! However, the cabin steward worked his little heart out to resolve and clean up the odour which he did in a matter of a few days. It didn't spoil our holiday we just had a good laugh about it. Entertainment was good. Special guests were great. But still had the same Broadway type shows as last time. Food good. Service good also. The trips round the middle east were long and tiring but worth doing especially the Rose Red City of Petra, Jordan. A 10 hour trip but Wow a fantastic place well worth the very long trek down through the narrow Siq (opening) to where the Treasury facade appeared like a giant standing right in front of you. And so many people walking up and down the Siq plus the pony and traps that didn't stop for anyone were busy taking people who didn't or couldn't walk down to the entrance!!! It was very rough surfaceto wlak over. However, Petra really is a special place and so glad we went to see it. Muscat was nice but not that much to see. Sharm El Sheik, was lovely mainly a hotel resort for sunseekers. Again not that much to see unless you want to do a back breaking sand dunes ride in a Jeep or a ride under water in a semi submersible. Fun nontheless. Safaga was more of an industrial port, a place to go if you want to visit King Tutankhamen's tomb and artefacts etc. Again a very long day trip but worth it. The Port of Alexandria, was next, (for 2 days) and is a must if you want to see the Pyramids but is a very very long day with the trips being well over 14 hours with lunch at a nice hotel, then a visit to the catacombs down many crooked steps and which are very claustrophobic. A trip to the Pyramids is one to do in your own time and with your own guide/driver and car. However, Alexandria isn't the cleanest and nicest of places. We were confronted with road works at the entrance of the Dock area with big holes in the middle of the road and scaffolding outside. The taxi drivers are rude and the vehicles they called taxis we would call old pick up trucks, that have seen better days. Air Con meant you had to wind down the window if the window winder still worked. Grest Fun!! Unleavened bread stacked at the road side next to bins full of rotting rubbish. Not good, but an experience all the same. The weather was good not too hot at this time of year. The transit through the Suez Canal was absolutely fabulous, another definite must see, especially during the daytime you saw so much more along the embankments. Finally disembarking in Rome. All in all a good Repo cruise and well worth doing. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Our last cruise with RC was about 11 years ago on the Splendour of the Seas- then a new ship. We enjoyed the cruise, but felt a bit disappointed overall. Mainly, I suppose, because standards were lower than the last time. We had no ... Read More
Our last cruise with RC was about 11 years ago on the Splendour of the Seas- then a new ship. We enjoyed the cruise, but felt a bit disappointed overall. Mainly, I suppose, because standards were lower than the last time. We had no real interest in the ports other than getting to see Petra. Our main reason for the cruise was the two day stop in Alexandria, where we have a relative staying at the moment. So, good points:- Nice cabin with a small but adequate balcony. (Knowing we were in hot countries made a balcony seem a good idea.)Very good cabin attendant. Lots of free tea/coffee/squash available. Public areas good and not too crowded considering the ship was full; mind you, it was good weather, so lots of people spent time outside. All staff seemed helpful and efficient. Excellent transfers to and from the ship- "seamless" would be an appropriate term. Windjammer food fine; cafeteria type basis but works well. Pretty good selection though both wife and I felt many sweets were a bit insipid. Cruise Director's camp humour was charming. Entertainment good. Modern engineering means a very quiet ship, with only very mild vibration- more towards the stern. Not so good points:- Cabin Air Con- seemed barely able to keep up with daytime temperatures of 30 degrees. Restaurant food, to be honest, pretty poor. Never really more than warm, and not exciting presentation. Nowhere near as good as last time. Restaurant service haphazard at times and our waiters seemed a bit rushed: odd as 8 guests on our table never once appeared for a meal- must have used the Windjammer all the time. I don't blame them!Our assistant waiter seemed unable to tell the difference between requests for red and white wine! Daytime activities a bit limited; plenty of things to do, it seemed at first sight, but when one looked closely, not quite as much as one might think. In my view, the bar/wine prices are extortionate; maybe this is how RC really make their money? i.e. Offering a good base-price then shoving on lots of extras. Remember all bar prices have a 15% gratuity added too. So, about US$ 7 for less than a pint of beer, and remember they buy liquor in bulk and, I believe, at duty free prices! Usual expensive excursions. (But we only did one, so that is voluntary.) Expecting you to pay $125 for a tour of the bridge, the galley and engine room!!!! Why the need for salt-water pools? The Chief Engineer said that they can make 1,700 TONS of fresh water a day! (Though they don't need to.) I really don't like the way RC make their passengers responsible for their staff's salaries: we paid our waiters' gratuities in full, despite having given up on dining in the main dining room. The risible "art" on sale. Sad that staff members ask, to your face, for an "excellent" rating when one sends in feedback. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
URGENT COSTA PASSENGERS, PLEASE READ BEFORE BOOKING. OUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH COSTA CRUISES. WE HAVE COMPLETED JUST SHORT OF 3 DOZEN CRUISES WORLDWIDE WITH MANY COMPANY'S 3RD May 2012 Just returned from Costa Cruise (Dubai to Venice) on their latest ship 'The Costa Favalosa' We had a full crew compliment but only 2/3 passengers on this trip. (Background) The reason I mention BELOW these very sad incidents is to show the loss in trade and explain the ridiculous situation we have now with Costa Cruises trying to claw back every single penny unfortunately at the expense of passengers, it's not actually just sad it's a farce and basically a rip off!! We have cruised with Costa just prior to these incidents and yes they were very expensive but the Itinerary then was the reason we booked, same as this recent cruise on the Favalosa as not many if any others do the itinerary around South Arabia and the Suez Canal. 2009 Cruised with Costa, Expensive but o.k. liked Itinerary. 2010 Already booked on a Costa cruise Dubai to Venice 'ship crashed killing 3 crew in Sharm el Sheik'. (Our cruise cancelled days prior to sailing). 2011 (Jan) we were going to book Concordia but went for a cruise a few weeks later on the latest ship. 'Concordia Sunk Killing 30+ 2011 (Feb) Another Costa ship hits the headlines, no power afloat in Indian Ocean, 'towed for 4 days to safety' This is the differences we have found crising with Costa 'post Concordia' Tipping, 6 Euros per person a day 'taken out' of your account for tips, NO OPTION! Because of this it was found that about 40% of the crew where unhelpful to be polite.This normal ruitine for Costa. No 24hr buffet, have to eat in restaurant as after 5pm only a stagnant pizza available left under heated light in buffet area. On Formal night no option if you wanted food you had to go to the Formal Meal or wait for the floppy Pizza at 2100. (Nothing else just a portion of pizza) Breakfast, Warm and disgusting, have to go back and forth to other end of deck to track down bread, butter, and various items hence food now cold and inedible. The Buffet and Restaurant are very clean but no control over hand sanitizers, they need to be more visible and have a crew member to warn guests who walk past. Reason for that is today is the first day I have felt a little better, dhiaorea eased after two weeks and now not as nauseous, as for my partner show is very ill and has attended the GP who said its food poisoning!!!!!!!! On deck 2 for the whole 17 days trip there was a couple of areas the smell of Human Excrement was evident walking past was putrid and literally made us sick, NO ACTION WAS EVER TAKEN AS THE SMELL WAS ALWAYS THERE. Free A4 daily paper now 3 Euros Free Cinema now 9 Euros No midnight buffet Cannot use restaurant for breakfast or dinner Service in restaurant bad (takes 2 hours to complete meal) if waiters not singing after meal for guests. Now charged for room service No tea or Coffee served after normal evening meal in restaurant, unless you wish to BUY a coffee? Breakfast, appalling, bacon slices of pure uncooked fat every day and re cooked foul tasting sausage, over boiled eggs, and watery scrambled eggs. Teatime, menu exactly the same no difference, just substandard cheap food. Evening Meal, Basic and not to cruise line standard, little variation, warm, and a fish dish that made us all ill on the table. Free Shuttle Bus NOT FREE, (Always 6 Euros ) except for places like Salaha where they take you to the dock gate and are met by taxi drivers in the middle of nowhere who want to charge you 50 Euros an hour, We walked for well over an hour it's just desert Embarking/Disembarking (Could give so many examples)................. Old man just short 90 rears AND his wife both in wheelchairs 6 hours waiting for a bus transfer then flight just taken off board early am. no food and very stressed.? These poor people where on their 62nd anniversary and were supposed to be on the Captains table, messages are left no on a ships website informing them to attend? HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO UNDERSTAND THAT? - They missed their captains table and didn't even get a cake as they expected, these are GOLD RATED Costa passengers???? At 11am last day on board and awaiting travel to airport my partner asked the waiter is she could have a drink of water from buffet area, HE SAID NO, as we are no longer on the cruise, just as an example. There is one thing you can be sure if reader, I don't tell lies, I have never in my life complained or sent a letter like this but all I can say is if you book don't say you were never warned. People and friends make your holiday and that is what got us all through this trip, we will have to put this one down to experience as we have luckily always had fantastic cruise but sadly on this occasion Costa Cruise have lost the plot, ant to anyone who is on their first or srcond cruise (THIS STANDARD IS NOT THE NORM ITS BETTER EVERYWERE ELSE) To go into everything in depth this critic would end up in book form, on the plus side the Entertainment on stage was good except for one show were we watched a Frank Sinatra singing on VIDEO. ? The Old Cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
First let me make one assumption about this company. From my experience I must assume that there is a terrible disconnect between Royal Caribbean the company and Royal Caribbean the Ship, Crew and Staff. Therefore I will say up front ... Read More
First let me make one assumption about this company. From my experience I must assume that there is a terrible disconnect between Royal Caribbean the company and Royal Caribbean the Ship, Crew and Staff. Therefore I will say up front that I trust and respect the Ships Crew and Staff immensely. I cannot say the same about the Company folks.PLEASE READ THE LAST FEW PARAGRAPHS, even if you skim through the rest.I left for my 16 day voyage with eager anticipation and hopefulness of a wonderful trip, sadly the first day was marked with Aircraft troubles between The States and Dubai. I had to rebook to fly into Abu Dhabi, missing Dubai altogether. I immediately contacted Royal Caribbean and they advised that this would pose no trouble what-so-ever and that the Ship and Crew would be expecting me the following day in Abu Dhabi. This was NOT the case. Once I arrived at the port in Abu Dhabi no one there was the wiser. It took quite a bit of explaining and pleading with the port security to give me approval for me to gain entrance to the port. Bear in mind its 98f degrees and I'm not the only one trying to board. Once at the ship, again no one seemed to be expecting us. After lots of confusion and answering the same questions over and over again we were finally aboard. Again there was total confusion by the staff. The ship itself is dated in decor. The overall appearance is tired and looks worn. Lots of fake effects with notes of brass, glass and lots and lots of mirrors.The food was hardly edible and after 5 days at sea starting to look as tired and worn as the ship herself. If you wish to order room service from the 3 or 4 items offered, get the cold salad, because when it does finally arrive it'll be cold, what ever it was. Oh and there is a "late-night" surcharge, so be prepared. Of course there are NO other dining options for late night, so why not try to make a few extra bucks! The specialty dining rooms do offer some refuge from the boring and uninspired food in the two "free" dining rooms, but not by much. If they aren't closed for a private function (as on my cruise the majority of the nights they were), it might be worth the extra money just for an escape.Bear in mind that EVERYTHING has a dollar attached to it. At dinner when ordering a bottle of wine, FIRST you MUST present your "Sea-Pass" card before they will even consider serving you. This is cheap. I over heard many of my fellow passengers complaining and moaning about the pricing on aboard. One man claimed to be charged for an envelope at the front desk, and the over all attitude was sorrowful that things had to be this way.I went to play BINGO one day and was asked for 36 dollars for four cards. The prize if I was so lucky? A "Will & Kate" Union Jack Flag from the decorations on the ship for the previous days Royal Wedding tribute. Thats right 36 bucks for their garbage!I went to yoga, one of the few activities offered that I actually had interest. 12 dollar fee please. Keep in mind this is a 16 day cruise.You can quickly figure out that Royal Caribbean figured out early that anything of slight interest (which there are few and far between) they'll charge for. If you would rather spend your days listening to dull lectures or stringing beads for "jewelry" class thats fine, though I see no reason to leave the "old-folks home" to do that.The majority of people just hung out and waited for it to be over.The entertainment was on par with the cheapest of Atlantic City lounge performances, and although the shows are included, again this was a 16 day cruise. Lots of the same shows repeating. Gross.No lets get juicy!The ship left me stranded in Italy. I was to meet the ship in the port of Livorno, one of its last ports of call. I had rented a car in Rome and drove up through Tuscany. On board NO ONE on the crew even hinted or suggested that I should do otherwise. It was reasonable to believe that the ship would meet me in Livorno. This did NOT happen. They left me STRANDED with out my life sustaining medications. They left me STRANDED, with out clothing or personal items. They left me STRANDED with out advise or consul as to what I should do. When I called Royal Caribbean to ask where the ship was after running around the port for 3 hours looking, they offered NO explanation. I was totally ON MY OWN at this point. To Date they have still offered NO explanation.I had to find arrangements to get to Rome in the middle of the night on a standing room only train that was pitch black dark and stank of Calcutta in the summer. I had to cough up 300 bucks to change my ticket home, I had to cough up money on top of money on top of money to see that I got home safely and TO DATE, Royal Caribbean had offered NO assistance in returning my personal items left on board, leaving it completely up to me to arrange getting these items home. They are now stuck in US Customs for how long? I cant get an answer. Royal Caribbean has NOT even so much as offered me an apology. PLEASE consider these last few paragraphs before EVER giving them your money. It is imperative while traveling that you have trust that your interests are being looked after. My experience shows that this is NOT the case with Royal Caribbean. They are more than happy to play their game, and more than happy to ignore things that disrupt their game. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Arrived at 1700 after 4hr(from London!)journey to T5 to find No reps( all gone home at 1500!) Nothing! 120 elderly passengers in a daze.....apparently abandoned. So home we went. 3 days later, SH contacted us preening themselves,they ... Read More
Arrived at 1700 after 4hr(from London!)journey to T5 to find No reps( all gone home at 1500!) Nothing! 120 elderly passengers in a daze.....apparently abandoned. So home we went. 3 days later, SH contacted us preening themselves,they had found plane from STN. Great flight TITAN Thank you. Arrived 2400 in Dubai ushered on, and away we sailed. Following day Captain announced 3 ports will NOT be visited in order that he can keep to "schedule". Consequently spent DAYS drifting at 8 knots! to waste time so the schedule could be resumed. Captains welcome "party" consisted mainly of him telling of his childhood days... of being sick.. Is this really a superior cruising company? Ship comfortable, Catering and hotel staff wonderful, Food very good. Ship management? dreadful.and organisation seemed to be a "dark art" to them. Passengers,some quite amazing for their years. Mostly a jolly good crowd. Ports we did visit were very interesting. Sad we had to berth in coal docks, on account of cheapness. Immigration formalities: almost as bad as Russia. After 50yrs in the business you would have thought they had built up some port/agents relationships, as they were all repeat ports. What a thoroughly depressing way to spend Christmas and New Year!! Highlights were the spirit of the passengers and our lecturers. Not at all what we were expecting from a company of quality and stature! If you can remember Katy Boyle: Swan Hellenic Nil pointes !! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We are seasoned cruisers, 15 so far, but our first with Costa and having read numerous CC reviews decided to take a chance amidst much trepidation. We need not have worried, everything was great, better in fact in some instances from our ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers, 15 so far, but our first with Costa and having read numerous CC reviews decided to take a chance amidst much trepidation. We need not have worried, everything was great, better in fact in some instances from our experiences on Cunard, P&O, Princess and Celebrity. I feel extremely sorry for Costa and its staff for the disparaging feedback given by previous cruisers which I can't really understand, given our experiences on board. We flew out from Heathrow to Dubai, met by Costa staff at both airports and all went well until lengthy immigration delays and a problem with missing luggage which necessitated an hour's wait on board our coach, a lengthy journey through port embarkation also exacerbated our frustration but our luggage arrived very quickly after ourselves. Our stateroom was an outside one with restricted views but with a full length picture window so we were very pleased. It was spacious, comfortable and with lots of wardrobe, drawer space and a good size bathroom. Towels etc were changed daily and bed linen every 4/5 days. We had a complementary bowl of fruit each week and a Daily English newsletter delivered to the cabin as well as the normal daily bulletin showing activities aboard. According to my wife, who is the expert on such matters, this was the cleanest ship we had ever sailed on and everything in cabin and on board generally was spotless. The ship itself was about a year old and was somewhat garish in decor but surprisingly easy to navigate. All the public rooms were on Decks 2/3 and there were helpful signs indicating the direction of restaurants, lounges, theatre etc. Upstairs on Deck 9 was the self service restaurant, adjacent to the main outdoor deck areas, Gymnasium and Sauna and Children's Club. There was plenty of sitting areas, inside and out, and the pool attendants worked very hard removing towels from recliners where selfish passengers left them for lengthy periods to reserve their personal chairs. I have never seen so many beach towels changed during each day on a ship's deck! My only complaint with public rooms was the library, it was small and the choice of English books available was woeful, my tip is that if you are a reader, bring your own books with you. Internet access was available in the library but it was also limited and expensive. Costa provided a very useful Interactive Service at various points on the lower decks where you could validate your own credit card for on board settlement of your account and book excursions and shuttle buses with your cruise card, without having to queue at the relevant Desks. We ate on first sitting in the main dining room, a table for 8, with 6 Brits and 2 Aussies. Costa try to put all same language speakers together which is a good idea when you see the diversity of nationalities on board. We were extremely satisfied with the variety, quality and quantity of food available. The dining room was noisy and the tables rather close together but it didn't really inconvenience anyone other than the wait staff. Pasta were delicious and I was very pleased with the different types of fish in both starters and mains. I do, however, readily acknowledge that Costa could not approach the standards of steaks on offer on US cruise ships! We had breakfast and luncheon in the self service restaurant daily and were very happy with the quality and variety of food on offer, greater than we have experienced before. We took out the Costa X1 drinks package which provided beers, wines, soft drinks and bottled waters in unlimited supply at lunchtime and evening meal time. An extremely worthwhile purchase which I can strongly recommend. Bar prices were not cheap and attracted the US style 15% service charge on top. Costa did, however, on most days provide a "Happy Hour", 2 drinks for the price of one. Daytime activities were primarily adjacent to the pool on Deck 9 and were entered into with great gusto by a number of passengers. It was quite noisy but good humoured and entertaining to watch with lots of dance and exercise classes, team games and darts, table football/tennis competitions on offer. If it became too noisy there was always the option of moving to another outdoor part of the ship! The gymnasium was large and very well equipped but not used personally. There was a Children's Club on board but there were only a handful of small children on the cruise and we weren't really aware of their presence. Service was excellent, all members of the crew with whom we came into contact were polite, helpful and seemed cheerful at all times. Our cabin steward was "out of this world" in efficiency as were our 2 table waiters in the dining room and they took great pleasure in putting on impromptu entertainment on gala nights. Staff in the self service restaurants were always extremely quick to clear previously used tables and provide fresh cutlery. Evening entertainment was varied. The theatre was large and well laid out. The dance troupe were Russian and we have never seen a better choreographed group on board any ship, our only complaint was that we wanted to see them more often. There were singers, classical musicians, jugglers & acrobats and Arab dancers as well as a ventriloquist. All of these were acceptable but we have experienced better. Attendance in the theatre brought home the multi linguistic situation whereby the Cruise Director had to introduce and finalise the performances in 7 languages. Somewhat lengthy but after a while you got used to it! The ship stopped at 8 intermediate ports on its voyage from Dubai to Savona, Fujairah, Muscat, Salalah, Aden, Safaga, Sokhna, Alexandria and Naples. There were excursions organised for each different destination but we didn't avail ourselves of them, preferring instead to "do our own thing" with a like minded bunch of CC chums. We were only advised on the day before our departure that the stop at Sharm El Sheikh had been replaced by one at Sokhna which was somewhat of a surprise. As I can only provide a review on 6 ports, I will give a brief outline of the others we visited. Fujairah - very little on offer from Costa, most people opted for a shuttle bus into town and visited the hypermarket and Lulu's Department Store which did actually offer a wide range of bargain clothing etc. Verdict - poor. Salalah, Oman - again, not much on offer by Costa. We took a minibus for 14 and visited the Souk, Mosque and beach where we experienced a herd of camels being driven through our group! Quite an interesting photo opportunity. Verdict - not a lot to see. Sokhna - substitute port and nearer to Cairo than Alexandria so Costa organised more tours to Cairo etc. We had visited that city with Celebrity last October so decided not to bother. We used the shuttle bus to the port gates where we were virtually imprisoned whilst rival taxi drivers tried to sell their wares. It was so intrusive we decided not to bother and returned to the ship. Verdict - a complete waste of time. Savona - Destination Port - An extremely picturesque Italian seaside town with lots of history and culture. Can be seen quite easily in half a day. Verdict - A nice way to finish the cruise. Disembarkation wasn't until 13.30hrs so we were able to spend the morning strolling round Savona, relax on board then have lunch before leaving. Then came the disappointment as we patiently waited in the lounge to be cleared to leave. Someone obviously forgot to make the announcement and we were delayed by an hour. The coach driver outside was furious and we were late in reaching Milan airport for our flight back to Heathrow. The only redeeming feature was that we didn't have to spend so long in the airport and our flight to Heathrow landed 15 minutes early. In summary, our views of Costa are extremely positive, we will definitely be using them again on more than one occasion. They represent good value for money. But remember, they cater for many different nationalities and we are in the minority!!!! That said, our fellow passengers were a joy to be with. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We've tried to review this cruise while noting comments that reflect general information and separate those conditions that were solely due to the ship being at 40 percent capacity due to flights grounded by the volcanic ash cloud. We ... Read More
We've tried to review this cruise while noting comments that reflect general information and separate those conditions that were solely due to the ship being at 40 percent capacity due to flights grounded by the volcanic ash cloud. We are a married couple, ages 64 and 69, who are reasonably fit, not gourmet dinners, not sun worshipers, who enjoy a variety of activities and who choose a cruise for its destinations. This is only our third cruise, so we have limited previous experience to draw on. Our major goal on this trip was to see Dubai and the Pyramids, and that was accomplished. We enjoyed the cruise, found the ship met our needs, and the staff for the most part to be helpful, and all were friendly and cheerful. We feel they took adequate precautions as we traversed the "sensitive area" where the Somalia pirates are active, and were kept well-informed by the Captain. Plus he has a delightful sense of humor, giving daily briefings, and was often seen about the ship, even eating in the Windjammer! Ship info: Not new or state of the art, but nicely designed and decorated. Layout was convenient, except the elevators in the Centrum. There were 5 elevators in the area but it was difficult to see them all at once. If you were waiting by one, another could arrive to pick you up at the other end, and could depart before you got aboard. Not bad as we were less than half full, but it could be a problem when the ship was full. WiFi Services: Only a few of the Wifi "hot spots" were actually functioning, and capacity there was limited to use by less than 20 cruisers. Also no staff member monitored those areas, so problems meant joining the line at Guest Services. Fitness Center: Nicely designed, with lots of equipment, but I'm not sure that would hold true when the ship is full. Nice and cool for workouts, and they do have a water fountain. Excellent view from the treadmills! Jogging Track: Fairly narrow, with deck chairs encroaching on the path at several points. Lots of guests use this - they should have more space! Deck Chairs: They're everywhere yet those in prime locations are "reserved" in spite of RC policy. And so close together you needed to back into them. Could be a problem with a ship full of sun-worshipers....... Shuffleboard court: Same problem as jogging trail. Cinema: Adequate capacity, quiet setting, but railings blocked some of the screen in the upper seats. Nice selection of recent, general interest movies. Miniature golf, rock climbing wall both were enjoyable, well located. Shopping Area: Like on any other cruise ship - with mix of inexpensive promotional items and high end goods. I wish they had carried some souvenirs of the various ports for those of us so busy seeing the sites there was no time to shop in port. Pacifica Theater: Nicely designed and comfortable, not too crowded with our reduced load, but who knows when the ship is full. Casino, Bars: We didn't spend much time in either but the Casino was large, and there were lots of bars, but sadly a lot of lonely bar-tenders on this trip. Other activities: We took advantage of dance lessons, enrichment lectures, trivia games, demonstrations, and the like. They had numerous activities with a good mix to appeal to many interests, but it could easily get crowded if the ship was full! Entertainment: We saw most of the shows, and enjoyed each one. There was an effort to vary the entertainers but maintain broad appeal. Some were sensational, but you can't hit a home run every night! Embarkation / Disembarkation: Smooth on both ends for us. Stateroom: We initially had one of those stinky bathrooms - smelled like urine although it was clean. We complained, they cleaned it again, but once the bleach smell wore off, the odor was back. We complained again. They sent the maintenance worker who acknowledged he smelled it too, but couldn't find the source. He replaced the shower curtain, which of course didn't help, then suggested shampooing the carpets.... Since the ship wasn't full, we were permitted to move down the hall. One thing we did notice in the new room was a working vent fan which we don't remember from the first room. Could it be that simple? This is a complaint that has been noted before on this ship, and could ruin an entire trip if you couldn't relocate. This needs to be addressed by RC, pronto. The good news it that the room had a real KING size bed, or 2 full size twins. The cabin was small but adequate. The bathroom however is the smallest of the 3 ships we've used, with a flimsy shower curtain "enclosing" a 2 foot circle. And forget amenities - there's only a bar of soap and a shampoo dispenser. Excursions: We booked one with RC online months before sailing, and one while onboard. Both met our expectations, and staff was helpful. They are pricier than most so we did book a couple of successful tours with a private operator. This is one place were you need to be careful - these are not locations were you would want to be stranded - especially in Egypt. Dining: We found the Minstrel Dining Room nicely appointed and the staff very helpful and accommodating. The menu however seemed to cater to vegetarians and featured at lot of Asian and curried selections. Not appealing to us, but the food we did order was very good. The Windjammer menu didn't vary much but was adequate though basic. Toast was hard, some hot foods weren't, but when you cook for a crowd, these things happen. I loved the made to order omelets! We gained enough weight to attest to the available quantity / quality of the food. We did not try either of the 2 "specialty" restaurants. Oman: This port was a surprise! We took a private tour of old forts but had not realized it involved a drive to the interior (Nizwi) of more than 2 hours. The forts weren't worth the long trip, but our guide filled the trip with interesting info about this country. Like prior to 1970 there were no paved roads and they all rode camels. Muscat is now a new, modern city with a liberal Moslem population where I wish we had been able to spend more time. Those that did seemed to enjoy the stop. Safaga: It's the gate-way to any trip to Luxor. The city itself is a dump, there's nothing to see there I wouldn't recommend getting off the ship without an organized tour!!! It's a 3.5 hour trip to Luxor but worth the long drive to see the Valley of the Kings, etc. It was HOT - bring a umbrella for shade - but fascinating for its historical significance. Guards armed with machine guns are everywhere - barricades, check-points abound, there's even a guard on the coach. We did feel safe but the poverty in Egypt was difficult to witness. Sharm el Sheikh: A very nice resort, not typical of Egypt. We enjoyed a Jeep Safari and a camel ride of about 20 minutes to a Bedouin camp arranged by RC. Pricey but fun. Other guests had good experiences on other tours. Worth getting off the ship for any reason. Alexandria: Another very long day on the guarded bus, but worth it to see the pyramids!!!! Distance wasn't as long, but they put speed bumps every 5 to 10 miles which makes the traffic all but stop - and a top speed of about 60 km/hr on this main thoroughfare from Alexandria to Cairo! The vendors are like mosquitoes - they're everywhere, and they are insistent! Sometimes no isn't enough but when you see where and how they live, you understand their desperation to make a sale! We encountered a friend on a different coach who was robbed at the pyramids that day. Be very careful there but go - it's worth all the aggravation! Barcelona: It rained all day so our sightseeing was greatly curtailed. We'll have to come back to have a better look. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010

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