Our first flycruise, Costa\'s 7 night Sicily, Greece and Turkey, followed three return trips from Southampton, and proved to be an experience we would not be keen to repeat. We chose the option to use Bristol, our nearest airport offering a connection, as the additional cost was minimal, however, we did not realise this involved a change until the booking was finalised. Suffice to say that of the four flights detailed on our ticket, three were transferred to other operators. To be fair we have had some compensation on this but we are still pursuing the matter. Nevertheless we reached Rome approximately on schedule and found our Costa Reps, there ...
we waited for some time as one of our fellow passengers from Bristol had lost a suitcase in the transfer procedure.From 4am we had one small sandwich or piece of cake and a drink on the first flight with Air France and the next flight with Air France was 2 biscuits and a drink by the time we reached the ship after 10 hrs we were starving. If it was not for a fellow passenger advising that a buffet is usually provided on arrival we would not have known. Costa staff never said this was available.Read More
Eventually we set off to find the coaches which seemed to a considerable distance from the arrivals hall, at no point were we prompted to get trollies for our luggage which we were still handling at this point. At least when we loaded it(yes I do mean that we the passengers loaded most of our luggage onto the coach) it was delivered to the cabin in due course without further effort. After a relaxing coach ttip to Civitavechia we were directed to the \'cruise terminal\' and soon had our first experience of Italian \'queueing\', as we had no priority over other passengers joining. Sorry to go on about getting there but it is relevant to the overall opinion.
Costa Victoria is , by current standards, a medium size ship and externally at least is in superb condition, although some furniture is looking a bit weary, presumably items which were not replaced in the refit a few years ago.The layout has plenty of sunbeds on the upper decks but beware those near the pools can be very noisy when the entertainment is on. There is a shaded buffet area astern under a canopy which is pleasant for outdoor eating in fine weather. Unusually on the promenade deck (Traviata Deck) there are no chairs at all, although there is plenty of room even if anyone used the (unmarked) jogging track. Another odd feature is that if you go the wrong restaurant by mistake, (both are on Deck 5), it is necessary to go back to Deck 6 to access the other. The general standard of cleanliness is high, but we felt that odd bits of litter on deck would have been swept up more promptly on other companies ships. Our inside cabin had a reasonable shower and toilet , good cupboard space but was extremely tight on floor space, even the tv was positioned overhanging its shelf(do not judge by the inside cabin in the brochure). Our steward was pleasant but there were some issues with missing towels and tissues not replaced and he never formally introduced himself in the way we would normally expect. On the subject of cleanliness it is worth noting that no attempt was made to ensure hands were cleaned/disinfected before entering the dining areas, a feature common on most cruise liners nowadays. The only time any effort was made was to be offered something similar to a babywipe when we rejoined the ship having been ashore. Even more remarkable was that passengers were not only allowed to tour part of the galley area,but a midnight buffet was held within part of the galley again without any hygiene requirement. The galley was immaculate to give due credit to the staff.
The food was very disappointing, we have heen to Italy on six holidays in the past and we were looking forward to this cruise as we enjoy most Italian food.
The choice, especially in the buffet was frequently very limited, and the desserts on offer very basic and in small portions. The restaurant was probably the best organised area of the ship , but we still felt that it was not in the same class as P & O. Princess or RCI, in the week we were on board we struggled to find any meat dish that had good quality meat. We were also aware that there was not a true 24hr dining facility, one evening when we missed our restaurant sitting there was no alternative until the pizzeria opened an hour or so later. On a positive note a complimentary continental breakfast could be served in the cabin, a service which worked well on three mornings we tried it.
The staff were polite and pleasant and coped well with the variety of laguages they encountered, but there was no sign of any supervision other than in the restaurant, children played in the lifts, teenagers threw salt and table napkins at each other in the pizzeria and youngsters played in the casino without any sign of supervision from parents or crew.
We found the entertainment to be remarkably good considering that they are trying to appeal to five or six language groups, the singers and dancers were of a high standard and the crew show was worth a visit. The major failiure was a ventriloquist who was extremely clever to perform in five languages but jokes won\'t stand retelling five times. Deck entertainment was principally noisy games but attracted plenty of support and whilst it was not our scene they clearly appealed to the majority of the passengers.As a guide we would guess at 80% Italian and 10% British, 10% others. We did not take any organised excursions but went ashore independently at each port, the tender service was average, only made more difficult by the Italian inability to queue.Catania took the prize as the dirtiest place we have ever been, despite having cruise ships calling, whilst the Greek islands all deserve more time than this cruise allows. Izmir seemed worth a visit although one has to run the gauntlet of taxi drivers touting for business at the dock entrance, to be fair a shared taxi to Ephesus offered good value compared to official excursions.
To sum up, check your flight details and be prepared for a long days travel, ensure that you go when Italian children are not on holiday, and think again if you are a non smoker, certain areas are just not usuable if you do not like smoking and the no smoking rules are NOT enforced. Smoking is even permitted in cabins , which you may feel raises a safety issue.The ship is fine, but expect less than perfect service and limited food choices, which leaves only one problem, your fellow passengers, if queueing is not your style and excuse me(mi scusi, I Think) is not in
your vocabulary you may well enjoy it.
Tour Operator: Thomas Cook