We chose this cruise for the ports, which did not disappoint. However, we encountered many problems on our first time on the Costa line. The cruise was marred by inefficiency, little concern for the passenger, needless standing, waiting, ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the ports, which did not disappoint. However, we encountered many problems on our first time on the Costa line. The cruise was marred by inefficiency, little concern for the passenger, needless standing, waiting, and rude customer service.
The worst was rude treatment at the customer service desk. On the third day of the trip our internet stopped, costing us about 100 mb on our package (about $50 worth). At customer service we found that this was because our onboard account had been closed as we had failed to register our credit card upon boarding. Unlike other cruises where we registered the card online, Costa requires an additional step of standing in line at one of a handful of machines to feed and register the card. There is fine print on page 5 or 6 of cruise documents saying “register your card.” We wrongly assumed online registration was enough, but customer service very sternly let us know otherwise - we should have stood in one of those lines upon boarding. We then gave our card, they registered it, and after we apologized for our stupidity, asked if Costa could make good on the internet package we had paid for and restore the 100 mb. NO, we were told, it was our fault that we had not registered our card so it was also our fault we lost the time. “You would not have lost the time if you had registered your card as required.” We tried to explain innocent ignorance. Heightened reprimand by customer service, by this time the worker and her supervisor. I asked politely for a business card or their names, making clear that Costa had refused to make good on my purchase. The supervisor immediately covered his nametag with a brochure as did the customer service worker. The supervisor backed into his office and closed the door. No names. On any of our prior cruises, the internet time most likely would have been restored and our apologies accepted. And certainly customer service workers would not have covered their names.
Now the inefficiencies. The first was at luggage drop. As instructed, we had printed our luggage tags and attached them to our luggage prior to arriving at the port. We arrived at luggage drop a little before 2 PM as instructed and encountered what we thought was a reasonable line. We anticipated a quick trip through the line and out of the Venice heat. Problem was, those ahead of us in line had not printed out nor attached luggage tags. So, while 3 people were working the conveyor belt for luggage and 2 were at the check in desk, the employees did little most of the time due to the inefficient setup. Each party that had not attached tags stood there while one person at the desk gathered their ID and information and made out and attached tags. The other person at the desk simply handed a numbered card when this was done. The men at the conveyor belt stood there waiting for the luggage to be handed over once this procedure was completed. And we stood in line waiting as this slow procedure was repeated over and over. Seems like they could have had one line for tagged luggage to be handed over, which would go very quickly, and another to take care of those who required personal assistance. When we finally got to the front of the line it took all of 5 seconds to hand luggage over and receive a number.
Next was waiting to board. Our number was 11, so we figured at the rate they were going (on number 2 when we arrived) that we would be onboard about 3 PM. Wrong. There were pages of documents to fill out prior to arriving and many passengers had not done this. Rather than have two lines upon arrival – those with completed documents being able to immediately stand in line for check in and the others directed to desks to fill out documents, everyone was taken by number into the check in line. When our number was called about 3:30, we could tell that the check in workers were filling out documents for people, taking quite a while with those people as we waited in line. Once we got to check in, it took but a minute to hand in the documents, show our passport, and be on our way to the gangway to board. But boarding via that gangway is another story in standing and waiting.
On the glassed in gangway to the ship, we were next to board when suddenly boarding stopped and the gangway connection pulled back from the ship. The connection had slipped and staff could not figure out how to fix it. We stood there for over an hour waiting for repairs. No place to sit, no option to go back to the waiting room. It was after 4:30 when we finally got onboard. Lunch service had stopped. We stood in another line to drop off our passports and by 4:45 we were finally on our way to our cabin. Lifeboat drill was coming up at 5:30.
We donned our orange vests and arrived at our designated station at 5:30 in a blazing 90 degree Italian sun. We stood and waited. And waited. Finally, at 6 PM some Costa crew arrived. They took attendance and looked to see if vests were on properly. Then lined us up, women and children in front, men in back. Checked vests again to fill the time. Made adjustments. We stood there. About 6:15, announcements over the loudspeaker started in multiple languages. Instructions to come to our stations if the horn sounded. Finally, after 6:20, we were let go. This all would have been done in 10 minutes on Disney. Costa required 50 minutes in hot sun wearing padded life vests, with crew a half hour late and inefficient even then. First seating for dinner was in 20 minutes and the first day on the cruise had been spent standing and waiting.
Then there was room service, ordered one day at an extra charge of 5 Euro so we could be off the ship in Dubrovnik by 8:15. We put a marked order card on our door the evening before indicating 7 - 7:30 delivery, the earliest possible time. At 6:45 AM we got a call confirming our order. We got ready for the day expecting breakfast at any minute. Then we waited. And waited. At 7:40 we called to see if they had forgotten us. We were told it was taking so long because it was a galley order. Seems like they should have known that at 6:45. It finally was delivered at 7:50, leaving little time to eat and get off the ship. Had we been told at 6:45 that they could not fill the order on time, we would have cancelled and gone up to the buffet.
About the buffets - they were difficult to figure with multiple locations but no one theme on any of them except the pasta buffet at lunch. They again required waiting and standing. Especially at breakfast there would be different foods at different buffets, but no theme or marking overhead to ease the search, thus causing additional traffic of people wandering around looking at each buffet line to find something more than limited options. The buffets were heavy on breads and dessert items for breakfast. No hot foods, no oatmeal or bagels. No salmon, sausage, eggs, French toast, strawberries or blue berries as on DCL and other cruises. The lunch buffet was also limited. We stuck to the pasta line, which was great, making a salad from the limited salad items on the main buffet. I am not choosey on food but much of what was in the lunch buffet line was unattractive.
We found the restaurants to be better than the buffets both in terms of food quality and speed of service. However, it was not up to our experience in previous cruises. The breakfast menu was limited and did not change, offering a choice of 5 or 6 plated items themed to a country. For example, U.S. was pancakes and bacon, England was a fried egg and sausage. Fruit and accompanying items were to be gotten from the buffet and fresh squeezed orange juice was available at a charge of 5 Euro for 2. It was worth it as what was passed as OJ had to be tang or a poor substitute for tang.
The ambience in the restaurants for breakfast and lunch was pleasant with cloth napkins and linen tablecloths. The many portholes offered good views. The lunch menu offered a variety of items and lunch in the restaurant was our favorite meal on the ship, especially the pasta course.
Dinner was at an assigned table in the dining room, which we did like. Our server and assistant server were both competent and we have no complaints. All of our tablemates were native English speakers, most from the U.S. One couple at our dinner table, from Scotland, was on their first cruise. On the first night they brought up the long day and slow lines. “Was it always this bad on cruises?” they asked. No, everyone else assured them, Costa was just bad. Seems everyone at the table found Costa to be disorganized and inconsiderate, pledging a one-time experience but willing to see if things would get better. As it turned out, two other couples at the table also would have their onboard accounts closed, requiring varying degrees of complexities and costs to get things cleared up.
We liked the public rooms better than on Disney, especially some of the quiet bar areas with interesting, if somewhat excessive, art themes. One bartended in particular, Joseph, learned our names immediately and we made a point to stop by each evening before dinner and try his suggestion of a drink. He had excellent English and we enjoyed chatting with him until the bar got busy. In the afternoon he was on deck and would seek us out to bring sparkling water. We had an inclusive drink package and we found it very easy to use and to get all the drinks, sparkling water, and coffees we wanted. With the package, there was nothing to sign and the process of getting something was so quick.
We have been on 15 ocean cruises and 6 river cruises including Disney, Princess and Celebrity. Although there were some things about Costa we liked, this was the first time we encountered significant problems and the first time we left without a “WOW” feeling. Read Less