Firstly i wish to draw attention for other travellers to what happened to us:
It clearly states on our invoice to pay by bank transfer, we were told initially when to do so which we did, however Costa subsequently made a deduction for the same amount of 3000 euros from the original card which we had used to make the deposit 12 months earlier, despite my saying not to use this card again.
I called to point out and was told it would be refunded straight away, 2 weeks later nothing and each time i called no one seemed aware what was going on with different variations and different people each time i called.
They have a free call back service to make a booking, but once you have done so they do not seem to want to know and you have to call at your own cost!
Eventually 3 days before the trip we did receive most of the money back but with a shortfall of 70 euros which was due probably to a difference in exchange rate/ bank charges ( we live & so booked in Spain and the original card was a UK card) however through no fault of our own do not see why we should be out of pocket at all.
I complained again and was told it would be refunded to us before the cruise, but again No!
Once on board i went to speak to customer service, in my opinion and for the sake of keeping our group of 8 people happy i felt they could add this relatively small amount of money to our on board account to use on the ship, it was our own money we were simply asking for it to be given back.
The attitude I was met with was one of total indifference, a fob off and go away, stop bothering us approach, yes yes it will get sorted but its Xmas so theres no one available, come back in 3 days!!!
I did this and by now am seething only to be met with more of the same!
No one on board, so i am told, had the managerial authority to just make a decision, i had all the bank account evidence and an email from Madrid office which agreed that it was an error BUT they STILL could not authorise to give us the missing money.
I asked to speak to someone in authority and again was fobbed off with an english speaking supervisor and finally a department head but still without any authority to do anything..... NOT Even APOLOGISE! Not once did they say sorry to us!
I was told they now had to wait for email authority, i said just pick up the phone!
Finally on the penultimate day of our cruise they added the 70 euros to our on board account, still not an apology or gesture of goodwill, it was as if it were my fault, how many customers has this happened to, and how many people simply pay the full balance which is on the invoice they sent out 3 times, on booking, on the 25% due date and on final bal due date, never do they send an actual statement showing the DUE amount, i am sure some people forget they have paid the 50 deposit & i doubt Costa would tell you because had we not noticed the extra 3k disappearing and calling to chase it we would never have had it back!
Now on to the cruise itself:
The dining experience was a pretty hideous event, we had the second sitting beginning at 9.15 pm which for us it is far too late, (& the 6.15 one is too early) and took far too long, exacerbated by the fact they had just implemented a new electronic hand held device for taking orders. The result was our poor waiter was in a state of total confusion for the entire week, he told us he was supposed to have an assistant but he was always deployed elsewhere.
The food came in erratic order, eg of the usual 5 courses available not all of us ordered each one, but instead of bringing all the first courses followed by second course etc he seemed to bring them randomely, this resulted in one person eating the main second course whilst someone eating desert, on one occasion one of our children got nothing even though he had ordered the same as other people. We laughed when one person got something as we tried to work out which course it was saying ooo i have got that to come next! Each course should be served together.
Although a lot of effort was put into the gala Xmas eve & Xmas day menus, and it was followed on the 3rd night with an extra special menu by a celebrated chef, this meant for 3 nights in a row there was "gala" type food and was too much on consecutive evenings, the portions were too large in my opinion, i would have preferred smaller "taster" size portions of each dish to enable us to try more without over eating and judging by the amount of waste returned to the kitchen, i think others felt the same.
Breakfast in the foirentina restaurant was nice if you just want an alternative to the buffet, but dont expect the hot food to be so! The pancakes i ordered were far too thick and freezing cold with little or no syrup. The Eggs benedict turned up freezing cold, as if they had never been introduced to a pan! and on our final day the hot waffles i ordered never materialised at all!
The bars and entertainment were on the whole great and we loved the variety available, always somewhere to enjoy live music, our favourite was the country rock club where the band and duo were fabulous.
Disabled facilities are very good, level access to all areas, mums window cabin was amply spacious for a wheelchair to turn and manoeuvre & level floor shower and spacious bathroom. Some of the disabled loos however opened the door when they should not have done so beware!
On a final note i booked the holiday 12 months in advance and as we were travelling as a family with 4 cabins one of which was for a wheelchair bound person i asked for our rooms as close together as possible, especially for mine to be close to hers so i could help her when necessary.
We initially had 9003 & 9131 which is half the ( huge) ship away, and the others on another deck, despite emailing each month to ask for closer cabins i was always told that there had been no more cabins released yet, finally in October to be told the ship was almost full!! How had that happened when there had not been cabins released - ridiculous, how far in advance must one book in order to get what you want!
In the end by coincidence i called once when a closer cabin was located so i ended up with a cabin around a quarter of the ships length from my mother, i still had to trip along the corridor each morning to let in her breakfast server but that was not so bad, but it would have been nice to have been next door.
Disembarkation was good, they allowed mum to keep the room a little longer and there was no rush to disembark for us all.
On the whole we enjoyed the cruise, but next time I will try another company!
ample for 3 persons. comfortable bed, sofa bed suitable for 13 year old