Hi, We are an English couple, 60 years of age who have just completed our first Costa cruise. This was on Costa Mediterranea, 7 days down the Dalmatian coast in late April 2016. To put our comments in context I should add that we have ... Read More
Hi, We are an English couple, 60 years of age who have just completed our first Costa cruise. This was on Costa Mediterranea, 7 days down the Dalmatian coast in late April 2016. To put our comments in context I should add that we have previously cruised with Cunard, MSC, Princess and Celebrity. If you have experience of different cruise lines you will know that each has its own individual character and indeed its own strengths and weaknesses that make it quite difficult to rank them fairly. However one thing is clear, Costa would comfortably come bottom of the list unless of course you were focusing on value for money. In that ranking Costa can easily come to the table.
Our Costa cruise cost £450 pounds each for 7 days. Included in the package was an upgrade from a basement cabin to one with a window (which opened) and a magnificent view of our own personal lifeboat, useful of course should the Captain choose to show off to his girlfriend. In addition we had Easy Jet flights and a two night stay in Mestre (for Venice ) thrown in as a freebie. This is cruising on the “very cheap” indeed. To be fair what should you expect for that money?
So how do Costa do it?
Well they do it by cutting corners. Some you hardly notice , many other savings are more glaring. For example while there is a show every night, there is no live band, only taped music. I found the dancers and performers to be excellent but the direction and production of all but two shows to be staggeringly amateurish. You could only watch dancers for so long do a routine, do a quick costume change and come out and repeat it, again and again and I do mean again! If you like euro pop, quite loud and continuous you will love Costa. If you like classical music you will search in vain. If you like quiet you have to search hard. Our cabin on the 4th floor bounced along nicely from 11pm to the early hours to the base riffs of euro pop elsewhere in the ship which we were clearly supposed to be enjoying. However this is a ship that appeals to the youngest clientele we have experienced.
Two thing strike you immediately when you come on board the Costa Mediterania. The first is that this is a modern, quite brash ship in excellent condition in all respects. The second is that the air quality is poor and even main areas can be a little smelly. We have never noticed this on any other cruise line but it is unmistakable on Costa. We often played the “What does it smell like now game?". Fish was usually the winning perfume. It was fine in our cabin however.
Food was unreliable. While there were two sittings in the formal dining room there was a drive for efficiency over quality resulting in everything being placed on your dish or plate prior to serving. To be fair some of the food served in this fashion was good (beef once excellent) but some was poor. I had some chicken that was impossible to cut. Nothing was said however and it was quietly replaced with another choice by attentive staff. If food was 10/10 on say Celebrity and 7/10 on Cunard then you would give this 4/10 overall varying between 1 and 7 ( some sweets and cakes 10/10). It was OK but the illusion of fine dining , enjoyed on all other cruise lines, was completely gone unless you obtained a VIP table. There are no formal evenings. If you put a DJ on, you would be given a drink order. There are two special nights a week (wear something white or where the colours of the Italian Flag - but only about 40% bothered) The worst meals were breakfasts. Cooked food was only available in the main dining room and if you ordered for example an English breakfast it arrived looking like tired airline food. Surely people only ordered this once? (the Norwegian breakfast was fresh, had smoked salmon and was good!) During formal dining, people were crammed into the main dining room and with the truly international flavour of the customers , one could fine oneself surrounded by people only conversing in foreign tongues - - - a problem, if like me your French and German are limited. We found the Germans who predominated to be friendly and very prepared to give their English a go for a bit. I found it just too crowded and claustrophobic. Because of this and absolutely not because we felt unwelcome, I decided to tip appropriate staff and find my way to a quiet table for two from day 2. Tipping on these ships is mandatory and automatically added to your bill (at 9 Euros per head per day on this trip). I found additional cash tipping to be very effective, maybe because it is unusual. Try it should you need anything done.
Most people talked about buying the all inclusive drinks package as a must for these cruises as free water, and coffee were in scarce supply and the drinks were quite expensive. Of these accusations, I only found the free coffee (breakfast only) to be in short supply. I had no trouble with water which was available 24/7 maybe not everywhere but at least somewhere on the ship. I had two refilled bottles in my fridge most of the time. Drinks are cheap for a cruise. In the wine list basic choices start at 20 Euros plus 15% and go up to about 55 euros. (Cunard would die of shock) Cocktails are about 7.45 euro plus 15% , beer from about 3.5 Euros (small) and coffee from about 2 euros plus 15%. At these prices, with the all inclusive packages at about 58 euros for two, per day, I calculated I would have to drink quite heavily and consistently to make a package an economic choice. Furthermore there are openly available promotions. One night we had a bottle of white wine in the dining room for 11 Euros and two cocktails (pina coladas) for 9.99 Euros plus 15% for two. If you are happy to be directed to the bargain offers then this must be the cheapest way to drink on board. Official water bottles are about 3.5euros per litre.
The cocktails were not as good as on other cruise lines. Sometimes there was plenty of spirit included and little else. For example, I had a margarita that was unrecognisable (did not contain the ingredients in the cocktail list) but was certainly strong enough! Other times they seemed very thin. I found this hard to explain bearing in mind there were specific cocktail staff. What was going on?
Our room was excellent and the bed fresh and pleasant but very noisy at night (4th floor front ) . The bathroom is up to size but smells a little stale at times (not of sewage etc.) Air temperature worked well.
All staff were very helpful, approachable and polite. To my surprise my waitress insisted on dancing with me on the final night.
Getting on and off was simple, easy and well organised. For me, best in class and well done. When I needed help I got it without queuing. Princess cruises, simply awful in this respect in my experience would do well to study how Costa do it.
Would I Costa cruise again? Yes if the cruise had an itinerary like this one which was one of the best, stopping in a fresh and amazing place everyday. Would I cross the Atlantic with them? Absolutely not. Was it good value? Yes Did we have a good time? Yes . Is it a very different cruise experience ? Yes it is. Hope that helps....... Read Less