When we first saw the prices of the cruise and the advantages of it all, it seemed too good to be true...
We booked the 15 day Indian Ocean Cruise with one night in a hotel in Mauritius (with a drink upgrade stopping in Seychelles, Madagascar, Reunion, and Mauritius) with the round trip airfare from London Heathrow for 2 people for $5739, wow this is going to be awesome! We booked it well over 8 months in advance through Logitravel with Iris Madico. Iris booked it for us and was responsive and helped us out with any questions we had.... what we hoped they would have provided was a warning about Costa cruise’s upgrading schemes, disgusting food, and horrid service! Almost immediately onboard we found out that Costa’s main objective was to take advantage of us and milk us out of as much money as they could.
The package included:
o round trip flight from London Heathrow to Mauritius airport
o one night stay at Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel (4/5 star hotel at the port)
o 15 days in a “premium balcony” cabin with a drink package (during booking there were only two types of cabins, premium and standard)
o private transfer from the airport to the hotel
o private transfer to the cruise
o private transfer back to the Mauritius airport.
The excursions were extra but we estimated 1700-1800 euros for 2 excursions in Seychelles, 2 in Madagascar, 1 in Reunion, and 1 in Mauritius. This sounded like a great deal. We wouldn’t have to pay for anything else besides tips, dinner/lunch off the ship, souvenirs, and incidentals.
We got our own round trip flight from Los Angeles to London and a one night hotel stay near the Windsor castle in Eton, England to make our wedding anniversary a little special. Eton/Windsor was awesome despite the 30/40 degree weather. It was well worth the luggage space for a couple of coats and warm clothes!
The flight out of London on our anniversary was delayed and our layover in Paris was delayed (due to transportation union strikes in the entire country of France.) Air France/ air Mauritius was our airline we put up with the inconveniences of the airlines and airports, Off to Mauritius!
The Mauritius hotel and restaurant nearby was great. It was pricey for the dinner and drinks but well worth it after 24 hours of flights to get there. We woke up the next morning excited for our cruise.
We arrived an hour and a half before “boarding” to see only a few people waiting under a plastic canopy for their luggage to be tagged. We waited on a short line to check in and were given cool towels. Once we got closer to the end of the line we were super surprised to see everybody handing over their passports and the lady putting them in a big box behind her! We were called up and the lady asked to see our passports and looked us up in a computer and said welcome aboard. We asked, “Why do they have to keep our passports, and if they could take photocopies instead?” She said it was for visas for Madagascar and we will get them back after we leave Madagascar.... this was very strange and was our first notice that they will hold our passports for 6 days! We even asked Logitravel prior if we need to do anything for the visas. They told us “You will get the visas at the port when you arrive.” Nothing was mentioned by Logitravel that they would hold our passports. We noted the ladies name and asked her to be extremely careful with our documents.
Once we were on board it was time for a late lunch. We made our way up to the 9th floor to the buffet. Once we exited the elevator the smell overwhelmed us. There was a mixture of all types of food smells. We just ignored the smell and began to survey the buffet to find something appealing. We had to dodge all the other passengers with trays and the workers with empty trays of discarded food with flies buzzing around. When we got in line we noticed a few people cutting in line, we didn’t care, we said there should be plenty of food to go around. We noticed only about 10% of the people using the watery hand sanitizer dispensers before grabbing at the utensils and touching all of them before grabbing the one they deemed fit. As we got saw the food we were extremely surprised at what an “Italian” cruise company called food. It was horrid, the food extremely foul tasting. We picked a few pieces of semi stale bread and a piece of chicken grilled chicken without any sauces. We barely got that down as the lady next to us was eating an apple and spitting out the skin directly on the table without a plate and left it there!!!! We said well hopefully the dinner will be better.
After going into our room we were happy to have our own little spot on the huge ship. Once we went into the bathroom we noticed a disgusting smell of sewage coming from the toilet. We said “Oh no imagine after a couple of days on the cruise the smell will probably get worse!” We had to wait for our luggage to be brought up. We then said let’s just go get a drink and try and have some fun.
When we got to the 2nd deck we noticed a long line at the customer service and tables set up everywhere with confused passengers asking questions and looking bewildered. We made our way to the main bar and asked for two whiskies. The bartender had this smirk on his face and said, “Can I see you Costa card?” We showed him and he said, “That those drinks are not included in your package.” We said “are you sure we got the all-inclusive cabin and drink package?” He replied, “You should go to the drink package table over there and talk with them.” We went over to a table and waited in line behind a couple that was furious about the prices and couldn’t understand why it would cost so much! Also the wife did not drink, but Costa makes the entire party to have the drink package, so the husband said ok we will go without it and walked away. We talked to a man and he showed us a drink package pamphlet riddled with all these extra prices for “premium” liquor and cocktails. The worse part was that there were drink packages for water! We asked, “Why there are drink packages for water?” He notified us that bottled water and water at the bar is not included with our package!” We asked, “What is the top package then?” He told us, “It is 740 euros a person for 14 days for the top drink package.” We were astonished it would cost that much! We settled for the second most which ran us a little over 150 US Dollars. We said “Wow we wished we would’ve known earlier so we could’ve booked the better package 8 months ago. Instead of taken $150 out of our spending budget.
We also walked by the “internet/WiFi” table and noticed that the WiFi is not free anywhere on the ship!!! We got a booklet and saw it cost 100 euros for 3gb of data! We again wished we were informed by Costa/Logitravel of this ridiculous priced added expense. As we would have got a portable hotspot, paid for it in advance, or worked it into our budget!
We went to a different bar and got a drink prepared by a rude bartender. We retreated to a table away from the bar and started to voice our frustrations to each other. As we were talking we noticed every other party doing the same thing! After our drink we decided, hey let blow off some steam and hit the arcade and casino. Once there we realized that the arcade is not free either. We didn’t even bother with the casino as we felt it would be rigged even worse than other casinos. We wondered what else we will have to pay on this “all-inclusive” vacation!
Skeptical of the food we wanted to see the dinner menu for our free sit-down dinner. The Daily Diary told us it was the “gala menu” so we went to the restaurant to try and find a menu. There was nothing there and nobody in sight. So we went to the customer service desk and asked them for the menu for tonight’s dinner. They actually laughed and threw up their hands and said, “We do not have the menus!” We looked at each other and just said, “thank you.” and walked away.
We got changed and ready for dinner and headed down to the restaurant 10 minutes early to see a huge group of people waiting to get in. We noticed some obviously overdressed people that seemed to be pawns in the Costa scam. They seemed like actors that were trying to instill a fake sense of class and excitement for the cruise and the dinner. Once 7:45pm came they just opened up the doors and people literally ran inside to their tables. We thought we would have a “dinning seating choice” but we were put up against a wall at the back of the boat where the boat rocked the most. We looked at the menu and decided that we both would have the Lentil soup. I would try the pasta and my wife would try the prawn. Once the lentil came out and we tasted it we knew we have been tricked again. It tasted like literal watered down puke and we only had one or maybe two spoons each. Our entrees came out and my wife’s shrimp stunk of bad seafood and was the skinniest shriveled up prawn we have ever seen. She didn’t touch a thing. My pasta was covered in cheese sauce that tasted horrid and the pasta was chewy with a weird texture. We started to get nauseous and couldn’t take the smell of everyone else’s food. We got up and walked past the waiter and he said, “Is everything ok?” We said, “No! We are not feeling well.” As we walked out everyone stared at us and we tried to not look at the bad eating habits of the people.
We had a couple of drinks (made with the cheapest of alcohols) and retreated to our room. We were so upset but we were out in the middle of the Indian Ocean and felt trapped!
It was nearly 11pm and we were so hungry so we decided to order room service (which was included free in our package). We looked at the menu and noticed there were only 3 free items. Everything else we would have to pay for. Also they could not bring us water so we had to pay for two sodas. Not liking any of the free choices, I chose the “il Italiano sandwhich” and my wife chose the vegetarian sandwich (after her bad prawn earlier). The room service guy came in and said in a subtle sarcastic voice, “How are you enjoying the cruise?” We said, “Its okay so far” to avoid a weird conversation. We gave him 3 US dollars tip and he left. To our horror, as we looked at the food we almost puked immediately. The vegetarian sandwich was soggy and looked like a mashed up mixture of a bad eggplant and other indistinguishable “vegetables”. The prosciutto on the “il Italiano” was even worse it looked like spam and had some weird clear gelatin attached to it! **see attached picture and video*** We asked room service to take the tray away and almost cried with disbelief. We could not find any decent food to eat! We then started to ask each other if we should leave and book something else.
As a numbers guy I started doing the math in my head and knew if we left it was going to cost us a minimum of $5000 (for hotel and flights back to Mauritius) plus the $7500 we already gave to Costa/Logitravel! DAY 2
We went to breakfast and survived on stale bread and croissants. We spent the day sunbathing and fasting as we could not bear to even walk through the buffet area! We decided we would pay extra for a pizza as we could not, and would not, sit down for another free dinner. We said to ourselves how Italians could mess up a pizza made fresh.
When we got to the pizza “restaurant” we realized it is just a section within the buffet area! People were looking at the guys kneading the dough as two guys would walk up and tried to lure them into buying a pizza. We were seated and realized only one other person was there. I asked for a pizza that included cherry tomatoes and burrata cheese. The waiter told me that they ran out of cherry tomatoes! I said, “Really on the second night?” They didn’t give a reason and told me, “They could make it with tomato sauce instead.” When the pizzas came out they were running and watery. The ball of burrata was so hard I couldn’t even cut into it! When the waiter came over to ask how the food was I said, “It is a little watery”. He replied with a belittling remark, “Well that is because you ordered it with tomato sauce.” My wife and I just rolled our eyes and couldn’t believe that he didn’t apologize or try and correct it.
We decided we have to get off the ship! We paid for the small amount of data and started to try and search for our escape. We were trying to get into our Chase banking app as it gives us great deals for travel since we are reserved customers. The WiFi was so slow we could not even use it! And worse of all our data package kept draining and we kept upgrading (racking up the money for Costa!) A number of other apps did not work so we went down to the “Internet cafe”. Once there, we put in our card and the computer seemed slower than our phones! We left very discouraged and we kept searching through the Expedia app.
We went down to customer service desk the second morning to ask for our passports back and we were thinking of disembarking from the boat. The lady wanted us to sign a disembarking form right then. We said we will not until our passports are returned to us. She said we could pick up our passports tomorrow morning.
We spent the second day on the ocean sunbathing and fasting again.
We ate two regular margarita pizzas again and both were soggy.
We spent the rest of the night researching resorts to try and get the best deal, since we were going to lose a bunch on this vacation.
We finally booked:
• 4 night stay “half board” in a resort in Seychelles for $1500 and spent an extra $400 for drinks and food. (The resort and the food were spectacular!)
• We also had to pay for a flight back to Mauritius so we can get the flight we already paid for from Mauritius back to London. The flight straight from Seychelles was way too expensive. The price for two passengers in economy was $800.
• We also booked an all-inclusive resort in Mauritius for $3000, which was fantastic! We also booked an excursion since we lost out on our excursions with costa!
We went down to the customer service desk and asked for our passports back and the lady said, “You can have them back on the day you disembark.” We did not want to argue so we just said we will make sure we get them back before we leave the ship.
We skipped breakfast and got something from a nearby vending machine on land at the port.
We went on our one excursion in Seychelles. It was such a relief to be off the boat! The tour was a lot of driving and boat rides. The lunch buffet on the island of Praslin was delicious and so refreshing! Overall it was a good time (9 out of 10). We arrived back at the ship at 7pm. We packed and went to bed without dinner. We dreamt about disembarking in the morning.
We went down to the customer service, paid our bill, signed the form, and took our own luggage out and never looked back!
In the end we spent…..
5739 US Dollars to Logitravel/Costa for the initial booking.
2243 US Dollars for the excursions we could not cancel, the upgraded drink package, the WiFi, the pizza, and other items.
Along with the accommodations we made we spent well over 13,000 US Dollars! We could’ve done without Costa/Logitravel and stayed in the two very nice resorts for the 8000 US Dollars.
Never going to go on a cruise again!
bathroom smelled of sewage, floors carpet stained and sticky (even after we asked them to try cleaning it better), bed was hard and squeaked every time you moved
port is very small, easy access, kind of dirty