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13 Middle East Romantic Cruise Reviews

Our second cruise with Costa had some good points but some unbelievably bad points too. We chose a suite because my husband had worked interstate for the past year and we wanted some quality time together. Embarkation was a nightmare ... Read More
Our second cruise with Costa had some good points but some unbelievably bad points too. We chose a suite because my husband had worked interstate for the past year and we wanted some quality time together. Embarkation was a nightmare - over two hours standing outside in a queue outside in the sun to drop cases. The delay was the people checking for visa's could not read English. There were two people checking passports and a queue that stretched way to the back of the car park. There were over 1000 English speaking passengers on this voyage. So much for priority embarkation. That did not happen until after you were inside the port building. We had late lunch in the Club dining room - we asked if this was possible and were told that we had to go to the buffet and we couldnt access Club dining. We went anyway and found that we could. The meals in the Club dining room were quite nice. The menu is much the same as the rest of the ship with a few changes. However, the atmosphere is supposed to be "refined, exclusive and a private environment for suite guests". They forgot to tell you that the basketball court is overhead. Lots of thumping and banging from the courts use totally put us off our dinner and we ended up in the buffet regularly. The buffet - although very busy and noisy provided and excellent choice and all food that we had there was of a good quality. When we complained about the banging overhead we were told that the "teenagers have to have something to do". Around 2pm our cabins were ready and ours was old but nicely appointed and comfortable. Until that night!! We were tired after travelling and had an early night, the music from the Concorde Plaza was loud. At 10.45 it was deafening. I was wearing noise cancelling headphones and could still hear every word of every song. We thought ok this is the welcome party. However, 21 night cruise and the band played every night - deafening, tiring, outrageous that this could not be fixed by moving the band elsewhere. It kept all the suite guests awake for the sake of a few (6 when I went to investigate) late night partygoers. They played the same songs over and over every night. When we tried to rest in the afternoon they practiced most afternoons. When we complained about the afternoon practice we were told we were wrong that there were no bands playing. !!!! Our cabin was also inundated with smells - paint, varnish and turpentine smells from the maintenance room and the replacement of the outdoor carpet. The maintenance room surprisingly had an airconditioning system linked to the deck below -our deck. Once it was discovered where the smells were coming from maintenance was stopped on sea days (the day before we left). The suites do not have opening windows so for 9 of the 10 sea days it was impossible to breathe in the cabin and it caused headaches and vomiting. Entertainment was provided and was reasonably good. We attended quizzes and dance lessons. The people who did craft reported that they enjoyed those sessions. Although there was a majority of English speaking people there was no English speaking entertainment organiser. So you got weird translations that didnt make sense. Such as "which is the river with the most affluence" !! so we felt that the Italians and French had an advantage at quiz and it got to the stage where everyone was groaning when the same people won nearly every quiz. We took two Costa excursions and these worked well for us although we usually do our own as we do not like travelling with crowds of people where you cannot hear the guide. We also do not like waiting for people who can't make it back to the meeting place on time so the only Costa excursions we took were to places that we found difficult to get to on our own. We went to Matera from Bari and Masada and the Dead Sea from Eliat. These were excellent places to visit and we would go again. We went Petra from Aquaba with a private tour company and the rest we did with taxi's and public transport. We had two tender ports and both of these were well organised and we had no difficulty getting ashore. We felt the service from the crew that we dealt with on a daily basis was excellent, service in the bars, the room steward, the dining staff but the administration and management were either unwilling or unable to resolve any issues. They just did not care. We were told that they understood our cruise had been a disappointment and we had not received what we had paid for and were told we had to complain when we arrived home and we would be compensated. We were given an email address to write to. However, the complaint and request for compensation was viewed as "feedback" and an apology was given. So we felt we were brushed aside during the cruise and there has been no resolution from Costa. All in all our romantic holiday together for my 60th birthday turned out to be anything but. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
chose this cruise as it gave us a chance to see Dubai and also price as a package suited us. we left on the night flight from Glasgow which gave us a full extra day in Dubai, we stayed at the crown plaza hotel deira 3 nights before the ... Read More
chose this cruise as it gave us a chance to see Dubai and also price as a package suited us. we left on the night flight from Glasgow which gave us a full extra day in Dubai, we stayed at the crown plaza hotel deira 3 nights before the cruise (giving us a chance to see Dubai and relax before our cruise. we visited the burj khalifa , and had an amzing afternoon tea at the sail hotel (burj al arab) which was a once in a lifetime experience very very highly recommended. taxis were verycheap around dubai and abu dhabi (most we paid for taxi was 70 Dirham (£14 from cruise port to airport) there were 4 adults with 6 cases). we emarked at 3pm no ques straight on ship and straight to cabin, we were scheduled for boarding at 6pm but we could probably boarded anythime, when we left the ship people were boarding from 7am, disembarking was excellent, cases were collected the night before and we had a leisurely breakfast, we were out the room for 8am, we had a 8am time to leaVE BUT STAYED ON SHIP TILL 11AM, STILL USED THE DRINKS PACKAGE TILL WE LEFT. we had a balcony cabin 8029 on bella class deck 8 (this is an enclosed cabin which had a metal panel instead of class and side panels making it hard to sit and look out and made the room darker than usual, i wouldn't book this cabin again, cabins nearer the middle are glass panels unenclosed cabins are two cabins nearer the middle from cabin number 8057 (cabin 8057 is also metal panel under handrail ) the staff kept the room tidy and clean, and most of the staff were friendly, no problems getting drinks or tables at the buffet etc, sea day was busy but we chose to reserve sunbeds and rattan on deck 18 which cost extra but more relaxing and we reserved our are to sunbath with more shade when required. our main complaint was staff would expect you to move to let them pass in corridors etc, clear plates from table as soon as you were finished, but others at the table were still eating. we felt rushed during the meal and the lights were flicked to tell everyone it was time to leave (without being offered coffee etc ) we went for a sit down breakfast one morning in the dining room - we were surprised when asked if we wanted the menu or buffet, (if i wanted a buffet, i would have went to the borra buffet), after ordering we were told it would be easier if we got our order from the buffet as they has to go to the other sit of the ship to get it if we didn't. why have a buffet in a restaurant as well as a menu if your not going to serve you what you order. i think the staff were not interested they wanted you out as soon as they could and with them doing as little as possible in the process. we have been on thompson,p & o, royal caribbean, ncl, celebrity cruises and felt the staff on this ship left a lot to be desired they seemed to lack manners and basic courteous skills. the best staff on the ship were natalie on deck 18 bar, she also worked in the buffet restuarant and pool deck bar at night she was outstanding , very helpful and we felt she gave an excellent service, clyde in the piano bar and the staff at the plaza coffee shop always kept us fed and topped up with coffee. we went on ships tour khor al fakkan dow boat (this was outstanding - dolphins swam up alongside the boat, we swam in the fiord etc expensive but well worth it, we would definetely recommend it and would do it again . not much to see in muscat a wonder round the souk, the drinks package was limited choice but still well worth it as water and coffee were included at all bars throughout the ship entertainment was poor we went one night only, intro etc in many languages whuch put us off and only so many things can be done to entertain everyone. safety drill was an absolute joke (we were sat in the casino for 30 mins to thenm listen in 5 languages how to put on a life vest, at which point everyone had theirs on Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This was our first cruise on Costa, but our 16th overall. Here are our honest thoughts on the various aspects. The cruise was 7 nights and embarked at Dubai. Flight ------ We booked the flight independently of the cruise. It was ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Costa, but our 16th overall. Here are our honest thoughts on the various aspects. The cruise was 7 nights and embarked at Dubai. Flight ------ We booked the flight independently of the cruise. It was an Emirates flight from LHR to Dubai. It was an overnight flight that landed in Dubai at 6am. In hindsite, this was the wrong choice as embarkation didn't start until 8pm and it turned out to be a long day. Still the flight itself was very good and we were impressed with Emirates. Embarkation ----------- This is where it all went a bit wrong. Our embarkation ticket stated 8pm as the boarding time which seemed a tad on the late side compared to a normal cruise. A quick google suggested that if you turn up at around 3pm, they would let you on. However imagine the dismay when we (and many other people) turned up in the afternoon to be told that 8pm was the hard and fast time and so we had to wait for 5 hours in the cruise terminal. Turns out this was because Friday (the day we embarked) is a holiday in the UAE and therefore the immigration control officials were only available from 8pm, hence the time. Can't really blame Costa for this I guess, but it's something to note. Cabin ----- We had cabin 7290 which was classed as a suite 'S' Cabin. It was a very nice size and was quite a bit bigger than a standard balcony cabin, so we were very pleased. Dining ------ Because we were in a suite, we were allowed to eat in the club restaurant (Club Medusa) free of charge for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. We didn't eat in the MDR, so can offer no opinion. We also tried the buffet for lunch a couple of times, but found the choice very limited. Club Medusa was very nice and the choice varied daily. The wine choice was also very good and you could try the wine to see if you liked it first. They try to sit you in the same area each day so you have the same waiters which helps build the relationship. It was also fairly quiet and you don't need to book ahead as suite guests. This was certainly one of the suite 'extras' that helped make the cruise that bit more special. Entertainment ------------- This is one area where both Italian cruise lines (MSC & Costa) fall short compared to American and British lines. The daily activities are very limited and evening shows are centred around song and dance and acrobat routines. I guess it's the language issues that are the cause. The good things of note were the live bands and the animation team. Dress Code ---------- We had lots of varied dress codes on our cruise. We had informal, Gala, Italian, Arabian and white nights, although many people adopted informal for the whole cruise. It was all good fun. The only gripe was that nowhere on the pre-cruise documents stated what was on offer, so you couldn't preplan what to pack. Ports ----- A cruise around the UAE all pretty much stop at the same ports. The main ones on our cruise were Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat and Sir Bani Yas Island. Ship ---- Having just been on the MSC Preziosa, the Costa Mediterranea looked and felt like an older ship in comparison. We experienced some very rough vibrations in our cabin whenever the stern thrusters were used and there was a constant vibration from the engines all over the ship when at sea. Nothing to bad to spoil the holiday, but not something I ever remember experiencing on any other ship. Suite Extras ------------ As we were in a suite cabin, we were entitled to a number of 'extras'. They were :- - Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner in the Club restaurant (see above) - Complimentary Intenditore drinks package. This is the top level one and pretty much every drink is included (apart from super expensive). You also get drinks loaded in your minibar. - Exclusive activities. We are invited to a couple of cocktail parties with the captain, but didn't attend due to the timings. - Complementary room service etc. We had breakfast in our room a couple of times, but other than that, didn't really test the room service. Disembarkation -------------- This was very smooth. We were free to leave the ship at any time up to 1pm and collect our luggage from the terminal. Perhaps this is something unique to the UAE cruises. Port to Airport --------------- Grabbed one of the many taxis from the terminal. Tooks roughly 20 minutes and cost 55 Dirhams (£11). Overall ------- No one can argue that Costa are not good value for money (much like MSC) but of course that means that certain aspects of the cruise are 'budget restricted' like the food and entertainment. It is also very Italian orientated (not unsurprisingly). However as long as you accept these limitations, then you can certainly enjoy yourselves. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
This was my first cruise for me and my girlfriend. In our 30's, we decided to test the water with a 'cheaper' cruise instead of going all out. Going in Feb meant that we were limited to hot places, hence the Arabian Night ... Read More
This was my first cruise for me and my girlfriend. In our 30's, we decided to test the water with a 'cheaper' cruise instead of going all out. Going in Feb meant that we were limited to hot places, hence the Arabian Night tour. My first impression wasn't a good one when we boarded. After requesting (over the phone) a double bed in our cabin, we were greeted with 2 single beds that cannot be moved. Obviously the cruise was a sell out so no chance of moving. The ship was tired, rooms a bit tatty, roof looked like it would fall at any time and no mod cons. we spent a week shacked up in a single bed - romantic! The thing that made me angry was all the extras. Despite already buying the 'all inclusive' package, we were pushed to upgrade further to the premium deal. This is where they get you as the house wines arnt great, so you want to go premium. Wifi too was expensive when most ports were free. Bingo too wasn't the cheapest at £5 a ticket so add it all together and you start to feel annoyed at thomson. Thats the bad. After a drink on the first day, we decided to enjoy it to the full and the staff were EXCELLENT!!! this is what made the trip. THE STAFF. Anton, Jeffry, Risnillo, and pretty much everyone made this trip exceptional. The weather was rubbish all week but the food, staff, entertainment and facilities were brilliant. So, whats my verdict. would i do it again? Yes, i would! Not because this is the biggest, smartest ship, but the fact we had a week of laughing and felt totally at ease with everyone on the ship. TOP TIPS!! ASK FOR A DOUBLE BED AND GET IT IN WRITING!!!!!!!!! Take a strip extension gang as there are 2 measly plugs in the room. Take ear plugs as i dont care what people say, its noisey!! You either get waves, engine hum, party goers next door or keen sight see=ers at 530am getting up when you went to bed 2 hours before!! Get your sunbeds early on sea days! You wont get one Eat in the waited restaurant. Brilliant staff and food Enjoy yourself! Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Was not expecting much and I got what I expected.Ship is way past it's sell by date,needs a massive deep clean,everywhere I looked I could see flaws.The solarium was filthy,I wiped my hand across a ledge and it was filthy,the floor ... Read More
Was not expecting much and I got what I expected.Ship is way past it's sell by date,needs a massive deep clean,everywhere I looked I could see flaws.The solarium was filthy,I wiped my hand across a ledge and it was filthy,the floor tiles were so grimy needed a good jet wash.Our cabin looked ok but when you started probing it wasn't great. Food in general has definitely deteriorated,not awful but nowhere near as good as it used to be.We ate in Chops and Giovanni which were both excellent. Shows were just ok,nothing special.The best entertainment was in the Atrium every evening where everybody had a great time. The best thing about this ship is the staff,cheerful,helpful and willing.The Captain was also super friendly and always ou and about. Despite all the above,we had a great holiday even though the weather was poor,but I definitely wouldn't go back on this ship and I wouldn't recommend. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Embarkation/Disembarkation -------------------------- We landed early at Dubai airport. Fairly big queue at passport control, but emerged into the sunshine around 10:30am. We ignored the taxi people inside the terminal and just went ... Read More
Embarkation/Disembarkation -------------------------- We landed early at Dubai airport. Fairly big queue at passport control, but emerged into the sunshine around 10:30am. We ignored the taxi people inside the terminal and just went straight to the taxi rank. Cost was 55D (around £12) to the Port Rashid where our ship was. Tip: Make sure the driver turns on the meter as we heard stories of people getting ripped off. On arrival at the ship, a fairly quick process to get signed in and on board. Although our cabin wasn't supposed to be ready till 1pm, we went to it anyway and it was available which was a bonus. However as yet we had no cruise cards and that involved a separate trip to a bar to pick them up. If you turn up after 1pm, they will be in your cabin. Not sure why MSC don't follow pretty much every other cruise line and issue them at check in !! The cabin was a balcony and was well appointed and was comparable to balcony cabins on other ships Dining ------ We were on the Aurea package, so had the Any Time Dining included automatically. This meant we could arrive at the Red Velvet restaurant at any time from 6:30pm to 9:30pm and be sat down. No booking required. Each night was a different six course dinner offered with different themes. The issue was that the quality and taste of the food was average at best. Having cruised before on RSSC, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Fred Olsen, Norwegian and Azamara, we feel we can give a neutral honest opinion. It was disappointing and probably the biggest failing of the cruise. There was a Tek Mex restaurant available for a bit extra, but we never tried it. Lunch was catered for either as a served three course in the Red Velvet or as a buffet in the Zanzibar. To be honest I preferred the buffet as a three course for lunch and six course for dinner was too much for me. Bottom line is that if food is very important to your holiday enjoyment, then MSC are probably not for you, unless you can stretch to Yacht Club where they have a different (and apparently very good) restaurant. Bars ---- I have to say I was very impressed by the sheer number and size of the bars. Depending on your preference (quiet, background music, ballroom or dance), there was a bar to cater for you. All were pretty empty as well, so no problem getting a seat. Allegrissimo Drinks Package --------------------------- Again because of the Aurea package, we got the Allegrissimo drinks package for free. It worked well and we were happy. You get a choice of two reds/two whites/one rose and one sparkling. The reds were a Merlot and one I'd never heard of, but were perfectly acceptable. The whites were a Chardonnay and another unknown Italian. The choice stayed the same for the whole cruise, so did get a bit samey towards the end. A couple we got to know went for the premium package, but couldn't always get their first choice of wine as the bars and restaurants seem to have their own stock. Still at least they did get the whole bottle on the table, whereas we had to order by the glass. Having said that, service was good and we were never left long with an empty glass. Entertainment ------------- The second biggest disappointment after the food was the entertainment. I'm used to fairly big shows with maybe guest acts flown in. However the shows (apart from the Micheal Jackson one) were instantly forgettable. The cruise director (can't remember his name) was even more forgettable and didn't seem to have any role on the ship other than to practice his six languages before each show. Another disappointment (oh dear I don't want to come across as a whinging pom) was the daily activities. Almost every other cruise I've been on has had an extensive daily list of activities (quiz, table tennis, lectures, etc.). On MSC, although they do have some daily activities, they are almost exclusively based around the main pool (including the quiz !!). Service ------- I've seen the reviews that say that the crew are a surly bunch, but to be honest they seemed very happy and we received good service, so no complaints here. wifi ---- I don't normally sign up for WiFi on board as it is usually horrendously expensive, but MSC has some very reasonable packages. We went for a two person package for the whole week and it was around £40. Not bad at all and it even worked !! Excursions ---------- Again give MSC it's due, the excursions were very reasonable. We booked a couple online before we left and they delivered all what was promised, so thumbs up to MSC for this. Ports of call ------------- Dubai - We had a MSC tour to see the main sites. Slight downside is that you spend most of your time in the coach travelling between the locations with perhaps 20mins at each stop. The city is very large and spread out, but it was very interesting. Abu Dhabi - The official MSC city tour was fully booked, so we took a taxi to the Grand Mosque (45D - £10 each way). This was the stand out monument for me on the entire cruise and simply cannot be missed. It is breathtaking. Muscat - It was actually raining when we arrived and the streets were flooded. We walked for a bit but gave up in the end. Nothing memorable about this stop. Khasab - We took our second MSC official tour which involved an hours drive to a small castle (which looked like it was built yesterday) and then an hours drive back. In hindsight, not a good idea. Sir Bani Yas Island - This was a bit of an unknown as it was only very recently opened. Tenders took you to a golden beach with sunbeds and umbrellas stretching for a long way in each direction. There are separate areas for Yacht club and Aurea and also lots of bouncy things in the sea for the kids. The beach areas also had bars and BBQ's set up, so you could use your drinks package on shore and not feel you are missing out. However the facilities are limited and unless you are dedicated beach people, a few hours was enough. Conclusion ---------- So overall a good cruise. MSC cater to a certain demographic. They offer some amazing bargains and are truly value for money. But the low cost obviously has to mean some cutbacks and the food I'm afraid is the obvious one. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Everything about our time spent on the ship was great - couldn't fault the staff, food, entertainment and cleanliness of all areas. The cabin was very spacious and catered adequately to our needs with plenty of wardrobe space, ... Read More
Everything about our time spent on the ship was great - couldn't fault the staff, food, entertainment and cleanliness of all areas. The cabin was very spacious and catered adequately to our needs with plenty of wardrobe space, hairdryer, safe (which you could use for a fee) & on-suite shower. There was an abundance of delicious food in the buffet restaurant and out on deck - it was always well cooked and hot. This was our first cruise and we booked it at a very reasonable price (all inclusive). However, once on board we were to discover that not everything was included - if you wanted a premium drink (my husband only drinks Guinness) this would mean that we had to pay another £70 each for the upgrade to premium (even though I was happy with the drinks included in the all inclusive deal, because we were sharing a cabin this meant that I also had to pay for the upgrade = £140 on our price. The Costa Coffee shop on board was not included in the all inclusive package - so this meant that if you fancied a Costa Coffee/hot chocolate etc. you needed to pay for it!!! Also, if you wanted to eat a la carte at one of the restaurants you needed to make a booking and pay for your meal. Be aware that the Thomson excursions are pretty expensive and we found it much better to arrange our own. I think we would do a little more research before booking another cruise - as to what exactly is included in the all inclusive and the price of excursions with the company. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was our seventh cruise, second with RCI. We had done this cruise before, but on Brilliance of the Seas. We booked everything through a cruise agent and was very happy. We departed from Birmingham on an Emirates flight EK38 on ... Read More
This was our seventh cruise, second with RCI. We had done this cruise before, but on Brilliance of the Seas. We booked everything through a cruise agent and was very happy. We departed from Birmingham on an Emirates flight EK38 on the Sunday evening at 20.25. Be aware as last time we experienced poor service from cabin crew. It almost seems like they cannot be bothered on this flight. As last time, we were served only one meal. In addition we were parched by the time we arrived at Dubai airport, once again due to the fact we were given very little in the way of free water or juices on the flight. Once again the cabin crew seemed to want to get the meal out of the way so they could have a decent rest before we arrived into Dubai. This was exactly the same as last time. The meal was only luke warm, like it hadn't been in the oven long enough. It seemed like everything was far too much trouble for them. We got to Dubai airport and didn't miss the transfers arranged by RCI. Last time we were escorted to a hotel for breakfast and had to go through the process of passports, cruise cards etc there which was a real pain considering we were tired. The only advantage was we were served water and fresh orange juice which we terribly needed. This time however, we had a private car arranged and it was so welcome. There was guy with a placard who escorted us straight to a car, loaded our luggage and took us to the port. Our bags were taken from us immediately by RCI crew and we waited in the lounge. We had priority boarding passes and there was no queing as we were one of the first there. We were first on the ship and used our cards immediately to upgrade to the Premium Package for drinks as we mainly drink spirits. This was $105 each for the week, which we thought was well worth it. Cabins were not available until 13.00 hours, but we had a change of clothes, previously packed in hand luggage so made ourselves comfortable until this time. However, we were incredibly tired. Our cabin was on deck 6 - 6022. It was the first time we had a balcony cabin. We didn't realise but these balconies had been added on a couple of years ago. It was ok though, there was somewhere to sit. We had requested double bed configuration. There was a dressing table with three small draws, but no other draws so we used the floor of the wardrobe. We took our own travel kettle and tea, coffee, sugar etc. There was no fridge. Apparently there were facilities and a fridge on higher up balcony cabins. There was a flat screen tv but the channel choice was pretty rubbish. Bathroom was usual cruise ship size. No toiletries provided apart from some shampoo, usually this is shower gel, which we did not bring with us so abit strange. As usual cabin steward very efficient, but he did get on my nerves alittle, keep knocking the door at night to see if we had gone out. We chose MY Time dining but was able to book for 9pm most evenings in advance and ask for a table for two. Sail Away party was a complete joke. Afew of the crew dancing around to awful music. No hooters sounding party atmosphere or anything. We have had fantastic ones on Thomson and Ocean Village in the past. This was a complete disappointment. Breakfast Mainly horrible. We mainly ate in the Windjammer. Absolute beglum. Like a cattle market, plastic plates. Bacon like scratchings it was done that much and sausage not always cooked right the way through. HP sauce scant. Coffee awful. Lunch Didn't always eat lunch but when we did mainly in the Windjammer again, although I did miss the ability to dine outside which we have experienced on lots of other ships. Dinner Taken every night in the King and I and I have to say this was fantastic. Our waiters, Favron and Sunny were brilliant. Nothing was too much trouble. They were attentive and hard working and all out to make sure we had an enjoyable experience. It was my birthday on the Saturday night and they were lovely. Excursions Didn't do any arranged ones. As we had been before we didn't get off first day as we wanted to relax after the exhausting day on Monday. Didn't seem like a lot to do in Khasab anyway. We were then in Muscat for two days and we decided day one should be spent on ship again and we could go out on day two. Once again great weather, as experienced last time. We walked around the souck but bothered by people all the time and no toilet facilities anywhere. Not great when you take a water tablet and have IBS!!!! When we did find one, there was only one working and it was absolutely disgusting. Abu Dhabi/Dubai - we once again bought Big Bus tickets for the two days, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but be aware if you bought in Dubai some of the advertised "free" attractions in Dubai were not included. This included Atlantis. Disappointing and not advised of this before purchase. However we did the beach tour in Dubai and the hotel drop after Burj was fantastic. Proper Arabian village type with water all around it. We took the hotels boat tour around it and if we go to Dubai again we will most certainly stay here. It was apparently a highlight of the tour. We also went to Dubai Mall, not so much for shopping but just a nose around at how big it is and we had something to eat here. Dubai is certainly full of rich folk. We had problems with our toilet in the cabin. For the last three to four days there was a problem with it not flushing. Each time we called reception they asked for maintenance to attend. Each time it was fixed when tried again same thing happened. No suction, just filled up with water. This was most annoying and I understand I am promised some discount off my next cruise with them. One week on and Im still awaiting the promised email. However, they did give us two days free internet access which is usually $20 per day per device. We also had late checkout which allowed us to stay on the ship till around quarter past eleven. Our private car was collecting us at 11.30. Of course you could stay later, but couldn't use cruise cards after 09.00 hrs. This was something we hadn't expected as even with Thomson you can use them right up until you disembark. Photographers were a pain in the neck. I didn't mind photo on embarkation or Formal Night but they came every night and even on sea days taking photos of folk in their costumes! who wants a shot of that. Drinks package was good. Husband drank Johnny Walker Black Label and I drank Bombay Saphhire. We also had cocktails. However, we did both have jippy tummies and my Husband suspected it was all the ice in the cocktails. Toilets on the decks were abit strange being located one below and one above the main deck 4. In addition I have never been on a ship where there are no toilets by the pool. Consequently if you are in your costume you have to cover up to go indoors to use one of the three toilets. These were also used for the Windjammer so you can imagine how busy they were. Smoking was Starboard side, deck 4 9 and 10. We were told the entertainment was rubbish. We did expect to see some shows but didn't see one. We were told by people who went to some performances it was crew doing most of it and there did not appear to be any outside entertainers on board. We have had better on Thomson. The shops were not great. If you wanted a decent coffee it came at $11 for two lattes. This included 15% gratuity which i thought was abit of a cheek to add on without first telling you they added. There were only a few seats, about 8 to sit and have a nice coffee. We did it once but didn't bother again. Sea day - the usual people who have no where to sit apart from indoors. Every cruise ship I have been on has this problem with sunbeds and unless you are up early you are sure you will not get one for the whole day. Fortunately we had only one sea day. Disembarkation was great because we were not part of the RCI arranged cattle market transportation. We had our own driver again, lovely Audi car, complementary water and swift drop off at Dubai Airport. Here though we had to go to immigration to have our passport stamped and despite RCI having our passports for nearly a whole week, they failed to stamp the passport for leaving Dubai. All in all it was an ok holiday. We knew what to expect but would we do this one again - possibly not. The ship is going to Thomson in April and it will suit them down to ground. The ship itself is lovely. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Started the cruise after a 4night stay in Mestre Venice embarkation excellent balcony cabin midship on deck 6 plenty of hanging space but no drawers or shelves for clothes. Drinks expensive so took a package for one (surprising as in the ... Read More
Started the cruise after a 4night stay in Mestre Venice embarkation excellent balcony cabin midship on deck 6 plenty of hanging space but no drawers or shelves for clothes. Drinks expensive so took a package for one (surprising as in the past all cabin occupants had to have one.) We knew about the drinks policy but managed to get a bottle of gin and a bottle of brandy on board in our suitcase. As RC have no tea/coffee making facilities in the cabins we use room service each morning for our wake up brew this year we asked for a kettle and received one on day 3 so could brew our own as required. Food on board was very good but not usually hot service good buffet which we rarely use was the best I have seen on a ship(we have done 11 cruises on different lines) Entertainment with the RC singers and dancers was poor but entertainment brought onboard was good although some nights we struggled to decide what to see on others we had little choice lots of daytime entertainment from bridge to crafts, dance lessons to keep fit sometimes a little holiday campish like the belly flop competition and the sexiest male but you could avoid this if you stayed away from the pool area area. Excursions desk not much help if you wanted to see somewhere on your own took one with the ship to Jerusalem and Bethlehem rather expensive at approx 139$ each we were rushed around for 5 hours Jerusalem was excellent but Bethlehem was a complete disappointment would have been much better to take a taxi arround Jerusalem and enjoy it at leisure Finally disembarkation was excellent for our 3night stay in Dubai Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We've cruised with RCI now for a number of years and generally like the cruise line. This particular cruise was a bit of a mixed bag! The good.... For an older ship about to be sold we were pleasantly surprised that it was in ... Read More
We've cruised with RCI now for a number of years and generally like the cruise line. This particular cruise was a bit of a mixed bag! The good.... For an older ship about to be sold we were pleasantly surprised that it was in such good ship shape, was intimate and had more character than the newer RCI ships. Even our cabin was well appointed and more spacious than we expected (room 7106). The not so good.... it's hard to explain the downside without listing a whole load of niggling faults that accumulate. I guess the best way to say it is that it feels like the ship is winding down to the sail of the ship in April next year. For example... 1) Service around the ship - normally on RCI impeccable but on this cruise was variable... sometimes not enough bar staff and sometimes bar staff more interested in talking to each other. 2) Food was often lukewarm or cold 3) Entertainment seemed low key and forced rather than a pleasure... (note having spoken at length to one of the performers who I'll keep anonymous this isn't a surprise as they were generally not treated so good) 4) Processes like passport collection and distribution were badly organised (one required us to queue for 30 mins in the middle of our cruise).... etc. We completed a mid-cruise review with these points and in all fairness to the crew every issue was recorded and raised with us discretely. There was at least some attempt to solve the problems but it was clear the effort was more about negating our complaints than solving the problem. For example the day we submitted our "food is cold" comment, the dining staff looked out for us and our food was delivered on piping hot plates and the whole table noted. It was a nice touch except that the next night it was again lukewarm.. and we weren't about to delay our food and make an issue every night. We met a variety of people that were much more animated and displeased on the cruise.. from the first time RCI cruisers who were appalled at the rip off alcohol prices (note this is typical RCI and so if you're into alcohol we'd advise you find another cruise line) to a couple who have cruised with RCI many many times and even were on the Splendour the year after it first sailed (1997) who basically thought every aspect of the service and ship was worse. Frankly and in complete fairness on the whole we had a great holiday despite things being below RCI normal standards. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
You have to expect to get a discounted ship if you pay a discounted price - we except that.... but does that really mean that you should expect poor customer service and worse of all dirty pillows and bedding. We paid £850 each for our ... Read More
You have to expect to get a discounted ship if you pay a discounted price - we except that.... but does that really mean that you should expect poor customer service and worse of all dirty pillows and bedding. We paid £850 each for our cruise around the UAE's (including flights)... The embarkation process, on land, was OK - aboard ship was caotic. No body new what to do where to go... and the que at the Customer Service/information desk was insane... then, when you got to the front you were met with a grumpy faces of 4 women who didn't care how they spoke to you and didn't think it was their job to help you... The ports of call were all great - no complaints there. The entertainment on the ship was OK.. nothing spectacular but it wasn't awful. The sunbeds were awful... so dirty with an smell that wasn't pleasent, and I'm not talking about one or two of them.... but most of them.. but the worse thing for me was the bedding. Check it when you go into your cabin - which again is basic but OK. We had badly stained pillows with huge brown marks, blood (or what we assumed was blood). they were disgusting - and the mattress was the same. Unfortunately we didn't do this until disembarking.... when we were leaving the cabin I thought I'd help by stripping the bed.... shocked at what we saw. We're written and complained to Costa who have basically said 'oh well, never mind' and when I said that this wasn't acceptable they have just ignorned my emails. Shocking service - really is. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Firstly, the boarding procedure in Dubai was pathetic. We arrived early on day of boarding and being in a Concierge cabin expected prompt handling. The check in took over two hours standing for the understaffed to process us on to the ... Read More
Firstly, the boarding procedure in Dubai was pathetic. We arrived early on day of boarding and being in a Concierge cabin expected prompt handling. The check in took over two hours standing for the understaffed to process us on to the ship. Passports were collected and we were told that we would get them a bit later !. Almost 5 hours after entering our cabin and still no luggage. Calls to the Guest relations desk proved futile-no clear explanation or answers. We were forced as well as most of the other passengers to have our first dinner in the main dining room in whatever clothes we were wearing. Not a very inviting sight to begin our first evening on the Solstice. A request to have our passports were met with misleading and dishonest answers. Fact is, we were told that it was OK to go ashore in Dubai or the next port -Muscat,Oman without the passports. Tell that to the U.S. State Department or even the guest lectures on board the ship ! The morning of our arrival in Cochin,India a 45 minute wait to retrieve our passports began the day ! Again, after we boarded the ship in Cochin,passports were collected and we were told its OK to get off ship and tour in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia. On the last morning,before leaving the ship in Singapore,we had to line up again for the return. Celebrity must be counting on the ignorance of its passengers,but I would hate to be involved in any emergency medical or legal hassle while off the ship and not have my U.S. passport with me ! I have traveled extensively for business and pleasure as well, and also have overseen of staff overseas assignments and never is anyone ever advised to walk around in a foreign country without a proper,original ( not a facsimile ) passport. The communication skills of the Guest Relations staff as well as the Captain in these matters is disgraceful ! As respects the ship itself,Solstice seems to need a refreshing update in all areas. Decor is dated,faded and nondescript.. Food in MDR is fine for those whom the ability to order many dishes is the draw.Food very mediocre, and presentation is also boring. We ate one evening in the Silk Harvest and food, etc. just average. We opted out of trying the other specialty venues after this attempt at a more upscale experience. Oceanview Cafe was what to expect in a buffet,cafeteria setting ! Outside pool area food -very 2nd rate.. Shows ,mostly were tacky and garish... Cruise director,Paul was a throwback to the old snake salesman/huckster. Pool area always jammed and volume of the music seemed more appropriate for an outdoor amateur rock show.! Perhaps, it was this cruise, and the passenger make-up,but it was a very senior and uncouth bunch. The only bright light for us were our cabin attendants and the wait staff in the restaurants. Celebrity seems to be competing these days with Carnival and its customer base as opposed to an upscale passenger and will suffer in the end. Next cruise will be on Azamara or Oceanic..One gets what one pays for !! Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This was our 2nd time cruising with Costa and we were really looking forward to it as we had a brilliant time on the Serena 2 years ago(our 1st cruise!). It was nice to see more Brits on board and a good mix of Italians, Germans, French ... Read More
This was our 2nd time cruising with Costa and we were really looking forward to it as we had a brilliant time on the Serena 2 years ago(our 1st cruise!). It was nice to see more Brits on board and a good mix of Italians, Germans, French and various other Europeans. Cabin: We got our first ever balcony so we were well made up and we got our request of portside. Cabin was fresh and clean as expected from a month old ship and everything in working order. No complaints at all. Evening Dining: As always the waiting staff were excellent. However, we had not been allocated a table so we had to make a trip to see the maitre d to sort this and were given an early slot as we had hoped....however we did not expect to be sat with a Polish couple. They were lovely but coversation was limited to me and my wife talking to the husband and I felt sorry for his wife as she did not speak any English. Costa should not have allowed this - there were 15 Poles on board and they they put us on the same table as 2 of them. They came to the sit down meal only twice! Besides we wanted to share conversation with Brits and share experiences. We were missing our spice and one night they made us chicken curry which was nice(although they left the skin on). The food compared to the Serena was disappointing the rep suggested it could be the sourcing of the food in the middle east is not like the Med. Also no Pistachio ice-cream on demand - very disappointing! Overall, it was okay but not meeting my expectations of Italian cuisine. Our waiters Joneyl and Gerry were ace,however. Self-Service Restaurant: This has been described to a tee by the previous reviewer. Entertainment: We enjoyed the evening shows, however, it seemed towards the end they ran out of acts and cobbled together some shows like the 'Alpha Tours Folk Show' who were the tour guides used by Costa on the excursions - needless to say we didn't bother. More annoyingly was the Entertainment team who were constantly trying to rope you into some activity or other and bless them they were doing their jobs but trying to make me look like Bob Marley is not entertainment in my eyes. My wife got dragged up to play a game at the back end of the cruise in front of a grand audience of about 10 people to play 'Name That Tune' for Italian songs! Brilliant! I'm glad she didn't win as the prize was a Costa bum bag. Mixed bag for entertainment - some excellent shows like the acrobatic gymnast but followed by some lame stuff. Drinks: We saw this coming from last time so we made sure we got the X1 drinks package. You could have wine at lunchtime and evening meal. For £67 a person it was well worth it (wine, water and soft drinks)- better that the J2 that would have cost £225 for all day drinks - useless when you are not on board. At lunch the bar waiters who float were reluctant to come back to you as the service charge is already paid so they won't earn extra. I did see a lady complain as her bar girl didn't come back for ages and she wanted her drink with her food. Very naughty. Great drinks package and if you are willing to use your nouse(pick a different waiter each time), you are quids in apart from my liver... Customer Service: For some reason Costa were at pains to tell us that if your flight was not booked through Costa, you were classed as "Independent Travellers". We received absolutely no information from Costa or Virgin regarding our pick up from the port and transfer to our hotel, however, last time we booked through Virgin Holidays, they sorted everything out for us. The people working on the Customer Service desk were rude and unhelpful and refused to make any phone calls for us. Excursions: There was a wide selection of Costa excursions available, however, they were very over-priced. The Tour Office on board were unwilling to assist with any enquiries regarding the ports of call, shore-maps etc and only became helpful if you wanted to discuss or book Costa excursions. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010

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