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Sail Date: February 2015

We have just returned from this cruise. Our flight arrived in Dubai around 7.15 in the morning so just picked up our cases and went straight to cruise terminal to drop off the cases then picked up a taxi, did some sightseeing then had a ... Read More

We have just returned from this cruise. Our flight arrived in Dubai around 7.15 in the morning so just picked up our cases and went straight to cruise terminal to drop off the cases then picked up a taxi, did some sightseeing then had a great Friday Brunch at Hilton doubletree which meant we were able to use their pool, beach area etc for a bit of a relax before we went to board the Serena around 1800 - walked straight on at this time which was great - cabin available from 2030 so had a drink or two first. The all incl drinks package is a must - we would have spend a fortune without this (average price for a G & T, beer etc is about 7-8 euros)

We paid for a balcony cabin but had a mini suite - no complaints here. The actual ship was ok - a bit tired but kept very clean. The ports of call were great. In Muscat we walked to the Muttrah souks for a spot of shopping then took a taxi to Crowne Plaza hotel for lunch and spent the afternoon sitting by their pool. In Khasab we took the free bus to the town, its not touristy but we managed to bag a bargain Iphone 6 for about £70. Abu Dhabi was beautiful and is somewhere I would return to for a holiday - preferred it to Dubai.

Had a good week away on the Serena, the only thing that let it down was the food. You won't starve as there is plenty but found it pretty tasteless and poorly cooked. Our evening meals were at Ceres and out of the 6 we had, only had 1 that I could say I enjoyed. Some of the meals were very undercooked, fish and chicken were especially bad and taken away barely eaten not just by our party, but from the adjoining tables too.

If you are used to P & O, RCI or similar, the dining experience is not even close to what you will have had before. But if you are prepared to forgo the fine dining experience and have managed to get a bargain, then its fine.

 

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015

It has been a rather disappointing experience. This was our second cruise, the first one being a 7 day trip in the Mediterranean with Royal Carribbean on a smaller ship (Legend of the Seas).

Costa Serena did not deliver what we ... Read More

It has been a rather disappointing experience. This was our second cruise, the first one being a 7 day trip in the Mediterranean with Royal Carribbean on a smaller ship (Legend of the Seas).

Costa Serena did not deliver what we were expecting, in a nutshell:

- Overall service was horrible. Everyone from the reception desk to the restaurant maitre were completely uninterested with their guests well being and engaged in really rude and unprofessional conversations.

- Despite the ship being relatively new, it was very badly kept. Rooms were dirty and under mantained, as they were public areas like restaurants and bars.

- Food selection was obscene. We are an Italian couple and were expecting more from Costa than just frozen dishes. Beef meet was so hard to cut it was inedible and fish was really the same you can get out of frozen supermarket food.

- Important parts of the ship, including poolside attractions, were closed for the whole duration of the cruise.

- Shore Excursions were a joke. We did not book any as they were crazy expensive, but our neighbors at the restaurant did one for each stop and told us they find them poorly managed by rude staff.

Costa is probably going down the way of cheap cruises, but it is still promising a premium experience, which is really not the case anymore. We will never book with Costa again unless it is a huge bargain for a cruise with no navigation only days.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015

Embarkation went very smoothly with no queue. Our outside cabin was a good size. We had a table for two this time at dinner which was much better than having to sit with 4 strangers like we did last time. Would much rather have the ... Read More

Embarkation went very smoothly with no queue. Our outside cabin was a good size. We had a table for two this time at dinner which was much better than having to sit with 4 strangers like we did last time. Would much rather have the choice of freestyle dining in the buffet restaurant which served good food. Hate having to eat at a certain time. The staff at dinner were very attentive. Not so at breakfast and lunch in the buffet restaurant. We did get told off though for filling our water bottle, even though most people did it. The cost of water is extortionate! The days we were docked were marred by flies in the buffet restaurant. The staff would do better killing the flies rather than policing the drinks dispenser!

We arranged our own trips. The hop on hop off buses are fantastic, as are the staff. In Oman we were shown around by a local taxi driver. Very safe and all the taxis are monitored.

Our first day was at sea. Most people wanted to sunbathe but there weren't enough sun loungers. Some people were sat on the floor!!!! Never seen that before on any cruise. People were almost coming to blows over the loungers. We only went to get some water and a very aggressive "continental" man had thrown our bag and towels on the floor and taken over our loungers. You had to go everywhere alone and have your partner watch over your lounger. It was the same when we had an afternoon at sea. It really spoiled things. There are far too many people on the ship.

This was the only cost effective way of seeing Dubai, Oman and Abu Dhabi. We had spent a wonderful 3 days beforehand at The Hilton Jumeirah Resort which had 6 star staff so this was a rude awakening for us.

Dubai, Muscat and Abu Dhabi were wonderful. Would have preferred a second day in Abu Dhabi rather than visit Khasab. We did the city tour of Abu Dhabi in the morning on the bus and went to Yas Island in the afternoon. The rollercoaster at Ferrari World is something else!

Disembarkation went very smoothly with no queues. The ship would be great with half as many passengers. The days when people were on trips and we got back sooner than them were the best. It was so much quieter.

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Sail Date: February 2015

We traveled in pair (two person 30 year old). We don't use flight deal from costa (flight&hotel self-booking). Ship is clean and maintained but slide on roof does not work (excluded from use). Very very poor food, buffet closed ... Read More

We traveled in pair (two person 30 year old). We don't use flight deal from costa (flight&hotel self-booking). Ship is clean and maintained but slide on roof does not work (excluded from use). Very very poor food, buffet closed after 5:30pm (when you back to the ship and you are hungry and few moment later...angry). Dinner restaurant (vesta) - we used this restaurant around 3 times - nothing special (dry meat, dry tuna = shoe sole). Boredom on the ship, day by day - the same activities (two singers in two bars/in theater - musical...every day). We have problem with payments with card bank...why? because they want take from card actual balance + deposit, after we increased card limit, they don't want use card again :/ a lot of stress for us...but final, they accept card and take money from card (if you want pay with cash, you must stand up arround 5:30am!!! before departure). We don't buy any excursions from ship. Many people, take towels and lock sunbed on sun terrace... Disembarkation: scratched on baggage, airport service is safer. COSTA NEVER AGAIN

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Sail Date: February 2015

I don't often review holidays but to be honest this WAS AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER. Do not use Costa if you want a relaxing time. The food is POOR. The breakfast was a 'Fight' to get food and even then there was NO Orange Juice! Only One of ... Read More

I don't often review holidays but to be honest this WAS AN ABSOLUTE DISASTER. Do not use Costa if you want a relaxing time. The food is POOR. The breakfast was a 'Fight' to get food and even then there was NO Orange Juice! Only One of the FOUR Orange Juice Machines was filled and ready for use. When you are All Inclusive and you are a family, everytime you want a drink for the family you have to hand in your ALL Inclusive card, to explain you CANNOT get three drinks for three people on the ALL INCLUSIVE PACKAGE, you will need ALL three cards! The service is VERY POOR! I put this down to the staff NOT receiving any of the tips that you MUST leave. To explain you are 'Forced' to pay EUROS 35, in our case which DOES not go to the staff but to Costa, no wonder the service is very poor! If you go for a la carte lunch menu and you just want a starter and a main course you will have to wait for everyone else at your table to finish because they ONLY serve the time in order of the menu. It took us 50 mins to have a starter and a main course because we were made to wait for the other guests finishing there other courses!! We as a family made the staff aware of these 'issues' and yet NOTHING was done. No-one Cared! They just want your Money! It was so bad we left the ship EARLY! Good Luck you have been warned!

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Sail Date: February 2015

We are regular Costa Cruisers, and have enjoyed many good trips on several ships. Our stay pre cruise was in the fabulous Meydan Hotel on the race course with wonderful food and accommodation. Wish we could say the same for the rest of ... Read More

We are regular Costa Cruisers, and have enjoyed many good trips on several ships. Our stay pre cruise was in the fabulous Meydan Hotel on the race course with wonderful food and accommodation. Wish we could say the same for the rest of our trip. We were in an inside cabin which was clean apart from a stained carpet.

We felt that this was not a happy ship, few smiling faces apart from our cabin steward and restaurant waiters The food at breakfast was usually cold and bacon seemed to be in short supply ,sometimes served from a plate and when it did arrive was either burnt or nearly raw It. was obvious that staff could not keep up with the demand .At lunch pizzas were cold. When ship was at sea it was impossible to find a sunbed or even a chair to sit on, obviously not enough for a full capacity of passengers. People seemed to be out very early in order to place towels on beds. This was against rules but no one in authority takes any notice.

The dress code was not adhered to and people were turning up for Gala Nights in shorts and T Shirts. We complained to the Maitre De who was very nice but was unwilling to make any approach to the offenders .He said that if he mentioned this the person would say he was harassing them and would report him to his manager. If this is the case it is a waste of paper giving passengers advice on dress code .We would also like to know who gets the tips as we asked a member of staff and he did not get anything. Costa are receiving about £140,000.That equates to £130 per crew member per full cruise plus service charges on drinks ..We wonder who gets that! We asked a few crew members and they said that they do not receive it. Perhaps Costa could confirm this. Lastly I will mention lack of handwash gel, and no supervision. Lucky not to have health problems as so many people did not use them. On arrival back to the ship no handwash was available.

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Sail Date: February 2015

We had a great time - much better than expected. We had a balcony cabin this time which we loved. Bigger than many other ships. Similar formula to most other cruises except for no casual evening buffet. We had opted for late sitting so ... Read More

We had a great time - much better than expected. We had a balcony cabin this time which we loved. Bigger than many other ships. Similar formula to most other cruises except for no casual evening buffet. We had opted for late sitting so didn't really notice it. We also arrived from an overnight flight and just changed at the airport and got a taxi to port and dropped our bags off then taxi into Dubai. I noticed lots of people sitting in terminal building and some asking to get on at that time!!! They seemed a bit annoyed that they had to wait until 3pm, but no other cruise would let you on at this time so why would Costa?We returned about 6'ish and got straight on with no queues. We sat around for a short time as everyone was told that cabin entry would be 8.30pm. We thought this quite odd that they would all be ready at the same time so went and had a look and ours was ready and I'm sure others would have been too. Food the first night was awful but perfect after that so no complaints. We did take our travel kettle etc with us so that also made a difference. No problem taking water on board from ports. Great time for a great price - would now go with Costa again. Ports were easy but been to all before so Muscat was new for us and we had a fantastic beach day at Shangri-La resort with lunch. Beautiful place and would love to return. The souqs were good if you want souvenirs. Biggest tip for anyone going to Dubai would be to get around using the metro. Its a really cheap way to see the sights. You can download a map of the metro stations and just get a taxi to the nearest stop. You can also get a separate mono rail to Atlantis which has wonderful panoramic views. Dubai is getting a bit more expensive all round but the quality is always there and always so much to see. Our last night was spent at Meydan Racecourse which has the wow factor and only costs a few pounds each for an upgraded seat.

 

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Sail Date: February 2015

This was our first ever cruise and hence our first review on this site. A couple of earlier reviews of this ship on this website were very helpful for us so thank you for taking the trouble - they really helped us prepare and set ... Read More

This was our first ever cruise and hence our first review on this site. A couple of earlier reviews of this ship on this website were very helpful for us so thank you for taking the trouble - they really helped us prepare and set expectations.

We chose this particular cruise as a 'floating hotel' to see the fascinating places it stops at (Dubai / Muscat / Khasab / Abu Dhabi) rather than for a cruise experience per se. We booked several excursions through cruisingexcursions.com - I wouldn't use them again.

Before we arrived we received conflicting/confusing information about embarkation procedures, as did others. Many disgruntled folk had been transferred to the port from the airport in the morning but did not know that they were not allowed into their cabin till 8pm.

Cabin was clean and pleasant inside (an outside cabin with small balcony) with plenty of storage space. The balcony was a bit grubby and many people used their balcony for smoking which made sitting outside rather unpleasant for a non smoker as the smell of cigarette smoke wafted down the length of the ship.

The ship is decidedly Italian and the décor awesome but not in a good way. The interior design team should have been sacked at an early stage in the process but were seemingly allowed to realise their nightmare visions unrestrained. Such extreme design is bound to irritate a good proportion of any audience and that included me. That together with the wretched music in every public area of the ship made our cabin a welcome retreat. Still the holiday was cheap (I kept telling myself).

We were told that the average passenger consumes 5.2 meals per day on the ship. The food was certainly plentiful and some of it was really good and much of it healthy also. But looking at many of the passengers, taken together with the statistics, I concluded that dietary self control is a serious problem on cruises like this. The level of food waste, especially in the self service restaurants, was disturbing as some people piled vast quantities on to their plates only to leave much of it. The evening five course dining experience was varied with some excellent dishes and others less so. But not bad overall once we realised that it wasn't compulsory to eat every course.

The service from staff varied considerably between wonderful and non existent. At times staff would walk at you as if you weren't there, whilst at other times staff were genuine and really made an effort to be friendly and helpful.

Unlike the number of places in the lifeboats, there weren't enough sunbeds to go round. This provided excellent people-watching opportunities. I've never before seen people steal others' clean towels from sunbeds and replace them with their own dirty ones.

The Giove Theatre seemed bigger than many UK provincial theatres. The nightly shows were glitzy and clearly had taken significant effort and resources to stage. They just got a bit samey and weren't all that entertaining judging by the efforts needed to get the audience to respond.

We had a couple of 'hot stone' massages in the spa centre - a truly excellent service there. Wonderful.

A disappointment for me was the complete cultural separation between the ship and the outside world - no attempt was made to educate or inform about the places being visited - no talks, no experts in middle east culture, art, religion etc to help us get more out of the experience. Just bar staff selling drinks packages and shops selling stuff you can get in a duty free shop anywhere.

The excursions were a wonderful relief - these were the windows to get out and make the most of the short period in each of the fascinating places we stopped. The Costa excursions seemed much better organised but considerably more expensive than the cruisingexcursions.com trips we had booked. However we experienced various difficulties with ours (one excursion was cancelled without telling us and another left several people behind).

The information and process for disembarkation was reminiscent of our experience of the Italian railway system at Pisa last year. None of what we were told actually happened in practice and we ended up carrying our own cases off the ship at 6am on our last day.

Overall - would we go on a Costa cruise ever again? Absolutely not. Interestingly everyone we spoke to on the ship said the same. Should we be put off ever going on a cruise again? Most people said there were great cruising experiences to be had so we'll keep looking.

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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2015

We have just returned from a lovely holiday on the Costa Serena visiting, Dubai, Muscat, Khasab and Abu Dhabi. We have travelled on Costa before so were prepared for the typical Italian style. Checking in could have been an issue if you ... Read More

We have just returned from a lovely holiday on the Costa Serena visiting, Dubai, Muscat, Khasab and Abu Dhabi. We have travelled on Costa before so were prepared for the typical Italian style. Checking in could have been an issue if you just had just flew in early in the morning as access to cabins was not until the evening. We were staying in Dubai before so arrived about 5pm which was perfect and the checking in process efficient. We found everything clean and comfortable but the ship's decor is looking a little tired. The food was very good. We didn't always get what we thought we might but it was never bad but we are adventurous. There was no shortage of sun loungers on deck but that didn't stop the inevitable "reserving with towels". Pool towels were provided and changed in the room. The optional drinks package was worth taking out to make the stay "all inclusive". Sadly Costa no longer include bottles of mineral water and there was a silly situation of people taking several glasses of water to their cabins to drink. The water provided in the cabin was charged separately at a ridiculous price. Also we discovered too late that a kettle and tea and coffee facilities are not provided in the cabin either. Another annoyance was that there was only one electrical power point. We were juggling with charging, phones, tablets and camera batteries. A hair dryer was provided separately. Entertainment was excellent and we liked the way that both early diners and late diners are able to watch the shows as there are two every night, except one when it was the Captain's Cocktail party, but the timings were arranged around that. The Samsara spa was lovely, using Elemis products but it is a bit expensive. We counted approx 15 nationalities of guests on the ship and announcements were made in Italian, English, French, German and Spanish. We only took one excursion arranged by the ship and it was very good. Other guests spoke highly of their excursions too and they were well arranged. Costa also had city Big Bus services meet the ship in Dubai and Anu Dhabi. All in all a good trip.

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015

A pretty looking ship standing so serenely in Dubai. The cruise ticket stated embarkation would commence at 8pm but I arrived much earlier and check-in and boarding actually started at 3pm. I do have to say one big downside was not ... Read More

A pretty looking ship standing so serenely in Dubai. The cruise ticket stated embarkation would commence at 8pm but I arrived much earlier and check-in and boarding actually started at 3pm. I do have to say one big downside was not being able to access your cabin until 8pm which was really hard as many passengers had travelled on overnight flights from Europe and all over the ship you could hear mini-meltdowns happening from really tired people. With hindsight I should have just checked in the luggage and taken one of the free shuttle buses from the port to Dubai Mall and kept myself busy instead of killing 5 hours trudging around the ship with my carry-on waiting to get into my cabin.

Having this extra "Zombie" time it gave me the chance to sit and study what was on offer. I did the comparing the bar prices with the all inclusive package and the 25 Euro daily charge was a deal for me as this included most of my favourite tipples. Eventually the call came over the PA system at 8.30pm saying the cabins were now ready. This was the first time I've ever experienced a late, late check-in and could only put this down to the previous guests vacating the cabins late. The inside cabin I was given on deck 7 surprised me with its size. The bathroom seemed to be larger than usual and the extra storage space was real treat more than enough room for clothes and luggage storage.

The ship stayed overnight in Dubai and feeling as tired as I did it was wasted on me. I wasn't too impressed with the buffet provided but I appreciate when you are tired everything is worse so an earlier than normal night for bed it was for me. At the start of day 2 I approached the a bar manager and offered to buy the all inclusive package but insisted they only charge me for 6 days instead of the usual 7 as day one was just a write off in my opinion and he agreed to do this. On a positive note on disembarkation day back in Dubai the latest you can leave the ship is 3pm and the all inclusive package is still usable on this day also so the Irish coffee's were welcomed as I waited for my transfer. (Tip Number 1. If you decide to get a taxi at the port in Dubai, tell the driver not to start the meter until you leave the port gates. It takes forever to get out of the port and the extra 20/25 UAE Dirham's surcharge for a port pick-up is a joke).

The sail-away from Dubai was a wonderful treat. The ship played "Time to say goodbye" over the PA system followed by "Over the rainbow" by the larger than life Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and catching sight of the QE2 as we pasted through the harbour I beamed from ear to ear thinking this is going to be a good one and of course, the sun was shining on the righteous lol...

After the 10.30am sail-away on Day 2 this was a great time to start working on a suntan. Of course this same idea was had by 2000 other passengers so next time note to self. Get your beach towel from your wardrobe in your cabin and to save you spending half an hour looking for the towel station. Once you have your towel find a nice sun-bed on the lido deck and then watch then enjoy the sail-away before you continue to look rather snug as you have a sun-bed and now you have a perfect position to watch the hundreds of meltdowns and looting happening right in-front of you.

The food in the main dining room was nicely presented and cooked to a very high quality. Being a regular Royal Caribbean and Celebrity cruiser I would go as far to say the food on this cruise left Royal Caribbean in the shade and could possibly give Celebrity a run for its money. I just have one gripe about the evening dining set-up. Your choices are to eat in the main dining room or room service, and that's your lot! I found it strange no evening buffet was provided but I had to keep reminding myself "well this is how these do it so stop comparing".

Muscat was our first port of call. Just bite the bullet and get a taxi to take you to the Sultan's Palace and old Muscat if you don't fancy being a sheep on one of the excursions. If you want a beach like I did after my bout of cultural intake head for the Crowne Plaza. Cost me 10 Euros each way from the Port and well worth it. The beach is stunning and I was lucky to pick-up free wifi. In all of my travels the sunset I saw that evening will stay with me forever.

The second Port in Oman is to a place I'm still trying to work out some two weeks later. The small enclave of Khasab is in my opinion a one horse town and the day I visited the horse had bolted. If you want a beach walk out of the port, turn right and walk ten minutes and once around the corner the beach will be in-front of you. Don't go expecting something stunning because you'll be disappointed but if you need to be by the coast and escape the "European Razzmatazz" of the ship then it will do. Take food and drink with you because you'll not get any at this beach. Now for the brave. If you don't do a ships excursion catch the free shuttle into the town. On the way ask the driver to STOP at the castle and go and check it out. Te entrance cost me 3 Euros and I got some stunning photos. After I had finished at the castle I just waited for another minibus to pass and then continued the journey to the town centre. This town must and should be twinned with a small village in India or Mars... The Mosque looked pretty but a day trip to a slum just doesn't float my boat. Don't let me colour your judgement on this place but when you do get it and the light goes on please let know lol....

Beautiful Abu Dhabi was will be the last port of call before you head back to Dubai. You will find the first free shuttle bus to the World Trade Centre Mall does not come until 10am so don't break your neck to get off this ship is this is your idea of a day out. You will see the horror in the taxi drivers eyes when you ask him to take you to the Mall. These boys are after the ones with the cash who want to booked them for a few hour city tour. Do it yourself and save a fortune doing what I did. I jumped into the taxi, closed the door and instructed the driver to take me to the Port gates. You could see the relief coming from him as he is obliged to take you as the Port officials are watching. Once you are at the Port Gates catch bus number 9 or 11. Pay the 2 Dirham's for the 30 minute journey to the Marina Mall. The photos you'll take along the way will be fanatic and for less than 0.50c you are now at the place of the rich and famous. Once you've hit the Mall walk across the bridge towards the beautiful Cornish and within 15/20 minutes on your right you will be left spell bounded with the Emirate Palace which is an absolute must do. Once you have finished at the Emirate Palace head back to the Mall and look for bus numbers 54, 34, 32, 32 & 52. For the 2 Dirham's all of the buses will take you to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque which is a GOT TO DO. The beautiful mosque will blow your mind and all I could think about when visiting was the 1001 Arabian Nights. Aim to be at the Mosque at 10am, 11am or 5pm for the free tour. Just remember to respect local traditions and customs and cover-up I was appealed at the number of people being ignorant of this but I guess sadly that is just one of the issues I have with this "we know it all and don't give a toss generation" Now you've a couple of choices get back on the bus or like I did I watched the sun-set and jumped into a taxi back to the ship (Remember you need terminal 2 should you be taking the bus back).

Please don't think I'm frugal but when I'm travelling I like to do it on a shoestring and see it as local would because to me that is a big part of the attraction for me. All in all a nice cruise. The international ship staff i.e.. Filipino and Indonesian are just wonderful as usual nothing is too much trouble and a smile is to be had all the time. Now on the other hand I personally found the European Staff at the Guest Relations Desk all attended the "Vlad the Impaler" finishing school and most of them graduated with a major in "I don't give a hoot and it's OK for me to belittle you" I did actually find myself having a drink on deck 3 and sitting near the Guest Relations Desk just for the entertainment. Lookout for the larger than life Italian lady she is just delicious and the young girl from Russian get my nomination for frightening the life out of people talking to them like they are soon to be shot lol...

Hope I've not driven you the bottle or a premature death with my writing and should you do this cruise I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did and don't be taken in with stereotypes or others ignorance I found the locals I met around the Gulf to be genuine, hospitable, friendly and most of all kind and more than happy to help.

Wishing you all, many, many miles of smiles...

 

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Costa Serena Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 3.0 3.4
Entertainment 3.0 3.4
Public Rooms 4.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.6
Family 3.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 3.0 3.4
Enrichment 2.0 3.1
Service 4.0 3.8
Value For Money 3.0 3.6
Rates 3.0 3.6

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