This was my first cruise setting sail from a port within Mainland China. It is understandable that a large number of the passengers came from within Mainland China. My immediate impression on embarkation after passing through passport ... Read More
This was my first cruise setting sail from a port within Mainland China. It is understandable that a large number of the passengers came from within Mainland China. My immediate impression on embarkation after passing through passport control is that Costa's staff starting from the point where our passports were collected, vessel's officers along the gangway up to the point where our photos were taken for the Costa Cards for use during the cruise, were less than friendly and welcoming. There was no smile whatsoever on their faces and nothing to suggest from their body language that we as paying passengers were welcome for this cruise. This I found out to be the norm for all vessel's offcers during the entirety of this cruise. My review now continues by bullet-points :
1. As Costa Venezia is less than one year old since it joined the Costa fleet, everything on the boat is very new and modern. Wife and I booked a cabin with balcony and the cabin is roomy and nicely appointed. The room was on deck 9 towards the rear of the boat and is very convenient to get to Deck 10, where a lot of actions and eateries are located. During our cruise, our cabin was looked after by a dedicated cabin steward. He was Star Serondo from the Philippines. He also greeted passengers with a big smile and is industrious. Every morning when wife and I went upstairs to deck 10 to take a quick breakfast, Star would have completed the cabin cleaning within the short time that we went for our breakfast, which was normally 40 min. from the time we left our cabin to the time we returned to our cabin. He comes with my high commendation.
2. One very important feature that I noticed is that a large number of the crew on the boat only speak Mandarin. This is undertandable as a large number of the passengers come from Mainland China and they only speak Mandarin. Unfortunately for someone like me who is not well versed in Mandarin found it hard to communicate with crew members when I need to. In one instance, I was asked if I can speak to them in Mandarin!! Their Mandarin speaking crew appeared to be inexperienced and went about their business by adopting Chinese custom and lacking in Internationally accepted mannerism and etiquette. This is a real disapointment for someone like me who is so adpated to Western culture and mannerism.
3. Tying in with my previous comments, a lot of the announcements made on the boat were made in just one language. Yes, you guessed it, mandarin only. This left me in the dark at most times and in particular, I was worried that I might miss any important announcemnt that is safety related. The only times that the announcement was made in both English and Mandarin was immediately before disembarkation when we arrived back in Shanghai. to remind passengers to go and settle their bills before they disembark!! All in all, the entire cruise was geared towards Mandarin speaking passengers and for those who do not speak Mandarin, best to choose other cruises not setting sail out of China ports.
4. In terms of food, those outlets that serve free food offered little varieties and their taste was poor to average. For me, there are only two categories of food, one being to fill you up when you are hungry and the other is looking for quality in the food that one takes. The food served at these outlets only qualify for the first category that I described.
5. I have also tried out four paid resturants during my cruise and they include Casanova, the Hot Pot place, the Teppenyaki restaurant and the BBQ outlet. The only place that comes close to my second category of food is Casanova. The place is quickly filled up and my best advice is to make a reservation for this restaurant as soon as you settle into your cabin to avoid disappointment. However, whilst the food in Casanova is okay to good, do not expect their service can complement the food. Most of the staff in this restaurant has no knowledge on how food should be served. This place is definitely not a fine dining outlet. For the BBQ outlet, the food served was cold and not sizzling hot as one would have expected from BBQ experience. The only consolation is the food served at the BBQ outlet is relatively cheap. The teppenyaki experience is more to attend a show dinner more than quality of the food. At any rate, the quality of the food is nowhere near the authentic teppenyaki restaurant that I have come across, be it in Japan or outside Japan. Hot Pot place is worthed a visit as the food does not require Chef's cooking and the price is again relatively cheap. The boat also has a steakhouse, a seafood restaurant, Napoli Pizza and noodle house which i did not have a chance to savour.
6. We joined a shore excursion when the boat berthed at Kagoshima. Save for the lunch provided with the excursion, the experience was bad. The guide for our group made us stand in line to wait for all the execurion participants to arrive before she led us to our coach. When we arrived at one of the three designated sight-seeing locations, the guide just pointed to where we were suppose to head and did not actually show us the place. At one location, we had to resort to using Goggle Map to find out where we were supposed to be going. The worst part came at the end of the excursion when we were all asked to leave the coach to move into a supermarket like medicine store. We were made to stay there for over an hour. For those who were not interested to shop in the store was made to stand around and were not allowed to stay on the coach! The attendants in the shop were mainly Chinese and that shop can be mistaken as another shop found in Mainland China if we were not told that that was Japan. Better off saving your money by not joining the excursion and simply disembarked and explore the destination yourselves.
7. I want to complement a lot of the English speaking crew who came form India and the Philipines. They are all very cheerful, helpful, hospitable and ready at all times to make passengers to enjoy the cruise as it should be enjoyed. This contradicted sharply with the Western officers who not only appeared to be unfriendly, but also too arrogant in front of their mainly Chinese pasengers. They seem to have forgotten that all passengers are paying to come on board and we are not refugees!! Read Less