I wanted to take my mom on a cruise for her upcoming 65th birthday as she loves cruises and they're usually the best way to relax and visit so many different countries/places. We have cruised before with Norwegian Cruise Line and I have cruised myself several times with Carnival, but as she lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina now, so the closest and the best cruise that worked for the dates I was visiting her was Costa Diadema 7 day cruise out of Civitavecchia.
I noticed right away that on our Costa cards there was a designation of WaterUSA, so to our surprise this meant that you could only get water for free, without being charged, while you were at the restaurant/buffet during breakfast, lunch or dinner hours. Otherwise, they charged for a glass/bottle of water. Same goes for juices, which were only available during the breakfast hours. This was our very first shocker.
Dinner experience was horrendous. You are assigned to a restaurant at a specific time, so you have to go there during the assigned time, otherwise you would need to go to the buffet. Food quality was good, but the dining experience every time, except for the last night was horrendous. I'll explain.
We wanted to change to 2nd sitting option and that request would need to go to effect next evening, not the same evening; fine, not a big deal. We go next evening to the second sitting and needless to say that waiter only the first night was ok/kinda friendly for the first sitting which we changed. The waited at the 2nd sitting our 2nd night seemed to care less about customer service or just showing a smile, everything seemed like a chore and like a bother to him. At the end, I noticed that my card was not returned once I got to my cabin after ordering a glass of wine. I went back to the restaurant and he claimed that he gave it back to me and to talk to the Maitre D. She was confused as to why I was directed to talk to her, but she tried her best to resolve the issue and mentioned we can request a new card and get it in the room the next day. I got the new Costa Card but lo' and behold all of a sudden my old card was thrown on the floor of the room by someone who obviously dropped it in there. Next day, we obviously didn't even want to go back to our table and requested to be switched to a different one with a different table, so we decided to eat at a buffet, as by now we knew this request wouldn't be completed the same evening, but rather the next day.
Next day, our new waiter on the other side of the restaurant seemed overwhelmed and we waited for a while until we were able to place our orders. He noticed that my Costa Card showed the previous table and wanted to tell us we are seated at the wrong table, but I showed him a temporary card given until the new card arrives. Right away, negative kind of attitude. The order by which he took orders didn't seem to match when each party got seated, as other parties that arrived later seemed to get service prior to us already waiting there for a while. Finally, when we placed the orders and the food came to us, he got one of the orders wrong. All in all, it would have been nice to see these waiters be more friendly and not act like we are bothering them by dining there. Our dining took about 2 hours because of all the waiting to order and waiting for food (correct food order).
Needless to say, we wanted to see right after that dining experience if we have an option of doing the open seating restaurant Corona Bleu that seemed to have a nicer ambiance. We were told to just go there and that it's free and there is no difference other than having open seating, which would be perfect for us. We went to Corona Bleu the next day and the lady at the front said that it's a 5euro cover charge per person as we would be taking someone else's table. I explained that we were told at our assigned restaurant to come there, but she didn't seem to care to find a solution and just said that I could go back to our assigned restaurant and asked to be assigned to Corona Bleu if there is availability. Of course, that made us go back (due to all sorts of miscommunication happening all the time and lack of customer service), to wait again for next evening to find out if we were able to get the Corona Bleu. We would be notified via letter in our cabin by next day. We opted for dining at the buffet. Next day, no letter, we go to our assigned restaurant to give it and that waiter one more chance, he right away said that an older Italian man is sitting at our table and it's not ours. I was confused and mentioned we were not notified. He seemed almost angry and very unfriendly to have to deal with it, as he referred us to Maitre D who said we were assigned to Corona Bleu. Advising no one has notified us, as was indicated, asked if they can call to mention we are coming, as we don't want to miss the dinner time. Finally, our last night there, all the confusion and unfriendliness, but we got to Corona Bleu and at first our waiter was overwhelmed and didn't seem to know what to do with us, as our table wasn't even set up properly, but he did get us water by telling another waiter to bring it for us so we don't have to wait a long time again. Finally, one of the supervisors was checking to see if everything is going well and we explained our frustration and that even here we weren't sure who our waiter is and it's our last night and this whole experience has been frustrating. He didn't seem to care much either but he listened and sent our waiter, who was indeed very friendly and apologetic and explained he tried to tend to a table with the birthday cake. 2nd Maitre D or manager came that has a higher position that the previous one, Francesco, who really took the time out to listen and resolve the issue, even though it was kind of late, but he did what he could that night to finally make our dining experience a positive one. The waiter with a unique name that unfortunately I can't remember now was indeed very nice and attentive. Francesco tried to make up for all the other negative dining experience days by bringing out a free delicious birthday cake for my mom, as I mentioned it was my birthday present to her in advance, and she didn't want that kind of recognition necessarily as her birthday is not until September, but he did it anyways. Also, he noticed that I was drinking red wine and had the waiter bring me the quality red wine that he likes to have a few glasses of. I wish as he said that we were able to find Francesco sooner, as he was the only one that understood the concept of customer service.
Entertainment crew was great, so luckily at least we were able to relax and enjoy the evening dance events with them. They were very energetic, funny, and friendly. The highlight of our cruise was dancing with them.
Especially if it's your first time cruising, by all means, please choose a different cruise company, as they simply don't care for customer service or to resolve any issues you will have on the cruise. I have more details of interactions with guest services/reception and so much miscommunication and misguidance on their part as well that would take another page to get into, but the dining experience was really what every night frustrated us and took away from the whole cruise experience and even the quality of food that was actually pretty good.