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63 Costa neoRomantica Cruise Reviews

We did a cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. This was our 17th cruise and so we certainly love the lifestyle. We were looking for an Asia cruise and this cruise provided the time and itinerary we were after. The whole trip ... Read More
We did a cruise to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. This was our 17th cruise and so we certainly love the lifestyle. We were looking for an Asia cruise and this cruise provided the time and itinerary we were after. The whole trip was booked via an online agency and there were no problems with the booking. We found the Costa website a little difficult but managed to navigate it and booked our shore tours before we left. The ship left from Singapore. No problems with flights or arriving at terminal. When we went to embark there seemed to be some confusion. Embarkation was late and we were given three different times. However, we made it aboard but our cabin was not ready. We headed for a buffet lunch and then went to the cabin. The cabin was great. Roomy, spotless and a great ensuite. The cabin steward was helpful for the entire trip and nothing was an issue. His service was exemplary. We were on second siting dinner. Our table allocation was fine and the people on the table were tremendous. We made plenty of new friends with them and shared many laughs. We met up during the day and spent lots of time together. This was just as well as the entertainment during the day was woeful. It was very repetitive. As an example on one day there were three trivia quizzes! This is not much variety for entertainment. Teams needed to be titled by a country as the World Soccer Cup was on and so they were sticking with the theme. This was a good idea but the scores for the trivia quizzes were accumulative over the whole cruise. If you didn't attend one session you couldn't possibly win. There was no activities for younger people at all. Often an activity was led in multiple languages which was great but if you couldn't follow the accent you just missed out. We often felt belittled as we didn't speak Italian. One person we met on the trip was actually told by the office star that they shouldn't have come if they didn't speak Italian. The meals were fine and well presented. There was a great variety and never a shortage of any dish. The ship itself could be fine but needs some major refurbishments. The pools were crowded and small and the pool surrounds needed maintenance. The outdoor carpet needed replacing and so signs were placed warning of dangerous surface rather than having it repaired. There was no picture theatre on board or any other form of watching a movie. The TV in the room only had tow English speaking channels - one a news service, but over a dozen Italian language channels even though a large percentage of the passengers were English speaking. Due to language issues the night entertainment in the show room had to be limited. It would be difficult to run a comedy show in six languages. The entertainment in the show room was fine. Twice we went to karaoke only to find it had been cancelled. The disco often didn't open at all. The ports of call were brilliant but the shore tours were very mixed. The ship berthed in Tianjin and we were able to purchase a ride to town on shuttle service. We were given a map of Tianjin form the ship staff only to find that the shuttle bus actually took us to Tugganu which was 40 kilometres out of Tianjin. The bus driver explained that we were nowhere near where the map was and we needed to catch a taxi for a one hour ride to get to the town centre. We were in a starbucks coffee carpark and there was nothing around so we, along with everyone else on the bus, went straight back to the ship. The same issue happened with Cheju where we told it was a shopping tour but we were taken to a duty free shopping centre and as the ship had collected our passports we couldn't buy anything. When I put my grievances in writing to the shore tours manager when getting back on the ship I was informed that Costa had fulfilled their obligations and taken us to a shopping centre. It was not their fault that we couldn't buy anything! They were anything but helpful. We will continue to cruise but never again with Costa. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We've just returned from the May 1, 2010 sailing of the Costa Romatica out of Singapore (stops in Ho Chi Mihn, Da Nang, Hong Kong, Manila, Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Sari Begawan). While many reviews of the ship, staff and Costa line in ... Read More
We've just returned from the May 1, 2010 sailing of the Costa Romatica out of Singapore (stops in Ho Chi Mihn, Da Nang, Hong Kong, Manila, Kota Kinabalu and Bandar Sari Begawan). While many reviews of the ship, staff and Costa line in general have been pretty tough, my overall assessment is that this was a decent trip and the destinations were worth the problems. Having said that, many of the points raised in the tough reviews are true and lots of improvements are needed. This review comes from a very experienced business traveler with high but realistic standards and experience on four other cruises on Princess, Norwegian and Carnival. This cruise was my first experience with Costa. My wife and I are Canadians in our early 40s and traveled with our 1.5 year old son. We chose this cruise despite reading the negative reviews based on the itinerary. We really wanted to visit Vietnam and a cruise is a great way to see some harder-to-visit places with a young child. The Ship This ship is older, but is in decent condition and still has many elegant touches. The large lounge on the 8th level deck is particularly elegant, albeit quite retro-looking. It is a small one so is easy to figure out but lacks some amenities of other ships. As other reviews note, Costa appears to have a far more liberal smoking policy than other ships and the corridors had a fairly heavy smoke smell. I am very sensitive to smoke, so am pleased to report this did not penetrate the cabin at all. One of the other problems is that on three occasions, there was a strong smell of fuel on our deck. While it was quickly addressed (within an hour or so), it did lead me to wonder what was the source of the problem. One of the other issues was the very weak air conditioning. AC was non-existent in the common areas like elevator banks, weak in the halls and cabins, but decent in the dining rooms and show lounge. The Cabin We had an outside cabin (for some reason Costa would only allow us to book an outside cabin with our small child) on the 4th level. The cabin was in decent shape, a good size, and had a reasonable amount of storage space. The furnishings were fine and everything worked. The room had both European and American power outlets, which was helpful. The carpet was filthy - it had stains everywhere and needed replacing, not cleaning. The bathroom was functional but wasn't well cleaned upon our arrival. There were two dried contact lenses on the bathroom counter as well as some hair bands from a previous guest in the shower. The shower also had mildew in several places. On the positive side, I did mention this to our cabin steward and she did a "deep clean" of the shower on the second day and removed most of the mildew. One of the other complaints was the water supply. There was no cold water at all in the cabin. In fact, even when on a full cold setting, the water was almost hot. I am not sure if this was due to the steamy Asian itinerary, but was strange to me. More importantly, the water was also quite yellow on several occasions. I suspect this was due to receiving different water supplies in different ports, but it did seem to vary from day to day. Some days were fine, others less so. The Itinerary/Tours This was the primary reason for our choice of this cruise (and it appeared to be the same for almost everyone on board) and we weren't disappointed at all on this score. The itinerary was fantastic and the problems we encountered on board were certainly compensated by the fantastic itinerary and tours. We did Costa-arranged tours in Ho Chi Mihn (Exploration of Ho Chi Mihn), Da Nang (My Son Holy See and Shopping at Hoi An), Manila (Tagaytay Tour and Panoramic Manila), Kota Kinabalu (Rainforest Trecking, Sun and Sea) and Bandar Sari Begawan (Brunei City Orientation). I'd have to say that all tours were good and some were excellent. They were a bit expensive (not too much more than other lines though), but the tour operators were very good. Several tours provided bottled water and small gifts (like ballcaps) which were unexpected, but appreciated. Vietnam was definitely the highlight for us. We loved the Da Nang tour and despite the extreme heat, had a great time even with a 1.5 year old in tow. The Vietnamese were incredibly warm and generous and despite visiting about 60 countries in five continents, wowed me. We saw workers in straw hats behind oxen and water buffalo in rice fields - and it wasn't a Disney-like show for tourists. An old vendor selling trinkets offered my boy a little gift from his shop and wouldn't take any money when offered. The visit forced me to think about how well we live in the West and, like many other visits to developing countries, reminded me to worry less about the petty stuff about which we spend too much time worrying. Of course, many of the other places we visited were rich and wonderful in their own ways. Singapore is an amazing and fun Asian bubble and Brunei showed its enormous oil wealth alongside its rich and beautiful Muslim heritage. My photos of the mosques are amazing. As we had friends in both Singapore and Hong Kong, we did our own things and both ports are very easy to do that. As Costa was involved in choosing the local tour operators and setting the itinerary, I'd give them high marks for that. The Food/Dining The food quality was also quite high. It was clear that money was spent bringing in good quality ingredients (cheeses were excellent and portions were large). Each dinner had seven possible courses (appetizer, soup, pasta, main dish, salad, cheese and dessert). This is where the Italian heritage of the cruise line showed - the food quality and preparation was very good. Many pastas were fantastic (my favourite course). There were always many options for each course and the menu continued to change throughout the cruise (I'm not sure there were any repeats in 14 nights). As a North American, many options were more suited to the European palate (different meats and/or cuts and the preparation was quite different than at home), but I can't imagine anyone not finding something to their liking. I didn't like everything I ordered, but that's the case with anyone, anywhere. I think other reviewers were far too hard on this aspect of the cruise. Costa did a good job in the kitchen. I heard good things about the pizza restaurant, but due to its terrible hours (only opened from 9 pm to midnight), we didn't get to go a single time (remember, we had a 1.5 year old with us). My major complaint about the dining were the restrictive times and options. Several days into the cruise we skipped our early seating dinner and were surprised to learn that the buffet was not open for dinner. If you missed dinner, the only option was to order from a limited list of room service items (with a two euro charge). I have to admit, our Norwegian cruise really sold us on the "anytime" dining idea. The buffet was open for breakfast and lunch and was of surprisingly good quality. A few special stations were open (made to order eggs, fresh pasta and other items) at each meal time as well. I do not understand why a small buffet wasn't available for dinner. There were no specialty restaurants on board. There was an outside grill for hamburgers and hotdogs at lunch, but these again were not up to North American standards. Both the hotdogs and hamburgers were gross. Chicken and lunch steaks were available and were a bit better at the grill. As many have asked, the buffet had soft ice-cream machines open at certain times, but while it was ok, it wasn't great. My comments about the service in the dining area will follow. Staff/Service The service levels on the ship were a mixed bag to be honest. I struggle to write this section as several staff people were very good (Nilesh, our assistant waiter was a super nice guy), but overall, Costa staff were noticeably less friendly and service-oriented than other lines. I generally hate to make generalizations, but I will make a few. Typically, staff from the Phillipines (whether on a ship or not) are among the most kind and hardworking people you'd ever meet. You have to work pretty hard to get a Filipino to stop smiling, but it appeared that something did just that. Many, many staff seemed quite unhappy and I found that I would often say hello or smile long before they did. I suspect this may be due to the ship's management. I'm generalizing again, but the Italian management staff was quite unfriendly and seemed to brush by passengers without a greeting or even a smile. I did hear that staff wages were recently cut drastically and the ship wasn't full, so perhaps that affect staff morale. Still, the ship seemed to run reasonably well. Meals were delivered, rooms were cleaned, tours were arranged, so it wasn't all that bad. But as many of us travelers know, the attitude of staff towards the guests makes a huge difference in one's perceptions of the experience. If other Costa sailings are like this (and reviews suggest this may be true), a major tune up of management is in order. I will say that despite Costa being part of the Carnival family, it definitely does not have an American level of service. The Passengers Let me add that while other reviewers didn't like the fact that announcements were made in many languages or the degree of diversity among the passengers, this was a nice thing about the cruise from my perspective. I'd say that the largest groups on the ship were Italians, Australians, New Zealanders, Germans, French and Russians. As is typical of longer and pricier cruises, it was an older crowd. I really enjoyed meeting people from around the world and everyone was super nice to my little boy. I was surprised to see several children (perhaps 10-15) and even a baby younger than our son. We did visit Costa's children's program a few times and I can see why it is well-regarded. The Italian manager there was just excellent and his staff was very kind too. Pricing We paid about $2200 US per person for our outside cabin for a 14 night cruise. After an awesome deal on a South American cruise with Norwegian last year ($750 for a 12 night cruise for a balcony), this did seem high to us. I will say that staff was definitely not pushy about trying to get more money out of passengers like on other lines. I can't recall anyone asking us to buy or upgrade anything, which is a difference between the American lines. Photos were available, but not in your face or forced on you. There was a modest amount of shopping and prices didn't seem too bad. Internet usage seemed far less expensive than on other cruises. I believe I had 2-3 hours of time for about 30 euros. Everything was priced in euros, but the financial crisis seems to have helped us as even our Canadian dollar was at a decent exchange rate with the euro. Other than cruise tours, we didn't spend a great deal of money. We had the odd soft-drink or glass of wine and prices seemed about the same as other cruises (expensive but not ridiculous). I will say that bottled water seemed pricy especially as the ship water was so terrible. Either provide passable tap water or don't charge so much for the bottled stuff is my opinion. Laundry services were available but at a fairly high price. There was no ability to launder your own stuff in pay machines (I liked Princess for that). Other lines have at least had an occasional deal to do a bunch of stuff at a flat rate (all you can stuff in a bag). Costa did offer this, but only the second to last day. On such a long cruise, I would have thought they'd do this a few times (like other lines). Drinkers may have benefited from a drink package (some had to be purchased in advance). We didn't do too much of this, so a package wouldn't have made sense. Traveling with a Small Child As I mentioned earlier, I think a cruise is a perfect way for parents with small children to travel. This was Kennedy's second cruise. We took him on a South American sailing with Norwegian (Buenos Aires to Valparaiso) when he was six-months old and on this Asian sailing at 1.5 years. He is a good traveler (he's been on 150 flights and four continents now), but I think most kids could do this more exotic sailing with some degree of ease. The time zone change was tough (it is exactly 12 hours different for us), but our trip was almost three weeks in total so there was time to adjust. The ship was well set up for kids (high chairs for dinner, the ability to request certain foods, milk given to us by the litre, a play-yard to use for sleeping, a decent kids club and play area). I should say that while the ship had two small pools, both had salt-water and were very deep (the shallow pool was over five feet deep at a minimum). This wasn't great for our boy as even in my arms he didn't like being in such deep water. As a result of traveling with a child, I'm not able to evaluate the evening shows. We did attend a few lectures on Asian history with an Italian professor and they were very good. While it was some work (the heat, pushing a stroller in tight Asian streets and alleys), we had a blast showing our son another part of the world. We have some amazing photos of him in Asia which we'll proudly show him in future years. Cruises really do allow you as a parent to see some exotic places while offering your child a degree of structure, safety and standard food to eat. The best part for parents who have to pack a million items is that you can pack and unpack once, while seeing many terrific places. Kennedy has his Hep A and B shots (and the other standard shots for kids of his age), but we did not have to give him malaria pills or other tougher treatments. We enjoyed almost everything with him (we couldn't do the Cu Chi tunnels in Vietnam as he was too young). We were careful to bring a few food items with us to avoid having to feed him on the street, but otherwise, he enjoyed everything with us. The other passengers (likely as most were grandparents) were terrific and patient if he had the odd cry or fussy moment. Overall Assessment I'd give this cruise a B minus overall. The itinerary and tours were excellent, the food quality was very good, but the service and some ship amenities were lacking. I wouldn't recommend this cruise to those wanting the full, pampered experience available on some sailings and lines. My first taste with Costa was that it is a lower to mid-range line that is in need of some major management overhauls. Still, I'd give them another chance and would do this cruise again even with the problems as the itinerary was so fantastic. If you are looking for a great itinerary and don't mind some challenges on board, then this cruise is for you. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
The Ship: Romantica is quite old and dated. It is clean enough on first glance, but quite tired looking. No effort at all has been made to beautify it anywhere. There are no green potplants on the decks outside the lifts. There are no ... Read More
The Ship: Romantica is quite old and dated. It is clean enough on first glance, but quite tired looking. No effort at all has been made to beautify it anywhere. There are no green potplants on the decks outside the lifts. There are no bright paintings or art work on the walls anywhere the ship is basic and provided the means to get from port to port but not much else. We chose this cruise for the ports of call. We would not travel on Costa again. We found that the drinks were expensive, particularly for the southern hemisphere passengers as it was all charged in Euro. A can of coke was 2.7Euro!! Cabin: - Our cabin was on deck 4 and an outside cabin. It was quite roomy with plenty of storage space. The bed was hard and just OK but the mattress really needed to be renewed. It was sagging. The furnishings were once again adequate, but needed to be renewed. The ensuite was clean and a good size. The shower is on an extension hose and ours would not stay upright on the holder. Once the cabin steward knew that it was broken he got a maintenance person to come and fix it immediately. Our Cabin Steward - was Fillipino and he was great. I have read other reviews and they all commend the hardworking cabin staff and I do too. Ours was exceptional. I have heard and read on Cruise Critic that the cabin staff have had a pay CUT recently and they don't get paid the prepaid gratuties that we and I am sure many other passengers would have prepaid. This is unacceptable by Costa and should not be permitted, but unfortunately the cabin staff can't do anything about it as they need the jobs and any complaints mean they would nothave a job. Disgusting and greedy of Costa and something needs to be done about it. Our young cabin steward was wonderful. He was hard working and did longhours. He always had time to stop and talk to us and always a ready smile. My regret it that we could not do anything about ensuring his "tips" would be paid to him by Costa. The certainly work very hard and deserve and by rights should be given this money. Dining Staff: we had a wonderful Chinese waitress in the evenings and she was very good, my only criticism is that as we were first sitting the staff was under pressure to get us out of the dining room as quickly as possible to they could set up for the second sitting passengers. The food was just OK...... very monotonous afer a week. On this ship you can only eat dinner in the formal dining room. It would have been good to have the buffet offering food at night too as we and others didn't want to eat formally every night. The lunch was served in the buffet and probably the best food of the day, although getting it was difficult lining up like at a "Coles" Cafe trying to fill our plates along with all the other passengers and people butting in. Not good at all. Breakfast was also served in the buffet and once again a struggle to get to the buffet and get the food and then even more difficult to navigate through the queues to find a table. The aisles are far too narrow to walk down with everyone waiting to try and get their food and the ship staff trying to replenish the food too. The ONLY FREE thing on the ship was the "cold" water, Even this was never cold, usually very hot actually and oneneeded to add the ice from the same machine to get the water cold. We filled up our drink bottles at the water machine every night. There are about 5 machines and all of them are in the buffet on Deck 8.!!! Why don't they have them scattered around the ship. No sense really. SMOKING: - this was permitted everywhere it seemed. Certainly the Costa staff did nothing to discourage it and people were even smoking cigars and pipes!!!! The main lounge on Deck 8 was always smokey and stunk as did most of the corridors on the ship. The trouble with smokers is they don't care if you don't like it!!! and they certainly made no efforts them selves to be courteous about where they smoked. It was disgusting. Even out at breakfast smoke was puffed into people's faces. Air conditioning: - it was almost non existent in the cabin where it was really needed at night to try and get a good sleep. Other parts of the ship it was freezing cold. Swimming decks: - the pools were nice and warm but there was very little shade for passengers and Costa staff would just come and take the sun umbrellas down if a little breeze blew!!!! There was no consideration given to the passengers at all. Entertainment: - was uninteresting and unispiring apart from one show where there was a tumbling act and a comedian which was from USA. Apart from this the Costa dancers and singers worked hard, but it was all done on the cheap. Costa Officers: These are mostly Italian and could care less about pleasihg the passengers. No effort was made to help even when help was asked for. The officers are just full of their own self importance and no politeness in them at all. Entertainment Crew: these were young, loud and immature. They took no consideration of the age group of this cruise which i would estimate to be on average 55 - 65 yrs of age. The Entertainment crew were very young and just came out and taught the ChaCha or Samba every day for 2 weeks..... no variation.... It was boring. The young woman running the quiz's had a very strong Italian accent and her speaking was sometimes undecipherable,she could care less!!! Even when quite a few English speaking passengers said they coudn't understand her well, she just shrugged her sholders, looked down her nose at us and walked away. Not good customer service at all and yet another bad critisism of the ship and the crew. The meanness and penny pinching of Costa was also shown at the quiz times too, when they would not even give each winning team a small prize. They would only give one prize to one person and to get that if there was more than 1 winning team a member from each team had to throw a dice and the highest number won!!! I am not talkingabout expensive prizes either. Just cheap Costa writing notebooks, or a recycle bag jst big enought to hold a block of chocolate. We are not talking about expensive giveaways here. They were cheap and nasty prizes and the Costa meanness really showed. The ports we went to were great. We did not take any organised tours from the ship as they were expensive even in Euro. We would find a taxi on the wharf or outside the gates and after bartering we would agree on a price for the whole day and the taxi took us in airconditioned comfort to all the places the tours went to, but we didn't have to wait for the slow tour person or sit on an uncomfortable unairconditioned bus as one tour had to in Da Nang. I strongly recommend that you taxi everywhere it is cheaper and much more leisurely. Manila is so dirty and so many young homeless people and slums. It was disgusting place and made me very sad to see so many young children out on the streets begging for money. Filty place where nothing looks to be finished. The roads are rough and potholed, thefootpaths was unfinished and dusty and dirts. Everyone should see this country I think and then they would realise how lucky they are to live in relative comfort and have the oney to holiday from time to time. I now understand why Fillipino's work overseas. Even tho many of them are maids in Arab countries and poorly paid it would be preferable to the miserable brokenlives they would endure in their home country. I feel very sorry for the inhabitants of Manila. It was a dump. Sabbah was great and different again. Lots of slum houses and rubbish everywhere, so unkept, just like Maniala but not quite as bad. Brunei was great, clean and tidy but the port is about a 40 minute drive to the city. You need to get a taxi here and go to the Water Village. this is something else andwell worth the visit. Amazing place. Singapore is wonderful. Great people, great shopping, great sights too. Clean and orderly and a pleasure to be there. Ho Chi Minh was chaotic but exciting too. Loved Vietnam and its people, lots of poor people too and very untidy place with lots of rubbish but not nearly as bad as Manila. Da Nang was great and we also took a taxi to Hoi Ahn a wonderful little vietnamese village, no cars inthe streets and a very different place to visit. Would like to go back to Da Nang and really see the place. Loved China Beach there too. In 10 years time it will be full of resort type hotels as they were all being built already. Overall I would not recommend Costa Cruising to anyone. It was just a very basic cruise, but the price we paid was not basic and certainly all the prices on board were expensive. The shops on board are a waste of time. only 2shops. One of jewellery the other sold bags, cigarettes, cruise t-shirts and a few blingly tops and pashminas but nothing really to even be bothered buying. Very disappointing cruise over all. Arrogant main staff and overworked and underpaid cabin staff. Wake up Costa and start paying your staff what they deserve. You know that they can't fight for themselves as Costa would just put them off so the staff are stuck and obviously Costa don't want passengers to know that staff are not getting their gratutities. Don't go Costa but do go the the ports, each and everyone was different and really worth the visit. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We have never tried a Costa cruise before and when a 7 night itinerary came out for Singapore to Hong Kong (part of a 14 night Singapore - Singapore cruise) we thought we would give it a go. Costa were trying to encourage the Australian ... Read More
We have never tried a Costa cruise before and when a 7 night itinerary came out for Singapore to Hong Kong (part of a 14 night Singapore - Singapore cruise) we thought we would give it a go. Costa were trying to encourage the Australian market and were offering reasonable fares considering the lateness of our booking. We decided to give it a go. I will be making some negative comments in this review, but I must preface them by saying that the weekend we left for Singapore was the very same weekend that left thousands of people stranded all over the world. This was to create some problems for Costa, and may have had an influence on some of our complaints. I should also state that Costa also had many good points, so I do not wish to have people perceive that this is a negative review, just an honest one. We availed ourselves of the on-line check in pages to record our basic data, and when we arrived into Singapore, the bag drop and check in procedures were handled quite well. We walked down the gang plank and onto the deck 5 reception area, only to be met with the pungent smell of stale cigarette smoke. What have we done, we asked ourselves. We did not realize that smoking was allowed inside the boat in every area, except for the Juliette bar and the restaurants. For non smokers this can be a nasty surprise. Australians have now become used to smoking restrictions in public areas, and even the Australian smokers we spoke to, were surprised at the lack of restrictions. This freedom to smoke was to restrict our involvement in many activities that were held in lounges that allowed for smoking. Continuing on the theme of the pursuit for fresh air, leads us to the outdoor areas. The Romantica does not have a promenade deck, only a sun deck (on two levels). There is very little usable shade on these decks, and in essence I expect that the boat was purpose built of Mediterranean cruising, that involved daily port calls. It is more of a floating hotel with a roasting deck on top. To emphasis the "hotel" comment, the non smoking Juliette bar, where we spent most of our time whilst at sea, had port holes, but so high that we could not see out them. Meals and seating. The buffet restaurant delivered both breakfast, lunch and afternoon teas. Whilst the food was palatable, it's menu items were generally of a lesser quality than the main dining room. Hot breakfast selections never seemed to change, and by day 3, cereals and pastries seemed to be the only appetizing items. Conversely, the evening meals were very well presented and of a much higher quality. One looked forward to the evening meal. However, there was one negative, and that was the set seating arrangement. The first sitting was usually at 6:30pm and the second at 8:45pm. We had booked for the first sitting, but were told on day one that we were on the second. We never eat that late, so we complained. We were asked if we could accept the 2nd sitting for that night and it would be sorted out the next night. We complied with the request, knowing the problems that the volcano had caused. (Costa allowed disembarking passengers to stay on the cruise if they could not get back to Europe). Anyway, we actually had room service instead. The next day we were place on a table where no one spoke any English. That was their offer for the remainder of the cruise. We found an unused table in entry to the restaurant and insisted that we use that one, and they obliged. The cabin was wonderful, with a very spacious feel (we had a 2 berth double). The bathroom was equally spacious and was quite a surprise based on our other cruise experiences. The cruise line quoted a refurbishment in 2005, but the room did appear to be much older, but non the less it was very comfortable. The entertainment (after dinner) was also very good, with a much larger variety that most cruise lines we have been on. If you do not like cultured entertainment, like classical piano, opera, etc then you might have a different opinion, but we enjoyed it. It came with the obligatory, dancers and acrobats to boot. Great stuff. We cannot comment the extra activities that were arranged as they were held in a smoking lounge, and so we did not participate. Excursions were handled with great efficiency, and we never had to wait too long to place our order for the next day. They were fractionally more expensive than we expected, and were in Euro's which made it worse. Not terribly good value, but that is more an effect of the poor exchange rate. Because of the smaller numbers disembarking in Hong Kong, the whole process was quite painless, although, they wanted your suitcases out for collection by 1am, which was a bit of a nuisance - just had extra hand luggage for our personal items until we retrieved your baggage quayside. Other comments. The majority of the passengers were Italian, German or French, with some Spanish and about 100 Australians. We never encountered any cultural issues or conflicts other than the smoking one. We were told that Europeans in general do not regard smoking as the health hazard that we have been educated to understand. So, if you don't mind the smoke, and don't mind the exposure to the sun when outside, and don't mind if you cannot speak to your table guests at dinner, then you will love it. Others will find it a compromise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We had a cruise on Costa Romantica from Singapore for 14 nights around SE Asia visiting 6 ports. Had never cruised with Costa before and reading some reviews was a little apprehensive, but this was totally unfounded. Embarkation was simple ... Read More
We had a cruise on Costa Romantica from Singapore for 14 nights around SE Asia visiting 6 ports. Had never cruised with Costa before and reading some reviews was a little apprehensive, but this was totally unfounded. Embarkation was simple yet the Customer Services Desk on board was chaos (luckily we didn't need it on boarding), due to passengers who were afforded a free 14 night cruise because Costa, through no fault of Costa, could not fly them back to Europe and UK due to the volcanic ash problems. Once things had settled down in that area we found no problems, language was possibly an issue but could be overcome. We had breakfast and lunch when on board in the dining room, the buffet was crowded usually and much of the same each day. The comfort of waiter service in the dining room, even if we were at a table with non-English speaking people, was well worth while. At dinner we were seated with fellow Aussies and around us were other Aussies, Kiwis and English. The food at Dinner was, great, as was breakfast and lunch in the dining room, and a testimony was the excess weight I now have to work at getting rid of. Entertainment was good, probably since there were some UK entertainers who had joined the ship. Excursions, while seeming to be expensive were no more than on other cruises we have been on, and provided an opportunity to experience the various ports we visited. While a couple of lounges provided smoking areas we always found smoke free zones and were not inconvenienced. The only drawback was the poor yet expensive Internet facilities on board, I found it easier to wait until in port and use an internet cafe. All in all it was a very pleasant holiday, and the good weather made it more so, the only seas which wee not like a mill pond was in the trip between Hong Kong and Manila. I would definitely consider Costa again for future cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We chose this cruise based on itinerary. Having been on the Romantica before, and having been with Costa in the Indian Ocean before, we had very low expectations for the level of service, the quality of food, and our fellow passengers. ... Read More
We chose this cruise based on itinerary. Having been on the Romantica before, and having been with Costa in the Indian Ocean before, we had very low expectations for the level of service, the quality of food, and our fellow passengers. Everything was a little better than we expected, but we still wouldn't have chosen Costa except for the itinerary. Also, this was the first time I've ever been bored on a ship - if you don't speak Italian, there's not much for onboard entertainment. Background This was a 21 day repositioning cruise from Mauritius to Singapore, with stops in the Seychelles; the Maldives; Cochin, India; Colombo, Sri Lanka; Phuket, Thailand; Langkawi, Malaysia; and Port Klang, Malaysia and overnight stays in Mauritius and Singapore. Getting to the Port We booked our own airfare. Having sailed out of Mauritius with Costa last year, we expected to be able to buy a Costa transfer to the pier at the airport. That turned out to be the case, but the price had tripled. In 2009, we paid 10 Euros a person for the transfer, which takes close to an hour. This time, we were told it would be 30 Euros per person. That seemed so outrageous that we asked three different Costa reps before we were convinced they were serious. Unless you're traveling alone, the transfer is a rip-off - we paid only 35 Euros for a taxi for four people and all our luggage. Embarkation We arrived at the ship around 8:45AM. Embarkation was fairly quick, but quite odd. There were no signs and no humans to tell us what to do with our luggage or where to go. There were 2 very nonchalant women at desks. One slowly flipped through our papers and then said that we hadn't filled out some additional forms that no one had given us, so we were sent over to sit at some tables and fill out some more forms. Then she slowly flipped through the papers again and sent us to wait in a line to get on the ship. The line moved fairly slowly since a single member of the ship's security staff was checking documents again at the bottom of the gangway. At the top of the gangway, they took pictures, sent us through security and collected passports. We were told that cabins wouldn't be ready until 11:00 and that we could go to the buffet in the meantime, but the buffet was closed. Once we got to our cabins, one of the four people in our group did not get her cruise card - the card in her cabin belonged to someone else. Registering credit cards was painless with an ATM-like machine. It took almost 6 hours for the luggage to be delivered to the cabin. The Cabin We had a minisuite on 11 with panoramic windows, which was fairly spacious and gives you a great view when you want to get away from the crowds - there are virtually no balconies on this ship. Service was a bit spotty - several times we had to leave notes to get glasses, beach towels, toilet paper, etc. We were told that due to crew reductions, the stewards are taking care of a lot more cabins than they were a year ago, and the drop in service was evident. One day we came back to the cabin to find a pile of dirty towels in the middle of the bathroom floor and no new towels - apparently the steward had been distracted by something and never came back. Our bathroom almost always had a sulfur smell and an ominous gurgling noise under the shower whenever we ran water in the sink. The minisuites are also very noisy - they are near the marble stairs and the door to the pool (which is where the band sets up for outdoor parties). On the nights with an outdoor party, you will be able to hear all the action from your bed. There wasn't much to pick from in English on the TV. For three weeks we never had cold water and I never took a shower with the water set on anything other than the coldest setting - that's how warm the "cold" was. A couple of days the water in our bathroom was so discolored I wouldn't drink it. Entertainment There is no place to listen to music before dinner if you are first seating (and most of the passengers are European, so second seating is later than on most ships). Similarly, if you eat at first seating, there is nothing to do after dinner until 9:00 on most nights. Many nights featured an Italian language game show in the piazza. The live music was pretty mediocre. One duo consisted of a man on piano who sang and a woman who stood next to him swaying - she almost never did anything except stand there. When she did sing, she sang in English but her accent was so heavy that it was hard to determine what song it was. Giorgio was a man who played electric guitar along with the karaoke version of songs, which was not very exciting but tolerable, but some nights he sang too. Unfortunately, he couldn't sing, and he couldn't remember lyrics, but that didn't stop him from butchering everything from the Bee Gees to George Strait, sometimes playing the same song list in the same order night after night. Poker Band was much more talented, but they played songs that were largely unfamiliar to me (even the English ones). There's not much for daytime activities. Trivia was played in several languages, and sometimes things got lost in translation, so some passengers who took it a little too seriously complained about some of the answers. There were also cooking demonstrations, which lasted only a few minutes, and some pool games. The production shows were pretty good (although definitely a step down from RC), but more European in flavor than on the average ship - more suggestive dancing and lots of costumes (for men and women) involving thongs. The acrobatic acts, the classical pianist, the tenor and the boleador were very good. A couple of nights they showed movies, but the English movie was shown at 10:45 - too late for us. The crew show was excellent. Other shows were more of a mixed bag and it seemed that several acts did not have enough material for a whole show, which resulted in variety shows with a couple of different acts, which I didn't enjoy much. The "performance art" by the cruise director's staff was quite entertaining. Several crew members in costume would follow passengers around the atrium and shops until the passenger noticed, crew would pretend to sleep on the floor outside the shops, etc. We'd never seen that kind of performance on a ship before and it was fun. This was the first time I've been bored on a ship, but there was generally nothing to do on a sea day except go to dinner and then maybe the show. Since there aren't many English speaking passengers, there aren't many English books in the tiny library or at the book swap, so bring a lot of reading material if that's your thing. The Internet cafe is tiny and very expensive. The Food Food at the grill was awful. Hot dogs, hamburgers, French fries, etc. were made ahead of time and piled up to be taken buffet-style, so everything was cold. Nothing was made to order. Dinner is almost always limited to the dining room or the pizzeria, which doesn't open until 9:00. There is no alternative restaurant and the buffet was only open for dinner on a couple of nights when excursions came back too late to eat in the dining room. The food in the dining room was better than we expected, and certainly better than on the Europa, but definitely worse than on most other cruise lines. By the third week the menu felt a little repetitive and some nights it was hard to find anything that really appealed. The seafood options were definitely geared towards European tastes - if you don't care for cuttlefish and shellfish and huge whole shrimp, you'll probably end up eating beef, pork, or the vegetarian option. There were two pasta dishes every night and they were excellent. The vegetables were all previously frozen and mostly overcooked. Service was mostly fine but nothing special - the waiters didn't introduce themselves or try to make any connection with us until late in the cruise. Sometimes dishes were delivered to the wrong people, and we never really succeeded in getting the waiter to bring us enough ice in the water. Lunch was served in the dining room (open seating, with table service) or at the buffet. Breakfast was served in the dining room (open seating, with table service only for hot items, cold items were buffet) or at the buffet. For breakfast and lunch, service in the dining room ranged from disinterested to poor. Some days, it seemed like there simply weren't enough waiters. Mostly, they just seemed like they didn't want to be there. Breakfast was inconsistent. For example, if you ordered hash browns, sometimes you got one piece, sometimes two, sometimes three. Almost all of the bacon on the ship was badly undercooked and the pineapple was always brown. The buffet is still the worst I've encountered at sea. The food is always cold. You can see the steam rising from the steam tables, so it's clear that the food isn't hot when they put it on the buffet, and the steam table is insufficient to heat the food to a palatable (or safe) temperature. The setup is also awful, both for the foodservice and the seating, and there's an ice/water machine plunked in the middle of the tables. If you don't arrive very early, it will be very difficult to find a seat. The coffee card is worthwhile if you like good coffee anytime other than breakfast. Cappuccino is available in the dining room at breakfast for no extra charge. The gelato, sorbet, pasta, and breads and pastries were consistently good. The pizza at the buffet was good but it was never hot. We didn't try the pizzeria because it opened too late for us. Tea time on the buffet was good, with small sandwiches and cookies. Excursions As we have found to be the case on other Costa cruises, the descriptions of the excursions sometimes bore little resemblance to reality. On one of our trips in Phuket, the English language hostess (who happened to be on our boat), the local guide, and the boat captain were negotiating the itinerary for our day as we went along, after we pointed out that we weren't doing the things we were supposed to be doing. We booked our excursions online far in advance of our trip, and had no trouble getting English language trips. Passengers who waited until they were on board, however, found most of the English trips sold out. We were sent forms to fill out if we wanted to take an excursion on embarkation day, but no one ever asked us for them or told us where to turn them in. Service & Shipboard Life I'm not sure how much could have been done about it due to the geography involved, but the pacing of the cruise could have been better. The second half of the cruise was very hectic, with long port days almost every day - it would have been nice to have another sea day or two. The ship is showing signs of age and there is no prom deck. The tiny area designated for jogging up top means dodging all the deck chairs. The ship was also having intermittent problems with the toilets, which would not flush properly. The wakeup call system stopped functioning properly once we started to turn the clocks ahead. At one point, the call would come an hour and a half after we set it for. After we told the front desk, they adjusted it so the call was only a half hour late. It also appeared that if you wanted a wakeup call on the morning after the clocks changed, you couldn't put in for it until after midnight, or the call would come at the wrong time. We quickly lost faith in it and started setting an alarm clock we had packed. Air conditioning on the ship is almost nonexistent except for Tango lounge. It was especially unbearable in the dining room and the theater. You won't get as many wearings out of your dinner cloths as you think. It was just very uncomfortable trying to eat dinner in nice clothes with sweat running down your back, and it was unappetizing to be served by waiters dripping with sweat. There are no paper towels in any of the public bathrooms. This is presumably intended to save paper, but then they only put out s few facecloths to use as individual hand towels, so they quickly run out and everyone resorts to using the boxes of Kleenex. There is a lot more smoking on this ship than on most others. The smoking section in the piazza filled the air with smoke even if you sat in the nonsmoking area, and the main exit from the piazza for purposes of going on excursions was through the smoking area. Our butler told us that the fruit bowl in the cabin wouldn't be as good as usual and there wouldn't be any berries because it was a repositioning cruise. We were on board for Easter, and they decorated the cabin doors and put a big chocolate egg in each cabin. They also decorated the lounges for various theme nights, which was really nice. The ship's tenders seemed to be in disrepair. All of the tenders I rode in had broken chairs or leaks (either around windows or in the ceiling) requiring you to sit in a puddle. I don't think they were unsafe in an emergency, but the lack of maintenance made me wonder. There were two English speaking hosts, one for Aussies and one for US/UK. Ours was terrific - she had the perfect personality for the job and frequently made rounds during dinner to see if anybody needed anything. Our fellow passengers were a much different mix than we had experienced on prior Costa cruises, and it made for a much more enjoyable cruise. This time, we had a lot more English speaking guests and lots more passengers from Germany and France. On the whole, there were a lot more people willing to wait their turn instead of pushing and shoving than we've found on other Costa cruises. Disembarkation Disembarkation was effortless. We actually got off several hours later than the time assigned to our luggage tag color because our flight had been cancelled due to the volcanic ash, but that did not cause us any problems. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Ports of call. Port Louis, Mauritius, Victoria, Mahe (Seychelles), Nosy Be, Diego Suarez, Tamatave (all 3 in Madagascar) and St. Denis (Reunion). Travel to Port of Embarkation: With the long plane ride, I decided to stay in Mauritius for ... Read More
Ports of call. Port Louis, Mauritius, Victoria, Mahe (Seychelles), Nosy Be, Diego Suarez, Tamatave (all 3 in Madagascar) and St. Denis (Reunion). Travel to Port of Embarkation: With the long plane ride, I decided to stay in Mauritius for 5 days before the cruise (get rid of jet lag). I stayed at a guesthouse in Blue Bay (less touristy than other areas of Mauritius), and about a 45-minute taxi to Port Louis. Embarking: I have to admit it was the best embarkation ever! By the time the taxi dropped me off, I was on the ship within 15 minutes. (There was no line up when I arrived, so keep that in mind) Stateroom: I liked my stateroom, however, I had the worst sleeps on a cruise ship ever (and normally I get my best sleeps on cruises). It was noisy. The second week was the worst (would have been too late to try and change but my error for not trying to ask). Creaked all the time while sailing (I heard others say the same thing of their room). The cabin crew's workroom is behind my room so I heard noises from them. Ship and other miscellaneous: 1. Costa Romantica is a baby in size compared to other ships (53,000 tons) so less people BUT when it came to eating outside on the deck for lunch, it felt crowded then. 2. The one thing that I love about Costa is that the air conditioning isn't freezing. Unlike other ships, I didn't need a sweater! That was great! I do not like when the air condition is so cold. 3. There are five languages spoken (e.g. the cruise director announces the show in all those languages). The only thing that's done over the intercom in all the languages if the safety drill that all passengers must participate in. Anything else, they'll only announce if it pertains to the specific nationality, which didn't happen too often. 4. They took passports and kept them for the two weeks! I think that's a great idea as one less thing to worry about even though there is a safe in the room. 5. The biggest annoyance was the amount of kids on board and how misbehaved they were. Others who commented as well on the ship had not one favourable thing to say (comments such as: what kind of vacation is this for the kids; there was no way our kids would have gotten away with behaviour like that). I was advised by the social hostess to next time maybe ask for the demographics of the cruise. Others as well as I never thought we'd see so many kids on the cruise this time of the year (though I realize for the islands it's summer holiday but lot of kids were from Europe). 6. Our social hostess held a meeting (9:30 p.m.) the first evening at the same time I was having dinner (I wanted to see who my table mates were). I managed to get in the last 15 minutes and do a catch up the next day. 7. I ordered for myself 7 bottles of water and 4 bottles of wine as a package deal for 69 Euros (regular priced 107.) I thought that was a deal considering a glass of wine was Euros 6.00 plus service charge and a bottle of water was Euros 2.50 plus service charge. And for the two weeks I used all coupons except one for the water, which I gave away the last day to couple. 8. Tea, coffee and water (in the buffet area) are available all day. 9. Wait until you get ashore to use the Internet, way too expensive on the ship plus I heard from other people it's too slow! 10. Daily activities, but staff has to translate in the five different languages, which some people may like, or not have the patience to hear ... I honestly didn't mind but I didn't go to a lot of activities 11. Charged Euros 6.00 return for shuttle service in Port Louis (to the Cauldron Waterfront) and Tamatave (to the market). In Port Louis you could take the water taxi for Euros 1.00 (but no scheduled departure as they'll wait until they can fill the boat). Personally I don't think we should have been charged for the shuttle, but hey, that's business these days Dining: 1. I had the best tablemates ever!!!!!! We had a lot of laughs. 2. The food was good (I'm not a fussy eater). 3. The waiters were good, attentive. Hard workers! 4. The buffet breakfasts and lunches were good. Again I'm not a fussy eater. Entertainment: 1. The shows were OK, but like almost everywhere you go it's the same type of entertainment (not to take away from the talent of the young kids who work hard). I only went to 3 shows (the second last night was good with the other staff and one waiter was absolutely excellent he should be in the entertainment field.). 2. One night was local music/dance from Seychelles. That was OK. 3. There was entertainment before dinner in the Piazza Italiana ... was OK. Port/shore excursions 1. They dropped Kenya, which I found out two months earlier (3 days after I got yellow fever shot!). That was a disappointment. The cruise line extended Port Louis and Victoria each ½ day more and added Tamatave. I think what would have been better was stay overnight in Reunion (see points #4 & 5) or maybe added a port in South Africa. I think they could have skipped the Tamative port. 2. It was understandable due to heavy rain causing impassable road, all tour excursions in Nosy Be were cancelled (I was looking forward to my jeep tour)............ 3. ......... but they cancelled my tour in Reunion because not enough participation. I found out there were at least two or three others. They could have still gone on the tour and hired a small van. In fact, the half day tour to St Denis (which I thought would be the most popular) was cancelled as well! 4. The lecturer on the ship sucked for a lack of better word. I don't really need to hear a lot of history of a place as I can find out myself, but what he needed to tell us how to go about getting somewhere, what to do, etc. He messed up big time. With the ship docking very far away, he didn't give good directions on how to get to St. Denis from the ship. He was right that a cab would cost between 30 -50 Euros to get there. BUT he missed the boat when he told us it was a 20-minute bus ride costing Euro 1.40. Not so! It was a 20-minute bus ride to Le Port first at Euro 1.50 THEN about a half an hour bus ride to St Denis for Euro 1.40. Total approx. 1 ½ hrs. includes waiting for buses. The bus ride to St. Denis was scenic. 5. And sticking to St Denis, Reunion. Some of the passengers I talked to couldn't figure out why the ship had to dock so far away. It would have been nicer if they anchored near St. Denis and had tenders go in, or if that was not possible, then overnight in Reunion so we didn't have to feel rushed. 6. If you need to cancel your tour due to illness, forget getting your money back unless you go to the doctor first (which costs Euros 35.00) to get a medical certificate then you can get your tour refunded. Send in the medical bill to your insurance and see if you can get your money back. 7. The tour (Praslin/La Digue) was a disappointment for Euros 184. Yes, it was the ferry that was expensive I was told, but still. I felt like being herded like cattle couple of times. In La Digue, it would have been better to stay longer at Anse Source D'Argent beach with calming waters and more shade than Grand Anse beach (we had lunch here) hardly any shade which most people scrambled for under one tree or back inside where lunch was served until the next group of tourists came along to eat. I'm not a swimmer so waves were too strong for me. We only saw one thing on Praslin and were rushed through because we had to hurry and catch the ferry back. This tour was a real disappointment. 8. I booked my tours online simply to avoid line-ups. I don't think I'll do that again. I think I'll wait next time and if not, hook up with some people to share a cab ........ some did that and had fun ... you are taking chances though. Disembarking: 1. Luggage had to be outside your cabin the night before disembarking no later than 11 pm. Next day pick up the luggage at the dock. 2. I had to be out of the cabin by 7:30 am. Passport pick up was between 8-9 am (earlier in the morning for those that had to leave early). 3. Even though my plane didn't leave until seven that evening, I was able to stay on the ship. 4. They would provide a cabin should you need to shower and change, and held your carry on in another room. I used neither. After the cruise: I decided to stay a week in Mahe (Seychelles) before heading back to the long cold winter ahead. Summary: I had looked forward to visiting the island, especially the Seychelles. What would I have done differently? I'll give you a tip should you decided to take this trip, which I would like to say I am not sorry I went even though it wasn't the most exciting wow trip I've ever had. 1. I would definitely take the social hostess advice and ask what the demographics of the cruise would be. (i.e. kids on board) 2. For my stay in Mauritius, I would have stayed at another area first near Port Louis, where I caught the cruise, stayed only 3 or 4 days in Mahe then gone back to Mauritius and stayed at Blue Bay (which is closer to the airport by about 20 minute taxi) for the last 2 days. 3. I wouldn't book all tours online ... I'll take a chance and wait ......... except for maybe Madagascar where I'm not so sure I want to hire a cab by myself. Would I recommend this cruise? Yes and no. This is a tough one to answer as I enjoyed the cruise (with the people I met, the staff were good, the itinerary wasn't bad) and yet there were some disappointments. I guess you'll have to decide for yourself with this article, which I hope is helpful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
This is an old(er) ship (1993) - and it looks rather 'tatty'. Although we stayed in the Grand Suite, it was all rather 3 star (not 5 star). When it rained, the water came into our suite in sheets. We had a butler, who was ... Read More
This is an old(er) ship (1993) - and it looks rather 'tatty'. Although we stayed in the Grand Suite, it was all rather 3 star (not 5 star). When it rained, the water came into our suite in sheets. We had a butler, who was ever so obliging, and this is the only 'saving grace' on this rather mediocre experience. The dining room food was very, very hit or miss (more miss, than hit). A rather gruesome canteen with hoards of passengers with lots of loud children throwing food at each other, and not enough places to sit down, was the other 'option'. The entertainment was simply awful, quite often vulgar, and tasteless. The shows were amateur, with very little talent. (Games in which passengers tried to break balloons with their bodies, or where they simulated a sexual act with a large skillet and ladle. The 2 'gala' evenings - were everything except chic - especially since 90% of the passengers didn't bother to dress up (let alone put on a tuxedo). If there is a problem with an excursion, even if it is the fault of the ship, they will hound you for payment. This company is not client centric. If your standards are moderate to high, we urge you to look at another property (and probably not on the Costa line). Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
My wife and I sailed on the November 16th Romantica sailing to Cantania, Athens, Izmir, Mykonos, and Santorini. First, the ports of call are the reason we booked the cruise, and they were amazing. Also, we were driven by the price, as this ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the November 16th Romantica sailing to Cantania, Athens, Izmir, Mykonos, and Santorini. First, the ports of call are the reason we booked the cruise, and they were amazing. Also, we were driven by the price, as this was the cheapest cruise we have ever taken. Getting to/from Civitavecchia We took the train from Roma Termini to the port without any issues. Just went to Termini in Rome, bought tickets and a self-service machine, and took the 45 minute ride to Civitavecchia. We took the express train, and used 1st class; the car was mostly empty. From the station in Civitavecchia, take a right out of the station and it's a 10 minute walk to the ship. We used Costa's transfer on the way back to the airport, which was on $20 USD each. About 1 hour drive from port to the airport. Ship Overall the ship was clean and well maintained. It is a small ship (55k tons) and lacked a lot of public spaces; we have been on smaller ships (Carnival Holiday for instance) that actually had more public spaces. The cabins appeared to be recently remodeled, as they were very clean and modern for a cruise ship; we were actually surprised the cabins were in such great shape given the age of the ship. Of course winter in Europe it was cooler, so we did not use the pools (they are not covered as on other ships in cooler climates), but did use the hot tubs; as this was very port intensive the pools were not much of a big deal. Overall, a decent ship with nice cabins for its size and price. Food This is the first cruise I had been on where food was difficult to come by at times. Bear in mind this is an Italian cruise ship, NOT American. Italians apparently do not stuff themselves 24x7. The buffet was awful - very small, food was terrible; overall the worst buffet I've seen on a cruise ship. It is only open for breakfast and lunch. No dinner; no 24x7 buffet as on most ships. The dining room was much better, still not to the quality of American ships but I was able to find something to eat every meal. I think some of my issues with dining room food were more due to the fact that it was Italian style, not American, thus I cannot fault the ship for this as I expected an Italian experience. People Italians are a different bunch - I thought they were rude, loud, and very inconsiderate of others (we spent several weeks in Europe traveling all over and have no complaints other than with Italians). They smoke everywhere.....smoking is very bad on the ship. Apparently breathing oxygen is optional in Italy. This is by a million miles the worst I have seen smoking on a cruise ship. Surprisingly there were large numbers of Americans on the ship - far more than I expected. Our dining table was all American, and it appeared assigned by age, which we found to be great. Despite being a ship dominated by Italians, I think we had the best table group on any of the cruises we have taken. The excursions were organized by language, and we were mostly with Americans. Overall, that piece was well organized by Costa. Ports We choose this cruise for the itinerary above all else, and were not disappointed. We used all Costa excursions (in the Caribbean we always go it alone, but on port intensive cruises such as this, Alaska, and a few others we went with the ships excursions). The excursions were in English, mostly attended by Americans. I have no complaints on any of the excursions we took - they were all worth the money. Catania: Did the 4x4 up Mt. Etna. Actually was off road, did a nice hike around Mt Etna. Supposed to be a 4 hour excursion, was closer to 6. We were happy with this excursion. Izmir: Our favorite port, not at all what we expected. Did the 9 hour Ephesus, House of the Virgin Mary, and St Johns excursion. Well worth the money. Ephesus is one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World, and it is well deserved. Santorini: Did the Oia Village, which I think was the only worth while excursion here. Oia is very pretty and we got great photos....it is what I picture when I think of Greece. The village where the ship actually ports (different than if you take an excursion) is just a typical cruise shopping place, nothing special. Mykonos: I think this is really a beach stop, but in November and at 6-11 pm there was nothing to do. No ship excursions, which is the first time I've been to a port with an excursion being offered. We got off, walked around went back in maybe 30 minutes time. Athens: Took the Acropolis and Museum excursion. Museum was boring, nothing special to see. If I had to do it again, I would just take the Acropolis excursion. The Acropolis is very cool, with nice views of Athens. But it pales in comparison to Ephesus. Overall we had a great time on the cruise. Given the price ($299 pp) and itinerary, it was well worth the trip. The key is to remember it is an Italian ship, not an American. Of course, as you are in Italy, this should be expected.....yet many Americans still think it will be like America wherever they go. As long as you book based on itinerary and expect an Italian experience, I think anyone would enjoy this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Costa Romantica 10/26/09 Review Ok I know a lot of you have been looking for a review of this ship, so here we go. I was just on the 10/26/09 cruise that departed from Civitavechia and had an itinerary of Catania-Sicily, Sea Day, ... Read More
Costa Romantica 10/26/09 Review Ok I know a lot of you have been looking for a review of this ship, so here we go. I was just on the 10/26/09 cruise that departed from Civitavechia and had an itinerary of Catania-Sicily, Sea Day, Izmir-Turkey, Santorini-Greece: Mykonos (same day), Athens, Sea Day. I have been on several cruises on NCL, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, as well as a previous Mediterranean cruise in 2005 on the Costa Magica so I will be comparing much of the experience to those sailings. The Ship Yes the ship is small. The ship was much cleaner than I anticipated. They did a great job making sure everything was spotless. It is well designed for its size and age (1993). There is very limited entertainment on board besides the shows which I will highlight later. Besides attending every show I played in the casino a little bit which is about half the size of other ships. There was a foosball table and ping pong table on board. There is one lounge (Italia) where they have silly events and games and this is where most of the Italians gather around dinner and show times. The weather was actually warm enough to lie out on the top deck for 2 days. We had fantastic weather on our cruise, we were quite lucky. The internet cafe is adequate but expensive at 1 Euro every 2 minutes. After dinner the only thing going on was at the Tango Lounge where they would have a live band with various theme nights, this is where we had the most time. The disco was the only other option at night and it was mostly filled with younger people so I would say 16-25 year olds and they played the traditional club techno garbage so we stayed away. The announcements in several languages did not bother me AT ALL. They were very limited and exactly what I expected. The Shows I would have to say that the entertainment in the theatre was one of the biggest disappointments on this cruise. The dancers and singers were all average although almost all of their songs were in English so I give them credit as you can tell this isn't their natural language. The non dancer/singer nights were just horrible. I just kept thinking of the show America's got talent because every single one of the acts would have been stopped within 2 minutes. Either way we had nothing else to do so we watched all of the shows and pretty much just made fun of how awful they were. Also, Italians for some reason insist on showing up after the show starts and most of them decide to walk all around the theatre to find a seat in the dark while talking most of the time. Quite annoying actually, also, about every other seat was comfortable so you had to search around to find good seats. The Passengers and Staff I give the staff a rating of 10/10. They were excellent. I really have no complaints at all, they were extremely friendly and most seemed very happy. Our ship had 1200 passengers on board. Of this 800 were Italians, about 150 were English speaking, 100 French, and the rest a mix of Spanish and German is my guess. No complaints with any of the passengers. The Italians are very pushy and like to use their elbows in the buffet lines. Also, they seem to go by the rule of "whoever pushes to the front first wins". Lines and order seems more like a guideline to them. Once you get used to this mentality it was ok. It was also fun to feel really big. I am only 6'2 but was probably the fifth or sixth tallest person on board. This came in handy when the Italians would try to cut around me in lines as I glared at them with disapproval. The cabin We stayed in an inside cabin in the front of deck 4. It was probably the cheapest room on the ship but our cabin steward went above and beyond. Our cabin was quite lovely and actually was much better than I anticipated for an inside cabin. No complaints here. 10/10. The Food and Drink Because of the itinerary we were able to eat most of our meals in the dining room. Most mornings we had room service delivered for free. They would also give us cappuccinos for free although they charged up on deck. We generally tipped the person who delivered it 1 euro although it wasn't required. The food in the dining room for lunch and dinner was better than I expected. The food wasn't as Italian as I expected but it was good. We had the X1 package and they always had a bottle of wine and mineral water waiting for us. Most nights we shared a bottle but some nights we drank 1 ½ bottles of the house red. The house red was tolerable but obviously cheap wine. It was just hard to drink the same thing every night, compare it to Traders Joes Charles Shaw wine. They were very quick to bring us any drinks we requested. The buffet lines at lunch were sometimes crazy as it seems that every Italian eats at the same time. The buffet food was worse than I expected so we stayed away and ate in the dining room as much as we could. When we did eat we sat outside on the deck. Once we sat down the drink people would constantly be around asking us for drinks. WE COULD USE THE X1 ON DECK DURING THE BUFFET TIMES no problem. I wasn't sure about that going in, but they would bring us coke, beer, wine, the usual. Good perk to have. The itinerary The port was very easy to get to from Rome. From the Termini station we took a train for about 70 minutes (6 euro each way) and walked about 5 minutes from the station to the harbor. From here a shuttle took us to the ship. Check-In went smooth and took about an average amount of time to get through. In Catania Sicily the ship docked. We walked around the city for a couple of hours and didn't really do much. They drive crazy here and the city is quite hectic. Izmir Turkey was much better than I anticipated. This was by far the cleanest city that we visited. The people were friendly and didn't bother you or heckle you in shops and on the streets. Izmir probably had the best looking people and most western looking clothes and culture of any of the ports. The ship docked at the pier and again we just walked around town for a couple of hours. There was a military parade the day we were in town (I think it was their independence day or some city holiday but either way it was fun to watch and security was extremely tight). The next day we went to Santorini and Mykonos (both tenders to shore) and in both cities we just walked around town for a couple of hours. In Athens we did a DIY to the Acropolis which was very easy and probably only took about 3 hours from the time we left the ship until we were back near the ship. I didn't describe the itinerary here very much so just ask if you have more questions. This review was much longer than I anticipated so please just ask if you have any questions and I will make sure to answer them. Overall I was very pleased with the experience and it met my expectations for the price. It was a very cheap cruise and I think it was a GREAT VALUE! I wouldn't hesitate doing it again at all but if you are spending a lot of money on a cruise, I wouldn't pick this ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
This was our 10th cruise and 5th cruise line. We were really looking forward to our first mediterranean cruise. We really thought it would be more of an upscale cruise line and wonderful food. Much to our disappointment, it was far less ... Read More
This was our 10th cruise and 5th cruise line. We were really looking forward to our first mediterranean cruise. We really thought it would be more of an upscale cruise line and wonderful food. Much to our disappointment, it was far less than that. The ship itself is not as upscale as other lines we have been on. It is very minimal at that actually kind of plain but that really wasn't that big of a deal. The problem was the total disorder that we faced once on board. Now we new it was an Italian cruise line with mostly european guests however, we were not prepared for the total chaos and rudeness of our fellow passengers. We have never experienced anything like it. The Buffet (which we nicknamed the "jungle") was exactly that. Very over crowded, not enough seats to accomodate everyone, people cutting in line or what resembled a line, children running everywhere , and people literally hoarding huge plates of food. There was no regard for any manners whatsoever. The food was adequate at best, the coffee was always cold, and water and ice only worked at intervals. The sit down restaurant was much more organized however the portions were much smaller than normal, the food options not always appealing however again we were kind of prepared for that being it was european. The staff, all though they worked very hard, did not go out of their way to form a relationship with you like other cruises. They didn't offer coffee with dessert you had to ask more than once, and we always felt like we were rushed so they could prepare for the 2nd seating. The elevator and pool situation were similar to the "jungle". No manners, pushing and shoving on and off and no regard for any rules especially no children in "adult only" pool. The parents seemed to allow their children to do whatever they wanted, and the minimal security was only able to control the situations temporarily and then they would resume as soon as they walked away. We witnessed soccer balls being kicked in the lobby, children screaming and lying on the floors of the restaurants, running up and down halls till late night hours, jumping on and over people in the pool, and playing with window shades (which hit me in the head once). We talked with fellow passengers from the U.S.,Canada, Germany, the U.K. and even Italy which were just as disappointed and shocked as we were. The ports and excursions were nice , but not alot of accomodations for english speaking guests. We booked one tour that was all in Italian and no discount or anything even after we told them that it was not communicated to us that noone spoke or understood English. This was true to most of the cruise. Very minimal announcements in English. The disembarkation was also very unorganized and we nearly missed our flight. Needless to say it was a very horrible experience and I don't know if we will give Costa another chance or not. We found out only after returning that apparently Costa offers great deals to the Italians even some offers of kids cruise free.(which may account for our situation) So be prepared and ask before you book. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Background This was a 7 day cruise on the Costa Romantica, round trip from Dubai, with stops in Muscat (Oman), Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain. This was our 17th cruise and our 1st with Costa. Travel to the Port/Embarkation ... Read More
Background This was a 7 day cruise on the Costa Romantica, round trip from Dubai, with stops in Muscat (Oman), Fujairah, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain. This was our 17th cruise and our 1st with Costa. Travel to the Port/Embarkation We booked our own flights and arrived in Dubai at 9AM on the day of embarkation. (On the flights to and from Dubai, in addition to seeing the famous manmade islands, we flew over Baghdad and Saudi Arabia, which was fascinating.) The Costa materials said we wouldn't be allowed to board the ship until 8PM, so we had done some research and had a guidebook and maps. We left our bags at the left luggage facility at the airport (walk out of the terminal building onto the sidewalk and go to the left) and got a taxi to the Deira side of the city. The taxi cost us 45 dirham (taxis are metered). There, we visited the Al-Ahmadiya School and the Heritage House. The school is interesting but small; the Heritage House was terrific. From there, we walked along the main shopping area (near where the tours take you to the gold souq) and, after a little trouble, found the pedestrian walkway under Dubai Creek to the Bur Dubai side of the city. There, we walked along the dhows on the creek, past the Grand Mosque, to the old Bastakia Quarter (which was lovely with all its narrow walkways, balconies, and wind towers, and we pretty much had the area to ourselves). From there, we went to the Dubai Museum, which was terrific. It seems to be popular in this part of the world to have your photograph taken beside some of the statues in the museums, so take your camera. Based on our experience, we would disagree with other posters who did not think Dubai was a "walkable" city. By mid-afternoon, we were getting tired and hoped that they might let us get on the ship early, so we went to the taxi stand in front of the hotel across the street from the museum and got a taxi back to the airport to retrieve our bags. We then got another taxi to the pier. None of the taxi rides was very long, but traffic is heavy. Security at the port was tight - we had to show our Costa tickets to the guard in order to enter the port area. We got to the ship a little before 5PM and they let us on. It turned out that they started letting people on at 3PM, according to a paper left in the cabin, but of course that information came too late to be useful. Embarkation was quick and painless, although Costa does not register credit cards at embarkation, so you will have to wait in line in a lounge a few days later in order to accomplish that task. We were told our cabin wouldn't be ready for several hours, but we walked around the ship a little and ate in the buffet and the cabin was ready at 6:30. We couldn't just shower and crash, though, because the bags did not arrive until 9PM. Stateroom We had a panoramic minisuite, which had one full wall of glass. The cabin was large, with a queen bed, two nightstands, a couch that made into another bed, two padded chairs, a coffee table, two desks with a chair and a stool, and lots of storage space. The bathroom was marble and as big as a bathroom in many houses, with a tub and separate shower. The minisuite came with daily delivery of the dinner menu, daily canapEs delivered before dinner (they were mediocre, but it was fun to get them), a daily fruit basket, and a one-time bottle of champagne. There were two room stewards, who took very good care of us. There was a pillow menu as well and they offered to unpack for us, but we declined. Ship Info. Aesthetically, this ship is different from the others we have been on, with lots of marble, including marble stairs. It was nice, but it seemed cold and noisy to us. Most of our fellow passengers were Europeans, especially Italians, and there was lots of pushing and shoving wherever Americans would normally wait in line - to get back on the ship, at the buffet, etc. There were also an awful lot of people who persisted in going through the buffet line against the flow of traffic (start with the plates, folks!). There was also a lot of saving of deck chairs. At peak times, finding seats in the buffet was a challenge. We found the public rooms and amenities to be more or less the same as other ships, but there was more smoking and the ship was generally less air conditioned than most we have been on. Announcements were minimal and made in several languages. Dining The buffet area seemed to be a retrofit of space that originally had some other purpose. There was no flow to the food line, which was broken into multiple locations. The seating area is inadequate and cramped, with an ice and water machine plopped down in the middle of the tables. We frequently had a hard time finding seats together (there were three of us). Some of the tables are large, so people who didn't speak the same language had to share, and the seats that were the hardest to get to would get blocked off and remain unused because the tables were so close together that you couldn't get through once people were in the seats. The food on the buffet was not particularly good and was not hot. There was a separate station where the ethnic theme food of the day was kept - it was sometimes more interesting, but never any hotter. At dinner in the dining room, we were grouped with other Americans. The food was better in the dining room than at the buffet, but the portions were small compared to other cruise lines. Service could be erratic one night, they flashed the lights on and off and got on the PA system asking us to leave, even though we hadn't been served dessert yet. Activities Since there were no sea days, there wasn't much for activities apart from the evening entertainment. Service Cabin service was great and dinner service was fair to good. The tour desk is located in a marble atrium that is incredibly noisy when guests mob the desk. No one forms queues, so grit your teeth and prepare for an elbow-to-elbow battle to get to the desk. Also, the tour desk needs to do a much better job of making the tour descriptions match the tours. It would also be helpful if Costa provided information about the Dubai port ahead of time, like that you need to arrange ahead of time for a taxi on disembarkation day if you leave early in the morning. There was an English language host. One couple at our dinner table said that the host had told them they could order shrimp cocktail every night, even if it wasn't on the menu, so they tried to do just that. When the waiter tried to explain that the kitchen didn't have any shrimp ready that night, the couple persisted, which just resulted in the waiter getting in trouble with the head waiter for something that was the English host's fault. Entertainment The entertainment was a step down from most cruise lines, but we went most nights for something to do. It is a nice theater. The annoying thing was that at the end of every show the cruise director would come on stage with a helper (typically dressed as a woman with an exaggerated bosom wearing a maid's uniform or a diaper) and they would then chase each other around waving a feather duster or something similar. The skit would then be repeated in about six languages, with the cruise director telling people to yell and scream when he got to their language. It was much too slapstick for our taste. We started making sure we were seated on the aisle so we could slip out as soon as the lights came up. Ports and Shore Excursions The ship did not leave Dubai until 1PM on Day 2, so we went exploring that morning on our own. (We might have booked a tour, but there was no way to tell when the "day 1" and "day 2" tours were being held, since the ship is in Dubai for all or part of 4 different days on this cruise. It turned out that the tours were actually on day 3 and on disembarkation day for those with late flights.) We tried to walk out of the port area but were stopped by security and forced to take a taxi. We were dropped off at the Diving and Heritage Villages, which had been well reviewed in the guidebooks, but there was almost nothing to see there apart from a couple outdoor displays. We were walking by the nearby historical architecture museum when a man offered us a tour of the museum. We were skeptical, expecting to be hassled for a tip, but he was on the level - he worked for the museum, unlocked doors for us, gave us bottled water, and explained everything to us - it was really nice and a very interesting place. We then walked back towards the port area and shopped for souvenirs in Carrefour. What looked like a taxi stand out front turned out to be just a place to be picked up if you had called a taxi or a friend on a cell phone. Unable to get a taxi, and being big walkers anyway, we decided to walk back to the ship, although we were getting a little short on time. The walk is deceptive - you can see the ship, but the port area is large and the entrance to the port is a long way from the ship, so we actually had to walk away from the ship to get to the port entrance. Once inside the port area, it was a long walk to the tollbooth-style guard station where all the cars and trucks enter the inner port area. We arrived there on foot, which wasn't a good idea given the trucking traffic, but it was almost noon and we were starting to get nervous about the ship leaving without us. The guard wouldn't let us proceed on foot, but said that a Costa rep was about to come through in a car and he would give us a ride. That is exactly what happened only minutes later. The ship left on time, sailing past one of the palm islands being built, and later past oil rigs. We had terrific views from the cabin. The next day, in Muscat, we took the 4WD tour to Wadi Bani Khalid. If you are easily carsick or afraid of driving fast, you should avoid this tour, but we thought it was one of the best tours we've ever taken. Our driver took us in a new Land Cruiser about 200km to the desert. We sometimes went over 100mph, passing other cars, but we never felt unsafe - he was a very good driver in a very good vehicle. We passed lots of nice scenery, including villages, mountains, desert scrub, camels, and goats, and had a bathroom stop before letting air out of the tires and entering the sand dunes. We had discovered at the stop that our driver (a young Muslim man) was a big fan of American rap music, played loud, so we let him leave his music on as we drove wildly up and down the sand dunes. It was somewhat surreal, and a complete blast. We got out on the dunes for pictures (it was very hot - about 110 degrees). Then we put air back in the tires and continued to the wadi, where we had a very generous box lunch. The wadi was beautiful with the water, rocks, and palm trees. We were offered bathroom stops before and after the wadi, but there are no bathrooms at the wadi. The return trip involved some steep switchbacks and more high speeds. Once back in the city, we stopped at the Grand Mosque for photos. In Fujairah, we went on a tour to the museum (which was great), the fort, and the heritage village. We also visited Al Badiya (the oldest mosque in the UAE you can walk up to the guard towers overlooking it) and the market, and we drove through Sharjah. As described in the tour materials, we were supposed to visit another emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, but we went to the heritage village instead, and the change was never explained to us. The heritage village was very interesting, though, and there were local women cooking and weaving. The local market was interesting, too. We walked through the fish, meat, and vegetables sections, and there were shops selling custom clothing. In Abu Dhabi, we drove along the corniche past the Emirati Hotel (and the shopping mall that the shuttle buses went to) to the heritage village. The city is beautiful, as is the hotel, and the heritage village was very good, but crowded. The heritage village had many displays of different local crafts as well as animals, including a falconry exhibit. Our guide was an English woman now living in Abu Dhabi. We also went to the White Fort (which was interesting) and the museum (which was excellent). This was a great tour with a great guide, even though the things we saw bore almost no relation to the tour description. In Bahrain we went to the fort, the burial mounds, a camel farm, the museum, and the Grand Mosque. At the mosque we had a separate guide, who was terrific, and both men and women were asked to wear cover-ups. We were disappointed that many of our male fellow travelers refused to cover up. The fort and burial grounds were moderately interesting, the camels more so. The museum was great. We also saw the road to the border with Saudi Arabia (there is a tour to the Bahraini side of the border crossing). In Dubai, we took a tour that included the museum we had already visited on our own, but it's a nice museum and we really didn't mind having more time there. The tour was supposed to include the spice market, but it was closed so they took us to the gold souq instead, which was really just a busy modern shopping center, not a traditional souq. We went to the Jumeirah mosque, which was supposed to be just a photo stop, but the guide took us inside. We saw the Burj Al Arab hotel (which looks odd next to a water park) and Jumeirah beach. The beach was interesting - Muslim men and children in swimsuits were accompanied by covered Muslim women, next to western tourists in bikinis being ogled by large groups of the south Asian men who come to Dubai to work. We also walked through a souq area to ride an abra (water taxi) across the creek. This part of the tour was a little hairy - the souq was mobbed with people (a perfect pick-pocket place, with everyone pressed up against you), so the group could not stay together through the turns in the souq, and it was amazing we lost no one. A man groped me twice and I had to turn around and yell at him to get him to stop. At the abra station, there was a very large step down. The abra station was equally packed, and we were quickly herded onto the boats, which were being driven like bumper cars. It would be very easy to lose your balance when the boats bump together, so be careful and keep your hands and belongings close to you. Once again, the actual tour differed significantly from the tour description. The trip also ran about an hour longer than advertised, upsetting some people who wanted to get back to the ship to start packing. Disembarkation There were excursions available for people with late flights, but our flight was at 10AM. We walked off the ship with our luggage at 6:15 AM. We had waited a few minutes for a taxi when a Costa rep approached to check on us - apparently we were supposed to call ahead for a taxi, but no one told us that. Luckily, a taxi came just then, dropping off some crew members from their night on the town. We went to the airport and had no problems, although the Dubai airport is unusually structured people and luggage go through x-ray before you can even check in, and then you have to go through security again to get into the terminal, where there is almost no seating whatsoever. Be prepared to stand for hours or to separate from the others in your party to try and grab single seats. Then you have to go through security a third time to actually get into your gate, where there actually are some seats, but the gate is not opened until shortly before the flight leaves and there are no bathrooms at the gate. It took us an hour and a half from the time we left the ship until we were in the terminal waiting for our gate to open, but there was no line at our airline for check in. Summary This was a fast-paced, fun cruise to a fascinating part of the world. I have long admired Muslim architecture and found the ports of call to be very interesting. We were sorry to see so many of our fellow passengers ignoring the clothing recommendations for this part of the world - the tank tops and camisoles really stood out. On the ship, the entertainment was a notch below other cruise lines, the buffet was a disappointment, and the tour desk really needs to get its act together so that the tour descriptions match reality, but if you have an interest in this part of the world, it's a wonderful itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date March 2009
Dubai. This is not a city you can walk around. It is very spread out, take it from us we are walkers and can go gr8 distances but things you see in the distance in this city never seem to get closer as you walk towards them :-) Cabs are ... Read More
Dubai. This is not a city you can walk around. It is very spread out, take it from us we are walkers and can go gr8 distances but things you see in the distance in this city never seem to get closer as you walk towards them :-) Cabs are cheap though and the people here are very friendly. Everyone speaks English and the cab drivers don't give you the long route, they take you where you want to go and rather quickly... alright , very quickly , it was a little frightening at times. Also keep this in mind when you are out walking, it seems that pedestrians do not have the right of way here. Follow the signs, cross when you're supposed to and keep an eye out for fast moving traffic. We stayed at a clean inexpensive hotel near the port where we were boarding the Costa Romantica for a 7 day cruise from Dubai to Muscat Oman, Fujeirah, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and return to dubai. We found the hotel through Otel.com, we find this to be the most inexpensive way to find affordable hotels. We have used them several times now and you even get more of a discount the more you book through them . Our hotel was the Richmond Hotel and Apartments. This was one of many options in many price ranges from Otel.com. We chose this one for the price and it had a pool on the roof although it was a little cool. The room was clean and about a 3 star. The staff was very friendly, all spoke English and were very helpful. They even let us have late check out for a small fee as our cruise didn't board until night time. It was nice to spend the day out and about and still be able to come back and pack and shower before we boarded. This hotel was in the Bur Dubai area. There is the Sheak Sayid Road ( please excuse spelling ) area, where all the tallest buildings are. There area lot of hotels there too. The Jumeira Beach area with a lot of hotels on the beach. I'm assuming these would be the most expensive. And the Deira area, this is the old part of Dubai where the creek is. If you're going to cross the creek in a Dow ( again sp ) I suggest you do it on a guided tour. This is a crazy busy part of town. Personally I wouldn't stay in that part but I wouldn't miss seeing it, its very exciting. There are huge malls in Dubai as well as markets. Quite a diverse mixture of old and new. There is even a mall with an indoor ski hill! You can swim at many open beaches ( public ) as they call them. Jumeirah Beach is quite huge. We were on 3 different parts of it. The end closest to the port. The Jumeriah park area and then you can also swim right next to the famous Burj Al Arab hotel and Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Then next to those hotels are more hotels and a gr8 mall outdoor cafe/ restaurants all situated on a lagoon with canals. Its quite beautiful at night. In the future there will be many more rivers , canals, lagoon and man made islands... man made everything in fact. If you can dream it they will build it and they are. Its a city springing up from the desert right before your very eyes. Ok now the cruise! Loved Costa! Suzanne our English hostess greeted us very warmly in the terminal and told us where to go on the ship for food while our room was being prepared...as we were a little early still. But they let you on none the less and even let us stay on at the end as our flight wasn't until late. We didn't disembark until 10pm. They practically had to pry us out of Luigi, Petra and Suzannes' arms to leave. These three wonderful people showed us such a gr8 time , we will never forget them and this cruise! Not to mention the rest of the wonderful staff! Alex our waiter in the Opera Bar, Peirro at Romeo's and all the other guys there too, they were all so gr8! We even exchanged email info to stay in touch and opened or homes to them if they were ever to visit Canada. The ship is very nice with a lot of Italian marble everywhere. The food was gr8 and lots to choose from. The entertainment was also very good. Even the staff can sing , Suzanne did Madonna better than Madonna! Ok I don't want to go on too much because you may actually be disappointed if I give it too much of a rave and I wouldn't want that to happen. Its just that we took a Carnival cruise in November and we loved this one much much more! We thought Carnival was a floating tacky piece of crap and Costa was very classy and especially for the price...remember we are budget travellers. We LOVED Muscat but beware of the taxi drivers here , they will rip you off. Negotiate a price, or get in one with a meter even better. We thought we had negotiated a price in Omanny money but then he didn't want that and we ended up paying 30$ for a short ride, this was talked down from 90$. We should have just walked out and gone through the port where he would not be allowed to go and then seen what he would have taken with all the port guards listening then. Anyway , beware. Other than that , Muscat is beautiful and the people are very friendly. The city is clean and not that big. We went to the Gate Museum, the Palace ( not a huge palace but situated on the water and is quite nice. Muscat is very quaint. Abu Dhabi is beautiful. The Marina Mall is here we got dropped off , we walked back across the bridge to the Emirates Palace Hotel and walked through it. Its likely the most beautiful building I have ever been in. They are also building many exciting things in this city , keep and eye out , it should all be done in less then ten years and its being done by the worlds most famous architects. Its going to be incredible. Then we went to the Hilton and swam in the pool and beach area. it was very nice. There was a fee for this. In Fujeirah we did the same thing, went to the HIlton. We didn't think there was much to do in Fujeirah so we thought we would just go for a walk on the beach but couldn't really get to it. Then this really nice kid in a nice car offered us a ride for no money!!! Of course we were apprehensive but I feel I have travelled quite a bit and am a good judge of character. We got in , he studies in the U.K. and was just being nice to tourists. He took us to the HIlton and said go to their beach. We did this and the Hilton here charges us nothing! The water of beach isn't as nice here though so we swam in their pool which was fantastic. 32 degrees C. We had a wonderful relaxing day here for free , away from the other people on the boat for a while and it was only just down the road from the port. We thought we would walk back along the beach but again it became a little hard to navigate so we took the road again ( no sidewalks keep in mind) then yet another nice man pulled over and asked us if we needed a ride. He was actually a cab driver and we told him we didn't have any money ( which was true as we thought we were just going for a walk on the beach initially and left our money on board) He said... no get this... that his parents taught him that its not always about money and he would drive us to the port! Not only this he stopped at a store and bought us water!!! and accepted nothing but a thank you for all his kindness! Don't get me wrong , we don't look like vagabonds or anything, we are perfectly respectable looking people, this was just out of his kind heart! Which made up for the fat bastard that ripped us off the day before in Muscat! Bahrain... we didn't get off the ship, hung out by the pool on board, my friend wasn't feeling well. Back to Dubai and there you have it! We loved the cruise, we loved the ports , we loved the people and we Loved Costa! Read Less
Sail Date March 2008
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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