1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Costa Cruises
  4. Costa neoRomantica Review
  5. Costa neoRomantica Cruise Reviews

11 Costa neoRomantica Cruise Reviews

After having made many cruises with mid-class (like Princess, Celebrity) and luxury cruise lines (e.g. Oceania) we wanted to investigate the difference between those cruise lines and Costa, which is frequently offering cruises for very ... Read More
After having made many cruises with mid-class (like Princess, Celebrity) and luxury cruise lines (e.g. Oceania) we wanted to investigate the difference between those cruise lines and Costa, which is frequently offering cruises for very attractive prices. As we had already booked an Oceania cruise for later this summer, we accepted a cheap last minute offer for the Costa NeoRomantica cruise tot he Norwegian fjords (€700 in the cheapest cabin), a.o. to be able to make this investigation. We had read beforehand various reviews on CruiseCritic and hence were prepared for a somewhat different experience then with the other abovementioned cruise line companies. We must say that the ship NeoRomantica itself was much nicer then expected, and certainly not attractive then ships of other cruiselines of a comparable size. It was just a pity that with the latest renovation the theatre had been removed to make space for a wellness area. The cabins are vary spacious and well equipped (although without bathrobes), and the available inside public areas is ample enough even in cool weather situations. Boarding and debarkation was very smooth and efficient. COMPARISON OF TOTAL CRUISE COST: COSTA vs e.g. OCEANIA (a luxury cruise line specially known for it’s exquisite food) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COSTA ---------- Last minute cruiseprice = €700 p.p. for 9 nights in the cheapest cabin. Effective real additional costs for service fee + a modest amount of non-alcoholic drinks (1 specialty coffee, 1 non alcoholic drink + 0,5 bottle of mineral water a day): € 170. The total cost (without excursions) thereby comes to € 97 p.p per night Crew to Passengers ratio: 650/1700 = 38% OCEANIA ------------ Pseudo last minute cruiseprice (4 month before embarcation) = €1575 p.p. for 12 nights in cheapest cabin: € 131 per night all-in. Included in this price: * $400 board credit (repeater rebate + travel agent offer) which covers the service charge * limitless non alcoholic drinks + specialty Illy coffees/teas * free WiFi * a complimentary visit to a specialty restaurant every 3 nights (value of appx €30: €10 per night) * a complimentary full day shore excursion every 3 nights (which I value at € 50: €17 per night. List value is much higher but irrealistic) Crew to Passengers ratio: 787/1250 = 63% Deducting the value of the complimentary specialty restaurants + shore excursions, the daily rate comes to € 131-27 = € 104, €7 more then at Costa. COMPARISON CONCLUSION ------------------------------------ For a daily extra of € 7 p.p. one gets with Oceania next to free WiFi, limitless non alcoholic drinks and really exquisite food (e.g. including lobster, steaks, etc.; we experienced the quality on various previous cruises), much friendlier and quicker service: incomparable to Costa. If a specific itinerary is offered by Costa as well as Oceania I would allways choose Oceania. However, to get this all for this little extra, one has to be very alert on special offers, as the regular list prices of Oceania are very much higher. Moreover one has to value the complimentary specialty restaurants and shore excursions. If you don’t care for those, Costa may be a good bargain. SOME OBSERVATIONS on the COSTA NEOROMANTICA ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Positive points: ------------------- * Efficient boarding and debarkation * Very spacious and well equipped cabins (although without bathrobes) * Sufficient public areas (inside as well as on deck), inside even in cool weather situations * Linen towels in public restrooms (a luxury touch!) * Excellent Illy coffee (extra charge) * Offering of an area with popular classical music next tot he venues with popular music. Weak points: ---------------- * The penny pinching and high costs for extra's (like coffee during the day, better but still simple food, entry fee for aft deck, etc). During over 30 trips with other cruise lines we never experienced that one had to pay extra for items in the main restaurant, pizza, etc. * Excessive drink prices, e.g. € 3,50 for a cappucino coffee, € 8 for a non alcoholic coctail * The offered food was OK but nothing more. There was never anything on the menu which I would have ordered in even a simple local restaurant. * Service is very slow, mainly because of a crew to passengers ratio which is to low. * Most (but luckily not all) of the service personnel worked like robots, not giving the feeling they were happy with their job. They appeared to be overstressed and underpaid. * Very noisy animateurs * Dinner times are not well coördinated with timing of shows * No real theatre: just lounge shows * Complimentary coffee and tea is only available during breakfast + afternoon tea. * Tap water is available during lunch at the buffet restaurant, but not automatically offered in the main restaurant. * Hygiene is not stressed overly strong. * Life enrichment lectures were only at midnight .... FELLOW PASSENGERS ------------------------------- The passengers are mainly Italian and French, with a smaller but still considerable group of Dutch and Germans (departure was from Amsterdam). As far as we can tell almost no Americans, Englishman or Australians. Because of differences in culture and mentality the south European and north European passengers groups practically don’t mix. The whole atmosphere is more oriented towards the Italian style. E.g. where on ships with mainly Anglo-Saxon passengerst there is usually the silence of the grave after the last show, that’s the moment where on the NeoRomantica the big parties start. Announcements are always made in 5 languages: Italian, French, Spanish, English and German. Especially during the emergency exersize quite tiring. ITINERARY & EXCURSIONS ------------------------------------ In essence the cruise to the Norwegian fjord region was fine, although the time spend in small towns like Geiranger, Olden and Flam could have been slightly shorter as there is not much to do. Better spend part of the afternoon cruising the fjord. We didn’t use the shore excursions as these are excessively overpriced (as is the case with all cruiselines). We always organise excursions ourselves, whenever possible by renting a car. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We flew to Port Louis Mauritius to board the Costa NeoRomantica. On arrival after overnight flights and taxi journey we were met in a marquee by crew members. A welcome drink or wet towel would have made us feel welcome. We had our ... Read More
We flew to Port Louis Mauritius to board the Costa NeoRomantica. On arrival after overnight flights and taxi journey we were met in a marquee by crew members. A welcome drink or wet towel would have made us feel welcome. We had our passports taken and were told they would be returned at the end of the cruise. We boarded the ship and as our onboard card was in our cabin which was not accessible for another hour were directed to the lift and told to go to deck 10 for the buffet. On leaving the lift we discovered the restaraunt cannot be reached on deck 10, you need to go up or down a level to reach that end of the ship. As we left 2 weeks later they were still sending guests to 10. It seems that all Costa are interested in is your money they make no effort to provide an enjoyable experience on this ship. Buffet restaraunt juice is a sugary cordial. Cereals of the cheapest kind. For the first time in 50+ years of travelling I struggled to find something to eat and I am not a fussy eater. Free tea and coffee available. The only time of day it is. Main restaraunt. The food was good but very Italian. They could have had the occasional theme night. It became very bland after a week or so. No coffee after the meal. The waiters were exceptional friendly and very hard working.cabin was adequate. Walls were thin and we could hear other people's conversations and for 2 days we had workmen in the next cabin stripping it down so noisy doors banging etc. A bonus was no charge for safe. Entertainment. Show lounge was poor they gave up the theatre for a spa I believe. Dancers were good. Also had a wonderful opera singer and 2 singers from S. Africa. Usual quizzes, bingo, cookery demos. Air conditioning in public areas to cold. Lots of people coughing. Outdoor areas not enough shade for people who want to be outside but not in full sun. Compulsory tipping €9 per day p.p. Charged to your account. 15% tax added to all purchases drinks etc. Drinks package € 28 p.p. Per day make it an expensive holiday. The shop was poorly stocked. A few cigarettes mainly Costa merchandise lack of everyday items, things you may need. Baileys and another liqueur . No food or drink allowed to be brought on board. We booked a couple of tours but mainly did our own thing. Seychells, you can use euros but need local money for busses market. Atm's in town. We took a local bus to the south of the island costing about £1 each also a bus across the top of the island. The ferry to Praslin was €90 each way for a 1 hour journey. Madagascar, not for the feint hearted. A very poor island. Nosy be. Tender port we were met by a crowd of people offering tours and lots of market stalls selling touristy items. There is really nothing to see in the town. Diego Suarez. We took an excursion to red Tsingay roads in poor condition as were vehicles. A 2 hour drive on Tarmac and dirt roads to reach the site. Not sure if it was worth it only to see some of the country. Beware we were told toilets were of a local nature. We were not offered a stop and everyone had to use the bushes. Tamatave. We went to see the lemurs at a local park. They were all kept in cages, there was 1 snake . Worth the trip to see the villages. Reunion island. This is a very different is. You have to get a shuttle bus through the port area as it is a working industrial port. We shared a taxi to St Denis €40 one way. Lots of shops and some beautiful houses. We took the local bus back €2 but it only goes part of the way. You have to get a free shuttle bus to the port this is a 15 minute walk and not easy to find. Mauritius.We took a taxi tour to Papplemousse gardens. Well worth a visit 100 rupees each to get in. You can pay extra for a guide and it is well wort it as all the plants are explained. We then went on to the north coast and beaches. There is a very strong Indian influence here. Food is inexpensive. In some of the ports we asked onboard for maps information and were just tol no we have nothing. On previous cruises (not Costa)we had information sheets delivered to our cabin the night before. Disembarkation. Had to vacate cabin by 8 a.m. So went for breakfast at 7a.m. Leaving hand luggage in our cabin to collect later. On returning at 7.30 to collect it we discovered our cabin had already been made up for the next guests before we had vacated. Our taxi transfer was booked for 9 a.m. Although our flight was 11p.m. We were stuck with our suitcases all day as we couldn't check in until 3 hours before our flight. Take note Costa people go on holiday to enjoy themselves. If you want clients to return you need to up your game. Listen to what they say. I was not the only one other people we spoke to were dissatisfied. I will not be booking another Costa cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We found the boarding process unlike any other cruise we have been on. You fill in a registration card on the dock and have your passports taken from you, passports are returned to you after a face to face interview with one of the many ... Read More
We found the boarding process unlike any other cruise we have been on. You fill in a registration card on the dock and have your passports taken from you, passports are returned to you after a face to face interview with one of the many immigration officials that come on board the ship the day before the cruise finishes. Then you have a photo taken and have to take your own luggage on board and leave it in one of the restaurants and collect it later and take it to the cabin yourself when the cabin is ready. Your key cards are on the bed in your unlocked cabin, it’s then your responsibility to swipe a credit card at one of 3 automated machines on board so that any spending onboard or excursions can be deducted from your credit card (we had issues with amounts being debited to our account that we did not spend and found these very hard to rectify even though you have to give the staff your “ship card” to be swiped in there terminals and sign for everything you purchase). Small very informal ship, very few people wear “formal clothes” in the evenings it’s rare to see a jacket, tie or evening dress. Many nationalities on board, announcements usually made in five or six languages, entertainment in many languages, all staff we encountered understood and spoke very good english. Food and drink on board good, service in restaurants excellent, free tea or coffee not available between 11am and 4pm even in dining rooms. Staff not allowed to serve tap water in main restaurants but tap water is available at all meals in the self service restaurants. Bottled water is €3.05 per litre. The cabin walls are paper thin and even low conversations can be overheard, opening and closing of drawers or toilet door, flushing toilet etc sounded loud. There are large grills in the external doors and any conversations or noise in the corridors outside can be heard clearly, all in all a very noisy ship to try to sleep or even rest on at times. Not many shaded/covered areas on the sun deck, this may sound silly but when it’s sunny and over 30c most days it would be nice to find a shaded spot for some of the day and when it’s raining be able to use a sun lounger under cover. Entertainment was a violin quartet, a pianist, a Peruvian sounding duo who I believe come from Paraguay, a man playing an electric organ, a dance band and the show team who put on several shows, single performers singing, a local group came on board in the Seychelles to perform and a magic show plus of course the late night disco. Vocals were in each of the five main languages. There is no theatre on this ship, there is a cabaret area but its not very large. Excursions were as usual on cruise ships very expensive, there were always many taxis waiting at the ports that offered similar trips for far less money and you could decide on the day whether to go on a trip or not depending on the weather. If you pay for a ships excursion and it’s raining or you are not feeling too well you cannot cancel or they may cut the trip short (for example not go to a beach etc) but there will be no refund. Most port towns we walked to or took the shuttle bus, (there is a charge for shuttle busses) taxis from these towns can be cheaper than from the dock for excursions or a trip to the beach. We did not go to one port (Nosy Be) where tenders were to be used as the waves were to high for it to be safe Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We booked a Winter getaway at a fairly good price We are seasoned cruisers who enjoy the freedom cruising offers The ship is in good shape and the Decor is classically pleasant The design would work with fewer passengers and on ... Read More
We booked a Winter getaway at a fairly good price We are seasoned cruisers who enjoy the freedom cruising offers The ship is in good shape and the Decor is classically pleasant The design would work with fewer passengers and on cold windy sea days there is little to do. The 2 mini pools are useless for anyone wishing to swim. An enclosed pool area is missing and the price for Solarium use at €35.00 per day when all one wishes is to have a sauna i not value for money The ever present Solarium staff pushing Solarium deals are also indicative of the fact that the price is too high The free Gym, (one of the few free facilities), is fairly well equipped, very clean and almost always full at peak times The change rooms and toilets are 5 star The wine bar is an exceptional although very expensive feature Shopping on board is fairly limited but adequate, the range is limited, again because of the space problem The cigar smoking room was also a wonderful plus for the addicts and contained the smoke perfectly, a plus for Costa here The deck smoking area is a bit too close to the doors and can be a bit of a problem The animation staff do a lot to keep passengers busy with an array of ideas detailed in the daily newsletter The service most of the time is good and sometimes outstanding. Credit card verification was easy and quick We did not use the ships excursions and there were the usual shuttle bus charges for the ports where the ship docked a distance from town A safety warning was issued in the daily newsletter for Athens and not for Naples In Naples we were mugged and robbed in a busy street and have since learned that the town is regarded as unsafe. One must be extremely aware and should maybe walk around in a small group, leave all valuables and jewelry on board The ports were a poor substitute for those that have become unsafe, but that cannot be blamed on anyone. Kalamata was good, Napfilon, Volos were not great, Athens is Athens and Trapani was pretty run down and nothing special, Marseilles is also a typical large European port with many possibilities but also earned a safety warning The bus trip by Costa from Villach in Austria was uneventful as was the return trip Boarding in Savona was a little disorganized as usual - queue jumping due to poor system control, luckily not all passengers boarded in Savona Our Inside cabin was a little crammed due to the overhead bunks, although stowed take up a little extra space Otherwise it was adequate, without any problems and the cabin steward was invisible and efficient The food in the buffet was always fresh and the range sufficient to satisfy most tastes At peak times it was very busy and getting a table was not always easy The MDR food was mainly good , for breakfast and lunch the service was a little slow but the area adjacent the entrance was always well served and relaxing The early bird coffee and juice service was erratic and the coffeee quality questionable The small number of children seemed adequately entertained Entertainment was reasonable but with too many dance shows and if you arrive late not all seats have unobstructed viewing A theatre is missing but the ship design does not allow for it Disembarkation for us took a while and Costa mixed up our departure time and delayed our bus for over an hour We checked 3 times but were told to wait until we were called!! This retro ship was not for us and we prefer medium sized ships If you are English speaking multiple announcements will drive you mad. The manner less pushing and shoving of the French, Germans and Italians is also mindboggling. They all need to be first at all costs Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Costa neoRomatica, eastern Mediterranean, April 2014. I embarked at Savona, other embarkation ports were Civitavecchia, Messina and Marseille. This led to a somewhat different passenger dynamic. With smaller numbers, boarding at Savona was ... Read More
Costa neoRomatica, eastern Mediterranean, April 2014. I embarked at Savona, other embarkation ports were Civitavecchia, Messina and Marseille. This led to a somewhat different passenger dynamic. With smaller numbers, boarding at Savona was quick and easy. Unfortunately, on our return, we were docked at the terminal extension, which is still under construction. While reasonably efficient, it's not much fun when it's raining and the temporary walkways are only partially covered. I have been on Atlantica, Mediterranea, Fortuna, Serena, Deliziosa and most recently Luminosa, three weeks in February this year. I have made several comparisons to Luminosa/Deliziosa. Grand Bar Piazza Italia Dance floor roughly semi-circular, base about 26', extending about 18' from stage. One-third the size I would have expected in a Costa Grand Bar, and not well maintained, overdue for refinishing. The floor was constantly crowded. Two groups playing continuously from 18.00 to 01.30, entirely satisfactory and like most Costa musicians, took pride in playing what passengers want to hear. There was a cruise staff activity each night around 22.30, often followed by line dancing. The male cruise staff frequently danced with passengers. The female staff danced with married men but pointedly avoided singles (not just me). Theatre. There is no theatre, Broadway shows are impossible. Shows are staged in Cabaret Vienna. Cabaret Vienna Dance floor 28' x 24'. A much better dance floor than the Grand Bar but still not up to Costa's normal standard. This is the primary show venue, with concerts, entertainers and cabaret-style shows, usually three shows per evening. Ballroom dancing was advertised one evening, a fiasco. The DJ was utterly clueless. The Cruise Director admitted several complaints and promised to do better next time. A second try was barely acceptable; there were only the two evenings and only for one hour. At 23.30, there would be a period of loud, obnoxious disco music to cater to the couple of dozen teens on board, but I believe it lasted only an hour. Salone Tango Disco. Dance floor oval, 20' x 12' Neither a disco nor a tango salone, this room did not seem to get much use. The keyboard player Doriano was good, but the latino group Paraguayos was among the worst I have heard on Costa. I understand one member of this group was leaving at the end of the cruise, so it would appear they are contract musicians rather than a fixed group. Enoteca wine & cheese bar. In its present form, a total flop. I intended to sample the cheese but never got around to it, the schedule conflicts directly with restaurant sittings. I cannot see how this concept can be made profitable. Food Service Restaurant Two traditional fixed dining times, 18.30 and 21.00. An Anytime option is available using part of the Giardino buffet seating area. Water is available (the magic word seems to be “carafe”) but coffee is included only at breakfast, extra-cost at dinner. Food service times can vary, you need to check the program daily. The food was entirely satisfactory for my admittedly simple tastes, however, allowing for local availability, the menus seemed identical to Luminosa. Capri grill Open for evening buffet most evenings til 21.00. The best I have seen on Costa, perfectly adequate for my tastes. But the seating area was limited, either open deck or downstairs. Capri Pizzeria. A charge of 7.50 euros per person for pizza which is no extra charge on other ships. Only available til midnight. Several times a special price, 4 Euros for one pizza was offered, suggesting the concept is not selling very well. Giardino buffet The food was again, perfectly adequate for my tastes, but not well organised. Separate hot and cold lines which are too close, causing constant traffic jams. No beverage stations, water glasses are in the bottom of the dessert station, very awkward. Dinner plates rather than the platters used on other ships, it seemed like I had to make at least 3 trips every time. Midnight buffet. Several times, there were waiters with trays in the lounges as is done on other ships. However, they passed through so quickly I never had a chance to find out what was available. Room service. Premium cabins have continental breakfast included, Classic cabins, 5 euro charge for full breakfast. 2 Euro charge for orders after breakfast. I did not order any room service. Club restaurant. 25 Euro per person service charge. As a Gold Pearl member I receive a complimentary visit. Portion sizes were quite large, but I did not find enough of an improvement to be worth paying the normal charge. The restaurant seats well over 100 people, it was nowhere near that busy. Samsara restaurant. Samsara dining (anytime seating with different menu) is available (note that Costa uses the term “Samsara” for several different things). Included with Samsara cabins but also available as premium dining. My Samsara experience in the past has been good, but I did not try this restaurant on this trip. Cabin. Inside guarantee, I was assigned a handicap cabin. This was the most awkward and badly arranged cabin I have seen since the NCL Epic studios. No reading or vanity lights, lighting was either on or off. Beds were jammed together end to end and could not be put together to make a double. There was a design fault in the closet doors which caused the bathroom door to jam, which has not been rectified even though the ship has been in service over a year. I was only able to visit other cabins briefly during debarkation, my impression was they are not as well laid out as Luminosa. Interactive TV Most messages and advertising are sent by interactive TV, greatly reducing waste paper. The new-message icon was not visible on most screens. Laundry. No self-serve laundry. Ship laundry prices seem comparable to shore prices. A 25 piece for 20 Euro special was offered later in the cruise. Squok Club. A Squok Club is available, open morning, afternoon and evening. It did not seem to be very large but I did not ask for any details. There were several families on board even though this was a off-season cruise. Smoking A smoking lounge is available. I did not see anyone smoking anywhere else on the ship. Language The English-language hostess said there were about 10% English-speaking. I would have guessed somewhat less; Costa tends to lump “other” together with English. Safety announcements are always done in English; the working language of the hotel staff is also English. I was told Costa marketing is trying to position this ship as “upscale”. There are a number of obvious design compromises due to the rebuilding which Costa has not really addressed. In several places, the passenger walkways are so narrow two people can barely pass. The pool area is not covered. The nickel-and-dime charges in food service do not fit an upscale image. The dance environment is the worst I have seen on any Costa ship. The floor in the Piazza Italia is completely inadequate in size and poorly maintained.   Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
My wife and I boarded the NeoRomantica at Marseille for a cruise to LeHavre. Boarding was smooth and well organized. We boarded the ship and had to make our own way to our cabin. On arrival we were met by a bemused cabin attendant who ... Read More
My wife and I boarded the NeoRomantica at Marseille for a cruise to LeHavre. Boarding was smooth and well organized. We boarded the ship and had to make our own way to our cabin. On arrival we were met by a bemused cabin attendant who informed us we weren't in that cabin (a balcony cabin) and someone would come down and take us to our new cabin. That didn't happen, we had to get a security man to call customer service and find out where we should be, he then took us there. We were upgraded to a Samsara class cabin, we had a larger cabin on the 14 level. We thought that was great- We were wrong!!! This was typical of the cruise, so much is good - the ship is in superb condition it is clearly 4 star, food was good though inconsistent, service could be good but you couldn't depend on it. I waited 30 minutes for poached eggs one breakfast and all the matre de could say was " sorry for not being perfect"! While service at dinner was very good and staff were very attentive. Our main problem was the cabin which does vibrate a lot more than other cabins we have had. Also the water pressure in the shower was very poor, so I contacted customer service (3 times I reported it) they told me it was fixed. Next morning while I was in the shower the hot water stopped completely! I can only think that the alterations to the ship were not completed properly as this is a new section of the ship. But the good will disappears when it becomes obvious that they don't know what to do so they try to "fob" me off! Itinerary is good, we did 3 excursions and they varied as we were put with other nationalities and it was very obvious that English was not a priority. The crew especially waiters spoke good English and we tried to add what we could in French. We quite enjoyed the cultural experience and have travelled widely in Europe before. We took the "extras" drink package and it is excellent value! We had a good assortment of wines to choose from. Coffee such as cappuccino was include but you could not get it at the coffee shop! You had to go to the bar! So silly!!! Sound proofing is also a real issue on the ship. We could clearly hear other toilets, we could hear our neighboring cabin conversations and noise from the corridors is annoying! Much more than on any ship we have travelled on (we have cruised 6 times before) . How this has happened on a new section is unbelievable. Would I recommend the ship- yes and no! If they fixed the problems then yes definitely! If they don't well I would certainly say "do not under any circumstance accept or book a samsara cabin" Hopefully they fix the issues, because the ship is a great size has a good layout and is certainly very different in structure. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
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 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 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
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
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

Find a Costa neoRomantica Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click