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This was my 10th and 11th cruise, 2nd on Costa. I sailed the Atlantica two years ago on a transatlantic. In my opinion, Costa does a lot of things right but there are some rough spots that need to be addressed. Still, it's just my ... Read More
This was my 10th and 11th cruise, 2nd on Costa. I sailed the Atlantica two years ago on a transatlantic. In my opinion, Costa does a lot of things right but there are some rough spots that need to be addressed. Still, it's just my opinion from my perspective. Others on the same cruises might very well disagree. Pre-Cruise We booked the Sheraton Airport through Priceline for a very good rate. The hotel is very nice and the management was helpful and friendly. We arrived early afternoon and after checking around, we chose to eat dinner at The Rustic Crab, a casual restaurant with a varied seafood menu, but specializing in Garlic Crab. Delicious! But it's quite busy and there will be a wait. Embarkation Long and tedious with not enough chairs in the terminal for those waiting. It seemed organized, but obviously not enough help to process the number of people very quickly. Cabin The Victoria was launched in 1996, before the balcony phase, so no balcony. I decided some time ago that if I could not book a balcony I would book inside, since I am not real impressed by a window I cannot open. Our inside cabin #80243 was about 160 sq ft and quite comfortable. Nicely designed with plenty of storage space and a mini bar. The bathroom was cramped but had an excellent shower. The TV had cable stations but no CNN or ESPN, one English movie channel, the rest in other languages. The Ship I won't go into great detail about the design of the Victoria since that information is available at various sites. The ship is very clean and well maintained and quite beautiful. Even at capacity, the layout presents an open, uncrowded feeling. There are plenty of elevators, some glass enclosed which allows a view of the atrium. Perhaps my favorite thing about the Victoria (which is true of the Atlantica as well) is the open bars which serve both coffee and alcohol. The bar areas are open to public walkways which makes it easy to stop in for a coffee or drink and listen to music without feeling trapped in a bar. This is especially nice if you're alone at the time. Some have couches where you can sit and read, sip coffee, listen to music and not feel out of place. Great idea! The pool is about average size and there are two hot tubs on each end of the pool. There are many, many deck chairs on all of the decks for sunning, and I do think that there were enough to go around. The ship has about all of the other amenities of any modern ship except the mega-mega liners. Card room, spa, fitness center, Internet cafe...it's all there. The Casino The casino is large with the usual table games and tons of slot machines. It is often crowded after dinner and into the night. I played a fair amount, lost a little but did meet a few that hit a jackpot. The bar staff circulates and it is easy to order a drink. Overall, the casino is appealing and comfortable with good ventilation. The Food There is certainly plenty of it in various spots so I will try to break it down, with comments specific to the area. Formal Dining -- The two main dining rooms are on deck five, separated by the kitchen. Passengers are assigned early (6:30 PM) or late (8:30-8:45 PM) seating in one or the other. My first cruise I was assigned to the Sinfonia, the 2nd to the Fantasia. I found no difference. Both rooms are attractive, but not awesome in any way. I would describe the dining room food as fair overall with an occasional entree that excelled. The dinner menu offered six courses, including desert, with a number of selections. Pasta was one of the courses and was the most consistent. The bread was always hard rolls and I felt the deserts were uninspiring. I did not eat in the dining room for breakfast or lunch so I cannot comment. Casual Dining -- Most of the casual dining is located on the pool deck, deck 11. The Nettuno grill is open from about noon till 2:30 PM and serves hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries, with all the trimmings, including bacon, cheese, sauerkraut and sautEed onions, but no pickles. All the food at the grill is excellent, but I did miss the pickles. The grill reopens about 4 PM and offers pizza (not great) and a selection of fruit. The Bolero Buffet, off the pool deck, is open for breakfast, lunch and light snacks throughout most of the afternoon and evening. I would categorize the food there as fair, and selections rather limited. Costa does not offer very good bread. La Terrazza, on the aft of the pool deck, is open for lunch and serves fresh pasta, pizza, and a different International cuisine each day. The pasta is excellent, and the rest of the selections are usually very good. The Pizzeria, on Deck 12 is open from 6:30 PM till 1 AM for pizza or ice cream. The late night buffets (except for the Gala night) are spread out through the bar areas and offers pasta, pastries, fruit, cheese, desserts. A nice selection and a great way to do it. The Gala buffet, a much grander affair, takes place in the Fantasia restaurant. Unfortunately, once you serve your plate, that's pretty much the end of grand for you have to trudge through the very long kitchen in formal attire to the other dining room in order to sit down and eat. This makes no sense. Perhaps the original thought was that there would not be enough tables left since the buffet takes up space, but it's just not the case. The buffet is not that well attended and there are plenty of available tables. At any rate, it turns an enormous effort by the kitchen staff into something rather unappealing. And it needn't be that way. Alternative Restaurant -- Cafe Magnifico is the alternative restaurant, a sampling of Genoa's finest restaurant. Cost is $20 per person and a 15% gratuity. I did not eat there but one of my tablemates who did was truly impressed. He called it most definitely 5 star and in his opinion would cost several times the price on land. Room Service -- Room service is offered 24 hrs although the menu varies after 1 AM. The breakfast menu which can be hung on the door is strictly continental. Coffee, tea, milk, pastries, fruit, yogurt. A variety of sandwiches are offered that are truly excellent. Room service is very quick and courteous. The Service Very, very uneven. My first table steward was barely marginal, the second absolutely outstanding. My room steward ranked with the best I've had. Some of the bar staff were friendly and efficient, a few others not. The tour staff was the worst I've encountered, often rude, abrupt and impatient with questions. The administrative staff was quite nice and tried to be helpful but often delivered the wrong information. Language problems were the culprit at times, I think, regarding wrong information, but frustrating nevertheless. Entertainment I am not a big fan of shipboard production shows, so I solicited the opinions of those who are. For the most part, they were pleased with most of the shows and except for two they thought were terrible, ranked the entertainment about average. The musicians throughout the ship in the various bars are all quite good. The band on the pool deck was always entertaining. They offered the usual deck activities such as bingo, horse racing etc. Miscellaneous Toga Night is a special Costa thing. Bed sheets and a cardboard crown with instructions on how to create a toga are delivered to your room on the afternoon of toga night which is the final night of the cruise. Most participate, and it's fun to see the different creations. Smoking -- I have read many reviews on Costa which made an issue of the smoking, but I have to say I didn't find it to be an issue. There is no smoking in any of the restaurants or the Fantasia showroom. The pool deck has a smoking side and non-smoking side, separated by the width of the ship. All bars have both smoking and non-smoking areas. I didn't encounter anyone smoking in public walkways or at elevators. The casino allows smoking however it is very well ventilated. But the bottom line is Costa is a European based cruise line with a loyal European following and is protective of the rights of both sets of passengers. I think they do it as well as they can. Announcements -- This is another area where Costa has been criticized. Announcements in several languages. Well, there is no way around that since Costa's passengers represent multiple languages, but I will say, since my cruise on the Atlantica, the announcements have been cut way back. On this cruise, there were very, very few announcements. How few? Well, I went through an entire day an hour off in time since I didn't know to turn my clock back. Didn't realize it till dinner when we were the only ones waiting to get in an hour early. Coffee -- Coffee gets it's own heading because Costa's coffee is exceptional throughout the ship. No doubt, the best I've had on any cruise line. And I am particular about coffee. Now if they could just improve their bread. Ports The ports were all popular ports that have been reviewed many times, so I will only list the ones where I have some special input. Catalina -- Costa's private island and I think they do it better than any other cruise line I have been on. They are extremely organized. You are met at the island by chair runners who will set up your lounge chair anywhere you want it. No need to try to chase one down no matter how late you arrive. The bar staff circulates selling drinks (of course) but the downside is that the drinks are jacked up in price. A $1.50 shipboard coke is now $1.95. Why? Anyway, the island is lovely, typical picnic food is offered at more that one location and you can always drink juice or iced tea for free. Cozumel -- Try eating lunch at Pancho's Backyard. Delicious Mexican food in a garden environment, all prepared from fresh ingredients and absolutely outstanding Margaritas. Even better, ask for Manual and mention his web page and get a free (small) Margarita. Adjacent to Pancho's is an interesting shop with a variety of crafts and souvenirs. From downtown, you can get a taxi to the Mayan ruins roundtrip (he will wait for you). The paths at the ruins are uneven and not easy walking so if you want to go at your own pace, this may be the best way. The cost was no more than the tour. Progresso and Merida -- The shuttle drops you off at the craft bazaar in downtown Progresso. Right there, you will find double decker painted busses that will take you on a $2 tour of the little town. Only takes about twenty minutes. Just a few blocks from the bazaar is Progresso's beautiful beach. At the entrance to the bazaar tickets are sold to Merida. A round trip bus ticket is $8. A roundtrip with tour is $20. Take the tour. Merida is very difficult on your own. Very few people speak any English. It takes about 45 minutes by bus to Merida. I don't think any of the busses are air conditioned. Key West -- The Conch Train tour is well worth the money. $18 at the station in Key West. The driver talks non-stop and covers every important bit of history and information you ever wanted to know. The trolley also offers a tour and you can get off and on the trolley at any stop you want to explore. Summary By now, you know my opinion of Costa's good points and problem areas. But I think the positive definitely out weighs the negative. I personally enjoyed the rather relaxed atmosphere and I think the passenger mix was a positive. We were the only Americans at a large table of British passengers and I have never had better tablemates. They were fun and gracious and we made lasting friends. Overall, I felt my fellow cruisers were friendly and courteous and I enjoyed getting to know several of them. The age was mixed, and although the group was generally lively and fun loving, they were not boisterous or brawling drunks. I feel that Costa genuinely tries to deliver a fine cruise experience even though they may at times fall short due to language barriers. I do think that some areas can be improved and that they should make an effort to do so. That said, I feel they offer an excellent product for value and I would not hesitate to cruise Costa again. GSDDAW@aol.com April 2003 Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2004
This is going to be a difficult review to write. At 37 this is my 27th cruise and it becomes more and more of a challenge to be objective when writing a cruise review. I run the Cruise Division of Australia's largest retail agency ... Read More
This is going to be a difficult review to write. At 37 this is my 27th cruise and it becomes more and more of a challenge to be objective when writing a cruise review. I run the Cruise Division of Australia's largest retail agency chain. This cruise was my first taste of Costa - being a new product for us - and was basically for me to assess what a Costa Cruise is really like. Please excuse me if the review is long - or over-critical, I will try to make it as 'objective' as possible. Embarkation The transfer from Genoa Airport to Savona was a smooth as it could possibly be. We were met at the airport by a Costa rep and were able to sit in a designated Costa lounge while waiting for other flights to arrive. The transfer seemed very quick along the Autostrada - no more than 40 minutes. The cruise terminal in Savona is very new and stylish - very pleasant - complete with outside sun deck and cafe. The terminal was a blessing though - as the embarkation process was SLOW to say the least. We arrived at about 12.30pm where we were handed a number (19 in our case). Boarding began at about 1.00pm and we did not board until about 3.30pm. A very long wait!!! Cabin We were in a Balcony Stateroom - Costa Victoria only had balconies added in Jan this year. You couldn't tell that the balconies had been added - seemed like they were there all along. The cabin was an ok size. Seemed a little smaller than other balconies I have stayed in - I believe they did forsake a small amount of space in the construction of the balconies. Certainly not 'inconveniently small' however. Bathrooms were typically small - with a cylindrical shower. Cramped to say the least but again bearable. Unfortunately the shower tray didn't have a very high lip which meant a flooded bathroom floor every shower. Not really an issue - just don't leave anything on the floor!! Public Areas Being used to more modern ships (Costa Vic is 8 years old) I found this ship lacked a certain 'wow' factor but was still clean and comfortable with 'nice' public rooms. Our BIGGEST issue with the ship was the smoking. We had christened her the 'Costa Ashtray' by the end of the cruise. Seems the ship was basically 'smoking' with only a few dedicated 'non-smoking' areas. Now - smoking does not normally bother me at all - in fact I am pretty tolerant of it - however in this case PHEW was there a lot of it. Not only was there smoking in all the bars, but people would walk along corridors smoking, stand in line for reception smoking .. basically EVERYWHERE. Service In a word - inconsistent. On the plus side, 3 particular crew stood out. Ron, our cabin steward, was the best I have ever had on any cruise. At the beginning he introduced himself as our 'angel' and was true to his word. Every night on our return to the cabin we had a new surprise - whether it be a towel animal - or fresh flowers scattered all over the bed - there was always a nice, personal touch. Nothing was a problem for him. Just excellent. Christiana at reception was our God-send. You see, 3 of us in the party had luggage lost by the airlines. Not a nice way to start a cruise!! Christiana took ALL our details, told us not to worry about the luggage as Costa would find it .. no matter what. And lo and behold they did. She was a gem. The 3rd was Michael in the specialty restaurant. An excellent waiter. On the down side, sometimes the service was dreadful. Questions were answered with 'who knows', 'no' or simply ignored. On the first day we ordered tea and cookies for the cabin in the afternoon. They arrived. ON the second day we were told "no cookies on the room service menu" - but we insisted we got them the day before and .. so they came. On the third day we were told "no cookies on the room service menu" - and again we insisted that we had got them for the last 2 days. This time though .. NO cookies. And never again after that. Petty? Maybe - but this is an example of the inconsistencies we experienced. Entertainment Don't even start me on this one. A shadow puppet show. A guy who created dresses out of one piece of material. Tragic to say the least ... Food I am starting to sound like a whiner. Sorry!!! I usually only have good things to say - but .. I'm struggling!! The food was disappointing. We were expecting a feast of Italian delights. It wasn't forthcoming. The food was certainly OK .. but not outstanding. Ports AHA - finally something good to say. Very unusual ports - Naples / Messina / Katakolon / Corfu / Kotor / Dubrovnik. None disappointing - particularly Kotor which is incredibly scenic. Really enjoyed the itinerary. From the above you have probably worked out that I won't necessarily be recommending Costa as my first choice for Europe. The cruise was ... ok ... but by choice I wouldn't sail with them again. Perhaps the newer ships would be a different case - a few based on Carnival designs - I'm not sure. But i am hesitant to try one just in case. For those of you who love Costa, I am sorry. But I would be curious to know ... is my review typical?? Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
Overview: We were attracted to this cruise by the reasonable price and interesting itinerary (visiting Italy, Egypt, Turkey and Greece). Before booking I read 'official' cruise guide reviews, which gave the ship a fairly good ... Read More
Overview: We were attracted to this cruise by the reasonable price and interesting itinerary (visiting Italy, Egypt, Turkey and Greece). Before booking I read 'official' cruise guide reviews, which gave the ship a fairly good rating. I however became a bit concerned after reading a number of critical 'customer reviews'. I think it is however very much about perception and what sort of person you are. I can appreciate some regulars perhaps giving the ship a lower review if they have been on many cruises that they preferred, however it should be remembered that this is a mass-market cruise at a great price. For value for money, it was excellent. The Costa Victoria is a modern, well-maintained ship. Everything looks like new and is spotless. Especially after walking around places like the interesting but hectic Alexandria, we were very pleased to see our beautiful white ship in the harbour on our return. I have only sailed with Orient Lines/NCL previously and there were areas that both companies excelled in. The crew on the Victoria seemed a little more rushed perhaps, especially during the dinner service. However none were unfriendly and my parents, who had never sailed previously, thought the service was fantastic. So much so that they have booked to travel with Costa again in September. Food: I can honestly say that we never had a bad meal on board. The main restaurant served a 5-course dinner which featured quite a lot of fish and was Mediterranean in terms of oils/sauces etc. It was all of a high standard and the staff were really wonderful. It is however true that if you like, say, steak and hot puddings then these featured on rare occasions. I read a review stating that the pizzeria served frozen food, this simply isn't true. The poolside grill had lovely well cooked chicken and the cafes throughout the ship were relaxing and pleasant. Breakfast/lunch buffets could be a little busy but we always found a table somewhere. There was the midnight buffet (disappearing from some lines) that was outstanding. There was also complimentary coffee/juice most of the day at the back of the ship. It is worth buying a 'honeymooners card' (you don't need to be on your honeymoon) for a set number of drinks for one reduced price. Alcoholic drinks were quite expensive although the duty free shop did actually let you take your purchased back to your cabin for consumption, if you so desired. Shows: The cruise featured 'the entertainment team' a group pf Italian performers, which it perhaps took a couple of days for me to get on to their wavelength, however they were very talented. Costa goes in for quite a lot of audience participation shows, which you either love or hate. They could be very amusing to watch and there was little pressure to join in. Cabin: The cabin was a reasonable size and well designed. The hairdryer was damaged but I reported it to the reception and it was replaced with a whole new unit by the time we returned to the cabin. Itinerary: This was a very interesting voyage. One negative was that in most ports, you had to travel some distance to get to the main attraction (eg Pyramids, Taormina, Olympia etc) however only in Alexandria and Messina did we feel we had little option but to take the official tour. On all other occasions we just took local transport. In Katakolon I would recommend taking a taxi, and in Piraeus, if you don't mind some walking then head around to the train station. On our cruise someone was taken ill while we travelled to Alexandria and the boat needed to turn around and due to the delay we missed out Rhodes. The situation was handled professionally although information could perhaps have been more forthcoming. Misc. Others have commented about smokers onboard. As a non-smoker I feared the worst, but really there wasn't too much of a problem. Some bars could be a little smoky but I never saw anyone smoking in the corridors or waiting for the lift etc as others have reported. Summary: I'm sure that many of the criticisms of Costa will be genuine (otherwise why would people write them) however I believe much is down to Costa being very different and very European. We met French, Germans and Italians on board, who were all very friendly. Yes, one couple did push in the queue in front of us on an occasion but this was very rare. Yes, all the announcements in different languages do take some time, but really - is it that such big a deal? If you are an average easygoing person, then I think you will like (and perhaps even love) Costa. If you want to moan and find fault with anything and everything then this is possible too. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
This ship was nice enough, although not nearly as lavish as some we have cruised on. We had an inside room ( a first for us), and it was comfortable with a workable bathroom. The ports of call were interesting, especially Egypt. We had 3 ... Read More
This ship was nice enough, although not nearly as lavish as some we have cruised on. We had an inside room ( a first for us), and it was comfortable with a workable bathroom. The ports of call were interesting, especially Egypt. We had 3 couples traveling together and we didn't want to do the "herd thing", so we hired taxis and found a great adventure everywhere we went. Salvador in Naples was a romantic. Guiseppi, Abdul, Dionisis, to name a few! We rode through the "old town" section of Alexandria with Abdul, the godfather of taxi drivers in Alex and Cairo! The ship paper reported that Euro and Dollars could be used in Egypt, but we found they really couldn't. Need to exchange to Egyptian money. Other places took the other fine. I was surprised that all the taxi drivers spoke enough English to give us some good information and to converse. We were all extremely disappointed in the quality and variety of food on this cruise. You know how you usually look forward to dinner in the evenings?...well, we didn't. The service was good, but the food was bland, even desserts were not especially creative or flavorful. The shopping was not very good on this ship and the over the counter medicine selection was very limited. You have to go to the infirmary to get dramamine,etc. One of our group members was very ill one day with a kidney stone and spent the day in the infirmary where she received wonderful attention. This is the first ship I've been on where people began crowding against the door and hour early to see an after dinner show. Many guests on board were rude and paid no attention to lines and pushed ahead.. or elbowed out of elevators. Guess my Southern upbringing just does not understand that! Shows were mildly entertaining, the young variety dancers/singers did a good job, but the rest was rather blah. If you are into big "groupie" events, that seems like the hit on this ship. At the end of the cruise we had an overnight in "Milan", which turned out to be a small town outside of Milan. By the time we arrived at our hotel in Cardano and hauled all our luggage up a couple of flights of entrance stairs, (hotel was cool by the way), it was too late and too complicated to get into Milan. I would have liked to have done some good shopping there. It was disappointing to be stuck there for the evening without even a good place to eat. We did have a good time overall, but mainly because we were with good friends and visited interesting ports. I would not choose to sail with Costa again. I guess we have been spoiled on other ships! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
Costa Victoria February 12-19, 2005 Brazil: Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia, Ilheus, Buzios, Santos This is a cruise up the coast of Brazil designed for Brazilians but we found it quite enjoyable as Americans. We were 2 of 60 ... Read More
Costa Victoria February 12-19, 2005 Brazil: Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia, Ilheus, Buzios, Santos This is a cruise up the coast of Brazil designed for Brazilians but we found it quite enjoyable as Americans. We were 2 of 60 Americans on board. The other 58 were with a corporate group that kept to themselves. Not knowing Portuguese and only a little French and Spanish, we anticipated difficulty but were delighted at Costa's surprisingly good logistics -- in six languages. Resourceful tour guide Angela and our lovely hostess Patricia were informed and attentive, close all the time on shore excursions for a quick translation in English or to point out something interesting. This was Patricia's first time hosting an English-speaking group (she usually hosts Germans or Italians) and she did a wonderful job. This particular week after Carnivale was, unknown to us, "Fitness Week." At least 1000 of the 2000 passengers were in rather awesome shape, making poolside people-watching an unusually attractive pastime. Victoria parties into the night, every night, as she cruises Brazil each February. Carnivale was especially hard on the crew, as Brazilian teenagers spray painted cabins, broke into storage lockers, ran down hallways late at night, often did not tip and drank illegally from booze they smuggled on board. This week, they merely ran down hallways and yelled a lot (bring earplugs). We were on deck 9 and it was pretty quiet except for two nights. If noise becomes a problem, demand the information desk gives you a second room in which to sleep. If the ship is not full, they will accommodate your request. Victoria is almost 10 years old but in the last year she's undergone some changes. There is a new captain and cruise director. Balconies were added to two floors of formerly porthole rooms in 2004. The best improvement? The food is *remarkably* better than late 2003 when we sailed her to Egypt. Each night we found cheeses or bruschetta waiting for us on the table. The seafood was excellent, especially the scallop and mussel salad. When we asked the waiter, a charming Filipino named Jay, why the food was so much better, he said, smiling, "The Victoria has had many changes. You know, we have added balconies in the last year." And with that, he left us wondering if this was a translation problem or he was just kidding! Note: the new balcony rooms are nice but you may want to get the exact same room, without balcony, for much less. Getting There and Back: Costa offers no transport to the port at Santos from the airport at Sao Paulo because, frankly, too few foreigners buy this great cruise. We took a taxi for $78 each way for the 75-minute trip. Embarkation, usually 15 minutes or less in other Costa ports, was a sweltering 90 minutes. Get to the port as soon as you can before 2 p.m. to secure a good place in line. You'll need to arrange for early disembarkation (red luggage tags) for any flights prior to 1 p.m. Using another cab, we got to the airport 5 minutes a harrowing 45 minutes before the flight and barely made it thru security and on the plane. Good Deals: 1) Due to a strong dollar against the Brazilian real, shore trips are a good deal. Rio de Janeiro is fantastic and more. Take the all-day Super Rio for $99 which includes a churriscaria (delicious meats) lunch, a train trip to Corcavado (The Big Jesus), a visit to Rio's contemporary Cathedral, shopping, and the trams to Sugarloaf (the big rocks you've seen in every travel poster of Rio). All the major places in about 8 hours, with plenty of nap time on the bus between stops. Everyone loves this tour. 2) Up the coast, the 4-hour "Salvador of Contrasts" features a ornate Cathedrals and monasteries, strolling through the old town plus shopping in the large central market. Ask the tour guide to go to the Donnini jewelry store. A special bus whisks you from the market up the coast to a gated cliff enclave. At Donnini, a guard checks you in, and an elevator takes you upstairs to an incredible display of emeralds and semi-precious stones. An English-speaking clerk shows you what must be a half-million dollars worth of jewelry and how to shop for color, grade, etc. Being the budget traveller, we bought a 7-carat blue topaz for $90. A taxi will return you to port, compliments of Donnini. There's free internet in the port building, all the way to the right as you enter from the ship. 3) Buzios is a picturesque town with nice shops to buy souvenirs, good lunch places, and quite a few nightclubs. Victoria docks here at 1130 p.m., then tenders passengers in to the nightclubs for a hearty party until morning. The ship leaves the next day at 430 p.m. 4) Deck 9 aft (all the way back towards the stern) has a deck with excellent views and relative privacy especially late at night (wink, wink). Not-so-Good: 1) At Ilheus, the "Itacare and Tijuipe Waterfall" tour is advertised at 5 hours but takes an oppressive 8. At least 3 of those 8 are on the bus, and the remaining 5 are three unimpressive stops (a beach overlook, another deserted and ugly beach, and a chocolate shop) and the waterfall itself. It is at the bottom of a long muddy road you walk - straight down. If it rains, as it did for us, that road turns to slush and becomes a long, wet, muddy hike up. Bring a towel and a bathing suit, but be a good swimmer. The rocks are slippery, the water is deep and the potential for injury is high. There's a restaurant adjacent serving good steak lunches for $10 and Brazilian beer for $1. We do not recommend this trip for anyone -- especially those with mobility problems. 2) A number of the public elevators and hallways strongly smell of mildew. This is normal for a 10-year-old ship but still undesirable. Bring a Stick-up for the bathroom, which may have its own special aroma (this is also normal for many ships). 3) Odds and Ends: Internet is slow and expensive at 50 cents a minute with no wireless service available. For that picture perfect cruise moment sipping coffee on your balcony, robes are no longer available except in suites -- even at the spa. Use Common Sense: Although crimes against tourists are few and tourist police are everywhere, use common sense in Brazilian ports. With the exception of Buzios, which is pretty much like Key West and very safe, leave your bling-bling (jewelry) in the cabin, along with your NASCAR tank top and your Budweiser hat. Carry money, your room key, your Costa card and your passport in a pants pocket, preferably zippered. Overall, spending a week on the Victoria is an easy, fun way to see Brazil with reasonably sized cabins and lots to do. For true pampering, choose another line like Princess or Celebrity. But for getting around inexpensively and comfortably to exotic places, Costa is the best. Hello to Mohammed and Rita from Switzerland, Charlie from England, and our waiters Jay and Frances! Happy cruising! George and Eleanor Read Less
Sail Date: March 2005
Well, this cruise was a bit ago, but I thought that I would write a review so that others can benefit from my experience as I used this site to pick out our cruise November 2009. This was a family cruise for us. I actually went on the ... Read More
Well, this cruise was a bit ago, but I thought that I would write a review so that others can benefit from my experience as I used this site to pick out our cruise November 2009. This was a family cruise for us. I actually went on the cruise with my parents and was younger at the time. Embarkation We arrived at the allotted time and stood in line for quite a while. The process took around 2 hour. Quite a bit of time for a family of 6 to stand around (the youngest at the time being only a couple of years old) The crowd was noisy and it was quite hot, but eventually we got onto the ship. The FOOD I was expecting what you see in the advertising on TV. I was expecting gourmet food so beautiful that you don't want to eat it and so delicious you don't want to get full. I was sorely disappointed. The food was somewhat edible and there were hardly any choices at all. Breakfast was the same every day. Lunch tasted like something you would get at a cheesy restaurant trying to fix something ordinary into something great. The buffets were closed most of the day. If you didn't eat at the allotted time then you had to order room service. (which was limited and disappointing.) There were no all night buffets. Everything closed around eight. The Entertainment It was poor and that's putting it nicely. They closed the pools after sundown. No late night swimming for us. Basically bed time was set for nine and everyone that wasn't in bed was bored to death. They had some cheesy pool side games that attracted the older crowd. We only met one other english speaking family on the trip.. everyone else was italian or french. The fire drills or whatever you would like to call it, took quite a while as they had to say everything in about four different languages. So what should have taken maybe half an hour to an hour took double that. There was smoking all around the ship. The younger kids around 15 were even allowed to smoke in the teenager portion of the ship. The entertainment for teens was definitely not appropriate if you are concerned at all for your child's morals. This particular cruise pulled into Progresso, Mexico. One of the poorer parts of mexico. There were no coral reefs or tropical fish. It was on the Yucatan Peninsula. A more ugly part of mexico. There were slaughter houses with rotting beef and poor children asking us for money. Not a bad vacation spot for shopping, but definitely not tropical and lush like we were expecting. The vacation after the cruise was the best part as we went to Universal Studios in Orlando for a couple of days and stayed at our timeshare in Florida. But all of us were very disappointed with the cruise. My husband and I are going on a Carnival Cruise in November and I have heard nothing but good things about them, so we are very excited. Hopefully it will wipe the memory of this cruise from my mind. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
My wife and I started planning our cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean just under a year ago as a gift to each other for our 25th wedding anniversary. We had been on one cruise previously, with another line and had been extremely ... Read More
My wife and I started planning our cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean just under a year ago as a gift to each other for our 25th wedding anniversary. We had been on one cruise previously, with another line and had been extremely impressed by the quality of service and the friendliness of the staff. Our expectation with Costa was therefore quite high. We were not intimidated by the multicultural environment offered by Costa as we both speak French and English quite well and can get along in Italian. Venice was our port of embarkation and we made independent arrangements to get there, spending most of a day and a night in that beautiful city before getting to the ship. In Venice, there is a shuttle bus service from Piazzale Roma to the ship. Near boarding time, the buses come at +/- 20 minute intervals. We got there in plenty of time and hooked up with a small group of fellow travellers who were boarding the ship that day. We actually got into a queue at the point where the bus was expected and as only a few people were ahead of us, we were expecting an easy shuttle. Wrong! When the bus arrived, a throng appeared out of nowhere and pushed and shoved its way onto the bus. My wife and I managed to get our suitcases into the compartment and found standing room on the bus. Then we were told to get off and take the next bus, our suitcases would wait for us at the port. When we did get to the port, 20 minutes later, our suitcases were there, on the parking lot, unattended. We picked them up and lugged them towards the check-in, following the Costa signs for some 500 meters. Once there, we realized that we should have left our luggage at the drop-off point near the area where the first bus had deposited our luggage. So we went back, with our luggage, for another +/- 500 meters. At the luggage drop-off, things went rather smoothly as did the subsequent check-in. Our stateroom was a standard category 10 stateroom with ocean view and balcony. Were talking pretty small here, perhaps 150 square feet plus perhaps another 40 square feet for the balcony. The use of the space, however, is quite efficient and the stateroom was very comfortable. We were on the port side and got the chance to see some spectacular views along the cruise. A small irritant was the room safe. It was quite finicky, requiring several attempts to open or close and occasionally requiring reprogramming. Moreover, it operates with only one of the ID cards issued by Costa for the cabin, which means that I had to stay on my wifes good side for the whole duration of the cruise. On the first day, we rushed to the front of Deck 12 to get a good place in order to observe our departure through the spectacular Canale della Giudecca which we had been observing for a few weeks on the ships webcam. Each time, the ship had departed, like clockwork at 6:00 PM sharp, local time. This time, 6:00 PM came and went. We waited and waited. At 6:45, we had to go to our meal sitting. The ship left shortly after that, having been delayed by some late passengers. We had been at sea for the first day when we had our emergency drill. Much effort was made to place the passengers by height so that the ships photographer would be able to get a snapshot of everyone. The drill took forever as all announcements had to be made in six languages (Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, and Portuguese). The ship is just about the right size. It is big enough to offer a variety of services and enable passengers to roam without feeling constrained, and yet not so big so as to preclude them from finding their way about. All the main services are available: shops, casino, enough bars to satisfy a very large number of thirsty people, a theatre, a spa and a very small space serving as a gym. In all honesty, the gym could use more space, more equipment, and longer opening hours. My wife and I enjoy a brisk walk and we often used the jogging track on Deck 6. The problem here is that people will run or walk, at whatever pace they see fit, in any direction they see fit. The jogging track could use a couple of lanes, fast and slow, as well as directional arrows. The meals are pretty good, although, given the Italian reputation for superb eating, not quite up to our expectations. The coffee was nowhere near the rich dark brew one would expect. The breakfast buffet presented a rich selection of fruit together with a wide choice of artery clogging foods including all sorts of eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon and sausage. A small section is reserved for the Health Corner where one can find a bit of stewed fruit, some yoghurt, and a limited selection of cereals. For dinner, we were told wed share our table with two other couples. We were surprised to find ourselves at a table for two. Each dinner consisted of a seven-course meal. The food was plentiful, servings were generous and the preparation was quite good albeit not exceptional. The wine selection is varied and suggestions are offered on the menus. During the cruise, we got to know our waiter and assistant quite well. They were friendly, helpful and quite competent. Entertaining a complement of passengers speaking at least six different languages has got to be a nightmare, and the staff did an impressive job in this respect. Roberto, the cruise director, was a riot and he was ably assisted by his colleagues. The after dinner show every night was different and entertaining. The talent was varied and competent. DO NOT miss the Roman Night on the last night of sailing. I cant remember the last time I laughed so hard. The shore excursions were handled efficiently. Each group was individually led off the ship and handed over to the tour guide. Overall, the tour guides were quite good and knowledgeable. On two occasions, however, the tour guide would give us instruction for place and time to return to the ship, and then drop off in order to give the passengers free time for sightseeing and shopping. This is quite good except for one thing. When you have to board a tender by a specific time, you may encounter a bottleneck at the port if more than one cruise ship is anchored offshore. We started heading back with what we thought was a good margin for making the tender only to encounter long queues of people trying to do the same thing at the same time. Not good for the blood pressure! The disembarkation procedure was exactly the opposite of our first days boarding. On the day prior to our return to Venice, we were invited to a meeting at which the disembarkation procedures were clearly explained. Our luggage was picked up as promised. We got our suitcases within five minutes of getting off the ship. We breezed right through out to the shuttle bus and were back at Piazzale Roma within ten minutes. My wife and I both enjoyed the multi-cultural composition of the passengers although it did tend to slow down communication at times. There is probably less mingling among passengers than there would be if there was a more common background. We certainly did not notice much mixing between the cultural groups. This may please people who want to keep to themselves but disappoint more outgoing types. As a general impression, I would say that we got good value for the price of our cruise. Our opinion is mitigated by the fact that our previous cruise experience had left us with very high expectations. One might say that the Costa Victoria suffered by comparison. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2006
Wow, were we excited One son graduating law school and the other finishing his first year in law school. It was THE BEST OF TIMES. My wife and I decided, as a graduation gift, to take our sons on a cruise to the Greek Islands. There we ... Read More
Wow, were we excited One son graduating law school and the other finishing his first year in law school. It was THE BEST OF TIMES. My wife and I decided, as a graduation gift, to take our sons on a cruise to the Greek Islands. There we were, sitting in front of Linda B. at Liberty Travel previously in Aventura now in Hollywood. We told her what we wanted, a high end ship, great food and great ports. She sold us on a Costa cruise, the Victoria, which went to the islands in Greece that we had heard and read about. She guaranteed us that this was a high end ship, only one step below Windstar. The anticipation was great over the next few months waiting to go on our family cruise. The flights that we booked, of course not through Liberty Travel, since they make no money on booking airline tickets, were great. We arrived in Venice, Italy and went to the ship. CRUISING INTO THE WORST OF TIMES: The boys' room was made up as single instead of a double and our room, which had already been made up, was filthy. There was a half full Coca-Cola can on the dresser; there was dust on the top of the counters and there were fingerprints on every window and mirror. We called Housekeeping who assured us that they would immediately rectify these problems. Still hoping for the best, we went upstairs to the buffet and upon return to our room 2 hours later, nothing had been done. We began to realize that our travel agent had terribly mislead us and we were not on the high end ship that we had demanded and paid a premium for. There were fresh cut flowers on our bed that the travel agent had sent. To this day, I don't understand why anyone would put fresh cut flowers on a bed. When we asked for a flower vase, we were told they did not have any and a champagne bucket was delivered to our room for the flowers. Next, we learned that although Linda had assured us we would have late seating, we were booked on early seating. It made no difference, the food on that ship was so awful that I would equate it to eating in a high school cafeteria. On the second night of the cruise, my wife actually ran out of the dining room crying, when for the second night there was nothing for her children to eat. The food was so bad, the boys didn't eat. Unfortunately, we had depended on a travel agent, a big mistake, and things only got worse. The ports of call and the times that the ship arrived at these ports were ridiculous. The first day, we arrived in Bari, Italy. The shore time was from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The four of us disembarked the ship and looked for a taxi to take us to a restaurant for a good meal. The taxi driver laughed at us and said, this is siesta time, everything is closed until 4:00 p.m. In Santorini, we had to be back on the ship by 2:00 p.m., however at that time of day, the gondola ride down from Santorini to the shore is a one and one half hour wait in the hot sun. Then, there was Mykonos, beautiful, beautiful Mykonos; we dreamed about the beaches and our sons looked forward to the night life. No way, the shore time for Mykonos was from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., too late for the beaches and too early for the night life. I will not bore you with every detail, however, every single day there was something else on that ship to prove that we were not on a high end class cruise. Espresso and cappuccino were not provided. Even at breakfast and dinner, we had to pay for coffee. The cigar bar was not a cigar bar but a small humidor in the back of one of the lounges. The waiter who assisted us did not have a cigar cutter or even matches. On one of our excursions, the bus they put us on had an inoperable air conditioning system for a bus trip that took one half hour in each direction in 90 degree weather. If this ship was one step below Windstar, then Holiday Inn is one step below the Ritz Carlton. Finally, we arrived in Venice, the city of beauty and romance. Arriving at our hotel, the Regina-Europa, we thought we were done with Costa and Linda B.. You already know that's not the case. The Worst Of Times continued because we had used a travel agent. We had prepaid Liberty Travel for two rooms, ($400 per room per night). We were ready for our beautiful rooms, some good meals and to explore Venice. Not yet, Linda blew it again. They told us that the hotel was full. It also turned out that the room that was booked had no shower nor view. My wife was in tears again. Finally, a manager was called, found a room where the party had not arrived, apologized for the actions of our travel agent and we were finally done with Liberty Travel and Linda B. The children kept our lousy room and my wife and I received a beautiful room with a view. I have learned a lot from this experience. The best of times is to make time to travel with your children. My wife and I and the 2 boys had a wonderful time together despite the circumstances. Next, never, ever, ever go on a Costa cruise ship if you are used to American food and service. You will be terribly disappointed. Last, unless you prefer the Worst Of Times over The Best Of Times, do not use a travel agent. Obtain recommendations from friends and use the Internet. Because we wanted to go on a high end cruise in the Mediterranean, we thought we needed a travel agent. What a mistake As it turned out, in retrospect, my wife and I would have done a much better job than Linda B. Looking back, life is good, however, if you ever happen upon Liberty Travel, either in their store in Hollywood or on the Internet, turn around, do not look back, hit the escape key and remember me. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2007
A word about me: I'm British, and have cruised several times before on both Princess and Cunard. I travelled with my extended family (British/South African) in a group of 10. When I first saw the Costa itinerary for this cruise, I ... Read More
A word about me: I'm British, and have cruised several times before on both Princess and Cunard. I travelled with my extended family (British/South African) in a group of 10. When I first saw the Costa itinerary for this cruise, I was very excited because it offered a rare chance to see Libya. I immediately agreed to go. I was a little apprehensive at first because Costa, as an Italian company, are a bit of an unknown quantity on Cruise Critic and there aren't all that many reviews. I will therefore be quite detailed but feel free to skip to the end for my conclusion. We travelled down to Civitavecchia by train from London, via the Eurostar and then Trenitalia's sleeper service to Rome. From there, we took the express service to Civitavecchia, which takes about 45 minutes. You can take a cab from the station to the docks, you can walk, or there is a free shuttle service which goes from the entrance to the docks to the ships. Although it is not a very long walk (just under a mile), it might be difficult with heavy luggage and the layout of the docks is quite confusing. I recommend the shuttle bus or a taxi if you are new to Civitavecchia's port. EMBARKATION We arrived about an hour before embarkation closed, and then had to wait for nearly an hour before we could enter the ship. There was a hall full of people, and only one person doing the embarkation administration. This seemed to consist of waiting in three or four separate queues and having our passports checked, photocopied and checked again and again. To be fair to Costa, some of our party had embarked much earlier, and had found the process very smooth - so it's probably sensible to arrive early. We dodged the inevitable embarkation photograph and boarded. FIRST IMPRESSIONS The ship's decor is elegant and modern, mainly dark blues, whites and silvers with some beautiful marbles on the walls of the casino and stairwells. Our balcony cabin at the rear of Deck 11 was small but well appointed and there was plenty of cupboard space. The bathroom was tiny, but again it had plenty of storage space. The shower wasn't great but it was adequate, and the room was very clean. Costa Victoria is a relatively old ship and its position in Costa's fleet was classified by one of the crew as "middle...well, slightly less than middle" with the newer Costas at the top. There are two main outdoor pools and four hot tubs. These were unheated and so only for the brave. Another indoor pool in the spa has a bizarre rule banning swimming, so one wonders what it's for. The pools are filled with fresh salt water daily, and close at 8pm. The gym is small but adequately appointed for all but the most dedicated weightlifter, and I never found it too overcrowded. The bars and public areas are well kept and pleasantly decorated. We didn't use the spa or casino. FOOD The buffet was much, much smaller than I am used to, but the food was very good, politely served and nicely presented. The buffet, and eating arrangements generally, reflect the Italian attitude towards food. Italians have great respect and love for food, and they eat plenty of it, but they don't see the need to be constantly eating. Therefore, the buffet is closed for several hours during the day: between 5 and 8pm and again after about 11.30pm. However, a limited range of pizzas, salads, sandwiches, fruit and cakes could be had in the pizzeria on Deck 12 up till 1am, and room service runs 24 hours. We never went hungry. I recommend the room service breakfast, which provides a continental style meal of pastries and cereal. It is also the only way to get proper, free cappuccino on the ship as ordering speciality coffee anywhere else results in a charge of about 2 euros. It is also worth noting that the free hot tea and coffee dispensers are out of action between 5 and 8pm, although there is a good afternoon tea from 4 until 5 in the pizzeria. A tip is to avoid the fruit juice dispensers at breakfast and use the bottled juices in the "Healthy Corner" as the juice from the dispensers tasted very watered down. The dining rooms were very nice. We're all used to anytime dining, but didn't find the set dining times too onerous. We had booked a table for 10 for the second sitting, but when we received our dining tickets, we seemed to be down for the first sitting. This was, however, relatively easily sorted and we had the table and time we wanted. The meals were very good: perhaps not as good as the food on Princess or Cunard, but for the money we paid I was not going to complain. The choice was good and there was something for everyone each night. Another thing worth remembering is that menu items containing previously frozen ingredients are highlighted. This is a requirement of Italian law and does not mean that the food is of poor quality, nor that other cruise lines do not do the same. It's obvious that a ship must use quite a lot of frozen ingredients. The waiters were polite, efficient and unobtrusive. We didn't use the bars very much, but they had a good selection, were reasonably priced and also served Amaris, which are odd Italian herbal liqueurs with strange ingredients like artichoke. These are perhaps an acquired taste but worth the effort. SERVICE This is an interesting topic. Being mostly English, our party are used to mentioning issues to the relevant people and then having them sorted out. We soon worked out that Italian culture is quite different. My sister's cabin was incredibly hot, despite cold air coming from her air conditioning vent. She reported this problem every day for three days, and each time an engineer visited her room and vaguely suggested that she might have left the balcony door open. This wasn't the case and she was so hot at one point that she slept on the balcony. Eventually, she reported the problem in a more Mediterranean manner, which is to say forcefully and loudly, and refused to leave the information desk until she had a satisfactory answer. Her air conditioning problem (caused by air bubbles in the vent) was solved almost immediately. There was also a general problem of leaks in the air conditioning system on our deck and in odd places around the ship: at one point it appeared to be raining in one of the toilets. We heard an engineer telling an increasingly frantic room steward that there wasn't anything he could do until she told him where the leak originated from. However, we understand that the Costa Victoria is very shortly due for an overhaul in dry dock so these problems will presumably be fixed. Be prepared for a lackadaisical attitude to any issues unless you make a fuss. I would not say, however, that these issues spoiled our holiday in the slightest. EXCURSIONS Costa's USP is its eclectic itineraries. We were very excited about visiting Tripoli in particular. In Catania, I took the trip up to Mount Etna, which was spectacular even in the misty, drizzly weather. In Tunis, we took a taxi under our own steam and explored the city, which was fascinating. The taxi driver was very pleasant and agreed to pick us up when we'd finished exploring. I would say that the best strategy in Tunis is to avoid the tourist souk, unless you like being hassled to buy a lot of junk. Once out of the tourist trap area, we were left alone. From Tunis we went to Gabes, which would have been quite a shock if we weren't expecting it. Gabes is not a tourist port: it is completely and unapologetically industrial. So industrial, in fact, that several tons of sulfur were sitting around on the dock next to the sulfur extraction works. The famous desert wind, already loaded with fine Sahara sand, whipped up plenty of sulfur dust and deposited it on deck, in our food and in the pools. Stinging eyes soon sent almost everyone scuttling inside. However, we were soon taken out to the desert. In Tripoli, we took the excursion to the beautiful Roman ruins at Leptis Magna, which I would recommend only if you enjoy archaeology (which fortunately I do). The port is walking distance from the town, and some of our party spent the day exploring the city alone. They say the city is beautiful, very clean and completely safe. In Valletta, Malta, I took the horse riding excursion in the morning. I would say that to get the most out of this excursion, one really needs prior experience of horse riding to avoid being led. The views are amazing. We were given the chance to have a half-hour's swim in the sea and then we spent the rest of the day exploring Valletta on our own. It's a lovely town. The organization and quality of the tours is very good: English speaking guides were provided for us, the vehicles were well maintained with seat belts and I have no complaints, apart from the fact that we did feel (in Tripoli and Catania in particular) that it would have been nice to have had some free time to explore the cities independently once the tour had ended. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment on the ship was reasonable but not brilliant. The shows were fine, but perhaps a bit amateurish at times: they didn't really float my boat. What the Italians seemed to really enjoy were the late night audience participation shows in the Concorde Lounge. These were, frankly, baffling to non-Italian speakers, but they did look like fun. Italians also really like a conga, and many of these snaked their way around the ship after midnight, which is when things really get going. Since smoking was banned in much of Europe, it seems to have become much less popular. There were a few smokers in the bars and lounges, but certainly far fewer than I would have expected of a European ship. The smokiest place was probably the casino, or the upper balcony of the Concorde Lounge: both easily avoided. There were two formal nights. Italians are stylish folk and I would strongly recommend bringing some nice gear with you: a tuxedo isn't strictly necessary but everyone looked like they had made an effort. Ladies should bring a cocktail dress or two. The other evenings had a range of attire from smart casual to formal. Basically, you can't be overdressed on any night. OTHER If you have the option of choosing a cabin, I would recommend avoiding the fore cabins on decks 11 through 7 as these are next to the Concorde Lounge. There are windows from the lounge looking onto the deck corridors. You can sit quite happily on the floor of the corridor and watch the whole show, and hear it extremely well. I would guess the cabins are quite noisy until the shows finish: this would be 1am at the earliest. The aft cabins on Deck 11 can get noisy when people are on the deck having breakfast: you can hear tables and chairs scraping from 7am onwards so if you're a late riser these are cabins to avoid. There are the usual cruise annoyances: photographers leap out from nowhere and then the unflattering results are put on display for all to see, and there are all sorts of ways to squeeze some extra euros out of you. SUMMARY This is a ship that's showing its age, but this didn't spoil our holiday. Yes, you might have to slum it a little - the only toiletries provided are soap and a shower gel dispenser in the shower and the pool isn't heated - but Costa provides excellent value for money. This isn't the cruise for you if you like to be waited on hand and foot with your every need provided for. If, however, you are quite relaxed, like a bargain, don't mind joining in the odd conga and want to visit unusual ports, this *is* the cruise for you. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2009
A few tips from our Costa Victoria cruise to Dubai: - the buffet (on deck 11) is open 24 hrs and has free tea, coffee and cold water to help yourselves. (Although we did find the cold water some times luke warm, even though you were ... Read More
A few tips from our Costa Victoria cruise to Dubai: - the buffet (on deck 11) is open 24 hrs and has free tea, coffee and cold water to help yourselves. (Although we did find the cold water some times luke warm, even though you were meant to be able to get ice from it too.) There is also free tea, coffee and cold water out the back of deck 11 in the 'open restaurant' at dining times. - food quality and restaurant staff are fantastic. Food was really amazing, esp the pastas at lunchtime. - someone asked about minimum bets on the casino, from memory there were definitely 1 euro tables minimum, but I think like most casinos the min bet varied on different tables. - one thing I wished we had done before we went was printed some maps of the ports of call off the internet. The ship does give you a map, albeit it is so poor that it wasn't of use at all. If we had just spent some time printing off a few detailed maps with road names etc, we could have been a bit more adventurous walking round - esp so in Abu Dhabi (which is like Dubai, pretty affluent and easy to walk round) and Bahrain (which we found sandy and hustly bustly and a more traditional Arab place). Muscat is pretty small, so a map wouldn't be so needed there. - we took local taxis in most ports I'll give you a few tips re the ports we visited. Abu Dhabi - we did a 1 hour city tour for 100 dirhams (dhs) and asked to end it at Marina Mall, a large, good modern mall. Then got taxi from the Mall back to the boat. (Loads of taxis at the Mall). Worth driving out to the new Grand Mosque (looks amazing, like the Taj Mahal). Our favorite port - nice Corniche promenade along the front if you fancy a walk. You can't walk from the port entrance and need to get a taxi to the city centre. Bahrain - we got the Costa shuttle bus to the centre of Bahrain and had a wander round. Very old Arab feel to the city, found the souks (from the mini bus drop off head forward and to the left - down a few little alley ways, by the side of building site alleyway) worth going round the souks if you like that sort of thing. I wore a pashmina head scarf in the souks just to avoid the stares really. Fajarah (sorry can't remember the spelling). A complete waste of a cruise stop, and everyone we spoke to agreed. We got the Costa bus to Lulu mall - which is in fact a very poor excuse of a hypermarket. The trips didn't seem to go down with passengers better. I wouldn't know what to suggest here - everything seems a long way from the port and it seemed to be an Emirate with not much to see. Maybe stay on the ship?! Muscat, Oman - again took a 1 hour city tour for 100 dhs. Really interesting - firstly stopped at the souks, out to the Palace, then a post 5 star hotel for a look round and a stop at the museum. We squeezed a lot in to an hour. Nice port stop. There is a nice promenade on the front too, if you fancy a walk. (Don't walk to the souks from the port entrance - just too far in the heat). In all these places don't be frightened of getting taxis - they are really a good way to see the cities. If you are a bit adventurous you can get a lot out of it. If you don't mind spending more, of course the cruise tours have advantages - ie you don't have to organize anything and it is all done for you - each to their own I guess. But we were happy with taxis. They are everywhere, esp in Dubai where you flag them down like in London. They are outside all the malls and hotels in Dubai and queue up right where the ship docks up. The one and main tip for getting taxis is make sure the driver speaks pretty good English. You can do this when you are negotiating the price. Ask him to show you on the map where he would take you on a 1 hour city tour (or 2 hours if you want) and see if it is the same places you want to visit. If he can't show you or communicate to you in good English, I would just give him a miss and walk onto the next taxi driver. Ok, on to other tips: - we bought a couple of large 2 litre mineral bottles of water (2.50 euros each) on the ship. Then we were reluctant to keep spending this money to buy more water, so I nipped to the gym which has a water dispenser where you can easily refill the bottles up. No one said anything. I did see others do this in the buffet which gives free water, but the dispenser is not so easy to fill up bottles from. - X1 is only Carlsberg beer (no other beers) and only 1 choice of red or 1 choice of white wine. So if you are looking to save money and you like a drink with your lunch/dinner X1 is fab, if you are more choosey with your wine/beer you may not be happy with this. We found X1 fine for us - we ordered a last beer/wine just as leaving lunch - and took it to the pool, and the same in the evening and took our last drink to the bar we wanted to sit in after dinner. Just phone Costa Cruises directly if you want to find out more about the X1 package for your cruise - ours was around £55 per person for 8 days. - We have done an Ocean Village cruise and it was interesting comparing the 2 - entertainment on OV is far better. The entertainment on Costa was pretty poor really - Songs from the Shows, Belly Dancing, Puppet show. No comedians on Costa, which we liked on OV. - The checking in procedure is quite slick on Costa, yes they do take your passport and give you a copy of your photo page to use to enter the ship with your Costa Card, but that is all fine. Just remember to go to the Plaza Lounge on the last morning, to pick up your passport! - Depending when you check in you may not get your bags until 8pm outside your room. We took one large suitcase and one smaller 'pull along one' with our day clothes in so we could just get sandals/teeshirts out before they took our bags away. Also handy in that the smaller bag would fit in the large suitcase in our cabin, and that large case could fit under the bed to save space in the cabin. - We were on Virgin flights and got into Dubai around 10am and we had a 'service room' for the first day, before getting our proper cabin at 8pm. That was a godsend for a little sleep after a night flight. Not sure why we got this cabin, if it was a Virgin thing or what, but it was good. -You get your cabin on the last day until 4.30pm as Kevsgirl says, and you are allowed to stay on the ship until 10.30pm. We decided to postpone the flight home by 4 days and booked into a Dubai hotel so checked into the hotel, then came back to the ship for free dinner/drinks on the last night - only cost was a taxi there and back! - As to currency to take - Dirhams is needed for the UAE states, and in Muscat and Bahrain they all seemed happy to trade in Dollars. (Our rep said Euros would be OK too, but I'm not so sure - Dollars seems the currency which was sought after). - there are 2 'posh' dinners. The first was not the day we arrived but the next day. Really don't worry about what you wear for this - my husband wore a suit and tie but it was a complete mix. He wished he had worn a modern stripey shirt/cufflinks with no tie and trousers, rather than his work suit. As long as you don't have jeans on, you'll be fine. Lots of women just wore black trousers and a pretty top and fitted fine. Blokes tended to wear suits with ties or DJs, or chinos with nice shirts was absolutely fine. - we felt that the Reception staff were really rude (one elderly couple only had taken Nationwide Debit cards, no Credit cards - they didn't realize a Costa didn't accept Debit cards for payment at the end of your holiday - and the Reception staff were so rude to this poor elderly couple who didn't understand the difference between Debit/Credit cards). - we took water and cans of coke into the ship after each port. Although you put your bags thru scanners, no one said anything. We did it by mistake the first time and realized we had done it, and then we thought we could keep doing it and the worst that could happen is they take our water/soft drinks away. But I don't want to put anyone off a Costa cruise - overall we would definitely do it again - we just wished we had known the tips above before hand. Yes the service charge is a lot, but you know that when you book. Read Less
Costa Victoria Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 0.0
Dining 3.0 0.0
Entertainment 2.0 0.0
Public Rooms 3.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 2.0 0.0
Family 2.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 2.0 0.0
Enrichment 1.0 0.0
Service 4.0 0.0
Value For Money 4.0 0.0
Rates 3.0 0.0

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