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Sail Date: January 2010
Background Information We were looking to Cruise on a relatively modest budget but didn't want bargain basement. Ship Info Modern and well laid out, Themes for the different public areas are distinctive and individual but flow into ... Read More
Background Information We were looking to Cruise on a relatively modest budget but didn't want bargain basement. Ship Info Modern and well laid out, Themes for the different public areas are distinctive and individual but flow into each other well. Activities Would have liked to have seen more Dance classes and less Quizzes Service Attentive and Friendly, I saw none of the 'European distain' that has been described previously in fact just the opposite. Port & Shore Excursions Superb Intinery, the only excursion we used was the Coach transfer from the boat to the edge of the Port. The excursions did seem expensive. Travel To Port of Embarkation Airline - Easyjet. Not great but understandable given the price of the Fly and Cruise Cabin Brilliant. Plenty of space, clean and tidy. Dining From 6:30am - 1am You could eat! The Buffet area was less canteen than RCI and had a nice Art Deco feel. Plenty of food stations so you didn't have to fight for the right to eat. The MDRs were great for dinner with up to seven small and perfectly formed courses on offer giving you 'A little bit of what you fancy' in a very european way. If you want large portions and a blow out stick to the buffet. Breakfast and Lunch in the MDRs were also buffet but breakfast had limited service options like ommelettes. Entertainment Young and enthusiastic staff, sometimes introductions in five languages was galling, other times it was amusing, fun and added to the charm. Better than I was expecting Disembarkation Trouble Free and easy, unfortunately once we left the precious care of Costa Easyjet lost the pilot (yes, really) and we had to wait 5 hours for a crew to be despatched. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
I have been on several cruises in my life and this cruise line was THE WORST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON EVER! The embarkation was extremely chaotic and we had no idea what was going on because nobody spoke English. If you do speak english noone ... Read More
I have been on several cruises in my life and this cruise line was THE WORST I HAVE EVER BEEN ON EVER! The embarkation was extremely chaotic and we had no idea what was going on because nobody spoke English. If you do speak english noone wants to speak to you and will outrighly be rude to you, spit in your face, or ignore you.

Our cabins were decent but our steward was not very friendly..even when we tipped him extra at the end of the trip. The food is horrible. Expect Europeans blowing smoke everywhere. My entire suitcase and clothing at the end of the trip reeked of smoke. They rarely cleaned the deck so I personally slipped 4 times and saw 20 people slip. There are inadequate warnings in place by the pool to indicate that the floor is slippery. If you are elderly, this is a walking death trap. Nobody ever lines up and expect people to push you out of the way or bite your hand off while trying to get food at the buffet. Serious....I know that everybody is hungry but people will literally push you out of the way to get a piece of salami. The workers seems completly worn out and I honestly feel bad for them because apparently the ship's tipping structure doesn't allow them to get much if at anything at all. Most are very nice and you can tell that they HATE their jobs.

If you speak english expect almost all of your shore excusions to be cancelled. more than half of our excursions were cancelled because they didnt have enough english speakers. FRONT DESK (with a ship of over 3000 people), only have 3 people working at one time and when you get there, everybody refuses to help you. They are downright rude to you if you ask them anything. I think they have amnosity towards English speaking people because when I spoke to other Canadians and American on the cruise, they felt the same way.

Here is what pushed me over the edge. Last day when we had to disembark, we didnt get our charge sheet till the morning. They overcharged us hundreds of dollars in those excusions that they cancelled. So we went to the very "helpful" ahem freaking CRAPPY front desk and they didnt want to help us. Then we went to the excusions desk and it was of course closed as it always is. we asked somebody where to get help because we had to get off the ship and she gave us a dirty look, ignored us, and said we had to wait at the excusions desk for the next 4 hours before it opens. Thanks for your help! We had to get off the ship in less than 1 hour. We finally had to flag down the cruise director "Stefania" to help is ater 2 hours of waiting. She wasn't rude and finally got someone to help us. The lady that came had the nerve to say, well good thing you came now because if you came for a refund in the next hour we can't give any of your money back. Isn't that stealing woman? If we didn't flag down the cruise director we wouldn't be able to get back our money that the ship intended to steal. Then she blamed it on us because we didnt check our charges the night before when they didnt even give us the charges till the morning of our disembarkation. When I got off the boat I was relieved to be away from the chaos. If you are paying for a relaxing trip in this tough economy, then pay for another cruise ship. DO NOT take this ship I warn you. Oh yah they didn't do any safety drills till the second last day of the cruise. It is not reassuring and if noone can help you with day to day matters and an emergency happens, expect chaos. DON'T TAKE THIS CRUISE! Positives: The ports visited were beautiful and the shore excusions that didn't get cancelled were wonderful.

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Sail Date: May 2009

Cruise :

Costa Concordia, Western Mediterranean , Barcelona -> Read More

Cruise :

Costa Concordia, Western Mediterranean , Barcelona -> Barcelona, May 1- 8 2009.

This is the first cruise for me and the second one for my boyfriend.

Overall, the whole trip is wonderful.

Barcelona

We arrived in Barcelona 2 days before the cruise. Stayed in HCC MONTBLANC right in the city center. The room is on the top floor with a city-view balcony, good size and facility. We took hop-on & hop-off bus to see the city. Also tried some delicious tapas. This is a modern city with lots of things to see & do.  

Embarkation
We took a taxi (20euro) from hotel to the port around 3pm. There was no long line and we checked into the cabin quickly.

Cabin

We booked the cheapest inside stateroom through internet agency (to be assigned) and got upgraded to ocean-view stateroom. It is big ( more than 20m2  ) with 2 windows and comfortable. Cabin steward cleaned room twice a day. Overall this is a good cabin though some nights there was noise around.

Food

The food at buffet was average. Not many choices / varieties.  

About the main dining restaurant, the waiters and waitresses provided very good service though food was not great in general (better than buffet).

Here is some food we liked: fruit & vegetable cold soup, seafood salad, orange duck, octopus, paella and ice cream at main restaurant.  

Other facilities

Went to some shows and they were enjoyable.

My boyfriend tried the Formula One racing simulator and liked it.

There is a library with books in various languages and I borrowed an interesting book.

Internet cafe was extremely slow and expensive.  

Movies in cinema are only in Italian according to front desk.

Didn't use the pools (small) / spa / bars / casino / shops etc.

Passenger

There might be about 3000 passengers, many are Italians. Others including French, German, Spanish, English-speaking people.  


Ports

We went to some excursions organized by Costa ( Marseilles / Avignon, Naples / Pompeii, Tunis) and they were good. And we visited Savona, Palermo and Palma de Mallorca on our own and that was also great experience.

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Sail Date: May 2009
Here is info about our recent trip departing 1 May on the Costa Concordia, western Mediterranean leaving out of Barcelona, with my hubby, son (21) and daughter (20). All in all, the ship was wonderful, the service was excellent, and it was ... Read More
Here is info about our recent trip departing 1 May on the Costa Concordia, western Mediterranean leaving out of Barcelona, with my hubby, son (21) and daughter (20). All in all, the ship was wonderful, the service was excellent, and it was a really fun itinerary. Being an English-only speaker was not really a big deal in most situations. On the negative side, the regular restaurant/buffet food was not very good, and you need to be pretty self-sufficient (or take the cruiseline tours) in order to get the most out of the ports

HOTELS IN BARCELONA BEFORE AND AFTER CRUISE
The night before the cruise, we stayed at the Eurostars Gran Marina. It was a 20 Euro cab ride from the airport (two to three people in a cab if you have any kind of luggage, more than that and you need two cabs). On Priceline we paid $159 per night. What a great hotel!! All of the staff was incredibly helpful and nice. The rooms were very large and comfortable, there was (wired) internet access (although for 27 Euros per day!!). Amazing toiletries, nice robes. The rooms had the best showers ever including several horizontal jets on the walls—my kids wanted to take 10 showers the one night we were there. We had a great dinner in the hotel restaurant that night. The hotel is right on the water in a pretty plaza. The next morning, we walked ten minutes up to the foot of La Rambla and strolled down that amazing street. We found a sidewalk cafe there and had lunch. It was a Saturday, so people were everywhere, which was fun. After lunch we went back to the hotel, collected our luggage, and the hotel shuttle bus took us to the cruiseship for 25 euro for all four of us, it was a quick and easy ride.
For a post-cruise hotel, we'd had a hard time finding any reasonable rate because of a Formula 1 race in town that weekend, so we had our travel agent book through Costa their standard post-cruise hotel for us, Hotel Tryp Apolo for $139 per night.
Note that the hotel rooms slept only two people each.
There is so much to do in Barcleona. We also went to Tablao de Cordobes, a flamenco dinner show that was really enjoyable.

EMBARKATION
This goes very smoothly, because passengers get on and off at each port, so there are not the crowds you see on ships where everyone gets on and off at the same place. I think about 1000 of the 3000 passengers got on/off in Barcelona. When we arrived for embarkation at 2:30 there were no lines, we quickly checked in at the desk, went right onto on the boat, and went to our rooms, where our key cards were waiting for us on our beds. There was a fruit basket for those in the suites (replenished every day) and on embarkation day there was also a plate of canapes (toast with salami, prosciutto, caviar) and a bottle of sparkling wine. On the gala nights there were two small chocolates as well. Before the cruise I had gone online and pre-ordered some things to be delivered to the cabin on the first day, but they never came. I didn't have a copy of my receipt with me, so I never went down to ask about it

ENGLISH SPEAKERS
On our cruise of over 3000 people there were 10% English speakers. The biggest group of course were the Italians (35%), then the next largest group were French, then German. Of the English speakers many were British and Australian. It was not difficult to get around and get along on the ship as an English-speaker. In the restaurant we think they put the English speakers together in one section perhaps using their best English-speaking waiters. As suite occupants supposedly we were supposed to get a 'premier' table (which on other lines has meant 'waterview') but here we had no view and had a pretty bad table smack in the middle of the dining room—the tables were all close together, we had waiters crashing into our chairs constantly, and we were so close to the next table that my daughter couldn't pull her chair out or she hit the lady behind her. All announcements are done in multiple languages including English when relevant. This had a downside—for example the 'get ready for the fire drill' announcement that loudly blasted into our cabins lasted about half an hour. My kids in particular were annoyed by the quantity and length of the announcements, particularly the ones made in the morning (when they were trying to sleep). In fact my son said he would likely not want to go on Costa again because of this (he is 21 and likes to stay out late then sleep late on vacation).
We picked this cruise over others primarily because it is a European ship, and my kids wanted a non-American experience. I personally am glad we did, even if it did make some things more difficult. We enjoyed getting to know different people, and also seeing cultural differences. For example many times we started to get annoyed when people didn't seem to have the same respect for 'personal space' that we do. Also people apparently don't have the same kind of 'line rules' that we do—e.g. people at the front of the bus or plane get off first, row by row. Here, we had people from the back mowing us down on buses, planes, elevators. People also cut ahead in lines all the time—at the buffet, at the line for the bus or taxi, to get into an elevator.... We told ourselves that this likely wasn't considered rude in many cultures as it is in ours. We also wondered what things we were doing that the Italians/others were likely considering rude

CABIN (SUITES)
The suites were really nice, comfortable, and big enough. We had two—one for the kids and one for us. Each had two large closets with hangers, one 4-drawer dresser, and lots of storage space. The bed was two twins pulled together, very comfortable, and there was a pillow menu so that you could order your favorite. There is a small couch with storage drawers underneath, and a desk with a small minibar (with obscenely expensive drinks). There are bathrobes for use on the ship. The bathrooms are of a good size, with a separate 'changing room" (with a mirror and vanity) and then the bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and two sinks. The cabin is replenished with ice and cold water a couple of times a day. The balconies were ok, two comfortable chairs. I'd recommend trying to get a port side cabin though—we were on the other side and overall didn't have as nice views throughout the cruise

Besides the cabin steward, the suites have a 'butler' which is basically a concierge to help with whatever you need. For example our butler arranged our tour tickets and dinner-club reservation. It is not the same however as the RCL concierge, who really has knowledge of the ports and can help you with figuring out what to do with your day. Our butler said she didn't know anything about any of the ports. She was otherwise incredibly helpful and attentive, as was our cabin steward

The interactive part of our TV was broken so we couldn't order tours or watch pay movies. It took three days to get fixed, our butler kept asking for someone to come up but apparently they were busy or forgot or something. It worked two days then broke again and we didn't bother asking again

Note that there is not the same 'tipping' scenario as on US ships. Instead of the self-tipping system where you fill your own 'envelopes' for your servers, on Costa (likely throughout Europe?) they automatically add a per-person service charge onto your bill of about 7 euro per day per person.

INTERNET/WIRELESS DEVICES
There is no wireless internet anywhere. Very odd for a newly built ship. A lot of the time our phones and blackberries didn't have service either, especially when we were at sea. There is an internet cafe where you can get fee-based internet through the Costa computers. First of all, it is one euro for every two minutes. Second, it is VERY slow. It usually took six to eight minutes (3-4 Euro) just to load my AOL mail, then a long time to read anything. I wonder if this is because most Europeans unlike Americans truly don't work during their vacations so there is not the demand for internet service on Costa...

THE SHOWS, THE POOLS, ETC
The shows were ok—my kids said they were 'lame'. The casino was not as small as I thought it would be, and my kids ended up winning a couple hundred each so they were happy. The pools were nice and the retractable roofs were a good feature. I didn't use the spa. There were a lot of bars but sometimes they got too smoky for us to tolerate. The disco didn't open until midnight. There were a couple of shops—typical cruise stuff. On TV there was BBC, that's about it. Also a few pay-for-view movies in English. The ship provides an 'international news" handout each day in English, which was nice

THE FOOD
The food in the main restaurants was not good. The sauces were thick and bland, the meats were tough and not seasoned. The soups were watery and tasteless. The desserts were not that great either. Here are some things we had that were pretty awful:
From the "Always Available Every Night" Menu: Chicken Milanese (dried out), Grilled Veal (tough, bland), Braised beef (tough)
Any kind of pasta with cream sauce: Pasta is mushy, cream sauce is like wallpaper paste.
Broccoli soup
Here are some things that were good:
Lamb chop, beef filet, duck l'orange, and pasta with pesto (all on gala nights), Spaghetti with garlic/oil/chili as a pasta course one night; roast chicken and paella on the lunch buffet

We tried once to eat breakfast at the buffet and that was very, very bad. Even the pastries were not good.  The waffles made a noise on the plate when you dropped them they were so hard and cold.  I found grapes and apples on the buffet and an Italian lady nearly tackled me to ask me where I had found them. We had breakfast once in the main dining room and it was pretty much the same as the buffet except there were eggs-to-order. Our waiter that day didn't speak English and when I ordered two eggs I received two orders of two eggs each. Also, they seated you as you came in, so we ended up being seated with a French couple who spoke no English, and we spoke no French. We tried for a bit to communicate but it was rather uncomfortable, just a lot of smiling at each other.
 
Because we had suites, we received one dinner each for free in the "Club Concordia" restaurant. That food was all excellent, and the service was amazing. We all had beef or veal, tender and tasty, not at all like that served in the main dining room. For dessert we had sherbet, which the waiter made at our table by mixing peach juice with liquid nitrogen creating a Harry Potter-like cauldron of smoke, and then voila, peach sherbet.
Also keep in mind that there are lots of 'extra charge' items. For example on Gala Night they came around to our dinner tables offering after-dinner aperitifs. We went to take one from the tray, then we saw the sign saying they were 4.5 Euros each

We ate lunch when possible in the ports

There is a 'Chocolate Bar' which offers European-style hot chocolate, very thick and delicious. That Bar also a chocolate fountain which puts off quite an aroma every time you walk through that room on the way to the casino

DRINKS
We don't drink much alcohol so we bought a boys and girls club card for sodas, which gave you 20 sodas for about $3 each. What a bargain. Just two sodas each at dinner cost us $24 for the four of us. Alcoholic drinks were about $10 each. We bought some bottles of Limoncello in the ports as souvenirs—the first time they didn't even say anything as we took it board ship, the second time they asked us how many days we had left before getting off and when we told them three, they let us take the liquor to our cabins with us.

PORTS
Costa does not provide the hand-holding about ports that other lines we've been on do. You are pretty much on your own particularly if you are English-speaking-only. I HIGHLY recommend that you do your homework before you leave, printing out maps, etc. I had printed out all the port guides from CruiseCritic.com before we left, and that saved us. Otherwise we would have had practically no information. There is an English-speaking host that can help, but he has 'office hours' one hour a day. We tried to find him at office hours twice but couldn't, he was probably attending to others or with late-arriving tour groups. Many of the ports we arrived in were not within close walking distance of anything.

MARSEILLES
The ship docks quite far from anything. In order to get to the "old port" you pre-buy a ticket from Costa for their bus which is 7 Euro round trip, leaving every 15 minutes back and forth. It is extremely convenient. At the old port there are lots of restaurants and shopping, and you can easily find your own tours there. There was a cute little trolley tour right where the Costa bus dropped us off. We didn't take any tours but rather sat in a sidewalk cafe and ate delicious mussels and profiteroles. We also found Galleries Lafayette (department store) about three blocks from where the bus dropped us, and since it was Saturday there were some local farmers markets as well as a craft market that we found as we were wandering around

SAVONA - GENOA (GENOVA in Italian)
There is really nothing much in Savona. I have no idea why the boat docks there rather than Genoa. A cab driver said it had something to do with a dispute between the city of Genoa and Carnival (owner of Costa). So most tours involved a one-hour trip to Genoa.
We decided to try our own trip. We wanted to try a restaurant in Genoa we'd seen on CruiseCritic.com, Zeffirinos. It was the best part of the entire cruise. The French-speaking host helped us figure out how to get there (when we couldn't find the English one): We took a cab from the ship to the train station in Savona which cost 15 Euro flat fee. There, we found the train to Genova that stopped at Genova Plaza Principe (there are about 9 train stations in Genova so be careful). It cost 3.3 Euros each for a one-way train ticket, which you buy in the little store at the entrance of the station. It takes between 30-60 minutes depending on whether you get a local or express train. At the Genova Plaza Principe train station, we took a cab to Zeffirinos (at Via XX Settembre, 20) which cost 10 Euro. It is famous so all cab drivers know it.
I have eaten in a lot of restaurants including many in Italy, but this was one of the very best meals I have ever had in my life. The owner invented a dish for Frank Sinatra (also served it to a couple of popes) which has been called "summer on a plate" on one of the other CruiseCritic.com reviews—vegetable-filled ravioli with a creamy pesto. It was so delicious I cant even describe it, but my son said that it did in fact taste like summer on a plate Anything with basil sauce there was amazing, and the homemade pasta was out of this world. We had an amazing dessert, the house special, I don't even know how to describe it, some sort of creamy stuff between pastry: At the end, they brought out some sort of grappa machine, which we of course had to partake of:
Sr. Zeffirino came out several times to talk with us, he took photos with us, and he showed us the photos of him with the popes... There is apparently a branch of this restaurant in Las Vegas—if it is even half as good as this one in Genova it would still be outstanding

After that we didn't want to try to catch a cab to the train to another cab to the ship. We were pretty sure that if we tried that, after everything we had eaten and drunk, we would get lost and miss the ship and end up in Italy forever. (Costa took our passports away from us on the first day as we got on the ship) So we just had a cab take us all the way back to Savona. The driver was hysterical, he was telling us in his half-English and our practically-no-Italian that he loves America because of Miami Vice and Baywatch, even though he thinks George Bush is an ***. The trip cost 100 euros but was worth it because we didn't know how hard it would be to find cabs at the train station back to the ship... Also trains are sometimes delayed... We rationalized that split amongst the four of us it wasn't that bad!

NAPLES(NAPOLI)
We did not go into the town of Naples. Instead we went on Costa's Pompeii-Sorrento tour. After disembarking, our tour group boarded a bus to the Naples train station, where we got on a very nice train that was just for this excursion. There were 30 of us on the tour and 100 seats on the train, so it was very comfortable. The ride was nice and we saw some of the coast. After arriving at Pompeii, we spent a lot of time at the ruins. In my family's view, too much time. Although there was a lot to see, we only saw part of it, but since the tour was both in French and English, so it pretty much took twice as long to see anything—a lot of standing around. Also, the devices used to hear the tourguide were not that great—many of them had their batteries run out during the tour and at that point there were no extras available. Pompeii was truly amazing though, and we were glad we went. After tramping around Pompeii, back on the 'private' train farther along to the town of Sorrento. This seemed to be a wonderful little town, but unfortunately there was not close to enough time here, about 40 minutes including time to walk back and forth to the train station. We trekked with the group down two streets to a shop where they gave us shots of Limoncello, then we had 15 minutes in which to both shop and make the 8-minute dash back to the train station. We really, really wished we had just gone to Sorrento on our own and spent the whole day there. There were lovely little shops and sidewalk cafes, little tour buses, etc.

PALERMO
We did not receive any map for this portthey told us they had run out. In looking out at the city from our balcony, it seemed that there was nothing interesting in view, just commercial buildings. So we went to the tour office and they told us they ran out of maps but to get one from the Tourist office in the city. So then here is how the rest of that conversation went:
Me: I don't have a map so I don't know where the Tourist Office is?
Costa Guy: I don't know either, somewhere by the Cathedral.
Me: I don't have a map, so I don't know where the Cathedral is?
Costa Guy: I don't really know either.
So off we went anyway. After getting off the ship and crossing the street, there is a small circular information kiosk with a guy giving out maps. We asked him for directions to a particular restaurant that we had found on the internet, and he told us where to go. Unfortunately he gave us directions to the wrong place, on a very sketchy street. We had to turn around and start over. We finally found the restaurant, Trattoria Biondo, Via Carducci 15 which was actually only a few blocks from the port. Here is how you get to it: Go up the main street from the port, Via Enrico Amari. When you get to Via Della Liberta (by the huge Teatro Politicama Garibaldi) turn right. Go one more block to Via Carducci and turn left, it will be on your right hand side. We went there looking for pizza (it said "Pizzeria" on the internet site where we read about it) but alas no pizza. We did have an amazing meal though. Starting out with Parma ham/fresh mozzarella, then on to Gnocchi Sorrentino (red sauce), then followed by beef fillets in truffle sauce, then a great cheesecake and 7-layer chocolate thingy. Delicious! The hosts were awesome too, and when we left they gave us a gift of a really beautiful huge ceramic platter painted with the cathedral and with "Trattoria Biondo" and their address. That just made our whole trip to Sicily something we will never forget. If you go to Palermo, definitely go to Trattoria Biondo, it is easy to get to from the ship (maybe a 10 minute walk), and we didn't see many other restaurants as we were walking in the city...
It is very easy to shop in port—along the Via Enrico Amari which is the road leading from the boat there is a great ceramics store, Tre Erre Ceramiche (at #49, about two blocks on the right hand side)... they will wrap your items beautifully with their logo-d giftwrap and ribbon, enclosing a brochure. There are also places along that street for buying limoncello, gelato and pastries (don't forget to try a cannoli here—there is a very nice pastry/gelato shop/winebar, Bristol on the lefthand side one block from the port at Via Enrico Amari #28... When you go in, go to the cash register first and tell them what you want, pay, get a ticket, then go over to the ice cream/pastry counter with your ticket), souvenirs, etc. Also a Polo store. If you want to do some girly shopping (Louis Vuitton, Zara, Frette) those shops are all along Via Della Liberty. But beware! The retail stores are generally closed between 1pm and 4pm, so plan accordingly

TUNIS
Advice for this port: book a cruiseline tour rather than doing it on your own. If you decide to go it yourself, when you arrive at the port city of La Goullette, you will need to get a taxi, and the taxis insist on taking four people. People who did this on our trip reported they couldn't find a taxi for less than 20 Euro each, which included the return trip. The problem however is that the very pushy, aggressive taxi drivers then take you to their "favorite" shops. An Australian honeymooning couple who did this reported that the shopowner their taxi took them to exerted so much pressure that they felt personally unsafe, and they bought something only because they were really afraid at that point not to. The shopowner grabbed their arms and tried to take them to the bank machine when they reported they didn't have enough euros to buy all of the things that the shopowner had helpfully loaded into a 'thinking bag' for them as they walked through the shop. At another place, as they were walking along the Australian husband was offered 200 camels in exchange for his pretty bride. He wasn't quite sure whether this was serious, but he thought it might have been.
Our family took the combined "Medina/Souks/Carthage" tour which was generally great. After getting off the bus in the Medina, we saw some of the government buildings, then walked through and saw some of the buildings in the souk. We then were taken by the tourguide to the obligatory "tour-recommended" shops—one was a cooperative and the other a rug store. The cooperative the guide took us to had prices three times higher than other places in the souk, and the rug place was a timeshare-like sales job disguised as an educational experience which was a waste of 20 minutes. I don't think anyone in our group bought a rug which seemed to upset the shopowner. After that we had 30 minutes free time in one of the main souks - it was not as bad as we had thought after reading blogs, much less pressure etc than for example Haiti or Jamaica. We bought a few things—some saffron, a pashmina scarf, some ceramic bowls... If you are looking for a very small inexpensive rug, for example to hang on the wall, we saw a Japanese couple bargain to get four 18 inch x 18 inch rugs, for 25 euro for all four. I'm sure they weren't great quality, but they were a nice souvenir.
The Carthage part of the tour was good—a lot of getting in and out of the bus to look at different sites for short amounts of time, which was great with us. We saw aqueducts, a ruin of one of the largest baths in the world, a lovely garden, and the place where royal families sacrificed their firstborn sons to appease the gods in times of trouble.
Note that there is a really amazing dutyfree store in the cruise terminal when you are coming back to the ship—with not just the typical dutyfree stuff but also the souvenir-type stuff that you saw in the souk. For example I had been so proud of myself for bargaining the price of a big jar of saffron down to 5 Euros in the souk, after I'd seen it earlier in the 'cooperative' tourguide store for 15 Euros. But then in the cruise terminal store that same jar was 4 Euro, no bargaining required...

MALLORCA
A lovely port! The ship had run out of maps for this port, and thank goodness we'd printed out port info from CruiseCritic.com for guidance because we wouldn't have known where to go. There were a lot of taxis at the port, but people just really seem to have a hard time in Europe with the concept of waiting your turn in line. After about 10 people cut in front of us in the cab line, we finally got a cab to the Cathedral (10 Euro) and then went for tapas at Taberna de La Bodega for lunch (open until 4pm and then reopening for dinner at 8pm). Then we went shopping on the main street, including El Corte Ingles (large department store) and Majorica (the simulated pearls for which Mallorca is famous). From that part of town it was about a 40-minute walk back to the ship, and about halfway back is a new Hard Rock Cafe. We couldn't stand it anymore, we were dying for a burger, so we stopped there for dinner. Yum.

DISEMBARKATION
We were kicked out of our cabin at 8am which was slightly annoying because we couldn't pick up our passports in order to disembark until 9:45am. I understand they have to clean up and turn around the ship by 1pm for the next crowd though, but I have never been made to wait elsewhere for that long on other ships, particularly when in a suite. We were assigned to the "VIP area" for disembarking rather than the larger theater, but this was so crowded there was not enough seating for everyone and it was very uncomfortable. The luggage pickup was easy, and it was easy to get a cab at the port

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Sail Date: March 2009
Costa Concordia 03/05/09

Ship:

This ship is in excellent ship. A+++. A clean, up to date, and mostly beautiful ship. You will find lots of room to roam, very comfortable cabins, plenty to eat and lots of entertainment. ... Read More

Costa Concordia 03/05/09

Ship:

This ship is in excellent ship. A+++. A clean, up to date, and mostly beautiful ship. You will find lots of room to roam, very comfortable cabins, plenty to eat and lots of entertainment.

One large downside. There is NO wireless or wired internet in the cabins or in the public areas with the exception of the internet cafe. I ask how does a ship built in 2006 not have wireless internet or wired internet, what were they thinking??

Food:

The food was very good in the main dining room. Lots of choices, great service and nice ambiance.

Lido Deck food: Not so great, your average Carnival / Royal Caribbean fair. I suggest sticking to the main dining room for your meals.

Room service, not many selections. They now charge a fee to deliver food to your cabin, be ware, this is just plain cheesy.

Soda Card: very expensive for soda, however you're almost forced to have it because you only get water, some juices otherwise and they are not that good.

Casino: Ouch, be careful, my luck was on vacation in this casino. Play small and leave when the cards turn, they don't come back.

Entertainment: Wow, what a laser light show, don't miss it. Otherwise your average dancing shows.

Ports: Great, Costa offers this Med cruise which touches Italy, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and Egypt. great ports!

Value: About pat for what you expect, not great not bad. Don't listen to the people that complain about this company, it's the same as all the others. If you want luxury, you need to go upscale.

Crew: very nice, because they have to be nice. With that said our room was cleaned well everyday and we always have what we needed.

Languages:

This is funny, they speak Italian, German, English, and Spanish, so during the entertainment and announcements, you get it in all the languages. the comic acts do they jokes four times, very funny and somewhat odd at the same time.

Things to know if this is your first time doing an overseas cruise:

You need to get Euros for your dollars, don't wait till you get to Italy to change currency, especially as the airport, do it in the states at a bank, you will get a better rate, remember it takes $1.25 to buy 1.00 Euro right now, which adds up.

DO NOT fly Alitalia for any reason, this was the worst flight I have been on in some time. The airplane was dirty, my seat cover was ripped and I was sitting on foam the entire flight and it was generally very grimy. There is a huge lack of maintenance.

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Sail Date: February 2009
Exactly 7 days ago I returned from an 11-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Costa Concordia (Feb 23rd - Mar 5th). I travelled with my wife (both of us 30 yrs old) and our son (2 yrs old). My parents-in-law came along as well, who had ... Read More
Exactly 7 days ago I returned from an 11-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on Costa Concordia (Feb 23rd - Mar 5th). I travelled with my wife (both of us 30 yrs old) and our son (2 yrs old). My parents-in-law came along as well, who had booked an adjoining cabin. We're from the Netherlands, where virtually no one chooses a cruise as a holiday destination; people here assume cruising is for millionaires. It was our second cruise (the first one was our honeymoon with Costa Mediterranea in 2006) and it turned out to be our best holiday in a very long time.

Over the past years I've read many articles on Cruise Critic concerning Costa and in nearly all the articles there is a distinctive negative tone, as if Costa would be a budget cruise line filled with rude Italians who smoke everywhere. This is simply not true. First of all it was a pretty expensive cruise, so I resent every comment on Costa being cheap. Second, everything about the ship was luxurious: the atrium and lounges were beautiful, the cabin was very comfortable, the crew was outstanding and professional and the food was delicious. Our fellow passengers consisted mostly of Germans, with Italians and French coming in second. I was fortunate enough not to encounter any rude passengers; everyone waited in line and was polite (believe it or not). All the lounges were divided into smoking and non-smoking, so non-smokers like myself could easily pick a place to sit without being bothered by smoke. I never saw anybody smoke in the restaurant or theatre.

Actually, I enjoyed the ship more than I did the shore excursions. We used the official Costa excursions in Izmir, Limassol, Alexandria and Rome. Katakolon was boring (we had visited Olympia on our previous cruise). There were strikes in Athens causing the Acropolis to be closed. Izmir was all right; we had a funny tour guide (Ester) who entertained us on the entire trip to Ephesus by giving us an overview of Turkish culture and gastronomy (including 40 ways to prepare eggplant). Rhodes has a beautiful castle but the town was a tourist trap selling trashy souvenirs. The stop in Limassol was the least interesting of the entire cruise. We visited an archeological site which had nice mosaics, but we had just been to Rhodes where we had seen beautiful mosaics in the castle. The Cypriot village of Omodos was supposed to be picturesque but when we visited it rained, so it looked awful and apart from an unassuming church (very similar to other churches in the Mediterranean) there was absolutely nothing to see or do. Had I known this beforehand, I would have spent the money of this excursion on a Samsara Spa treatment. Alexandria and Cairo were truly exotic; the pyramids and the Egyptian museum were magnificent. In Rome we had persistent torrential rains but the architecture, the atmosphere and ice cream were so fantastic that it was one of the highlights of our cruise.

On board we joined in on all the Costa fun: Italian Dinner (including napkin waving, opera music and dancing with the waiters), Buffet Magnifico (truly amazing) and the Welcome and Farewell Gala dinners with the Captain. We were invited to the CostaClub cocktail, during which the Captain made a special tribute to a German couple who were on their 77th cruise with Costa. We visited all the evening shows except one featuring a ventriloquist. The second gala show (Celebration) and the crew amateur show (I Have a Dream) were fantastic. Beware of the Dancing Gauchos; they're dismal.

Prices of alcoholic drinks are crazy (4 euros for a small beer including service charge) as well as the cost of official photographs (15 euros each). Another downside was that our son was too young for the Squok Club, so he was only allowed in the Squok Club on port days. Also, there were no age-specific toys or entertainment options for him. On the other hand we did get priority embarkation because we were travelling with him, meaning getting on board the ship the instant our transfer pulled into Savona.

We would most certainly cruise with Costa again. The service, food, beauty of the ship and overall luxury were truly memorable.

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Sail Date: February 2009
Overall impression: Embarkation and disembarkation chaotic. Passengers left hanging about and having to find their own way to cabins. Decor in public areas - not to my taste, rather bright.

Cabins - we had an outside cabin which ... Read More
Overall impression: Embarkation and disembarkation chaotic. Passengers left hanging about and having to find their own way to cabins. Decor in public areas - not to my taste, rather bright.

Cabins - we had an outside cabin which was reasonably large and comfortable with usual ensuite facilities, TV(limited channels in English), telephone, fridge cum mini bar. Limited toiletries but towels were of good quality and a bit larger that some of the recent cruise ships I have sailed with.

Food - Roma and Milano restaurants - excellent, reasonably wide choice of menu, service very good although twice I had food served on chipped crockery. Three Gala Dinners. Wine list limited and expensive. Water available at dinner but no tea or coffee served, was available at an xtra charge. Buffet - Crowded especially on sea days. Seating comfortable but needs a freshen up. Food quality reasonable verging on poor, limited variety and predictable. Melamine type platters and mugs. Tables could have been cleared quicker. Beverages - Drinks both soft and alcoholic were expensive although packages could be purchased on board, all were subject to a 15% service charge.

Entertainment - Poolside rather noisy, mostly childish games involving dressing up and running about. Music very loud. Theatre shows reasonable, individual performers were good otherwise no "wow" factor. Bingo is heavily promoted. Music in lounges in the evening for dancing but spoiled by children playing on the dance floors. Casino noisy. Shopping limited and appeared expensive. Spa and Wellness Centre, did not appear to be very inviting.

Excursions - Very heavily promoted and quite expensive. We took a half day excursion in Alexandria however most of the time was spent driving round in the bus. Only 35 minutes approximately allowed to look around the Alexandria Museum and 15 minutes to visit the archaeological site. Nealy one hour spent at Papyrus institute. Demonstration at institute lasted barely five minutes. Shuttle bus provided at a cost of 6euros per person in Limassol as ship was docked in commercial port area out side Limassol.

The Costa Concordia has the capacity to carry 3780 passengers plus 1100 crew therefore there are constant queues. There were a large number of children and young people on our cruise some of which were rather noisy, unruly and poorly supervised. This spoiled the cruise for us as the requirements of older passengers appears not to be taken into account. An additional compulsory daily service charge is levied on all passengers, in our case it was 5 euros per person per day. The cruise did not live up to our expectations in terms of luxury or a relaxing experience.

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Sail Date: February 2009
After having read many negative reviews about Costa and the Concordia, we went on our cruise with no real expectations. Were we surprised and pleasantly so! Our balcony cabin was spacious and even on chilly days, we used the balcony and ... Read More
After having read many negative reviews about Costa and the Concordia, we went on our cruise with no real expectations. Were we surprised and pleasantly so! Our balcony cabin was spacious and even on chilly days, we used the balcony and got the added bonus of a sunny day at sea on the return trip when we could sit out and enjoy the weather.

Costa service crew members frequently asked if we were enjoying the cruise, how was the food, etc., so I believe management monitors the forums and has been making improvements. We found no smoking signs on many tables in the various bars and I don't recall any smoking in the dining room, so they have addressed that issue there were plenty of smoke-free areas on board.

The food was far better than we were lead to believe. Soups still are a bit thin (but some were tasty nevertheless) and mixed drinks could use additional alcohol, but as for the food itself, we always found something we liked on the menu. Steaks were properly done and tasty.

We did a combination of Costa-sponsored shore excursions and our own and both were excellent. The Costa tour leaders provided excellent information at each stop.

For anyone looking for a guide in Izmir, I would recommend Evren (mr.evren@ephasuswalks.com). He provides a fabulous day-long tour of Ephasus and Izmir and has reasonable rates. We learned more and saw more on that particular day than any on the cruise.

Choice of ports is good and this was the reason we chose this particular cruise. We also enjoyed seeing the sights in cooler weather rather than the heat of the summer. Except for one stop, we were the only cruise ship in port so we weren't falling over hordes of tourists, another plus.

Kate, our English guide, was most helpful. We did not participate in a lot of the on-board activities but there were a wide range that would suit anyone.

Some English speakers have complained that the announcements on board are not in English, or when they are, they are not first. It is an Italian line so of course the first language is not English. We played a game to see if we could figure out the announcement before the English version came on. Those announcements that were in Italian (or any other language other than English) only were directed at specific passengers who spoke that language, so we didn't need to have a translation.

There was a negative or two along the way, but all in all, we were very pleased.

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Sail Date: January 2009
Arrived in Rome from Australia on 30/1/09 and stayed near the Railway station in Rome. Then on 31/1/09 travelled by rail to the port very easy to do and cheap. Walked from the Railway station to the port about 4 blocks you can see the boat ... Read More
Arrived in Rome from Australia on 30/1/09 and stayed near the Railway station in Rome. Then on 31/1/09 travelled by rail to the port very easy to do and cheap. Walked from the Railway station to the port about 4 blocks you can see the boat as you arrive by train. As you enter the port there are free shuttle buses that took us to the ship. Once at the terminal you are directed where to leave luggage and then take a seat and wait to be called to go onto the ship. Boarding time is from 1pm onwards but we got there at 2pm and they were still waiting for the police before allowing anyone onto the ship. We were on by about 2.40pm.

The ship is truly amazing and even though i had read some bad reviews I cannot say anything bad about the ship. We only speak english and were looked after extremely well. The announcements are in about four languages and yes english may often be last but then we are in their country. On the first day there is a meeting and lecture from the english guide from the ship(she was extremely informative and was very approachable "Kate")

We had a balcony cabin on Deck seven and it was great. The cabin staff all spoke reasonable english and we never had any problems gaining what ever we asked for. The food I was a bit worried about after reading the reviews but I can only say good things about it. It there was something you didn't like they replaced it with another course. We had the X1 drink package and it worked well except you don't get any choice in the wine other than red or white it is what ever they serve you. The beer was okay though. Every night as you got to the the table the waiter had a beer and red wine waiting for us after the first night. Great service. The Maitre de "Edwarduo" was exceptional. A top itinerary and a top cruise. All staff were there to serve you. We had an error on our account (laundry charged when not used)and it was rectified within the hour with an apology. A great cruise and would travel with Costa again.

Only complaint was the night time entertainment was very average but then we were tired most nights anyway with excursions the next day. A big trip and a lifetime memory.

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Sail Date: January 2009

I decided to put in my 2 cents to help the English speaking people who may want to join the Costa Cruise. Before booking this cruise, I read many horror stories about this Italian cruise line but decided to come anyway to see what it ... Read More

I decided to put in my 2 cents to help the English speaking people who may want to join the Costa Cruise. Before booking this cruise, I read many horror stories about this Italian cruise line but decided to come anyway to see what it was really like.

My mom and I took this 11 day Costa Concordia Cruise to the Eastern Mediterranean which started on January 20th, 2009. We took a train from Rome Termini (cost was 4 euro vs around 120 euro if you take the taxi) to Civitavechia (last stop). The train ride was about an hour and someone came to check out ticket 2 stops before arrival. We asked how much longer it would take to arrive but he didn't speak English. Luckily, there was a very friendly man sitting next to us who translated and gave us information on what to do later after we get off the train. We were pretty lucky because he turned out to be the Maitre d' for the restaurant on the cruise.

Upon arrival, simply exit the terminal and turn right and walk toward the port where there is a McDonald. This is a short 2 minute walk and you will see a free shuttle bus that will take you to the ship. The check in time is from 1 pm to 6 pm so if you arrive around 1-3 pm, you should see lots of people walking toward the ship with no baggage....these are the crew.....so just follow the crowd.

After the free shuttle arrived at the check in point, we were greeted with English speaking porter who said our luggages would be taken to our room since we have a tag on it already. Then another English speaking host greeted us and gave us a embarkation number. We were also instructed if we wanted, we could register our credit card number first while we wait for the expenses to come. The wait was not long and before we knew it, we were already on board. The keys and information are all laid out on the bed and the luggages were already there.

So far, I thought everything was very efficient. All the crew I met spoke English and were friendly to very friendly. By the way, I am Chinese-American. The ship is relatively new. The Italians do smoke much more than us in America but there are non-smoking areas. Most smoked around the main lobby/piano bar area. If you avoid going over there, you should be fine.

Since my mom spoke little English, we were pleased to find that there was a Chinese representative on board who greeted us and gave us an orientation. There is also an English speaking rep who does the same thing. They are there to help with all your questions and problems. The ship even had a Chinese menu to my surprise. Be sure to ask for that if you don't want pasta every day. I am not sure if they had Chinese food on board because it was around Chinese new year time when we traveled. But it doesn't hurt to ask if you want something different than pasta each day. For the first day, I though the service was excellent for a cruise line that holds more than 3000 passengers who spoke a variety of different languages Italians, French, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and so on and on but the majority I think were still Italians.) I say this because I am in the customer service industry I can only imagine how service can be poor if the system is bad. We were greeted with a smile and directions in English whenever we were lost. The Maitre d' was happy to change sitting time for us and when the ship was rocky, he told us we could get sea-sick pills at the guest service but instead delivered it to us personally while we had dinner. The chef was thoughtful enough to give us sampler portions of each item on the Chinese menu when we couldn't decide what to eat. What was most impressive was that these were done without being requested. That's very good customers service in my opinion.

Internet: It cost 50 cents in Euro for each minute. If you are in no hurry, there are Internet cafes near each port that you can use for a lot less $. Excursion office: They have all sorts of answers but are only interested in selling you the excursions. They will highly discourage you to go on your own so if you are planning to not take the excursions, it's better to bring guide books or you will waste a lot of time asking for information and get answers that may be frustration (in a language you don't understand, or various conflicting answers). The excursions we took ranged from 50 euros to 120 euros. The English guides were all very informative. And as a tip, if you book any excursions with Costa, you want to arrive at least 15-20 minutes earlier than their meeting time because that's when they pass out stickers to let you know what bus you will be on. The earlier you get the ticket, the faster you go to the sites to avoid the crowds. Also, if you want a front seat of the bus, you want to go on earlier too... We cruised in January and both the tours we took the guide said the season was slow but it felt like there were a lot of tourists already. I can't imagine what's it's like during the summer...

Visa: If you are a US citizen, you don't need to apply for a visa ahead of time. They will do it for you on board.

Samsara spa: The spa is very new, clean and nice. You will find a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzi and a few lounges with excellent view as they are situated in the front of the ship. The cost of a 1 day pass to access the spa facility is 35 euros. We went for the Cruise pass, which included unlimited access during the entire cruise and a free 50 minute massage.

Cashier, Info: The section of the ship is the worse. They are understaffed for the number of people lining up to ask questions. You will also see Italians cut in front of the line to ask questions. In such cases, just inform them to not do that.

Stops: Savona: The first stop is a town called Savona. The excursions included a trip to Monaco, Savona city tour and the Aquarium. We decided to explore the city on our own since the ship is within 5 minutes walking distance from the port. It's a very small town. We finished touring in about 2 hours by foot. Katakolon: We took an excursion to Olympia. We chose the one with the visit to Olympia, taste of local Greek wine, food, dance and music. I think the excursion was around 70 euros. The only worthwhile part of the excursion was the explanation of Olympia. If you have a guide book, you can go on your own. There were plenty of people who you will meet on the ship in which you can share taxi. The food, wine, dance and music were nice but really wasn't worth the extra money. Perias: We were on our own today. I figured Athens was big enough the metro and bus system would be easy enough to navigate. I heard from people who work on the cruise ship that to take the metro to the city center is 1 euro and to take a taxi is 5 euros. But when we got off, the official guide posted was around 20 euros to Acropolis. Then we we exited, the taxi drivers gave estimates that ranged from 80 to 120 euros for a 3 hour tour to and around acropolis. They kept saying the official posted rate is for one way and for per person.

So, we decided to take the metro, which was not really very close to the port. Here is how to go. To take the metro, exit the ship and turn left on the downward sloping main road. Keep going left and you will see a Hertz car rental. Keep going and you will see a McDonald. From there, you are about ½ a kilo from the metro station (from the port to the metro about 1.5 kilos). The universal "M" that you commonly see in all the cities around the world is not posted on the metro closest to the port. The metro station is in a building next to a white bridge. When you see the bridge, just ask the local people and they will tell you where the entrance is.

From the port, you want to take line 1 to Acropolis and exit on Monstraniki (I forgot the spelling) but it's about 7 stops away. What ended up happening was the metro stopped around the 4th stop and everyone got out. We sat in there until someone told us to go out and take the bus because the metro on the weekends are under construction. I don't know how long that will be so before you hop on, ask the cashier. Later on we found out there is a bus that goes straight from the port to Acropolis that takes about 50 minutes and costs around 50 cents in euro. As the information booth on the port before you leave.

We finished touring the Acropolis around 1 pm and shared a taxi with 2 other Americans we met to go to Cape Sounion to see the Temple of Poseidon. In all honesty, if you have driven down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, or have been to the Caribbean, you would not really find Cape Sounion impressive. I would have skipped it if I had known. The temple looked a lot like what you would see in the Acropolis so it's really not necessary to make that trip. It took 1.5 hours to get there, with traffic and then another 1.5 hours back.

Izmir: Today we took the Ephesus tour only because the Chinese guide suggested we do half a day to Ephesus and spend the afternoon at the local bazaar that is right next to the port. Ephesus is about 40 minutes away and it's worth the trip. What I found most interesting was the whole city was made of marble. They had a men's sports club/bathroom area that is so well preserved that you can see the marble toilet and the ancient bidet and a fountain inside that used to have frogs singing so it's not embarrassing when you make noises. What was also funny was that the guide said that since all the toilets were made of marble, the rich used to have their slaves sit on it first for a while to warm it up before they use the facility. That was very interesting. I think the toilets in Japan solved that problem by having washlets that warm up today. Another interesting site was the library and how grand it was. There is a tunnel from the library that leads you to another place. To not ruin the surprise for you, I will not tell you where it goes and let you find out on your own while you go to this tour. If your guide doesn't mention it , make sure you ask.

Finally, I was looking forward to seeing the bazaar and having Turkish people sell things to me because I wanted to compare how aggressive as merchants they were compared to the Chinese when you go to China. (if you have been, you know what I mean, my friend!) But unfortunately to find out, on Sundays, the Bazaar is closed at Izmir. So before you plan your day and you know you are arriving on a Sunday, ask around on the ship to make sure the bazaar is open or not to decide where to go because there is not that much to see around shopping streets near the port for the whole day. Rhodes: The old town is literally 5 minutes walk as you depart the ship. It's quite nice. After touring the town, we rented a car (from 11 am so the car was half price,40 euros for half a day). The rental car agency is right outside the ship. You can't miss it. I am glad we rented it otherwise we wouldn't have seen Lindos. The coastline is spectacular. The beach is very much like the Caribbean but the color is bluish instead of greenish. And also, the houses are white, typical of what you would see in Greek postcards. Lindos is worth the visit if you are coming to Greece for the first time and expect to see scenes of white houses with the blue ocean like those seen in Santorini. Limassol: We didn't join any excursion but bought a round trip shuttle bus ticket from the excursion office for 6 euros. There is not much here to see and you have to get back by 1 pm.

Alexandria: I was looking forward to the Pyramids the most on this trip. We signed up for the Pyramids and Nile excursion. Boy was I shocked at how poor Alexandria and Cairo were. Buildings were unfinished, streets were dirty and people were poor. The tour guide kept saying we were passing through poor areas but it seemed to look like that all throughout the 2.5 to 3 hour trip from Alexandria to Cairo. Anyhow, be prepared for aggressive merchants selling you anything from postcards to taking your photo and charging you or taking a photo with you and charging you. Again, I thought the Turks were sort of bad already compared to the Chinese but I have to say the Egyptians win in their persistence to sell. I don't blame them. If that was the only way I could make a living, I would probably do the same. I prepared a lot of one dollar bills just to give away to poor kids there. Kids were selling things too. I went to the less aggressive ones (those with no business and still a lot of inventory on hand and bought things from them and then give the merchandise back to them to sell later.) I think it's useful to prepare a lot of $1 bills because everything is very cheap. $20 will is way too big. $1 will buy you 20 postcards already. The wooden sculpture of a cat or Pharaoh goes as low as $2 each. They were nice ones too. Anyway, if you are sick of people offering to sell you things, you can just ignore them and pretend you don't understand since there are so many nationalities there. Just saying no nicely won't work. The pyramids were a spectacular site. What was interesting was that there were no toilets next to the pyramids and the Sphinx. So be prepared to hold it or go in the bus you came in with. The tour guide highly discourages you to go into the pyramids although you could. She said there is nothing to see but you could if you wanted to. So I asked her where the entrance is when we arrived at the pyramids and she told me " you should have told me earlier that you wanted to go in, I had to buy tickets at the entrance." I wasn't very happy with that answer. She didn't say we had to tell her if we wanted to go when she announced the possibility of going in. Why did she announce it anyway if she was going to tell me it's too late. Anyhow, just so you know, if you want to go in, ask your tour guide ahead of time so you don't screwed like me. The Nile ride was OK. A river is a river and there is not much difference between the Nile and the others. However, the Egyptian buffet was delicious. Some people thought that was the best meal of the entire trip...compared to Costa's meals and I agree. There was a belly dancer along with another folk dance performance. The food and the show here were definitely better than that in Olympia. Finally, we went to see the Mosque. That was nice as well. Conclusion: Overall, the Costa cruise is better than my expectations. Don't expect the type of Americanized service you are used to at home because you are not a home. There is a big mix of culture and what's normal to them in handling situations may not be how it is to you. Here is my summary on each department: The cabin steward, waiters and service people were ALL very nice, polite and friendly. The excursion office people were also pleasant because they wanted to sell you the excursions but didn't want to offer you more information than necessary, which is not much at all if you want to go on your own. The cashier people were the worse. They didn't have much smile on their face and answered questions reluctantly. The excursions...well, if I had to do it again, the only one I would have taken is the one in Egypt since that country is too hard to navigate on your own because everything is in Arabic, transportation seemed difficult and it doesn't seem like you can get by with English. If you are adventurous, travels frequently and don't mind asking a lot of questions to strangers until you get the right answer, then you can definitely save a bunch of money going on your won. The spa....I would not join the entire trip spa deal for 199 euro again because there were at least 4 days out of the trip that the sea was too rough and it was not relaxing to rest in the Jacuzzi when there were waves splashing. I didn't feel I got my money worthwhile. The ship: lots of smokers. There are non-smoking areas though.

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Costa Concordia Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.4
Dining 3.0 3.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.3
Public Rooms 4.0 3.8
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 4.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.6
Enrichment 1.0 3.1
Service 4.0 3.7
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.3

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